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 All Forums
 Motorcycle Safety
 General Discussion
 Leather Tassels on Handlebars
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staticattic
Male Senior Member
410 Posts


Tampa, FL
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  7:17 AM                       Like
I passed a bike yesterday that had long, leather tassels streaming from his handlebar levers. Not the first time I had seen this setup, but I was curious if they served any function other than just looks. I figured they would whip and slap against the bike body and/or the arms of the rider. I did a search on the Internet and found this Q&A at Yahoo Answers:

Q: Why do motorcycles have ropes hanging off their handle bars?
I've seen Harley's specifically with these hanging from their handle bars and to me, I always thought of it like a chip on their shoulder in the sense of, "Who's gonna pull this rope and make me crash?!"

A: Protection/Revenge

There is usually a lead ball braided into the end

It is on a quick release so you can pull it off and break the window on the a$$ holes car next to you when the cut you off or try to merge into the side of you.
Automobiles drivers do not look out for bikers.
If you don't have a lead hanging, you can kick a door but it may send you into another lane

Source: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/i...62537AAy5YqS

I am thinking the guy posting the answer was yanking the asker's chain, but I suppose it could be a correct answer. I have also heard the tassels flip and flop in the wind causing confusion to the bad spirits that would like to do harm. Something else I've heard, they are a carry over from the "old west" days when cowboys wore fringes and tassels to help siphon the rain away from their garments.

So, I am asking here for the straight answer: Do leather tassels hanging from handlebars serve a function or are they just for looks?

Moses
Male Senior Member
377 Posts
[Mentor]


Grand Rapids, Michigan
USA

Harley-Davidson

FX Softail

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  8:02 AM
They are so you can hold onto the ends of them like reins, and pretend that you're riding a horse.



You just have to remember to pull on the opposite rein than the direction you want to go (commonly referred to as "counter-reining").



You also have to remember to snap them and yell "giddyup", or snicker to the bike, when you want to get moving. Makes it kind of tough to use the throttle and clutch, but who ever said being a cowboy was easy?



Boy, I'm on a roll here, eh?

- To my knowledge, there is absolutely no purpose to them, other than for decoration (and for something to get tangled up in your hand levers if it gets really windy).
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CaptCrash
Male Advanced Member
744 Posts
[Mentor]


Nampa, ID
USA

Honda

Phantom

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  8:36 AM
There are tassels...and then there are WHIPS. A whip has a quick release.
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Daddio
Male Advanced Member
775 Posts
[Mentor]


Calera, AL
USA

Suzuki

Bandit 1250

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  8:53 AM
I have heard that they offer some sort of "spiritual protection". I remember asking the rider about the safety issue of flying leather strands. She pointed to her belief that they offered protection. She also said there was no interference from the streamers.

I cannot believe that these are on a quick release mechanism to allow their use as a "defensive weapon". That sounds too conspiritorial for me. Sure, there may be a few folks that have modified the streamers. Can you really believe that their primary purpose is a disguised weapon?

I like the spritual protection idea - I am discounting the hidden weapon idea. I won't be using streamers regardless.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1740 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  9:15 AM
Old-School "Getback" Biker Whip
quote:
A Little Bit of Yesterday

There's a history behind these old-school biker or "getback" whips. Back in the day, you'd see bikers sporting whips - hanging from their clutch or brake levers as they rode. The leather whips were usually made from the biker's club colors - to display their colors and for club recognition. But the whips were a whole lot more than just leather club colors. A biker whip could be quickly released and used "in case of emergency."

Quick Release Clip

Each Biker whip is braided directly to a quick release clip that can be attached to either the brake or clutch lever. With a quick downward pull, the biker whip can be released quickly in case of "emergency." We recommend an application of Clear Nail Polish to preserve the finish of the clasp and for enhanced rust resistance.





You know, just "in case of emergency".
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staticattic
Male Senior Member
410 Posts


Tampa, FL
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  9:38 AM
Wow. That is really interesting. I have never seen anything like that before. Those would explain the answer originally posted in Yahoo Answers. I assumed by "ropes" the asker was talking about tassels. That's what I get for assuming. I noticed in the pictures posted by aidanspa, there is a skull near the tassels. I wonder if that is the "lead ball" referenced from Yahoo? It looks like either end could be considered the "business" end. From this new info, I am gathering "tassels" are for decoration while "whips" are for business.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1740 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  9:52 AM
quote:
Originally posted by staticattic

From this new info, I am gathering "tassels" are for decoration while "whips" are for business.
Let's try to keep this "G"-rated.
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OlHossCanada
Male Junior Member
50 Posts


Lethbridge, Alberta
Canada

Kawasaki

1991 VN750 (Vulcan)

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  10:59 AM
quote:
Originally posted by staticattic

I have also heard the tassels flip and flop in the wind causing confusion to the bad spirits that would like to do harm. Something else I've heard, they are a carry over from the "old west" days when cowboys wore fringes and tassels to help siphon the rain away from their garments.


Fringes on a cowboy`s clothes might have served a real purpose, but I suspect that fringes on a motorcycle jacket whipping around in the wind and slapping your face while riding would be a real distraction and a danger. At our local bike night the only person wearing a jacket with tassels is a shapely gal who only rides pillon behind her husband, and wears a FF helmet. If the tassels on her jacket fly around and bother her, she has both hands to control them.

I personally wouldn`t have tassels on the levers either. For comforts sake however,I would like to try either the wider Kury levers or the leather covers on the levers on my Vulcan.

Edited by - OlHossCanada on 11/30/2010 11:01 AM
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Night Train
Male Advanced Member
1668 Posts
[Mentor]


Sydney, Nova Scotia
Canada

Kawasaki

2006 VN900

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  12:39 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I haven't seen the whips in use since the early 70's. Most of the bikes I notice now with fringes have leather covers over their levers or handle bar grips that have tassels running off the ends. I believe today's purpose is primarily for looks although they don't turn my crank but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One of my riding buddies has them on his Kawasaki and he likes them. For controlling evil road demons, I've placed my faith in my ride bell that hangs off the bottom of my frame.
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Mikeydude
Male Advanced Member
762 Posts
[Mentor]


Ft. Worth, Texas
USA

Harley-Davidson

03 FXD Super Glide

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  1:12 PM
quote:
Originally posted by staticattic

I noticed in the pictures posted by aidanspa, there is a skull near the tassels. I wonder if that is the "lead ball" referenced from Yahoo?



The skulls are a decoration. The wrap is used as a handle, if you will. The metal clip is the business end. You would just grab the wrap and pull down... they would come off the handle and you were ready to go.

I've never heard of a lead ball braided into them, but I did see a lug nut braided into one once.
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SteveS
Male Advanced Member
1208 Posts
[Mentor]


Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Harley-Davidson

2018 Tri-Gliide

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  1:26 PM
I have had tassels on both my bikes. I purchased them because after riding behind a guy with them on his bike and noticing them (drawing my attention and making him more noticeable) I thought of then as First added safety and Second, I liked the look (nostalgia to me).

Mine are black leather tassels (not whips) and cover my clutch and brake levers.

They do not slap my tank or my arm that I am aware of.

my 2c
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(Deleted or Lost)

Posted - 11/30/2010 :  5:15 PM
When was living and riding in California, the preferred 'lane encroachment protective device' on cruisers seemed to be a large Stilson Wrench (pipe wrench) in a rifle holster on the left side of the tank/engine. I only saw one used a couple of times... Exit one side window each time...
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Peter Darby
Male Standard Member
110 Posts


Manassas, va
USA

Kawasaki

Nomad

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  7:06 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
My brother-in-law has a get back whip on his bike and I have seen a few others. Someone mentioned the fringe on jackets. Originally the fringe on leather clothes was utilitarian. A wet jacket tends to whick the water to the lowest point where it will collect and drip. If the fringe is the lowest point the leather around the wearer will dry faster and the water in the fringe will drip and evaporate faster.
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Indiana Randy
Moderator
2118 Posts
[Mentor]


Fort Wayne, Indiana
USA

Honda

2000 Magna V4 750

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  10:53 AM
I think this discussion has gone far enough.

We're risking going too far on a safety forum, this thread is closed.
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