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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.