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Screaming Banshee horn ensures that motorcycles get noticed

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June 18, 2012

The Screaming Banshee is an add-on 139-decibel motorcycle horn, that allows riders to stil...

The Screaming Banshee is an add-on 139-decibel motorcycle horn, that allows riders to still use their regular horn as needed

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As Gizmag’s Loz Blain will tell you from personal experience, one of the biggest dangers faced by motorcyclists involves not being noticed by drivers of larger vehicles. The small-car-like horns that come as standard equipment on most bikes do little to address that situation, which is why electrical engineer Peter Olt invented the Screaming Banshee. It’s an aftermarket motorcycle horn that blares at a sure-to-be-noticed 139 decibels – but only when the situation calls for it.

Olt came up with the idea last year, after a car suddenly entered his lane while he was riding in Florida. He decided that while a very loud horn would be useful in such situations, it would be inappropriate for everyday “Yoo-hoo, the light’s turned green”-type scenarios. Therefore, the Banshee doesn’t actually replace the bike’s existing horn. That horn is left in place, and can be activated with a simple tap of the horn button.

However, when the user urgently needs to alert another driver to their presence, they just hold that same button down for a quarter to half a second – depending on the chosen setting. This will activate the sonic assault, along with causing the high beam headlight to pulsate. Its volume level might not be quite up there with The Hornster, but it can apparently be heard from up to three blocks away.

The Screaming Banshee air horn (right) and its sealed control unit

The system consists of the air horn itself, and a matchbox-sized sealed control unit. It draws power directly from the bike’s battery as opposed to the factory horn wiring, which is typically not set up to handle the approximately 18 amps required by the Banshee. It can reportedly be easily user-installed.

Although it was designed primarily for motorcycles, the system can also be installed in cars.

It can be purchased via the company website, with prices starting at US$99.99. More information is available in the video below.

Source: Screaming Banshee via Gear Patrol

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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28 Comments

cool idea. I also like the bike version of the amazing autobahn mirror on my motorcycle. great safety miror.

Tyrone Curry
18th June, 2012 @ 05:18 pm PDT

As if this isn't going to be abused. I already have to put up with idiots who put air horns from tractor trailers on their SUVs just because they can. Motorcyclists are even worse, since it seems very few of them can wait at a stoplight without gunning the engine every few seconds.

Gadgeteer
18th June, 2012 @ 06:20 pm PDT

horns need to be tone specific to type of vehicle. a motorcycle with a truck's air-horn is no more likely to be seen when its horn is blaring than when its not because people will be looking for the truck.

Slowburn
18th June, 2012 @ 06:31 pm PDT

I've been driving a car for more then 30 years and plenty of people have pulled out in front of me too, but I'm just too quick for them and don't need a big horn, I just go around. Slowburn is right, this will only confuse drivers and that's the worst thing you can do. It sounds like a second vehicle. I'm always tempted to pull out in front of motorcycles that have blinding highbeams on during the day, could you come up with a solution for that?

The Hoff
18th June, 2012 @ 08:03 pm PDT

Really he came up with the idea all on his own a year ago? I've been installing the exact same horn on customers bikes for nearly 10 years they first came to market from a company called Stebel. They call it the Nautilus horn. There a dozen knock offs on the market including one you can buy a Harbor Freight.

http://www.stebel.it/stebel2009/products.asp?IDserie=6 &;

http://www.harborfreight.com/bad-boy-air-horn-94117.html

MacBandit
18th June, 2012 @ 10:21 pm PDT

Very useful when a motorcyclist makes up a third lane when the road is marked for 2 lanes. It should scare about 3 years off the life of an old driver that does not know the motor bike is making up new laws while he drives along.

Personally I have not used a horn for more than 10 years, and find that careful driving negates its use.

pointyup
19th June, 2012 @ 01:33 am PDT

A louder horn on any bike is a great idea, but for a fraction of the cost you can get a car's twin-horn setup and that's just as good and noticeable, and adding a fused and relayed connection straight from the battery will make any horn much more efficient!

Gaëtan Schurrer
19th June, 2012 @ 03:42 am PDT

At The Hoff High-beams bother you in the day light? I've been riding motorcycles for well over 30 years and I ALWAYS keep my high-beam on in the day time, it's the only thing that keeps me seen by most cage drivers and even then they still manage to pull out on top of me when I'm going by them! A high-beam headlight is WAY dimmer then the sun I don't see how it could possibly bother you? As for the loud horn they work, I have a car type of horn on my M/C and it gets used! :-)

mrhuckfin
19th June, 2012 @ 04:29 am PDT

I no longer ride a motorcycle ('69' Triumph 650 Daytona fitted with Sifton cams), but found in the past 40 years of riding in the SF Bay Area that the bark of my very loud, very noticeable, ported barrel V-10 Springfield Armory .45 automatic pistol usually got the errant drivers attention and reduced the possibility of having to engage in a non-productive road rage incident. Grizzly Bear spray (30' range) through the drivers side window also alerted them to my presence, and works well to dampen the errant drivers enthusiasm for beginning a situation only he/she will lose!

Gotcha
19th June, 2012 @ 06:10 am PDT

It is amazing the opinions expressed, by those who don't read the entire article. I ride, I have installed a Banshee Horn, and it works! The key concept that seems to have been missed by the majority of "complainers" is the delay. In general use, to wake up the driver with the cell phone stuck in ear at intersection, or texting, or makeup, or - you get the idea, you have a short, mild, "factory" beep. But, when needed, when the normal action is a hard stab at the horn button you go from a the mild wake-up call to a loud "watch out" horn and flashing light. This is particularly useful when a car driver opens the driver side door when you are 20 or so feet away. Wouldn't be needed if drivers would pay attention to what is gouing on around the car, use turn signals, etc.

And to MACBandit, don't know where you live but in many states splitting a lane is perfectly legal.

And BTW, I have been able to avoid at least two accidents by alerting a driver that was intent on turning left directly in front of my Ultra, that I had the right of way.

Rubber_Ducky
19th June, 2012 @ 07:37 am PDT

Given the plethora of self-involved oblivious bovines driving here in southern California, I am ready to add one of these to my bike to give me one more way of letting them know they are not in fact the center of the universe.

Bob Fately
19th June, 2012 @ 09:15 am PDT

@slowburn "horns need to be tone specific to type of vehicle. a motorcycle with a truck's air-horn is no more likely to be seen when its horn is blaring than when its not because people will be looking for the truck."

They will be looking.

Jay Lloyd
19th June, 2012 @ 09:45 am PDT

Since no one mentioned it: horns are not for communicating your annoyance! They should be used only in case of emergency. The impatient and usually useless honking has lead into a situation, where horns are ignored unless they are extremely loud.

The Banshee accepts the reality, but as a bicyclist and pedestrian I'm quite annoyed by all the useless honking. And remember that it's much louder for pedestrians. Most drivers can be woken up by flashing your lights.

sascha.kremers
19th June, 2012 @ 10:20 am PDT

I'm glad someone beat me to stating this, but it's likely a cheaply made knockoff of the Stebel Nautilus, which is available from Twisted Throttle, Aerostich, or California Sport Touring for ~40$, and you can buy a nice wiring harness (relay included!) for another 20.

Either way, a loud horn is a necessity for motorcycle commuting IMO.

Scott Hopkins
19th June, 2012 @ 11:16 am PDT

Man, you guys really don't do anything but reprint press release, do you? If Peter Olt really claims to have invented this he's a liar and a thief. This is nothing be a Chinese knock off of an Italian Stebel horn. Or possibly (but doubtful) a rebranded Stebel. The same Chinese horn is available from at least half a dozen different companies with no changes but the sticker with the name on it.

But rest assured, Stebel invented this design, and Olt invented nothing but a story.

[Peter addresses the similarity to the Stebel horn on the FAQ page of his company's website, at: http://screaming-banshee.com/faqs -Ed.]

bobmeyerweb
19th June, 2012 @ 01:15 pm PDT

Slowburn doesn't have the faintest idea what he's talking about. I have used a Stebel (the original of which this is a (probably) unlicensed clone) for many years. Trust me, when that thing goes off people stop what they were doing. Even if they don't see me, they change their behavior. More than once I've had someone encroach on my lane, and when the horn goes off they *immediately* head back where they came from.

BTW, it doesn't sound anything like a truck horn. It's got a much higher pitch.

bobmeyerweb
19th June, 2012 @ 01:19 pm PDT

J.L is right,

Did you guys even read the article? It seems like the whole point of this invention is so that you can still use your stock horn while still easily using the airhorn blast by holding the horn. It looks to me there product is less of the air horn and more of that control unit device that allows use of both stock and aftermarket horns simultaneously. I checked out the site and they sell the control unit by itself so if you can still use an air horn of your choice like a Stebel Nautilus if you choose to do so.

I think this is a great idea and i'm rather surprised it hasn't been done before. Check there FAQ's page, there's some good information in there.

wtfmate212
19th June, 2012 @ 01:59 pm PDT

Fellow Bikers, Greeting!

I was a motorcycle courier for several years in California, where it is perfectly legal to lane-split. it was enacted to allow motorcycles to keep moving slightly, due to the fact they were air cooled. Sitting stopped caused them to seize-up even while following all existing laws of the time.

The first thing I do when I buy a bike (and I have had many) is replace the factory noise maker with an electric truck air horn. (not hard to do) strictly because I have been hit 11 times, destroyed 6 bikes, and I have never been found at fault.

Car drivers will look right at you and still change lanes right on top of you, and never realize you are there. You are not what they are looking for. When I hit my truck horns though, they will scamper back into their own lane before they even think about it. THEN they start looking for the truck that nearly creamed them. It is instinctual. They only watch for what can harm THEM.

I never use the horn without need, nor do I sit in traffic revving my engine, those are not motorcycles, those are donorcycles.

As for headlights, they are required by law and in modern cycles can not be turned off when the engine is running. Highbeams is a choice.

However, the delay is useless. replace the original horn and ticket those who misuse it. by the time you register that the idiot has opened his driver's door into traffic, and you are about to go splat, and his reaction time to correct the error, There is no time.

If it must be a two level horn, then make the switch touch to beep, and push to BEEP!!!

When it is needed, it is needed right NOW!

kellory
19th June, 2012 @ 03:30 pm PDT

Having ridden various big bikes in & around Hong Kong's traffic-clogged streets for the last 4 years, I have to agree with all those who've pointed out not only the need for a loud horn on any bike - particularly when approaching delivery vans & taxis - but also the almost uncanny similarity between this device and all the other Stebel-type airhorns that I've fitted on all my bikes & cars for many years...

Nick Herbert
19th June, 2012 @ 07:01 pm PDT

This horn sounds like a motorcycle first and then a truck. If your in a car and you hear one and then both, you have to be more worried about the truck because the motorcycle will not hurt as much. They might not do the best thing for the bike.

Motorcycles are harder to see in and many drive too fast. If you drive with your highbeams on your pissing people off and I know that some of those pissed off people will crowd your lane or bother you back just to get even. And If your on a bike and driving in the door zone your just asking for it.

The Hoff
20th June, 2012 @ 09:56 am PDT

Being an ex motorcycle rider and professional driver (semi trailers/F250's+trailers/cars) for 30+ years. I can honestly say, any loud noise makes you pay attention and alter your intent until further investigation has taken place. Size is not a concern, its all about the noise. Usually in this type of scenario, along with the load noise, both driver and rider have also altered their course and with the delay of the maneuver, visual contact occurs and an accident is avoided.

What I have to laugh at, is the mentality of the riders ."its ok to share a lane with a car" (you are temporary idiots), but it is not ok for a car to share a lane with a motor bike. Whether it is legal or not, lanes should not be shared (especially when the traffic is moving).

As for "High Beam in daylight"; High Beam lights in daylight are still quite bright and the glare from the light, can be not only very distracting (for the wrong reason) but quite uncomfortable for the opposing road user (specially if they have sensitive eye's). Low beam will still give a rider an extra advantage to being seen, but without hurting or distracting the other road user. Using low beam also gives you the added advantage of being able to get the attention of a fellow road user by signalling with a quick high flash. Not enough to hurt or distract, just get their added attention. Truck drivers use these signals all the time to signal the likes; (Intention to pass) or when someone is passing, (end of vehicle is clear and safe to re enter the same lane).

Trouble with most road users, bikes, cars and trucks; We are all to ignorant and arrogant to respect other road users, their space and the laws of the road. There would be far less accidents if we just show a little respect for other.

ELM
21st June, 2012 @ 02:55 am PDT

@ J.L You Sir sound like a jackass...Motorcyclists definitely need an edge to be able to survive on the road, but that kind of behavior is why we have so many road rage incidents. I'm glad some or most people have their high beams on so I can see them. I only see a very small % of bikers who ride between cars and pull out in front of people. Most motorcyclists ride very responsibly and unfortunately get cut off by "talkers and texters", and the truly oblivious. J.L., you need to have your fat but run over before you kill someone or their family on the road......

RESISTANCE
21st June, 2012 @ 10:20 am PDT

Yesterday, I saw a city bus pass a stationary bus, without noticing the cyclist between them. The striking bus left a trail of bike parts, and a man down in the street, but never even stopped!

I blocked traffic with my work truck until help could arrive, but it didn't look good. The rider is alive, but hurt bad. I could see broken bones and a head injury from 20yds away.

He had only the factory horn. weather or not a bigger horn would have saved him, I don't know, but he would have had a better chance.

The cyclist was NOT at fault.

kellory
23rd June, 2012 @ 07:24 am PDT

Horns are for posers. If you are to find yourself in a position that you need to 'horn', you'd have a much better chance of survival by putting that energy into braking, changing direction or using your left hand for something much more applicable to the situation, clutching down a gear and finding a better road position. The horn only creates anger which diverts much needed concentration. We know tin tops are apathetic towards motorcyclists, 'horning' makes us also apathetic.

VeloceFrancois
7th July, 2012 @ 08:26 pm PDT

Subjecting a person to 139 dB of noise at close range is tantamount to common assault and exposes the assailant to prosecution and legal liability.

nutcase
23rd July, 2012 @ 01:57 am PDT

First off, anybody who thinks it's funny to pull out in front of a motorcycle, for any reason, needs to sign themselves into a hospital. Seeing a young boy and his girlfriend lying on the ground, missing limbs, isn’t funny! Motorcycles are truly hard to see, I myself have not seen motorcycle's until the last minute and I know how difficult it is for them to stop in emergencies, having ridden a few bikes over the years. My suggestion is to use bright white LEDs as a strobe, just enough to catch your eye. I really think a strobe system would save lives.

Thomas Lewis
12th November, 2012 @ 01:44 am PST

There are a lot of knee-jerk emotional reactions here. I rode for years with loud horns on my motorcycle. Many times, I approached an intersection, tapped the horn to make my presence known, waved at the driver and got a friendly wave in return. If you're not a jerk with the horn, most people would rather know you are there than spend the time waiting for the ambulance to scrape you off the street. Numerous times in 200,000 plus miles someone would start to pull out in front of me or take my lane (once it was a cop) and a heavy blast did the trick, though I was ready to find an alternate route.

It is interesting how most people posting here seem never to have ridden a motorcycle or have any clue how many ways it is different from driving a cage. Usually, people should keep their mouths shut when they have no idea what they are talking about.

psittacid
2nd December, 2012 @ 01:44 pm PST

Don't waste your money on the Screaming Banshee. I had four unit sent to me and all four were defective. They said they got bad diodes from overseas.....they needed jumpers to work..... blah....blah... blah. Three months later and out of money for shrink tubing and almost 12 hours of labor with the off and on 4 times. I got sick of it and told them to refund my $150.

Haven't heard from them yet.

Go to a different supplier and save yourself the grief.

The laserman
24th April, 2014 @ 06:43 pm PDT
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