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four gremlin bells hanging on motorcycle

The Gremlin Bell Story

Here with some questions? Be sure to check out our FAQ following the comments on this post!

Gremlin Bells, also known as Guardian Bells, Motorcycle Bells or Spirit Bells, are a good luck charm attached to the bottom of motorcycles that are believed to protect riders while on the road.

What Are Motorcycle Gremlins?

According to legend, many a mile of roads are littered with evil spirits or gremlins that lie in wait, waiting for unsuspecting bikers to pass by close enough for them to latch on to to their motorcycle.

These evil little creatures are thought to be the source of most bikers problems and bad luck, such mechanical issues, and at worst, can make a biker crash, such as if they were to chase animals into the road.

As gremlins and evil road spirits are said to mostly lurk on the road waiting on their next victim, hanging a motorcycle bell below the bike will capture them as you ride over them, and the tinkling bell will drive them insane, forcing them to eventually leave or fall off.

What Is the Story Behind the Gremlin Bell?

But how did this tradition start? It all starts with a story that originated many, many years ago in the high desert near the US-Mexico border.


The Legend of the Gremlin Bell

It was a bitter winter night in December. The cool desert air was crisp, the moon lighted the night sky, and the desert cactus cast eerie shadows.

An old grey bearded biker was returning from a road trip to Mexico, his bike loaded with Christmas gifts he had purchased to give to children at an orphanage near where he lived.

Shortly after crossing the border, he thought he saw something in the distance but couldn’t be sure. He thought his mind may have been playing tricks on him, but as the biker rounded a corner and neared the location in the road, he crashed without warning and was thrown from his bike, slamming into the desert floor.

Disoriented, the old biker looked up and in shock, realized what he had seen. There in front of him were a group of gremlins, rejoicing in their success. The road gremlins began moving toward him as the biker lay on the ground, barely alive and unable to move from the impact.

With nothing to defend himself, it seemed like the end of the road for the old biker. However, he noticed one of his saddlebags had broken loose in the crash and quickly reached out, pulling it close to him.

Grabbing the gifts from the bag, he threw them at the nasty little group of approaching gremlins to scare them off.

He threw present after present, but the gremlins did not stop. Reaching into the now nearly-empty bag, he was down to his last items – small bells he had purchased as gifts for the children.

As a last resort, he rang them as quickly as he could, hoping the noise would scare the gremlins away.

The Nearby Bikers

Now, it just so happened that two bikers coincidentally were camping nearby. Over the quiet night air, they heard a bell ringing in the distance. Of course, largely assuming they were alone in the vast desert, this was something unexpected for them to hear.

The two bikers went to investigate the source of the ringing. Nearing the noise, they came across the old biker laying at the crash site, the road gremlins eagerly waiting to claim their reward.

The bikers attacked the gremlins, fending them off and sending them fleeing into the night.

The old biker wanted to repay them for saving his life and offered them payment for their help, but they refused.

Determined to pay them back in some way, as a gesture of good will, the biker cut his saddlebag tassels and tied the very bells that saved his life to the two bikers bikes, telling them that if they should ever need help, ring their bells attached to their bike and it could just save their life.

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  • Hi Roberto. Sorry to hear about your friend. You can certainly keep the bell on your motorcycle. There is no rule about needing to remove it in cases like these, as the goodwill from them gifting it to you will always be there.

    Sons of Eden
  • What do I do with a bell given to me, yet the buddy who gifted it to me has now passed away. What’s to do or what’s the proper way to let it go? Or do I just keep it? Or do I regift it ?

  • Hey Larry, thanks for checking out the article! If you still have the bell that fell off, there’s no reason you can’t attach it again while still maintaining its effectiveness. If you no longer have the bell and you need a new one, I’d recommend hinting around to friends or letting whoever gifted you your original bell know that it fell off so they know and can gift you a replacement. Best of luck!

    Sons of Eden

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you buy a guardian bell for yourself?

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As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t purchase your own bell, as it's said that the bell works only when gifted to you.

While some people believe they will still offer protection if you buy one for yourself, the bell's power is still thought to have twice as much power if they are given to you with intentional good will, such as a gift, just like the old biker gave them as a gift to his “guardians”.

We’re going to assume you’re not thinking of stealing one from another bike, but rest assured if someone steals yours, they’re going to have really bad luck.

A stolen gremlin bell comes with all the gremlins who are still trapped inside, but offers no protection from them or any other evil road spirits.

You should also remove your bell if you sell your bike. These are thoughtful gifts given to you from someone who cares about your safety, so it’s perfectly fine to transfer your bell to a new bike.

However, it’s also acceptable to pass down your Guardian Bell to a friend or loved one as a gift. If they happen to be purchasing your motorcycle, be sure to remove the bell first and physically gift it to them to convey the meaning of it.

Where do you hang a guardian bell?

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There’s no exact placement for Guardian Bells, but a low hanging bell is the best placement. They should be placed low on the frame, toward the front of the bike, and as close to the road as is safe to do so.

Though they are little bells, you don’t want them to catch on anything when riding, so use common sense here. Zip ties, coated safety wire, or special hangers are preferred, as metal could scratch the bell, leading to gouges and rust.

The purpose of hanging them low to the ground is because gremlins lurk on the road, so when they attempt to latch onto the bike, they immediately hit it and become trapped in the hollow of the bell.

Once trapped inside, the constant ringing drives them insane, and they will decide to leave or eventually fall off. In the meantime, they’re not able to do you or your bike any harm.

How many guardian bells can you have?

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Depending on who you ask, you’re going to get a different answer on this one. Traditionally, you only need one bell per bike for your own safety.

But what if you have a passenger riding with you – do they also need a bell?

Our opinion is that no, you don’t need a second bell. The point of the Guardian Bell is to capture any gremlins trying to grab onto your bike, and a second person riding with you doesn’t change that.

However, there’s no rule saying that you can’t have more than one bell. Our advice is to do what you want and if you have more than one bell gifted to you, hang ‘em both!

Are guardian bells only for Harleys?

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While Guardian Bells are traditionally seen on Harleys, the answer is no – you can hang a bell on any motorcycle for protection.

How do you clean guardian bells?

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The bell should be cleaned and polished whenever you wash your motorcycle. As their history is rooted in protection, this is a sign of respect for the fallen friends of bikers who have lost their lives on the road, and as such you want to keep the bell nice and clean to look its best.

This is also respectful to the person who gifted you the bell and reminds you every time you clean it of your friendship and that you’re not alone on the road.

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