On the roads, every so often, I find myself compromised in some way. Most of the time its relatively benign. A car comes a shade too close. A van threatens to dart across the road. A near miss at a roundabout. These are unwelcome but not uncommon features of cycling. Occasionally, the threats are a bit more serious. The car that really, really hasn’t seen you. The truck that overshoots the junction and then starts to reverse. The super narrow space that squeezes cyclist and vehicle too close for comfort. We don’t like ‘em but you can’t ignore ‘em. They happen. So it was with academic interest and a healthy dose of scepticism that I agreed to test the Hornit, ‘The world’s loudest cycle horn’.
The Hornit is around 100mm long, weighs a svelte 44g and sits in a Cateye pattern mount on your handlebars. With a supplied hex key to tighten the jubilee clip, mounting was a breeze. Separately a small silicon button is provided to activate the horn. Courtesy of the rubber ‘O’ ring and an appropriate length of wire, it can be positioned pretty much anywhere on the handlebars. I’d say it took me about 10 mins out of the box to fix to the bike. The instructions were short, sharp and accurate. Rather thoughtfully, extra mounting brackets and triggers are available for purchase at £3.99, allowing the Hornit to be used on multiple bikes.
According to the company:
The Hornit dB140 cycle horn gives cyclists, the most vulnerable road users, a way of actively letting all other road users know where they are. With a Hornit dB140 cyclists can pre-empt and avoid dangerous situations altogether. Cyclists no longer need to run the gauntlet hoping to be seen. Riders can often predict what the dangers are – vehicles pulling out of junctions, drivers opening car doors into the road, vehicles switching lanes suddenly whilst the cyclist is filtering, pedestrians stepping off the pavement, drivers turning without looking and/or without signalling. The Hornit dB140 means cyclists can make themselves heard when it really matters.
The Sound test
140 decibels is loud. To put it in perspective, Deep Purple rendered 3 fans unconscious at a concert in 1972 with a meagre 117 decibels. So 140 decibels is in fact, not just loud, it’s bloody loud. Thankfully, you are very unlikely to keep your finger on it for 2 whole hours, so I wouldn’t envisage any Deep Purple style reactions. When I first tested the Hornit, I took it outside, screwed my face up, held the horn at arms length and gave a tiny ‘parp’. My fear had got the better of me. Second press, I let rip with an ear shattering blast of 4 seconds. I don’t have the benefit of sound level meter, but yep. This thing rocks. You’re going to get heard.
I’ve now been using the Hornit for about a week. Given that I’m no shrinking violet and ride in busy urban environments on a daily basis, it didn’t take too long to require its services. Standing at the lights in the outside lane of Cardiff’s busy Bute Terrace, the hazard box was full of cars attempting to turn right and – surprise, surprise – unable to do so. I shook my head and tutted sagely. Fools I thought. Don’t they know the rules? I was shocked out of my reverie as a car in the lane next to me (there are 3 lanes here) decided to take matters into his own hands. Ignoring (or at least not seeing ) me he swung into my lane in an attempt to execute an almighty overtaking manoeuvre, whilst simultaneously trying to turn my size 10 feet into size 12s by flattening them with his Michelins. I let rip with the Hornit. The driver woke up, gave me a somewhat stunned look and raised his hand in acknowledgement. No bell would have achieved the same effect.
So..I had some fire-power at my disposal. Look out everyone. And there is of course, a counter argument. It’s been said that obnoxious cyclists can become even more obnoxious when armed with the Hornit. Undoubtedly this is true. However the argument cuts both ways. Just as a loud horn can make a noisy cyclist louder, a powerful car in the hands of a dangerous driver makes that driver even more dangerous. A knife in the hands of a chef is an essential tool for the job, yet the same knife can just as easily become a deadly weapon. To my mind, the argument is pointless and the potential for the Hornit as a means to alert, outweighs its potential capacity to annoy. There is also a further and very valid argument to be made; the Hornit can also be a valuable piece of equipment for people who feel vulnerable on darkened cycle paths. Try scaring off an attacker with a bell.
Would I recommend the Hornit? Absolutely. If you are considering buying it, the Hornit definitely restores some balance to the playing field. Does it replace a bell? No, it complements one. Riding on the Taff trail for instance, I prefer to quietly alert pedestrians to my presence rather than scare them out of their wits, but the road is a different matter altogether. Motor vehicles are big, fast and powerful, and as far as protective equipment are concerned, cyclists are much further down the evolutionary ladder. The Hornit equips cyclists with the ability to attract attention in a manner that no other piece of cycling equipment can. A very effective piece of kit for the commuting cyclist.
The Hornit retails at £39.99. For videos, further details and how to buy, access their website here.