Most seasoned street jockeys are no longer strangers to those little bells hanging from motorcycles. Novices are a different story, though, feeling at an utter loss whenever a fellow rider gives them a guardian bell as a gift for every race!
This article will gladly delve further into the motorcycle bell’s meaning and help lift the cloud of confusion for you.
Table of Contents
What Is A Guardian Bell on Motorcycle? Why Do Motorcycles Have It?
Guardian bells refer to the small, beautifully-crafted bells hung on every motorcycle to shoo gremlins and evil spirits away and bring about good luck. They comprise numerous materials, such as copper, brass, and pewter.
One would question, Why do people associate gremlins with motorbikes in the first place? While it’s hard to pinpoint the very first gremlin bell story ever reported, our research team has managed to get our hands on the most popular ones.
Legend 1. A Story from An English Countryside Motorist
The Gremlin Bell legend stirred in the 1920s as a motorist rode his bike through England’s countryside regions. Out of nowhere, the motorbike started sputtering and failed to stay upright despite all his best efforts. Thankfully, the sight of a humble cottage got into his vision, and he hurriedly got there, hoping to find some help.
Turns out this cottage belonged to an old and wise woman, who revealed to the man that an evil gremlin had sabotaged his bike. She then gifted him a bell to ward the gremlin away. Though skeptical, the motorist took her present regardless and hung the bell on his bike.
The rest of his trip went smoothly since then, with no mechanical problems lurking around the corner. That’s where the guardian bell legend was born.
Legend 2. A Story of A Solo Biker In A Cafe
This story revolves around a biker traveling a long distance and stopping for lunch at a lesser-known cafe. During his meal, the man saw small bells on the cafe door and couldn’t help but voice his curiosity to the actress. She introduced the bell to him – a Gremlin charm to fight off lingering, evil road spirits.
Half-convinced by her enthusiastic story, the biker took one bell before leaving the cafe. As he resumed the journey, mechanical problems ensued; but miraculously, anytime he picked up the bell and yelled, “Gremlins be gone!”, the bike worked again.
Repeating the sentence throughout his trip, the man arrived at his desired destination safely.
Since then, he has hung the bells on his bike to use as protective charms. Other motorcyclists soon picked up this tradition and spread its popularity all over the globe.
Legend 3. A Story of One Young Couple
This time, the narrators are a couple on the way to their very first date. A gremlin jumped out to the front of their bike, being hit and killed almost instantly.
Its horrifying scream scared the two so much that it took them years to start riding again. The couple installed guardian bells on their bikes to protect themselves from any evil spirit that dared cross their way.
Legend 4. A Story of the WWII
Not many linked WWII to urban superstitions. However, to our surprise, another guardian bell legend DID stemmed from this historical period.
Aircraft pilots had to do heavy labor for hours without rest and under excessive distress. As fatigue overwhelmed them, hallucinations started flooding their minds during flights. Such illusions often involved mythical creatures (Gremlins) sabotaging and destroying their planes.
In desperation to protect their aircraft, the pilots started making and hanging little bells. Any time the bell rang, they were physically awakened from their hallucinations.
While this phenomenon could be easily explained through scientific deduction, most pilots chose to believe in miracles instead. They assumed the bells had confused/harassed the gremlins to save and protect their planes.
After WWII, veterans brought these gremlin charms home, convinced that these powerful bells had kept them safe on dangerous flights and would likely do the same for their motorcycles.
Legend 5. A Story of A Memorial Bell
Other sources cited the tradition of the Guardian bell as a step-up/evolution from another bell custom – where motorcyclists hung a bell to pay tribute to their fallen fellow.
These bells often had customized engraving/inscriptions that gently reminded everyone of all the best memories about their departed friend.
And as time passed by, motorists started hanging the bells to remember lovers, friends, and even pet dogs or cats – not just other fellow bikers. They hope their loved ones will grant them some luck and strength on the way.
Legend 6. The Story of Knights and Monks
Evil spirits kept disrupting the monks’ precious meditating time, which prompted the latter to create protective guardian bells. The bells worked so spectacularly that even the road Gremlins from other nearby villages disappeared!
Meanwhile, other stories narrated that a group of knights defeated the Gremlins – not the monks – and grateful villagers gave these bells to the knights as a gift.
Do Guardian Bells Have Other Names, Too?
Readers often write us letters to inquire about the difference between Guardian bells, spirit bells, biker bells, angel bells, or Gremlin bells. Nevertheless, they all refer to the same metal bell on a motorcycle for good luck.
What Are The Important Rules to Remember About Guardian Bells?
1. Do Not Buy It
We understand your desire to steer clear of gremlins and evils. Nevertheless, buying the bells on your own is not how it works at all! Their magical powers can only activate when somebody else gives them to you.
It is the goodwill and kindness behind such gestures that protect you, ensuring no harmful spirits can haunt your trip. Remember how the mother’s sacrifice and undying love saved Harry Potter from Voldemort’s killing curse? Yes, the Guardian bells work the same way.
2. Hang The Bell Low
A bell should be hung by the person who offers it to you. Though customs may vary across each biker community, the most popular placement is on the frame’s lowest part.
Putting it near the bike’s front will be even better – as that is the first spot a gremlin encounters. The bell’s magic grabs these devils instantly before they can cause any damage and mischief!
3. Always Keep It With You
For those who want to sell their bikes, remove the ride bells. If you just keep them there, the buyers will never receive the same shield from these bells as you used to.
Still want your buyers to keep the bell for good luck? In that case, we suggest pulling the bells off the bike first, then giving them to the buyers as a gift to resurrect their protective power.
The same applies to stolen bells. Taking other people’s bells against their will does not give you or your bike any protection, either.
4. Give The Bells Away With Good Intention
Wish your recipient the best of luck from the bottom of your heart. Do not give it away out of reluctance or spite! Otherwise, the gift will be worthless – since there’s no goodwill or kindness power to capture dark spirits.
Also, guardian bell customs rely heavily on karma. Bestowing bad thoughts on others only makes you more vulnerable to dark forces and evils.
5. Clean and Polish The Bells
Their low-hanging position exposes these bells to numerous debris and dirt buildups. Remember to give them some good cleaning every time you wash the bicycle!
The shinier they are, the more bad fortune they can absorb to keep mishaps away.
How to Attach Guardian Bells The Right Way? Step-by-Step
Find a good place at the bike’s bottom to hang the bell – where it cannot disturb the wheels or any other moving parts. The pegs are a nice option.
Hold this bell to your chosen hanging spot. Pick a leather strap or cable tie, then thread it through the hanging loop of the bell.
Wrap the strap around the peg or frame of your bike. Tie it double knot or thrust the strap’s tapered end into the other end’s square slot. Pull tightly.
Use scissors to cut off all excess ties or straps.
Aside from Guardian Bells, What Are Other Popular Motorcycle Superstitions?
1. Dropping Helmets
“Drop the helmet, and your head follows,” an old saying that used to freak out many people!
But honestly, it’s absurd to get rid of your current helmet and buy another one every time it is dropped. Why not put your hard-earned money into quality safety gear instead?
2. Green Motorcycles
Green motorcycles were another infamous symbol of bad luck, stemming from the high death rates of people who owned green bikes (which we believe is just a coincidence) and WWII American troops riding military green vehicles.
Thankfully, such baseless assumptions have been declining in popularity. Famous brands like Kawasaki even exploited this urban legend and turned it into their competitive edge!
3. Letting Down The Rear Peg
Similar to the guardian bells custom, but from a negative perspective: people believe rear pegs being kept down will invite evils and gremlins to join the ride!
That’s why some motorists dare not let down the peg when riding alone; “the more the merrier” certainly does not apply to this case.
Where Can You Buy Guardian Bells?
Amazon, Walmart, Etsy,… you name it. The choices are endless!
How Many Gremlin Bells Can One Put On His Motorbike?
There’s no rule regarding this, though most motorcycle riders have made it a habit to keep only one.
Can You Hang Your Own Bell?
No. It must be bought and hung by the same person (your biker friend, fellow rider, etc.).
Believe the legend or not, it wouldn’t be really nice to turn down the guardian bells when someone gives them to you. After all, these luck charms are the biggest embodiments of their love and concern for your safety!
Return their kindness by gifting a bell to that person as well. Refer to our guides above for usage and hanging tips, and feel free to reach out should you still feel stuck.