Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Will ride bells make your Royal Enfield reliable?

Tiny ride bells are photographed next to a U.S. quarter to show size.
No one rides a classic Royal Enfield motorcycle very far without becoming at least a little bit superstitious.

Maybe it's the "set the piston" ritual required before kick starting. You know it won't start unless you're obsessive about doing it all and doing it right. Check the clutch, check the brakes, check the tires, count the turn signals. Easter Sunday service at church is shorter than the incantations I go through before starting a ride some days.

Superstition is certainly part of the appeal of the "ride bells" I spotted recently, for sale on CraigsList by Joe in Athens, Ga.

His ad explains that "Evil Road Spirits have been latching themselves on to motorcycles for as long as there have been bikes on the road.

"These Evil Road Spirits are responsible for mechanical problems and bad luck along a journey. Legend goes on to say that by attaching a small bell onto your bike, the Evil Road Spirits will become trapped inside the bell where the constant ringing drives them insane, making them lose their grip until they fall to the ground.

"Legend also says that a bell received as a gift carries twice the power. Your rider pals will think of you every time they ride and appreciate the thoughtful gift."

The little brass bells (about 1 inch in diameter by 1 3/8 tall, and $8 each) struck me as perfect for a Royal Enfield and I wrote to ask if Joe had been inspired by some custom from India.

Instead, he cited a story from Cycle Connections, an online magazine. It backs up his version of the legend.

"Also, think of sleigh bells," Joe wrote. "I wonder if those have any bearing on ride bells? I found out about it while looking at an ancient Triumph chopper this woman had parked under her porch, in a sad state of repair, I might add. It had a bell on it and I asked.  I was buying beat up old bikes for restoration or parts at the time. I still have at least one bike in the garage as a project, one for sale and one for riding. Both my boys (21 and 26) ride.

"My bells are probably from India, but these days, who knows? They are not marked. I do give a great discount for purchasers who wish to give bells to their pals, and if they buy five, I will gift them one for themselves (six for $40, delivered)."

He also sells the bell on eBay, where I discovered there are many more elaborate versions of ride bells for sale. I like Joe's "small and simple" best, and I liked the Cycle Connections story's suggestion that they be attached with a leather thong.


  1. Anonymous4/27/2011

    I have a bell on each Enfield keychain...I couldn't find a suitable mounting point on my bikes!Happy Motoring,Matt Law/Bullethead63~

  2. Anonymous4/27/2011

    Yes, have not been stranded since adding the bell.


  3. Anonymous4/27/2011

    I wish to watch photograph-Royal Enfield with bell


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