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The story behind the Gremlin bell

The story behind the Gremlin bell

Some people say that the “Gremlin Bell” is a supernatural protector against evil road spirits. Those evil road spirits will haunt a rider allong their travels and cause breakdowns and accidents. Others say it’s nothing more than a tradition amongst bikers to give each other a bell to decorate their bike. Which ever you prefer, fact is that you see a lot of these little bells on motorcycles.

Chances are your seen several of these bells while strawling allong a row of bikes. Maybe you have one on a new bike you’ve purchased or someone was kind enough to give you a shiney new one. As it turns out, these little guardian bells als have a purpose, and it’s and making you think your engine is on the point of breaking down. These little bells have a tradition almost als old as the first real bikers.

The Purpose of the Gremlin Bell

A other name for these bells are Gremlin Bells, Guardian Bells, or Spirit Bells. They are some kind of good luck charm for anyone who has one mounted on their bike. It is said that the bell will protect the rider during their travels, similar to how a pendant or image of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, is often carried in vehicles to protect their occupants while on the road.

Here’s how the bell works: legend has it that there are harmful spirits that lurk the roadways, always on the lookout for motorcycles to cling onto and cause mischief. You may have heard of unusual and hard-to-diagnose problems that occur in machines (most often in electrical systems) being called “gremlins,” and supposedly, it is these same unpredictable and harmful spirits that cause problems for motorcycles and their riders.

Legend claims that the the Gremlin Bell is a way to ward off these spirits. By the constant ringing of the bell once the enige has started these evil spirits will be captured in the hollow of the bell and infuriating them with the constant ringing until they release their hold and break free to search another victim that isn’t protected by the bell.

Rules of the Gremlin Bell

Better safe than sorry and grab yourself a bell to hang on your motorcycle? Sorry to inform you but all this protection comes with some basic rules for it to work.

  • It should not be bought by the user – in order to work, it must be given to a rider from a loved one. According to the legend, a bell is “activated” by the gesture of good will when someone, especially another rider, gives it to a rider they care abou as a giftt.
  • It should be attached to the lowest part of the frame. Because gremlins lurk on the roadways and “grab” onto bikes as they pass by, the low-hanging bell should be the first thing they contact, so that they are immediately captured by it. It should be attached securely – safety wire is sometimes used, but that can create rust and scratches, so a zip-tie is generally the preferred method.
  • When a bike with a bell on it is sold, it should be removed. The Gremlin Bell is a gesture of kindness to a rider from someone who cares about them, so it should be kept by the intended recipient, and can be transferred to another bike. If someone sells a bike with a bell and they want the new rider to have it, they should still remove it, and give it to them face to face. A bell that is not given with intentional good will loses its spirit-fighting mojo.
  • If someone steals a Gremlin Bell, the gremlins go with it – and the bell will no longer ward them off. The key to the bell’s power is good will. If it is stolen, it loses its effect…and karma will take care of the rest!

The Origin of the Bell

Just like most old-school legends, there is no clear answer as to where the whole bell tradition (or superstition) came from. Storys like “once upon a time there was an old biker” to old stories about war veterans that had them as a good luck charm in their cockpit and ciired on the tradition after the war. The most logical explenation would be that these bells were used a low budget alarm system to alert bikers if a bike was moved in the 50’s/60’s. A very cheap but reliable system that became legendary over the years.

But regardless what the “true” story behind the Gremlin Bell is, it’s a fun tradition that continues among bikers to this day, and while it is most common in the Harley community, other cruiser and touring bike riders also participate in it. Whether you genuinely believe in the superstition of the “road gremlins” or not, the Gremlin Bell is a fun way to welcome a new rider into the community, christen a new motorcycle, or just to give a rider you care about something to remember you by. Thruth is, the one who recieves a bells has the most powerful blessing of all – the love and good will of a fellow biker that has his back


Rick Cazemier

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