There is a lot of talk at the moment locally and nationally about cycling safety. There are campaigns to encourage people to wear helmets (an absolute must if you ask me – it’s definitely better to smash a helmet rather than your head if you get hit or make a mistake), and several to improve the provision of dedicated cycle lanes through major cities and towns.
The Hornit is a 140 decibel cycle horn designed to keep you safe by making sure you can be heard when you are in danger. It attaches to the handlebars of pretty much any type of bicycle and when used can be heard inside vehicles including cars, vans, buses and lorries. I have been sent one to try out on my commute to work.
It was very easy to fit to my Carrera Vulcan – LincsGeek assured me that even I could have done it! The horn itself and button to sound the horn are mounted separately so you can have the button wherever it is easiest to use – close to your thumb. This means that the Hornit is quick and easy to use when needed, including when braking (which, let’s face it, is the most likely scenario!). It makes my handlebars a bit cluttered, though, don’t you think? What with that, my bell, the bracket for my lights – there’s lots going on.
Once fitted, the Hornit is easy to remove so it doesn’t get stolen when you park your bike. Like most bicycle accessories, such as lights or computers, the bracket stays on when you remove the horn itself so it is quick to remove and then replace before you set off again.
The Hornit is loud. I mean, it’s 140 decibels so it is going to be loud, but really, it is loud. I tried it in my garden right after fitting it and wow, it made me jump and I was the one pressing the button!! After trying it once or twice I felt I couldn’t keep setting it off as it would annoy my neighbours. There is a warning on the box that says “prolonged exposure or reckless use may cause permanent hearing damage” – it is the loudness that makes this effective, of course. I wanted to get a video to show you how loud it is but my iPhone has a feature which compresses volume when recording so there aren’t peaks and troughs so it didn’t showcase it at full volume. So instead, imagine you are stood four feet from a pneumatic riveter – that’s quieter, or 100 feet from a jet engine whirring at full pelt, that’s 140db; a 12 gauge shotgun blast is a bit louder at 165db. I said it was loud!
The unit does have a “Park Mode” which has a lower frequency horn sound which is therefore quieter, but it is still very VERY loud.
It sounds quite similar to our house burglar alarm siren, and in fact is roughly the same volume. Even on “park” mode it is still very loud – certainly too loud to use in place of a normal bicycle bell. Whereas you can use a bell as a polite notice that you’re coming up behind people walking along the cycle path, and they’ll happily move to one side and let you through, I think the reaction would be quite different if you used the Hornit in the same way: I imagine that after they have finished jumping out of their skin, the next reaction would be to get quite angry at you! I think the only legitimate or reasonable use of the Hornit is in situations where another vehicle has posed an immediate danger to you as a cyclist and you need to get their attention. For example, a car driver that has failed to see you at a Give Way junction and is about to drive straight into you, or a van driver that has started reversing in a queue of traffic to let someone else out of a junction but hasn’t noticed you are waiting behind.
If I was cycling on the busy roads of London or another large city where lots of traffic battles for the same space, then I can definitely see a reason for having the Hornit on my bike. In fact even if I was using the main roads in Lincoln, which get very snarled up at certain times of day to say the least, then I would be happy knowing this was attached to my handlebars in the event that I needed to get the attention of another road user. As it happens the vast majority of my riding is on quiet back streets or dedicated cycle paths where an ordinary bell is more appropriate.
Find out more about the Hornit here: www.thehornit.com