In the summer of 1998 I received my first “Gremlin Bell” from a good friend (Santiago). Some call it a Guardian Bell, Ride Bell, Lucky Bell or a Legend Bell.
It all started when I bought a new Harley Fatboy motorcycle in March of that same year and was putting on major miles during a summer of riding. I had never heard of Gremlin Bells or the story of evil road spirits before that time and I found the story interesting. Santiago passed on the brass folklore.
I’m not a superstitious person. I did notice, however, a disproportionate number of Harleys sporting the gremlin bell vs. other motorcycle manufactures. The Fatboy being my first Harley and leery of the reliability (I sat with friends on the side of road working on them not riding) I thought it couldn’t hurt by installing a bell.
The folklore is so-called gremlins are evil road entities whose focus is to undermine your riding experience while you’re out having fun. Some of the gremlins are happy to ride along, but some are mean and cause dangerous situations just for the fun of a challenge. A Gremlin Bell is the defense against these mean gremlins, or so the folklore goes. In theory, the mean gremlins who ride with you get stuck in the hollow of the bell and the ringing makes them horrified. They drop out onto the road and off of your bike, perhaps causing tiny potholes, but no longer your concern. The trick is to hang the bell by its leather string somewhere fairly low on the motorcycle, close to the road, so the gremlins drop off easily and can’t bounce back up to cause any harm. The bell makes a little ringing sound which notifies you that your “protection” is working.
Another important aspect of the folklore is how the bell is obtained. Tradition states it has even more power if the bell is received as a gift vs. you just buying it outright. When I upgraded to a Road King in 2006, Kitty passed along the “legend” and supplied a chrome bell for the new ride. It’s unclear if “size-matters” because most bells are about two-inches. Although I’ve started to see several chrome/brass Gremlin Bells as large as three-inches.
Gary & Becky Spetzler of Gremlin Bells seem to be the market segment leaders in the “Gremlin” market…I see their displays and bells at about every motorcycle dealer, shop as well as most rally events.
I already have a winged/fire breathing Dragon tattoo…I hope they don’t conflict?! Guess I’ll be buying more since I’ll have to throw a lot more than a pinch of salt over my shoulder to offset the hoodoo or get a body piecing voodoo charm.