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Have you ever noticed most motorcycles have a little silver, pewter or brass bell hanging somewhere on them? These are called guardian bells or gremlin bells and for many riders, they are a must have.
Guardian bells provide a different type of protection that motorcycle gear alone doesn’t provide. Your gear is meant to protect you from the physical, but a guardian bell is meant to protect you from the supernatural. Attaching a guardian bell is a longstanding tradition with motorcycle riders and is still practiced today.
What Is A Guardian Bell?
A guardian bell is a small bell placed on a motorcycle to capture and destroy the road gremlins that bikers claim plague them while riding.
According to an old bikers legend, little creatures called gremlins enjoy tormenting bikers by causing them to crash, fall, break down in the middle of nowhere with mechanical problems or make their bikes fall when they are parked.
As the legend goes, the clinking sound the guarding bell makes attracts the gremlins, drives them crazy and makes them fall on the road and kill themselves. Biker legend says falling gremlins are what create potholes.
What’s The Purpose Of The Guardian Bell?
The purpose of the guardian bell is two-fold. The bell attracts gremlins and makes them kill themselves while providing protection for the bike on which it’s placed and the biker riding it. Motorcycles are constantly under attack by gremlins.
These mischievous little creatures are always looking for ways to cause hard-to-diagnose mechanical problems to motorcycles. They also look for insidious ways to cause smooth running motorcycles to suddenly develop mechanical problems, crash or be unable to start.
The guardian bell’s purpose is to prevent this from happening. The sound of the guardian bell draws gremlins inside the bell. Once inside the bell, the gremlins are driven mad by the clanging of the small bells and they leap out of the bell onto the roadway below, killing themselves and leaving pot holes on the asphalt.
By getting rid of the gremlins, the guardian bell protects the bike and frees the biker to safely continue on their journey over the open road.
What Are The Guardian Bell Rules?
There are several rules governing the guardian bell. The bell must be made of an attractive, durable metal like silver or pewter. It should be hung on the lowest part of the bike close to the ground to make it more effective for capturing gremlins.
The bells shouldn’t be bought by the biker themselves. It should be purchased by a fellow biker or a loved one and presented to the biker as a gift.
This gives the bell double the gremlin fighting power and the act of goodwill activates the bell. Further, it’s important to clean, polish and shine the bells periodically. During the cleaning process, one should be reminded of biking comrades lost and the true meaning of riding in the wind.
When the bike is sold, the bell should be removed and kept by the rider to whom it was given. If the seller wants to give the guardian bell to the buyer, they must remove it and present it face to face.
If the bell isn’t transferred with intentional good will, it will lose its power to capture and get rid of the destructive gremlins. If the guardian bell is stolen, the bad gremlins will go with it and it loses its power to protect against gremlins.
Where To Hang A Guardian Bell
Traditionalists maintain the guardian bell should be hung somewhere on the lower part of the bike as close to the ground as possible. If your motorcycle is equipped with crash bars that help protect it if you’re in an accident, that’s usually the best place to hang them. Crash bars are also help keep the motorcycle protected against drops and can make it easier lifting a motorcycle off of the ground.
With the bell close to the ground, it helps it to capture and control gremlins lurking on the road looking to jump on the bike and do harm to it.
However, many bikers hang the guardian bell anywhere that’s convenient or meaningful to them. That could be on the handle bars, on the frame or body of the bike or even their license plate.
Legend says gremlins lurk on the roadway or the roadside and try to grab on to the motorcycles from below. Placing the guardian bell as low on the bike as possible and very close to the front, ensures the bell will attract their attention, they’ll grab on to it, be captured and killed before they have a chance to do any mischief.
However, many modern bikers put the gremlin bell somewhere on the bike where it’s least likely to hit any obstacles. It could be that some modern bikers are not as superstitious or choose to ignore this old tradition.
How To Hang A Gremlin Bell
Hanging the gremlin bell properly is very important. Traditionalists say only a fellow biker should hang the bell on the bike and the biker must not hang the gremlin bell themselves or even touch the bell until it has been hung on the bike.
Making sure the gremlin bell is hung securely on the bike is vital but easy to do. To secure the gremlin bell to the bike, some people use a key ring, fine stainless steel wire or a zip tie. Some prefer wire because they fear the zip tie will rot and break. Others prefer the zip ties because the wire may scratch the bike.
To ensure the gremlin bell remains securely in place, some purchase specially designed non-rusting stainless-steel bell hangers to mount the bell directly to the engine or frame bolts. The goal is to make sure the protective talisman always remains in place, gets rid of those nasty gremlins and keeps the bike and the rider safe.
Who Can Give A Guardian Bell
The guardian bell should only be given to bikers by other motorcyclists. However, most bikers think it’s acceptable for anyone who cares about them to give them a guardian bell and it will provide them with some level of protection from the gremlins.
However, when a biker gets a guardian bell from another biker, it helps to create a special and powerful bond. It signifies brotherhood, friendship and kindness between bikers.
Giving a biker a guardian bell lets them know someone special cares about their safety. A growing number of bikers feel the guardian bell offers powerful protection when it is delivered by anyone who truly cares about them and their safety and welfare while they face the gremlins and other dangers on the wide open road.
Are Guardian Bells Only For Harleys?
Harley riders have been displaying guardian bells on their bikes since the 1940s. Today, lots of Harley-Davidsons have a small bell attached to the lower part of their frame. But, they’re not the only ones that have them.
Bikers with all brands of bikes are aware of the legend and power of the guardian bell and have them on their bikes. It’s not just a Harley thing. If you look closely at bikers riding other brands of motorcycles, cruisers and touring bikes, you will realize many of them hang guardian bells as well.
Many early bikers were former World War II pilots who loved Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Many of them had seen or used guardian bells during the war. When they became bikers, a number of them quickly embraced the biker tradition of hanging guardian bells.
Having a small bell at the bottom of the motorcycle frame gradually became synonymous with Harley riders. But as other brands of motorcycles have grown in popularity and a new generation of bikers learn about the legend of the guardian bell, seeing the bells on other brands of motorcycles is becoming more common.
Is It Bad Luck To Have Two Guardian Bells?
There is no mention of having more than one guardian bell causing bad luck. However, most bikers tend to have just one. Some veteran bikers mention members of riding clubs giving guardian bells to each other.
There are also other bikers who mention getting more than one guardian bell if they have had an accident. But there’s no specific mention in the legend of multiple guardian bells causing bad luck.
They also mention getting bells from someone special who care for them and are concerned for their safety. This implies they may have more than one guardian bell on their bike. Having a single guardian bell on your motorcycle goes back to the origin of the legend of the bell.
In the original story, a grizzly old rider gives one bell apiece to the two bikers who rescued him from the gremlins that crashed his bike and were threatening his life.
Ringing the bells he had in his bag brought help to him and he gave each of the bikers a bell that helped him. This led to many bikers starting to get guardian bells.
According to the legend, the guardian bell or gremlin bell was given as a blessing in gratitude to two bikers when they refused to accept payment for helping a tired old biker stranded and being attacked by gremlins.
Today, the bell has come to symbolize protection from road gremlins and the greatest gift of all to a biker; the powerful bond of brotherhood, friendship, kindness and camaraderie of fellow bikers.