Why We Love the Runbell
This is the Kickstarter campaign all runners should be backing.
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
Forget fitness trackers and smartphone mounts. The Runbell is currently the greatest fitness accessory on Kickstarter. Modeled after the classic brass bike bell, this mini finger dinger “solves the vexing problem of running in crowded areas where runners and pedestrians share the same path.”
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s solving a problem that doesn’t exist!” Au contraire, Shark Tank-educated investor, the problem most certainly does exist. Particularly in Tokyo, the birthplace of this invention, where courtesy is a cultural expectation and there are a lot of people on the sidewalk. In fact, the city of more than 13 million is home to the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection.
Tokyo is a polite place where people always stand to the left on escalators so others may walk on the right, and hollering “On your left!” or “Coming through” at strangers on the sidewalk is simply considered gauche.
“Absolutely rude! Would never do that. Runners always try to be ultra careful, slowing right down,” says famous Tokyo GPS runner Joseph Tame. If blocked by lollygaggers, proper etiquette dictates one must wait for a gap or find a way around. Runbell allows runners to scatter human roadblocks, with grace.
The United States could only hope to have such a dilemma of decorum. In our decidedly less courteous country—the land of non-budging escalator rogues and runners proud to announce their approach—the bell still solves the problem of removing pesky pedestrians from one’s intended path. And the added benefits are well worth the $25 Kickstarter price tag:
- The unmistakable brass ding will make pedestrians think a tiny, crazed cyclist is overtaking them. Not only will walkers move over, they’ll leap out of the way. Even better: their expressions of astonishment and/or confusion when no bike passes by will be worthy of a new internet video genre.
- Vocal communication while pounding out an interval is out of the question. If you can say, “Pardon me,” you’re not running hard enough. Use the bell.
- In the event that your Runbell causes sidewalk rage, it doubles as brass knuckles.
Fully adjustable, Runbell also fits over gloves for winter jaunts. As of this writing, it had $10,776 pledged toward its $20,000 goal, with 12 days to go in its campaign.
If you’ve considered investing in fitness technology, now’s the time to fork it over. Because nothing moves slowpokes and dawdlers out of the way like the charming sound of a tiny bike bell. And because wearing Runbell, with its “Runbell Tokyo” stamp, will connect runners in sound and spirit with their respectful brethren across the Pacific.