ThrottleX Blog

Skull Symbolism in Motorcycling: What Does it Mean?

Skull symbolism in motorcycling is bit unlike that in other walks of life. That is, when I ride my motorcycle, I don’t intend to die, and nor do I intend anyone else to die. Yet, it’s a symbol so common with motorcycle riders.

Why do motorcyclists adorn themselves and their bikes with skull patches, skull stickers, skull jewelry, and skull accessories, if our goal is to ride safely? Even Harley-Davidson had adopted a trademarked skull design and sells it on shirts, motorcycle parts, and coffee cups, to name a few.

As much as we all strive to be safe on our motorcycles, it seems ironic that skull symbolism is so dominant in motorcycling.

Skull symbolism has long been around, way back before motorcycling. It’s been seen in old paintings, referenced in ancient texts, and anthropologists have found tribes using skulls for ceremonies. The famous skull and crossbones symbol has become accepted as universal sign of danger for deadly substances. It’s also been used to symbolize bands of pirates and pillagers.

But motorcycle riders are not looking to ransack towns or invoke some god of war. We’re really just looking to enjoy our bikes and have a good time with friends. We want to be safe on the road and don’t wish any of our fellow riders to die. So why do we hold a symbol of death so close to us?

Here are some observations of mine…

1. While many people consider the skull to be a symbol of mortality, it’s actually the opposite, a symbol of immortality. That even after death, once all the flesh has withered away, our bones still remain on this Earth. The skull is simply the one part of our skeletal system that we instantly recognize as human.

2. It’s a visual acknowledgement of our fate. Perhaps some of us hope to die while living a life totally with our motorcycles. We know that Death always rides with us no matter how hard we try to ride safely. It’s our way of living by the sword and dying by the sword.

3. It’s a visual way to attract and drive away certain people. By displaying skull symbolism on ourselves, we’re using it as a filter to bring in people who identify with us and drive away people that don’t.

4. The skull levels the playing field. It doesn’t matter how powerful you were in life, you’re no greater in death. While each of our skulls are different, you can’t really recognize someone by looking at their skull. That tends to have a homogenizing effect on us all.

5. Skull symbolism expresses our commitment until death, to motorcycling, to our club, and to our brothers. It’s also how we carry with us all others who came before us.

As a motorcycle rider, what does skull symbolism mean to you?

Posted by admin at 8:27 pm

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