More than Good Luck: Common Motorcycle Superstitions
To work around any unlucky situation, superstitions exist for anything and everything. It’s a form of comfort or insurance.
For example, black cats are typically considered unlucky. I mean, cats, in general, aren’t anything to rave about, but black cats, in particular, are apparently out to ruin your life. You’re not supposed to walk under a ladder, don’t dump salt, don’t break a mirror. The list is endless.
But just as there are some generic superstitions to prevent you from facing bad luck, there are also superstitions specific to hobbies and communities. That means some motorcycle superstitions apply to riders, bikers, and the motorcycle culture. These could be things to improve your luck on the road, and if that’s the case, keep on doing you! But for those of you who aren’t as familiar with some of these, kick back and enjoy the amusement.
Dropping your helmet:
“As goes your helmet, so goes your head.” That’s the saying behind this motorcycle superstition that says it’s very bad luck to drop your motorcycle helmet. We can understand where it’s coming from, too. If you continue to just drop your helmet, there might be a chance that you can cause some damage to it. And a damaged helmet is a worthless helmet. Apparently, it also doesn’t matter how short the fall is. If you drop it, you replace it, because it’s considered unlucky.
It’s thought that if you drop your helmet, your head will follow. That’s not an image we like to picture, so we’ll leave it up to you. But honestly, you’re bound to drop or have dropped your helmet before, and if that’s the case, it’s not realistic to buy a new helmet every time you drop it. When it comes to safety gear, riders typically put in a good chunk of money to ensure that they’re getting quality gear. When your safety is involved in the equation, that’s not an area that you cheap out on. So, in that case, it’s a bit unrealistic to think that someone should replace their helmet every time they drop it.
So this one is pretty damn interesting, I'm not going to lie. It’s a little unsettling, too. A Guardian Bell is a small bell that some bikers attach to their bike to attempt to ward off evil spirits that are trying to harm them while they’re on the road. It is believed that these evil spirits that you might encounter on the road are what’s responsible for any bad luck that you might face on your trip.
The sound of the bell is believed to get the evil spirits interested, where they suddenly become trapped inside the bell. While in there, the constant ringing of the bell makes them go insane, so much so that they lose their grip and fall to the ground. Yeah, it comes across as a little dark. Especially if you start to try to imagine what these evil spirits would even look like. However, even in the darkest and possibly morbid things, there’s always a little light involved in the situation.
In this case, the bell helps bond a biker community together, especially new riders. It is believed that a rider cannot buy their own bell; it has to be gifted to them by another fellow rider. That tends to create a friendship, a bond, and a potential riding buddy for life. And when you look at it that way, maybe this motorcycle superstition isn’t so bad.
There’s also a different version of the bell, but this is less of superstition and more of a form of remembrance. Some bikers hang a brass bell from the left side of their swingarm to remember a fallen rider. It’s believed that the fallen rider will get to continue to enjoy the road with their friends. And that’s pretty dang sweet.
Is a green motorcycle bad luck? Yep, this used to actually be a thing. The color green on motorcycles was considered a very, very bad idea. It might be one of the most ‘unlucky’ components existing in motorcycle history. While Kawasaki may have changed this superstition into something that has now become uniquely their own, it wasn’t always that way. There was a time where green motorcycles were never something you messed with.
It is believed that the reason green motorcycles were considered highly unlucky was that of all the individuals who drove green vehicles who died (coincidentally) in race crashes, and American troops who died in World War II while riding their green, military motorcycles. Now, we can assume the reason why so many riders died in the War was that enemy snipers would try to prevent them from sending important messages between bases and camps. However, people seemed to fixate on the green color and stayed away from it at all costs.
The other consideration is that those same motorcycles were also sold for pretty cheap after the War was over. Now, after those bikes had experienced riding in the War, they probably weren’t in the best condition to begin with. That means the individuals who bought the bikes could've been riding bikes that were not the safest. Therefore they were far more likely to run into issues. Regardless of the reasoning, for a long time, no one would get on a green motorcycle for fear that they could be creating some really bad luck.
Riding with the rear pegs down:
This superstition is similar to the belief about bells, but in the sense that it’s believed you could be encouraging evil spirits to tag along for a ride. There’s an old belief that you should never ride with your rear pegs down if you don’t have a second rider with you. Why? It’s believed that a second rider will appear.
It’s probably those same damn evil spirits that you’re trying to trap in the bell. Either way, it’s believed that if you leave those pegs down, the spirits assume you're welcoming them to join you. But these riders are not very likely to be as pleasant as other riders because their sole reason for existence is to cause mischief.
This is considered a complicated superstition, simply because if you’re riding your bike in a funeral procession in honor of a fellow fallen rider, you’re supposed to have the pegs down so that your friend can enjoy one last ride. So we get that this specific superstition is one that overlaps with other traditions, it’s not a simple one. But if you make sure you have that silver bell, this shouldn’t be a problem. At least, I hope so, because then what’s the reason for having that silver bell if it’s not going to do its job?
Stopping to help other riders:
Now, this is one that we think everyone should get on board with if they aren’t already. But not simply on account of luck. Think of this superstition as bad karma. If you see a fellow rider on the side of the road, for whatever the reason may be, you’re always supposed to stop and offer help. Even if it doesn’t really seem like they’re going to need it, you’re still supposed to stop. Always.
The reason basically boils down to karma. If you don’t stop for another rider, it’s believed that no one will stop for you if you’re ever in a similar situation, or you’ll just receive some general bad luck. But let’s be honest, even mildly-bad luck can turn into shit luck when you ride a motorcycle. It doesn’t take much to completely turn your day upside down.
A huge reason that so many bikers love to ride is that of our tight-knit culture. Now, when you don’t help out your fellow riders, that what does that say about the awesome culture we’re supposed to have? Even beyond that, you should always try to help people if they seem like they’re in need. It’s the nice thing to do, and if you’re someone that believes in karma, then good karma will come traveling right back to you. Also, no one likes assholes, don't be that guy.
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