I am not superstitious, I have no problems with walking under ladders and with black cats crossing my path, but I know many people who are. For them Friday the 13th holds special horrors and every time they throw a leg over the bike rituals have to be observed and sacred mantras said praising higher powers and invoking spirits of protection. Here are a few biker superstitions that I know about, but I am sure you know more. If you are one of those that follows such things and I introduce you to one you did not know before my apologies to your friends and loved ones who have to suffer for it.
I have a few friends who believe that if one of their gloves touches the ground then they will have an accident. The offending gauntlet has to be picked up by a third party and given back to them. Now we all know how often a glove will fall to the ground when reaching for keys you have forgotten were in your pocket or when at the petrol station filling up and you are searching for your payment card. For these poor souls there is either the constant embarrassment of asking perfect strangers if they would pick up a glove because of a silly superstition, or they have to plead a bad back or some other malady, or they have to phone a friend to come and get them out of their predicament. Well it is one of those things unless they wish to risk the wrath of the glove god and pick it up themselves.
I should never have picked up that glove
There is one I sort of accept and that is the superstition about riding a dead man’s bike. Personally it is less of a superstition more I don’t feel comfortable riding on something that has killed somebody. A friend of mine once bought an RD 250 that had killed its previous owner. He carefully rebuilt it and rode it for few months until one day he came round a corner to be confronted by a bull in the middle of the road. The accident killed the bull and my friend ended up in hospital in a Coma and it took him months to recover, but recover he did. He then proceeded to rebuild the bike and then place it in the back of his shed, covered in a dust sheet never to be ridden again. It is still there today, 15 years later and it is known as Mr. Crowley after “the most evil man in the world”.
The next two superstitions I am going to mention seem to me to be of American origin and I have not seen them either here or in the UK.
The idea of bike bells, or ride bells is that the tinkling noise the bell makes as you go along frightens away the bad spirits that might cause you mischief on the road. The power of the bells comes from the fact that they are offered as a gift by a friend or loved one and never bought yourself. Another origin story is that these bells were bought to commemorate fallen brothers and sisters and in honoring their memories they in turn watch over you as you ride. I like this last one and I would be happy to follow it if only to be reminded of all those friends who have passed on….trouble is there are now so many that the noise would be deafening!
Green bikes are meant to be bad luck but I really do not understand why. There is a theory that they get into more accidents because they blend into the background better. There is another theory that it is because after WW2 ex military Harley’s were sold off in their original army green color and because of their hard life they were less reliable than other ones. Another war story suggests that the unlucky green comes from snipers picking off motorcycle dispatch riders, again mounted on olive green steeds. Personally I don’t hold with this idea, after all I am British and our racing color is green, and, if it really is that unlucky how come a corporate giant like Kawasaki still uses it as their race color…Eddie Lawson didn’t have a problem with it , did he?
If you own one give it to me quick, I wouldn't want you to get hurt!
Stay safe and polish your bells!