The roar of a motor, the sound of the wind rushing past, and the tinkling of a bell? Perhaps that last sound doesn't belong with the other two when it comes to talking about the sensation of riding a motorcycle, but as it turns out it does. Follow LRS as we dig into another of the Myths, Legends, and Tales from the Road, as we take on the Legend of the Gremlin Bell.
As one walks down the row upon row of bikes at any given motorcycle rally or event, you'll no doubt see motorcycles with amazing paint, chrome and many times if you look closely, a small bell. Throughout the motorcycle community, a legend has emerged. That a small bell, hung from the bike close to the ground, wards off evil spirits or "Gremlins". We have heard the story as no doubt many of you had. But we wanted to know the history and the facts behind the tradition.
In my research, I came across many different stories, of which I'll share later in this blog. But I also came across some history. It turns out the belief that bells or chimes ward off evil spirits, has it's roots deep, stemming all the way from Roman culture to ancient european and asian cultures. The Romans believed that hanging a bell or windchime in gardens and doorways warded off evil spirits. Ancient asian cultures also used "windchimes" and bells to ward off evil spirits. More recently, I found, some pilots in World War I and Word War II adopted this custom of hanging a small bell near their motors. They believed it to be a good luck charm to ward off "Gremlins" which would cause mechanical failures and wreaked havok on anything mechanical. Now that we've uncovered the history behind the bell, lets get to the part we all really care about, how does a bell help us bikers? The belief is that mechanical problems are caused by evil spirits, or "gremlins". The bell hung low to the road is said to attract these "gremlins" with it's shape and trap them within. The gremlins are also said to have very sensitive hearing, so when the bell tinkles, the gremlins go insane and fall to the ground, forming a pothole. This is explains how the bell works. But I wanted to know the story of why one rider gifts another with the bell, and so was born, The Legend of The Gremlin Bell!
" Many years ago, on a cold December night, a crusty old biker was returning from a trip to Mexico with his saddlebags filled with toys and other assorted trinkets for the kids at a group home near where he worked. As he rode along that night thinking how lucky he had been in life, having a loving riding partner that understood his need to roam the highways and his trusty old pan that hadn't let him down once in the many years they had shared the road together.
About 40 miles north of the border, in the high desert, lurked a small group of notorious little critters known as Road Gremlins. You know, the ones who always leave little obstacles like, one shoe, boards, and pieces of old tires on the road, and also dig pot-holes for bikers to run over and crash, thus giving the road gremlins a chance to rejoice in their acts of evil.
Well, as the lone biker rounded a curve that moonlit night, the gremlins ambushed him, causing him to crash to the asphalt and skid before coming to a stop next to one of his saddlebags that had broken free. As he lay on the ground, unable to move, the Gremlins made their way towards him. Well, this biker, not being one to give up, started throwing things at the Gremlins as they closed on him. Finally, with nothing left to throw but a bell, he started ringing the bell, in hopes to scare off the dirty little Gremlins.
About a half mile away, camped in the desert, were two other bikers, sitting around their campfire talking about the days ride, and remembering the freedom of the wind blowing in their faces as the rode across this vast country. In the stillness of the night, over the crackle of their fire, they heard what sounded like church bells ringing! They decided to investigate, and came upon the old biker, lying on the roadside, with the Gremlins closing in on him. Needless to say, being part of the biker brotherhood, they proceeded to fight off the Gremlins until the last ran off into the night. Being grateful to his two guardians, the old road dog offered to pay them for their help, but as all true bikers do, they refused to accept any type of payment from him. Not being one to let their good deed go unrewarded, the old biker cut two pieces of leather from his saddlebag tassels and tied a small bell to each one. He then placed them on each of the biker's motorcycles, as near to the ground as possible. The tired, old road warrior then told the the two travelers that with those bells placed on their bikes, they would be protected from the Road Gremlins and that if ever in trouble, just ring the bell and a fellow biker would come to their aid.
So, whenever you see a biker with a bell, you know that he has been blessed with the most important thing in life- friendship from a fellow biker..."
This is the legend as many have told it to me. Amongst the stories, this one stood out the most for me, and no matter who I asked about the legend, the fact that the bell "must" be given to you to have the most effectiveness was always present. So it seems, the bell has deeper meaning than I thought. Not only is it to protect you from evil spirits and mechanical problems, more importantly, it's a sign of friendship from your biker brothers or sisters. Its a symbol that no matter what you ride or who you are, you are part of a biker family and a reminder that as riders, we all share the road together. So look out for one another, and most importantly, be safe... Tune in next time atwww.LongrRideShields.com for another piece of LRS- Myths, Legends, and Tales from the Road...
Written and compiled by Jeremy West- LRS