Women Riders

The Ride Bell

Written by  March 31, 2005

Hi Goldie,
Thanks for all your tips and articles on riding. I look forward to reading your column every month. Can you give me the scoop on the bell that was given to me when I bought my new bike?

Robin Clarkson
Kansas City, Missouri

Thanks for the kudos, Robin, and great question. I did a little research and came up with this. Author unknown, but it sure gives you the history and legend of the ride bell.

The Legend of the Ride Bell
Many years ago, on a cold December night, a crusty old biker was returning from a trip to Mexico with his saddlebags filled with toys and other assorted trinkets for the kids at a group home near where he worked.

As he rode along that night thinking how lucky he had been in life, having a loving riding partner that understood his need to roam the highways and to his trusty old pan that hadn’t let him down once in the many years they had shared the road together.

Well about 40 miles north of the border, in the high desert, lurked a small group of notorious little critters known as road gremlins. You know, the ones who always leave little obstacles like, one shoe, boards, and pieces of old tires on the road, and also dig those dreaded potholes for bikers to run over and crash, thus giving the road gremlins a chance to rejoice over their acts of evil.

Well, as the lone wolf of a biker rounded a curve that moonlit night, the gremlins ambushed him, causing him to crash to the asphalt and skid before coming to a stop next to one of his saddlebags that had broken free. As he lay there, unable to move, the road gremlins made their way towards him. Well, this biker, not being one to give up, started throwing things at the gremlins as they approached him. Finally, with nothing else to throw but a bell, he started ringing it in hopes to scare off the dirty little gremlins.

About a half a mile away, camped in the desert, were two bikers sitting around the campfire talking about their day’s ride, and the freedom of the wind blowing in their faces as they rode across this vast country. In the stillness of the night air they heard what sounded to them like church bells ringing, and upon investigating, found the old biker lying along the roadside with the gremlins about to get him. Needless to say, being part of the biker brotherhood, they preceded to ward off the gremlins until the last ran off into the night.

Being grateful to the two bikers, the old road dog offered to pay them for their help, but as all true bikers do, they refused to accept any type of payment from him. Not being one to let a good deed go unnoticed, the old biker cut two pieces of leather from his saddle bags tassels and tied a bell to each one. He then placed them on each of the biker’s motorcycles, as near to the ground as possible. The tired, old road warrior then told the two travelers that with those bells placed on their bikes, they would be protected from the road gremlins and that if ever in trouble, just ring the bell and a fellow biker will come to their aid.

So, whenever you see a biker with a bell, you know that he has been blessed with the most important thing in life—friendship from a fellow biker.

The Purpose of the Ride Bell
Many of us have heard the story about Evil Road Spirits. They are little gremlins that live on your bike. They love to ride, and they’re also responsible for most of your bike’s problems. Sometimes your turn signals refuse to work; your battery goes dead, the clutch needs adjustment, or any of several hundred things that can go wrong. These problems are caused by Evil Road Spirits.

Evil Road Spirits can’t live in the presence of the bell, because they get trapped in the hollow of the bell. Among other things, their hearing is supersensitive, so the constant ringing of the bell and the confined space drives them insane. They lose their grip and eventually fall to the roadway. Have you ever wondered how potholes are formed? The bell has served its purpose.

If you pick up a bell of your own, the magic will work, but if your bell is given to you, the power is doubled, and you know that somewhere you have a special friend helping to look after you.

So, if you have a friend who doesn’t have a bell, why not give them one? It’s a nice feeling for the recipient to know you care. The bell, plus a good preventive maintenance program by the bikes owner, will help eliminate Evil Road Spirits.

Polishing the Bell
It has been a tradition among some of us for a long time to attach a brass bell to our left swingarm, to remember our brothers and sisters who have gone down riding.

It’s a small thing, but the reason a brass bell is chosen is that, as we ride, it gets dirty and tarnished. Every time we get down to wash and polish it, we are reminded of friends lost, and our thoughts turn to the meaning of being in the wind.

As we ride and hear the bell ring, we know that our brothers and sisters are riding with us, and how easy it would be to join them with a single mistake.

And maybe, just maybe, the next time a situation comes up; they will be there to help us...as long as we remember them by polishing the bell.

The End.

Wow, riders, did everyone know this story? There are many styles of bells; brass, silver, diamond cut, plus lots of unique shapes to choose from. I have personally given many bells to new riders over the past five years and it is a good feeling to share this tradition.

Our good riding friends, Reva Weaver and Jerry Alumbaugh, gave me my first bell five years ago. It’s still hanging in the same place, and knock on wood; I have never had any breakdowns so far. My second bell was given to me last year by Kathryn Clark, and it is a HD 100th Anniversary silver bell. It is very special and I thank her. I should have triple protection by now! She was a passenger at the time, but I’m happy to say she is now the proud owner of a new HD Classic, and the first thing I asked her was, “Do you have a bell?” Yes, her husband Tim made sure her bike came equipped with one, compliments of him! Everyone looks out for everyone else that is the biker friendly attitude that keeps us a close-knit group.

If you know a new or seasoned rider who doesn’t have a bell, go buy several and start handing them out, and be sure and give them the history on the ride bell. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Goldie Arnold
“Never Ride Faster than your Angel can fly”

Tip of the Month: Start cleaning your bike NOW and getting it ready for the spring riding season!