The HornIT Horn / Buzzer Review

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The HornIT is a 140db bicycle horn / buzzer that comes in a small size but packs a huge punch! This audible warning device is great for making people aware of your presences and has many advantages over similar devices such as the Airzound.

The HornIT appears to mount with a cateye type bracket, at first this was worrying as they are notoriously poor. At a second look it appears to use a slightly different tightening mechanism which is an improvement. It tightens via a hex key which appears to be very solid and the rubber grip of the strap allows the bracket to hold well even on polished metal.

It runs off 2 AAA batteries and I’m told that this will last around a year for some users. The horn was still effective after 6 months if used to power 6 x 1 second bursts every day. The battery compartment is underneath the device and is accessible by a Philips screw.

One of the most attractive features of the HornIT is the separate trigger switch, this allows flexible mounting of the product whilst still allowing the user to trigger the device whilst their hand is in control of the brakes. This is a very important factor, such a device should not impede your ability to come to a safe and controlled stop if required, a warning device will not always be heard or prevent someone from doing something you don’t want them to do.
I have noticed that it is possible to catch the trigger cable with your hand and pull it out without knowledge, it is also a little bit tricky to put the trigger back in whilst moving.
The switch it’s self is made from a stretchy rubber that allows it to be mounted to any part of the handle bars, I had no issues stretching it around the hoods on my road bikes.

There are two modes on the HornIT, one rated at 140db which uses a dual tone which can sound a little bit like a bird tweeting. To me this is more of an annoying sound and not one that would instantly grab my attention as something dangerous is coming my way (as a typical horn sound would). The second mode is 130db and is just a single tone. Much more to my liking, the sound is still loud and I feel still suffers the same issue of not sounding like a normal horn. You can switch between modes by pressing a button on the back of the device. Two downsides I see to this, you can’t change the mode from the trigger, so to change mode you must move you hand back to the device. There is also no way to tell which mode you are in without sounding the device. This can be annoying if you want to use the two different modes for different reasons, as it is easy to forget which mode you are in.

Positives

  • Runs on batteries
  • Separate trigger switch
  • Small, easily removable device
  • Two separate

Negatives

  • Buzzing sound doesn’t always register the same as a traditional horn sound
  • Not able to change modes from the switch
  • No way to tell which mode you are in without sounding the buzzer

The clear rival to the HornIT is the AirZound, a product which is already very popular with cyclists after an audible warning device to other road users. The HornIT has many advantages over the AirZound, such as being small, compact, running on batteries, and a remote trigger. Where as the only advantage the AirZound has is a more true horn sound. I found I was pumping up my AirZound several times a week when I used one, and I have to say the ease of use, the fact that it is small, runs on batteries, is about the size of a light and has a remote trigger, the HornIT has to be the winner out of the two.

Watch my video review of the HornIT

As a note, it is a good idea to read the instructions on this and do as it says. I.E. Don’t use this indoors, it really is very loud and does make you deaf!

Guide to Buying a Helmet Camera

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Mark Schulze, a Director of Photography and ow...

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The popularity of helmet cameras has exploded over the past few years, hundreds of cyclists across the world are using cameras to record and tell their stories. Thousands of road users are also doing the same.

So you are in the market for a helmet camera? But where to start? Follow this guide and hopefully you will be in a position to make a choice about which camera is best for you.

Budget!

Your budget will be the biggest factor in choosing which camera to go for. The general rule is that the more you spend the better quality camera you get. Be it HD, better mounts, better quality parts used and more features.

Quality?

The biggest decision is going to be quality. HD is a great thing to have but comes at a cost, greater than £100 for a good camera with a HD chip. HD isn’t everything, you can still get a good picture without HD by choosing a camera which uses a good quality sensor. HD does often give a clearly image and has a wider lens angle, all positives.

Lens Angle

The lens angle makes a huge difference to what is captured by the camera. A wider lens angle will pick up more footage but it has it’s downsides. Wide angle lenses often create a fish eye look and elements on the edge of the film will often be further away than they actually are (making close passes look further away than they really are). It also makes judging speed on film a little bit harder.
I use a 1080p camera but run it at 960p, why? Because the 1080p mode uses a smaller lens angle and zooms the image in. I would much rather have a wider lens angle and a taller image to get the most footage I can, it makes a huge difference.

Body Format

Helmet cameras come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from bullet to cubes. When choosing what you want it is wise to take into consideration where you are going to mount your camera (It doesn’t have to be on the helmet). Square cameras look a bit silly on a helmet when you compare them to bullet format cameras but the square cameras seem to look and fit better when fitted to the handle bars. Slimmer cameras, such as the veho muvi, can also fit into the vents of your helmet, making them a bit more discrete.

Mounting

It is a good idea to look at what mounting options there are with each camera you are considering. The more expensive cameras usually have more professional looking mounts and a wider selection. If there isn’t a specific helmet mount or if you choose to make your own then it is a good idea to take into consideration how secure it is going to be. The specific helmet mounts are designed with some sort of give in it, so if you are involved in a collision then the camera will come away from the helmet and not cause added damage to your head by causing the helmet to crush more than it should do. I would suggest not to zip tie your camera to your helmet.

If the camera comes with a 1/4″ screw thread then the possibilities for mounting are pretty much endless. RAM offer some amazing options which a few of us take advantage of and mount our cameras to various parts of our frames and handlebars.

What is in the box?

It’s a good idea to check what comes with the camera before you purchase it. The accessory that you want may be excluded or in the case of the Contour cameras the vented helmet mount is not included and i know this has caught a few buyers out. So it’s important that you check and factor any additional items in the total cost of the camera.

Memory Cards

Pretty much all cameras use some form of SD card, be that standard or Micro. Most cameras come with a memory card but often one small in size. You will probably need to get a bigger memory card, but how big depends on how long you want to ride between visits to a computer or a memory card swap.

Battery

Not all cameras have a removable battery, limiting your time on the road before you have to visit a computer or wall plug. Some of these can be modified to charge of a AA battery. Other units have removable batteries, so if you are on a long ride then you can swap out the battery when one dies and continue.

Features

Some models of cameras come with some added features which can be nice, from lasers and small screens to bluetooth and GPS. Some features can be handy to have where as others are just additions which you never use. Think about which ones you need and which ones you don’t as they do affect the cost of the cameras.

Reviews

It’s worth looking at reviews of the products and see what others thing about it. Just search the camera name + review in a search engine like google. Point Of View Cameras has reviews on all the major cameras and Magnatom has done a view of some cameras and compared them against each other. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Example Footage

Pretty much each camera type is already used by a cyclist online, so search for the camera on youtube and see if someone has some footage of it in use. This can make the difference in your choice. If you see another camera cyclist on youtube that has good footage, ask them what camera they use and they are more often that not happy to let you know what they use. Although it would be worthwhile looking on their channel and see if the information is displayed there or if someone else has already asked.

Where brands make good cameras?

  • Contour / Vholdr
  • GoPro
  • Veho
  • Drift Innovations
  • V.I.O POV

Where to buy cameras?

Ding Ding – The Unheard Bicycle Bell

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Bicycle bells are now attached to the handlebars of bicycles sold in the UK, but do they work?

The answer to the above isn’t that straight forward. Bicycle bells are designed to be used to warn people of your presence, this basically means you can use it on two road users, pedestrians and cyclists. I personally have never found my self in the situation where i need to use a bell, if I need to make someone aware of my presence i will use my voice. It has the advantage of you being able to control the volume easily and being able to use a polite tone, such as ‘Good day, please may I pass’

That doesn’t mean the bell doesn’t have it’s use. Look at the video below, a bicycle bell is used by a pedestrian on pedestrians and he films the results. It’s amazing to see how people move out-of-the-way but in reality, how many cyclists have had this experience? I expect only a handful

Clearly the bicycle bell has its place, but is that place on the handlebars of every bicycle sold in the UK?

With the current boom in cycle commuting, I would guess that most bikes sold are either going to be used off-road or on the road during commuting. This will mean that most interaction with pedestrians will be whilst they are around roads and whilst they are walking to and from work.
This means that if you are trying to get the attention of a pedestrian or cyclist during this time, the sound of your bell will be competing with traffic noise and the music that some pedestrians will be listening to. I would expect that the bell won’t be heard and you will be wasting your time by dinging it, It’s certainly not a sound I hear often and I spend many hours on the road around other cyclists every week. A question to ask, is how does the dopler shift affect the sound of the bell when using it on a pedestrian that is about to step out in front of you.
I’ve also seen some cyclists try to ding their bell at vehicle drivers, it really isn’t loud enough for them to take notice, and they certainly won’t react in time to avoid any danger. If you wish to use something against a vehicle, I would suggest using the aizround which punches out about 115db compared to around 80db for a bicycle bell. It’s also a sound which vehicle drivers are more aware of.

The bicycle bell has its place, and that is on the handlebars on some bikes, the ones which are taken on shared footpaths by considerate owners who wish to be polite to other users of the footpath. The government think that putting a bell on a bicycle will change the behaviour and attitude of cyclists towards pedestrians, the bell will not achieve that.

In conclusion, I suggest to ditch the bell, use your voice but above all, look out for people more/as vulnerable than you. Take care when cycling around pedestrians, as they can move unpredictably.

Hi-Viz, the new helmet debate.

Hi-Visibility clothing is designed to make you stand out. The bright flourescent colours absorb UV light and output it in a light form that is visible to us. Hence why during the day, they stand out but at night, it’s a different story.

With every Tom, Dick and Harry wearing Hi-Viz on a bicycle, does it actually make you stand out?

When cyclists talk about hi-viz, we normally refer to yellow jackets. These things are normally too heavy and thick for day use, which the hi-viz is designed to work in. Reflective strips of tape make you stand out in the dark. Are these jackets actually effective at making you visible or is hi-viz the new helmet debate?

A recent study in Australia shows us which one is true.
The study was conducted on a closed road circuit at night where driver participants of various ages were in a specially equipped vehicle and bike rider participants wore various combinations of clothing.
Due to hi-viz working off UV radiation, the hi-viz is useless at night due street lighting and headlights not producing UV radiation. The results showed that flourescent colors did not provide a significant improvement on black clothing at night.

Due to many cyclists thinking that Hi-viz makes them stand out at night, they could be putting them selves at risk if their clothing doesn’t contain reflective material.

Even when the cyclists wore a reflective vest, the drivers said it wasn’t as clear as reflective 3M scotchlite tape on their ankles and knees. This is thought to be down to the torso of a cyclist mostly being still and the ankles and knees are more often than not moving.

Whilst there aren’t many studies out there about Hi-Viz and its apparent safety features for cyclists, I don’t think the study in Australia is one to be sniffed at. It certainly makes more sense that reflective tape on a cyclists ankles will be more attention grabbing in car head lights rather than a vest which won’t get as much light.

I’m not a fan of the Altura NightVision jackets and similar jackets because during the day they are too thick for wearing and at night the reflective tape is often covered by a bag.
And as the study shows, the opinion from drivers, is the hi-viz doesn’t work at night and reflective tape is much better situated on the leg where it is moving more than the torso.

ProViz came up with the idea of using a strip of lights on their jackets and bag covers to make yourself more visible. I’ve yet to see one of these in the real world so I can’t comment on how well they work.
Some cyclists over at CycleChat have been talking about self illumination to make your self morevisible, that is pointing an LED light at yourself rather than the other way. To clear results have yet been seen but it can’t hurt trying.

My personal feeling on hi-viz is just go with out. With over 70% of cyclists wearing it, you really don’t stand out whilst you’re in it. I would much prefer to spend the money saved on Hi-Viz on some reflective tape and a good set of lights for my bike. I use my lights during the day to make up for the lack of hi-viz.

Upgrade to camera system

Anyone that follows me on youtube will know that last week I tested out a mount for my ContourHD that would attach to the rear of my bike via the seat post. After the success of the test i decided that I would upgrade my camera set up and have my ContourHD as a rear view camera and a ContourHD 1080p camera on my helmet. Much like the setup of the New Zealand cyclist TheVexatiousLitigant. A really important thing for me was that the mount shouldn’t interfere with my legs when i pedalled. I have used a few brackets for rear lights that have rubbed on my leg and it gets very annoying rather quickly. Due to the slim nature of the part that is connected the seat post, this isn’t an issue.

The mount.
I’m using a 3 RAM parts and the universal adapter for the ContourHD. The RAM mounts are rail base with ball & zinc u-bolt, double socket arm for 1″ ball and  1″ ball with 1/4″-20 alum stud. The end result looks like this:



The reason I got this is A. i wanted to upgrade to the 1080p anyway and i thought i might as well as keep the camera i have and use it on the rear. B. I wanted a better camera for the rear, the muvi i had wasn’t giving me the quality i wanted and it kept on turning off randomly which seemed to be down to me using OS X and the spotlight files left on the card.

Airzound

New bicycles bought from a shop by law have to come with a bell, bells are ok on towpaths and at slow speeds. The problem with them is when you get to higher speeds. Pedestrians and car drivers won’t hear a bell in time to react or know where it’s coming from. This is where the Airzound comes into play, an air horn for bicycles, it blasts out a loud 115 decibels at full volume.

Why is this useful? In some occasions you need to make people aware that you are there and what better way to do it than to make an awful loud sound which could be mistaken for a truck horn. People certainly will take notice of you and hopefully react.

I’ve been using mine for several weeks and have found it very useful to warn drivers, cyclists and pedestrians of my presence.

See the Airzound website set up by Thomas Etherington with reviews and information on how to mount it to thicker road bar handlebars.