Human beings are a superstitious animal and motorcyclists are no different. But have you ever wondered about the origins of some of our sport’s more eccentric superstitions? With the riding season inching closer by the minute (not that I’m counting) I thought I might do some research and share my findings. Enter Google!
Any of us that have been riding for a while have likely been to a rally or some other organized event that involved a blessing of the bikes. The practice seems to have taken hold sometime in the late nineties where the first mass blessing actually involved bicycles and has since grown to encompass motorcycles. I think its fair to say that for those of you who actively practice religion blessing your motorcycle has less to do with superstition and luck than it does about accepting guidance and protection from the best possible source.The superstition itself lays with the less or non-religious riders and has led to mass blessings becoming rather noticeably non-denominational and less religious, focusing rather on rider & passenger safety.
Another common superstition among riders is having a bell clipped to your handlebars or frame in an effort to ward off evil spirits. The theory goes that the constant ringing of these bells is painful to the sensitive lil ears of road gremlins keeping them away from your bike; saving you from anything as small as a signal light failure to something far more catastrophic. Should you already suspect such a nasty passenger aboard your steed placing a bell on the bike will then trap said trouble-maker in the hollow of the bell where the ringing is the loudest and the magic the greatest! Eventually the mysterious evil-doer will go insane and simply fall to the ground. The trick to maximizing the bell’s power of protection though is not buying your own! No no no, this mystical virtue can only be attained as a gift from another. There is some debate about this point though it’s widely accepted that the debate stems solely from reps trying to upsell you. Freakin salesmen!
A third common motorcycle superstition I hear often on the showroom floor is how much bad luck comes with a bike painted green. In my research there seems to be two theories as to it’s origin. The first involves the world of racing, either cars or bikes depending on your source. Apparently a rather consistent winner of some races had an issue with his vehicle forcing him to use another, unfamiliar one. Of course this vehicle was painted green and was involved in a crash that ended with the operator’s passing. Thus green bikes are bad. The second theory states that the Harley-Davidson’s used in World War II were often considered roaming targets and our brave men were in constant danger of getting shot up! Clearly military vehicles were and are green which lends itself to the superstition.
No matter your thoughts on organized religion, evil road spirits or color nothing can replace experience, attitude and defensive riding techniques. If you’re a newbie, take a course. If you’re an experienced rider take a refresher course. Assume everyone in a cage is aiming for you and ride to stay alive! I’m genuinely interested though in your thoughts on the superstitions I’ve listed or any of your own. Please feel invited and encouraged as always to share your thoughts, questions, concerns or theories. I look forward to reading all input but promise nothing thanks to the green demo bike I ride without bells or blessings. Until next time, keep riding…