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Guardian Bell on Motorcycles for Luck: Meaning, History, Story & Rules

Guardian Bell on Motorcycles for Luck: Meaning, History, Story & Rules

Ever wonder why these little bells are attached to the motorcycle's bottom? The biker bells aren't merely a decoration but a symbol of the long-standing culture of the biker community. They're considered to be the riders' anti-gremlin shields on the open road, protecting riders from unforeseeable difficulties and dangers. The gremlins are considered to be the evil creatures that are tasked to confront bikers, frighten them, and cause them harm.

The guardian bell, also known as the gremlin bell, may appear as a simple amulet, but its history is quite interesting. The fascinating tale is worth knowing, from its surprising origin story at the US-Mexico border to the beliefs and practices surrounding this cherished charm. Continue reading this article to learn about the guardian bells tied on motorcycles, including their meaning, history, story, rules, luck, and associated beliefs.

1. What is a Guardian Bell on Motorcycles?

What is a Guardian Bell on Motorcycles?
Photo Credit: Bikes Republic 

A Guardian Bell on a motorbike is a small but decorative bell, which is not just an ornament. Tied to the undercarriage of the motorbike, it is believed to be a good luck charm, a sign of good omen for the riders, and a symbol of safety. These bells are the very essence of the motorcycle culture, as there is a majority of bikers who believe them as magic that can protect them from all the dangers such as bad luck and gremlins which are considered to be evil road spirits. It is also mostly given as a present by a loved one. That is why the bell keeps on reminding a person about good wishes and safe travels.

2. What Are the Other Names Used for the Guardian Bell on Motorcycles?

Despite being well-known as Guardian Bells, these motorcycle charms have acquired other titles as well that we came to know through their history. The riders who believe in the gremlin bell theory have a variety of other names for it, which as Spirit Bells, reflecting the idea that they keep the bad spirits away. Some prefer the names Ride Bells, Bike Bells, or Gremlin Bells, which is a reference to the devilish creatures that they are meant to ward off.

3. Does the Guardian Bell Has Anything to Do with the Luck?

Whether the Guardian Bell on a motorcycle brings luck or not depends on the bikers’ faith. Here's what most people have to say about the guardian bell:

3.1 Legend and Lore

Motorcycle riders for centuries have been using the Guardian Bell for their wellbeing and they keep it on the journey as a sign of good fortune. As the wisdom says, the ringing bells and their sounds, are the means to keep these spirits from intimidating and hurting us.

3.2 Power of Belief

There are a good number of old and experienced riders who believe that the amulet of the Guardian Bell possesses protective powers. The faith in the guardian bells itself acts as a driving force and motivation to stay focused during the ride and avoid accidents.

3.3 Superstition or Symbol?

There is nothing wrong in believing what the Guardian Bell means and the power it holds if it is helping you pay attention to the road details and riding conditions during the ride and keeping you safe.

The good luck that is concerned with the Guardian Bell is subject to the rider's belief in it. It could become a meaningful message of good wishes from the person who gave it to you (ideally, the one who gifted it) or even just be a little charm.

Whether you believe in the guardian bells and their special powers or not, there are a majority of bikers who have faith in it, and the rest of the motorcycling community respects it due to being a long-lived motorcycling world tradition.

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4. The History of Guardian Bell on Motorcycles

4.1 A Journey from Wartime Skies to Open Roads

The jingling tune of the Guardian Bell is a common sound that can be heard frequently on open roads and highways. The guardian bell, a simple reminder of the good luck installed as an emblem on a motorcycle is highly affluent in its symbolism and invokes the stories of wartime skies and the bond shared by the motorcycling community.

The precise origin of the story gets slightly blurred around the edges but most views converge around World War II. The situations faced by the fighter pilots during the World War were not only dangerous but also stressful, as they had to face mechanical failures and the threat of aerial combat at all times. Numerous stories tell us about the "gremlins", the mischievous creatures that cause damage to aircraft. Those who sought protection against the imaginary opponents of the airspace started installing the bells in their cockpits. As narrated in the legends, the annoying ringing irritated the gremlins and eventually, they vanished from the scene.

4.2 From the Skies to the Streets: The Post-War Transformation

When World War II came to an end, many veterans who returned home fell in love with the motorcycles they had never seen before. This recently discovered passion for motorcycles brought them together, cementing an unbreakable bond. What they brought along with them weren't only their skills of flying, but also the bell which was meant to ensure their protection. The concept and belief regarding the gremlin bell was carried and implemented in motorcycles which had to deal with their own set of unforeseen hazards on the open road. A guardian bell was established to shield against evil and make a journey a safe one.

5. The Story Behind the Gremlin Bell - Old Biker’s Trip from Mexico

In a place much-disregarded and deserted along the US-Mexico border, a Christmas story turned into something very interesting and unexpected. An old bearded motorcyclist was coming back from a road trip to Mexico and with him were bags fully loaded with Christmas gifts for orphans. It was dark when a strange incident occurred with the old biker as he was mugged by gremlins, ill-behaved creatures, who started messing up with the rider. The old motorcyclist was surrounded, terrorized, and then thrown off from his motorcycle. In an attempt to save his life, he started throwing the Christmas gifts at the gremlins but nothing worked. At last, the man, in extreme desperation, started ringing the small bells he bought for the kids.

Turned out the ringing bells started working and the gremlins were found annoyed by the sound produced by it. Two bikers who were passing from nearby also heard the ringing of the bells and immediately rushed to the place to find out if somebody needed help. It was unusual for the two bikers to hear such a sound at such an abandoned place at night.

As they rushed to the scene, they helped the injured rider by shooing away the gremlins. As a gesture of being grateful, the old biker wanted to reward the two riders for their act of bravery and kindness. However, both the riders declined to receive any sort of reward for the help.

Desperate to gift the two brave bikers, the old injured man gave them the bells, along with the tassels of his saddlebag so they could tie these bells to their motorbikes as a gesture of goodwill. This is believed to be the origin point from where it all started. This old theory about the beginning of the Gremlin bell is also widely believed among motorcyclists, particularly the old ones.

6. How the Guardian Bell Works: The Rules

The Guardian Bell isn't only an amazing charm, it is a symbol of faith and trust that comes with a whole bunch of beliefs and traditions. These are not the strict regulations, but rather, just a set of customs that evolved alongside the story. The luck-bringing potential and safety aspect of the guardian bell can be enhanced many times if the following rules are met as extracted from the folklores:

6.1 Never Buy Your Own

This is the golden rule: You must not buy a guardian bell for yourself as it will be of no use. The spirit and the luck-bringing charm of Guardian Bell are believed to be only galvanized by the act of giving. It turns into something real, something that means love and good wishes from a friend or relative who cares about you and your safety.

6.2 Let the Giver Ties the Bell

In the same way, as with the first rule, a bell's protective or healing power is intensified by the act of giving. If they hung the bell themselves, they not only activated its magical powers but also added a deep personal meaning to it. The tradition is taken from the story of the legendary Old Biker and his road trip to Mexico, and it strengthens the significance of motorcycle culture.

6.3 Gifting with Care

What counts in the act of giving someone a gift is the soul rather than the price value. Be sincere in your belief that a Guardian Bell will bring luck and safety to the rider and convey this hope that the biker, who is your friend or family, stays safe during the ride. This thus brings the bell an element of positive energy and charm.

6.4 Strategic Placement

Strategic Placement
Photo Credit: Disorderly Drifters 

The most common place where you should tie the guardian bell is the undercarriage of the motorcycle near the front wheel. This ideal spot, where the bell is close to the ground, will cause any road gremlins to fall prey to its magical powers.

6.5 Silence is No Friend

A damaged or soundless bell is thought of as ineffective. Bikers are advised to monitor the rings of their bells to ensure that their sweet jingle, which is believed to drive away misfortune, can be heard at all times during the ride.

6.6 The Bells Stays with You

Even though you may cease the relationship with your motorcycle, the guardian bell must not be left out. Remember to take your bell off and give it to the buyer yourself if you sell your bike. The act of giving is what transfers the feeling of goodwill and therefore, carries the charm and magic further into future rides.

6.7 Stealing the Bell Unleashes the Gremlins

The goodwill is the real force behind this powerful object. The charm of the bell is in the spirit of the intentions of givers. Stealing a bell not only weakens its magic but at the same time is considered a sure way of awakening the gremlins it is meant to keep at bay. Therefore, good karma and the act of giving a gift are the two things you should not forget when you want to make the protective bell of the Guardian much more powerful.

7. The Belief Behind the Guardian Bell on Motorcycles

7.1 Does Faith Ride with the Guardian Bell? Unveiling the Religious Connection

The melodious sound of the guardian bell of a motorcycle is one of the familiar things that many bikers have come across. The question is whether there is something more to the tradition of using guardian bells on motorcycles than just good luck or not.

The main role of the guardian bell is to protect the rider from bad luck and prevent any form of road accidents. The religious belief associated with the guardian bells tied to motorcycles, though not common for all bikers, makes it more interesting.

7.2 The Allure of Protection

Many cultures in the world have considered bells not only as symbols of faith but also as talismans against malevolent forces. The notion behind using bells is that the ringing sound helps to keep malevolent forces at bay and thus protects the bearer. This idea is quite evident in the life of bikers as well as the open roads are considered a risky space.

7.3 Faithful Fellowship

For some riders, the guardian bell is no more than just a tribute but also a bond to a lost loved one. They can opt for bells with religious symbols such as crosses, praying hands, or even the depiction of specific saints, like St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. The guardian bells are like a continuous reminder to riders to never let them forget about their faith and a silent prayer of protection on their way home.

7.4 The Legend and the Gift

There is another well-known folklore that explains the beginning of guardian bells. The inscription says that the first bell was found after a motorcyclist died, and his soul now lives within, protecting other riders. This myth, therefore, is entangled with the tradition of giving guardian bells as gifts.

7.5 A Personal Choice

It should be emphasized that the bells of guardians do not belong to a particular religion. Bikers, irrespective of the religion they belong to, merely take it as a tradition and also as a symbol of good luck.

8. Beyond the Bell: The Importance of Rider Safety Gear

Installing guardian bells on motorcycles is a widely followed practice in the motorcycle culture that has been around for many years. Though there is no denial to the positive intention behind the bell’s tradition, true road security comes from responsible riding behavior and wearing proper riding gear. This includes wearing a DOT-approved helmet that fits perfectly, and protective clothing like jackets, pants, gloves, and boots that are resistant to abrasion. Without wishing to demystify the good luck of Guardian Bellou will always feel safer with a helmet and suitable clothing. Doesn’t matter how strong your belief is in the guardian bell, the ultimate defense against road accidents while riding a motorcycle is still a helmet and protective riding gear.

9. Guardian Bells Today

The heritage of guardian bells lives on in the hearts of motorcyclists, especially among those who ride American classic brands such as Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles. They are the heirs to this tradition, which is passed down from generation to generation, ensuring the magic of riding remains untouched by bad luck.

9.1 A Spectrum of Styles

A Spectrum of Styles
Photo Credit: Farrow Harley-Davidson 

The guardian bells’ tradition has evolved now and gone are the days when the bell was available in only one shape and design. Now a wide range of guardian bells is available in a variety of shapes. From the classy, chrome-plated bells to the skull detailing that comes in different styles, riders have got to pick the bell that complements their personality and riding style.

9.2 Trademarked Territory

An interesting fact about the guardian bell is that it now falls under the territory of intellectual property. The term "Gremlin Bell", which is a concept unique to the United States, has been patented, which in turn signifies the commercial aspect of this tradition. The "Guardian® Bell" is a protected trademark, telling about all the branding possibilities that have arisen through this bikers’ custom.

Such details infuse a psychological layer to the story of guardian bells. They illustrate how a tradition that has its origin in beliefs and superstitions, nowadays, also involves mass production, personalization, and copyright.

10. The Bottom Line

Whether the Guardian Bell is a symbol of luck, a souvenir of all the good wishes from your loved ones, or just a well-made biker accessory, it is a tradition born of a rich history and a sense of brotherhood. Hence, next time when you hear a Guardian Bell’s soft chime on the road, think of a wartime pilot, and the indomitable spirit of the motorcycling community.

Don't lose hope in case you don't experience some chivalrous intervention after installing guardian bells on your bike. You can use the bell as a sign to ride cautiously and to develop an appreciation for the togetherness among riders.

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