Have you ever seen a motorcyclist with a small metal bell hanging from their bike’s handlebars? If so, you’ve almost certainly wondered what it was for. Surely it couldn’t be used like a car horn to alert other motorists of their presence.
Motorcyclists consider the bell a good luck charm for protection, mostly gifted from one biker to another. Read on to find out more about motorcycle bell meanings.
Motorcycle Myths and Superstitions
Superstitions have been around for ages, dating back to ancient Babylonia. You’ve probably heard about superstitions, like Friday the 13th, not opening umbrellas indoors, and black cats crossing your path.
It is common for humans to have superstitious beliefs to feel a sense of relief in an unfavorable event. Research on human superstitions states that it is not linked to abnormality but is a cultural behavior. It is usually effective in coping with stressful conditions.
Like these common superstitions, bikers have some of their own, giving them confidence that doing or avoiding certain things could keep them safe from bad luck.
Motorcycles have been around for years, and so have their superstitions. They were passed down from one generation to the next.
Let’s have a look at some of the most popular motorcycle superstitions.
Dropping Your Helmet
This superstition is derived from the popular saying, “As goes your helmet, so goes your head”. The general idea of this superstition is that once you drop your helmet, it can bring you a piece of bad luck.
It’s popular amongst motorcyclists that once they drop their helmets, they have to get a new one to avoid bad luck.
This superstition about the power of bells protecting bikers from bad luck started in WWII when soldiers believed that the bells helped trap or scare away gremlins or evil spirits. But more on this later.
It is believed that in WWII, the bikes painted in green were easily identified as the bikes of soldiers and were targeted easily by enemies. This led to a superstition that green-colored bikes are a bad omen and could lead you to death.
Motorcycle Bell Meaning
Have you ever walked into the auto parts shop and found different bells hanging in the accessories section and wondered why someone would hang that on their bike? What’s the motorcycle bell’s meaning and importance?
Motorcycle bells are a blessing or charm to protect bikers from bad luck or accidents. It’s a superstitious belief handed down from older generations to new bikers and is still actively practiced today.
There are many stories about tormented souls who wander on the highways and bring you bad luck. The bikers believe they should hang these bells at the bottom of their bikes, at the lowest point possible.
The original idea of hanging the bell at the bottom is that people believed there were gremlins on the road. Once a biker passes that gremlin, it gets stuck in the bell and stays there as long as it is attached to the bike.
The constant ringing will drive them insane and prevent them from causing any harm to the rider or his bike. It has different types and rules, which we will discuss along with its history.
History Of Motorcycle Bell
The history of the motorcycle bell and its ability to disable gremlins or demons dates back to the 11th century AD when British Catholics rang dead bells at a funeral to scare away the evil spirits from the procession.
This practice was passed on to following generations, and some people still use it as a tool to scare away evil spirits from their homes.
In the early 1900s, Royal Air Force pilots began to talk about tiny human-like creatures that caused damage to their planes and named them gremlins. It was perhaps a joke about faulty RAF airplanes, but the myth took on a life of its own.
This idea of gremlins causing mayhem gained popularity after Roald Dahl wrote a book, namely “The Gremlins.” The folklore then made its way into American culture, and people claimed to have seen gremlins before a crash or accident.
All these superstitions about gremlins causing harm to pilots and drivers developed a strong belief about bells scaring away or trapping the gremlins and preventing them from causing damage.
These people then took this superstition back home and started practicing it on their motorcycles. This led to the bells gaining popularity amongst bikers to help ward off bad omens.
Motorcycle businesses got on board with this idea and started making bells as an accessory for their bikes.
The famous motorcycle company Harley Davidson has many kinds of motorcycle bells in their goods and gifts section, available at an affordable price between $15 to $20 a bell.
Rules of Motorcycle Bells
According to bikers, there are a set of rules that you must follow to make your bell work effectively against harmful spirits. Let’s have a look at some of the bylaws of motorcycle bells.
Don’t Buy It Yourself
It is believed that this bell never works to protect you if you buy one yourself. For the bell to work, it must be gifted to you by someone else as a good gesture to keep you safe on the road. That’s why it’s common for veteran bikers to gift these bells to new riders.
Hang It at the Bottom
It is believed that gremlins are tiny creatures, short in height. To trap them, bikers should hang the bells at the bottom of their bikes. The bell should be the first object a gremlin grabs onto, saving the rider and his motorcycle.
It is also believed that the bell works best if hung by the gifter rather than the owner of a bike, so if you receive a bell from someone allow them to hang it for you.
Sell the Bike Keep the Bell
If you plan to sell your bike and are looking forward to buying a new one, the bell hung on your old bike should be removed and saved for your new bike. It is believed that the bell is only compatible with the intended recipient, not the motorcycle.
If you purchase a motorcycle from someone with a bell hooked, you should take it off and hand it over to its owner.
A Stolen Bell Is Bad Luck
A motorcycle bell is connected to the good intention of both the receiver and the gifter. If the bell is obtained through any evil means, it loses its charm and does not work as it should.
With that being said, a stolen bell will never be of any use to a thief. Instead, it will only bring them harm. Those protective powers of a bell will backfire and let the bad luck get to the stealer. Karma will find its way.
One Bell Is Enough
You might have heard the famous phrase — the more, the merrier. So if you hang more bells on your motorcycle, will it give you stronger protection? Not really. For motorcycle bells to have protective powers, you are supposed to hang only one bell on your bike.
One guardian bell can do its job effectively if you follow all the other rules.
Keep the Bell Clean
The bell takes care of you and your bike. In return, you should also be considerate towards your guardian bell. These bells work effectively if kept clean. They demand respect to perform their best against the demons.
Because bikers commonly keep the bell near the bottom of the bike, it is likely to get dirty or scuffed up. Wash it down and give it a good polish to preserve the power of the bell.
Old Is Gold
It is a common myth among bikers that the older the bell, the stronger it works against the gremlins. Older bells are believed to be the strongest ones out there with all the years of fighting off those gremlins.
Pass it On
Motorcycle gremlin bells are all about intentional goodwill, so if a biker is about to pass away, they should pass their bell over to someone else to honor the bell in the coming years.
Out of all the superstitions among bikers, the guardian or gremlin bell is one of the most common ones. This article has explained the motorcycle bell meaning in detail, with all its rules and history.
In addition to superstition, it is also a trend among motorcyclists these days to hang a bell at the lowest point of their motorcycle. The oldest bell is the most valuable one, as it is believed to have fought or trapped generations of gremlins, having more protection powers.