Saturday, November 26, 2011

Motorcycle Superstitions and the Habits of Motorcyclists

An interesting article on motorcycle superstitions:

Bikers like any other facet of society, have their superstitions and quirky things they do (or don't). Here are a few of them.

Blessing of the Bikes

Almost everyone has heard about the "Blessing of the Bikes." I know that the Christian Motorcyclist Assoc. (CMA) performs them, so I wouldn't call it a true biker superstition.

A Blessing of the Bikes is actually religious, and if you're religious it's not hard to understand why you'd want to do it. But there are many non-religious people, who for some reason, make a point to get their motorcycles blessed. And that's when it becomes superstition.

The method is fairly simple. The blessing God wants to bestow is on the Biker not the bike. God is interested in protecting and guiding us, and the biggest blessing available from God is the Blessing of Salvation available only through Jesus Christ.

We start by coming together and the speaker delivers a short message, always leading up to giving people the opportunity to receive the greatest blessing ever offered to man. And it is presented as just that – the opportunity to be eternally blessed by accepting the gift of Salvation through Jesus. After we pray together we ask people to go to their motorcycles where CMA members pray individually with each person. After we pray with the biker, we offer them the CMA “I’ve been Blessed” sticker and the CMA Biker Blessing handout. For more information please visit the Christian Motorcyclists Association web site:

Ride Bells

The little iron bell that hangs from a biker's motorcycle is supposed to ward off evil spirits. As the story suggests, these demons exist on all roadways, and when a motorcycle passes by, they grab on to it and begin chipping away at your good luck until finally you have a crash.

The tingling of the bell is said to irritate these demons and prevent them from hitching a ride on your motorcycle.

BTW, the bell only has its power when someone else buys it for you, otherwise it doesn't work at all. Some vendors argue that it actually has half-power if you buy your own, but this is likely marketing baloney.

Green Motorcycles

Supposedly, a green painted motorcycle is bad luck. The legend has it that the Harleys used in World War II were often sitting duck targets, and many military riders got their butts blasted off them. And since they were painted Army green, it eventually translated into modern folklore.

This one might actually be true. I've read of a guy who had a green Road Glide, and dropped it several times, one time injuring his leg. Then he got the bike repainted, with a different shade of green, and wiped out on it again. From what I could recall, when his bike still had the factory black, he never crashed it.

A Dead Man's Motorcycle

There's a saying that riding a motorcycle that belonged to someone who is now dead is bad luck.

It's not necessarily that that person was killed on the motorcycle, just that he's now dead. Supposedly, his spirit is still riding that motorcycle along the great highway in the sky, and if he sees you riding his bike in the physical world, he'll knock you off of it.

You don't even want to use parts from that bike.

The "Wave"

Ah, yes, the infamous "wave."

Those of you who don't ride motorcycles probably don't know this. Those of you who do ride probably do: Motorcycle riders wave to each other. It usually is a small thing - a simple raise of a few fingers or nod of the head in a lot of instances. In its simplest form, I guess it boils down to camaraderie of the saddle, and personal pride to say to the other rider: "Hey, this is a great sport and I am having fun... how about you?"

It has always given me a sense of community and never ceases to put a smile on my face. It means we're brothers and sisters on the road. Regardless of what some cynics say, the "wave" is not just for noobs. I've been riding for many years now (hardly a newbie) and still wave to other riders.

How many of you have "waved" or gave some other sign of acknowledgment to passing riders, only to have nothing happen in return? Are you offended or insulted by this? Do you "attain happiness" when a passing rider returns your gesture? Do you not wave at all, or is this mannerism completely irrelevant when riding a motorcycle? This topic almost borders on the question: "What is the meaning of life?" and my sense is that it may have the same philosophical ramifications.

I've found that although ANY rider will wave to -- or return a wave from --another rider, there are basically four categories in the laws of equity:

1. Brand equity. This means that if you both are riding the same brand of bike, the odds of a wave transaction are increased.
2. Style equity. If you both are riding the same "type" of bike, such as chopper, rocket or touring motorcycle, then your odds are increased as well.
3. Location. Meeting another rider in the Mojave Desert, on the Haul Road in Alaska or almost anywhere on Route 66 will almost guarantee a wave.
4.. Helmet equity. If you both are either wearing or not wearing helmets - odds increased again.

When riding in the city, or in heavy traffic, it's acceptable not to wave if you are too busy watching traffic and/or using the clutch. As well, waving is generally accepted protocol to passing riders only when it is convenient and safe, and that usually means "on the open road."

It's been said that Harley riders tend to wave only to other Harley riders. same with the sport bike crowd or "crotch-rocket riders."

For myself, I will always wave to the other rider, and always when it's safe to do so, for in that, we all share the spirit of the open highway.

Helping a Fellow Rider: Karma, baby!

Motorcycle technology has advanced to the point where one rarely sees another rider "broke down" on the side of the road, with the exception of an occasional flat tire. Think about that next time you wave to a passing rider. In time of need, the person you waved to may be the only one who stops to help you.

Today, though, it became a lot more - a reminder of what it really is all about.

This mirrors the issue of why motorcycle riders wave to one another. In many instances, we're all each other has.

I've stopped a number of times for riders who look like they might be in trouble. In most cases, the rider is fine and can handle the situation on their own. But I'm sure each of us would appreciate having someone who understood riding (or even just someone to make sure I was okay) there to have our six, so to speak.

I've stopped for lone bikers on the road and offered my cell phone, tools and a drink of water. Mainly, it's really just about the camaraderie, though: Having someone else there on a deserted stretch of highway or alongside a dark freeway.

I've had others stop for me, too. I'll always remember the two gruff-looking Harley riders who stopped to ensure I was OK on the Ortega Highway years back. I was riding an old Yamaha dual sport and had stopped to adjust a loose side panel. I was amazed that these two bikers took the time and effort to get off their bikes and walk back to see if I was OK. I've tried to repay their thoughtfulness by stopping to assist other bikers over the years.

So if you ride - thanks. Thanks for being a part of that family that takes care of each other. It'll come back to you.

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