Superstitions are a funny thing. Whether they actually have an effect on an outcome or not is still up in the air, but then again there’s no real way to prove or disprove they don’t, so I might as well keep on practicing mine because, well… because. That’s just what I do! Call it what you want to call it, but I like to think superstition works for me, mostly…

Merriam-Webster defines superstition as “a belief or way of behaving that is based on fear of the unknown and faith in magic or luck, a belief that certain events or things will bring good or bad luck, a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary.”

Over the years I’ve somehow, somewhere picked up and created a bunch of different superstitions and rituals I do before getting on the bike, and I’m sure many of you probably have your own checklists and habits too. A lot of my routines transfer over to my regular day-to-day life as well. Probably my biggest one, or rather the one that happens most often, is that I always put my left shoe, boot, slipper, sneaker, any sort of footwear on first, followed by the right. Every time. Same goes for my socks and gloves. Why? I have no idea, but I’ve been doing it this way ever since I can remember – and so far so good, I haven’t died yet. It must be working…

Valentino Rossi has many pre-ride rituals. Perhaps his most commonly known is when crouches besides his bike, always on the right hand side, holds the foot peg and bows his head. (See lead photo) The second most common is while leaving pit lane, where he stands on his pegs and adjusts himself, both front and rear.

Maybe it’s because we read from left to right? I don’t know – your guess is as good as mine. But that’s just the way I do it. There have even been times when I’ve put my right shoe on first, in a hurry or something, only to realize my mistake. So I took it off, started over and made sure the left one went on first. That’s probably pretty weird, right?

Probably, but I bet some of you are thinking to yourselves, “ehhh, that’s not thaaat weird, because I do ________.” At the end of the day, we’re motorcyclists – we’re all­ weird somehow. Take it as a compliment. Another thing I do whenever I get a new helmet, (manufacturers will probably hate me for this) is purposely drop it on the ground before I take it on its first ride, so we can get that initial scratch or chip out of the way up front. We all know that won’t be the last time your helmet falls or gets knocked off of something like your bars, seat or mirrors. And it’s just a gentle drop, nothing that’s going to do the helmet any real damage.

I have others too. When I put my deodorant on, it’s seven swipes per arm – down is one, up is two, and so on… Ten if I’m going on a date. If a girl compliments you for smelling good, you’ve already won half the battle, fellas. Ladies, tell me I’m wrong…

Don’t walk under a ladder. I don’t know how or why exactly, but that one just seems to make sense. Or, don’t open an umbrella inside. Well, why would you? You’re already inside… There’s plenty more obviously, but I’m quickly veering off on a tangent.

Colin Edwards says that his most public superstition involved his leathers. “I didn’t believe in introducing my leathers to the ground in a crash. I would walk out to the front of the garage, lie down, dig in my shoulders, roll around and get a little scuff on them. Then we were good.”

One more? Okay, sure. If I ever get called out for jinxing something, I’ll repeat the same line again to cancel-out said jinx, or rather, “un-jinx” it. I usually get strange looks and rolled eyes whenever this happens, but whatever, I deal. Anyway, back to motorcycles. I can’t be giving away all my secrets, I already did that here.

Whenever getting on or off the bike, I always do it from the left, mostly because it’s just plain awkward to get on or off from the right (because of the kickstand), but I make it a point to do it every single time so as not to disturb the universe, Motorcycle Gods, or my own quirky internal pre-ride checklist. Us motorcyclists need all the help we can get.

Fortunately, that help comes in the form of throttle therapy. Now, if we could only get doctors and therapists to start encouraging motorcycle riding as quickly and enthusiastically as they’ve recommended medical marijuana… Damn near everybody would be on a bike and all the world’s problems would melt away. Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but like I said, us motorcyclists are weird and crazy, and living in even stranger times. Weird or not, we do what we do and we all have our own superstitions and habits, whether it’s motorcycle related or not.

Kevin Schwantz never believed in any superstitions, however he confesses that he once thought he came across a lucky pair of underwear. “Then I crashed the next race weekend. I said, ‘Those things aren’t lucky. Throw ’em away.’” I once thought I had a lucky pair of underwear too. I’ll never forget them, because they were the boxers I was wearing the day I lost my V-card, and they may or may not have had flames on them… Hey now!

Like us, the top pros have theirs as well. Racing Together: Superstition, an article by Matthew Miles that investigates many of the top racers’ superstitions, is what sparked this discussion of mine, and you can read it here. And you should, because there’s some pretty interesting things that certain MotoGP racers do that might make you scratch your head.

Though, in the end, we’re all crazy in one way or another – motorcyclists maybe more than most.  With the help of Waylon Jennings, to that I say, “I’ve always been crazy, but it’s kept me from going insane.”

We’d love to hear about your superstitions and what you guys do before, after or while riding your motorcycle(s). Who’s got the weirdest quirk of them all?

  • Born to Ride

    I noticed you used the vernacular kickstand instead of sidestand. I always thought that was what everyone called it until I started reading motorcycle publications and comment forums. Realized that I was some sort of weirdo with a broken vocabulary. Finally, I am not alone.

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    • Mad4TheCrest

      A bicycle has a ‘kickstand’; a motorcycle has a ‘sidestand’. It’s an incomplete transition for some of us.

      • Born to Ride

        Uh, what’s the difference?

        • DickRuble

          Presumably you need to kick one to stand, while the other one stands by the side.

          • Angus Pug

            I think a lot of us say “kickstand” instead of “sidestand” because we started out riding bicycles and are used to saying “kickstand.”

        • Mad4TheCrest

          I don’t know for sure, but one holds up 400 lbs or much more, where the other holds < 40 (these days much less). Maybe you don't want to be kicking things holding up a quarter ton?

          • Born to Ride

            I think you’re making shit up. *eyes narrow*

          • Mad4TheCrest

            It’s actually reading, remembering, and thinking. *eyebrow raised derisively*

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            A ton is 2,240 lb. A quarter of that is 560 lbs.

          • Mad4TheCrest

            Yes, Professor. Can I get partial credit for saying ‘400
            Plus’?

          • Joe Smith

            Isn’t a ton 2000 pounds? So 500

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            No.

          • Joe Smith

            Actually a thousand kilos is 2204 pounds, and a ton in 2000 pounds so you’re wrong twice. Where are you located/from Stoney?

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            YOU are an idiot.

          • Joe Smith

            And we will just leave it at that.

          • Joe Smith

            You have google in India don’t you? A metric ton is 2204 not 2240. This is an American based site where a ton is indeed 2000 pounds. Sometimes I wonder about your reasoning.

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            The metric version is “tonne”, you moron. A ton is British. Pounds are British. The language we are speaking is English, which is from a British country. A ton is 2240 pounds. This site is Canadian. And you are an uneducated idiot American.

          • Joe Smith

            The tonne (/tʌn/ ( listen)) (non-preferred SI derived unit; SI symbol: t), commonly referred to as the metric ton in the United States, is a non-SI metric unit of mass equal to 1,000 kilograms; or one megagram (Mg); it is equivalent to approximately 2,204.6 pounds

            I don’t know what your issue is Rock, nor do I care, but perhaps a professional can help you.

          • Joe Smith

            The tonne (/tʌn/ ( listen)) (non-preferred SI derived unit; SI symbol: t), commonly referred to as the metric ton in the United States, is a non-SI metric unit of mass equal to 1,000 kilograms; or one megagram (Mg); it is equivalent to approximately 2,204.6 pounds.

            I’m not sure what your issue is, nor do I care, but perhaps the help of a mental health professional is in order. Or maybe you’re just a rude person.

          • Joe Smith

            Ok I get it, an Imperial ton is 2240. Thank you so much for the kind correction. An American ton is still 2000 pounds, and you were writing to Americans. And you are still rude.

          • The Hockey News Chat

            It’s not “an Imperial ton,” you idiot. It is a ton. 2000 pounds is a ‘short ton.’ This is used by morons who are unable to do math. And a gallon is 4.5 litres and the letter is “zed.”.

            Just because you are an uneducated insular f*cking idiot, do not blame your problems upon me.

          • Joe Smith

            Change of name Rocky? You don’t have exclusive license to the word. An Imperial ton in a long ton here. A ton is 2000 pounds. I am indeed educated and have multiple degrees. And you are a condescending jerk. Now I’ll let it go at that and you can chime in with more insults because you cannot be clear. I know you have to have the last word, as most arrogant smug Aholes usually do.

          • The Hockey News Chat

            You are an idiot and uneducated.

            “And we will just leave it at that.”
            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/motorcycleblog/us_motorcyclists_and_our_weird_superstitions/#comment-3731936575

            You are an idiot. A ton is a ton. Just because your shithole country is infested with uneducated fuckwits that insist on being Ugly Americans and living up to the disgrace that is your country does not mean you have to follow suit. But, sadly, you do.

            It is spelt “colour” and pronounced “zed.”

            2000 lbs is NOT considered a ton ANYWHERE, you idiot.

            That is a SHORT TON, used for ease of simple estimation dock-side.

            Your stupidity sickens me, you fucking scum piece of shit. Please, do not vote, operate a motor vehicle, or have children you idiot you.

      • Ian Christopher

        And Harley’s have a “jiffystand” because…well, Harley.

        • Rocky Stonepebble

          I like the spring loaded Ducati stands. Hilarity ensues.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Superstitions? Well, I have a post-ride ‘Thanks’ ritual that’s different for each bike. I MUST complete the ritual. If I forget a part of it I have to go back to the garage and start over. Crazy.

  • spiff

    I think there is value to superstition. One, you are mentally planning for success. Two, you are programming yourself to prepare for the task. It only goes bad when you miss one and feel doomed to fail.

  • spiff

    “but whatever, I deal.” Lol

  • Ulysses Araujo

    I never, ever turn the key off without stopping the engine with the kill switch before. And yesterday on a tight parking spot I had to climb my bike from the right side, may God save my soul.

    • Xenu Teegeeack

      We traditionally mount motorcycles from the left side, because we traditionally mounted horses from the left side. This is also reflected in saying that we ride (on) motorcycles and drive (in) automobiles, just as in, riding horses and driving carriages or wagons. The motorcycle replaced the horse.

      One might then ask, why mount a horse from the left? Because when a knight was wearing a sword on the left side, for a right handed cross body draw, the sword hung free and easily cleared the horse when left side mounting.

      So why did knights carry swords on horseback? Same reason we carry guns today. On a motorcycle either a cross draw holster, shoulder holster, or waist band center of back carry is usually preferred.

      • Ulysses Araujo

        Interesting info. Mounting bikes from the left side is easier as it is the side stand side and the frequently hot exhaust is usually in the right (except on some quirky BMW’s), this may be the reason it was standardized that way.

        • Mad4TheCrest

          Oddly, bike cops are taught to dismount to the right to prevent bikes falling on them (when rushing to apprehend an evildoer I guess).

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Or, a tasty doughnut!

      • Rocky Stonepebble

        You have problems, don’t you?

      • Angus Pug

        I never rode a horse and I’m not a knight so how would what they do have anything to do with what I do? 🤔🙂 The reason that I mount my motorcycle from the left is because the first motorcycles I rode had kickstarters so the drill was, stand on the left, throw your right leg over the seat, kickstart the bike with your right foot. I imagine that goes for a lot of riders too. Also, with the bike on a kickstand it is leaning left. It’s just awkward to mount it from the right because it is leaning away from you.

    • Joe Smith

      That’s an emergency kill switch. You’re turning the key anyway, doing both puts more wear on that kill switch that it doesn’t need

  • riders have many strange ways to get inner power from each of which is unique and funny 🙂

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  • Starmag

    ♪… I got a rabbit foot hangin’
    From my black leather jacket ♪

    https://www.vevo.com/watch/brian-setzer/drive-like-lightning-(crash-like-thunder)-live/CAUM81600150

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      Excellent! Have had drinks with him in a bar, been in the change room after a show, and he put me on his guest list a few times (30 years back?)! Fantastic guy/player. You may enjoy Luke Doucet:

      https://youtu.be/52WBaGUahEs

    • Rocky Stonepebble
  • JMDGT

    When passing my bikes in the garage I will pat them on the seat as if they were living trusted steads.

    • John A. Smith

      Me, too. I also assign them a gender. No clue why I do either, but I always have.

      • Rocky Stonepebble

        Unless that ‘gender’ is female, you are a bit off-side.

    • Alaskan18724

      Likewise. Don’t think of it as a superstition, though–just affection.

  • Vrooom

    The placebo affect works, whether there’s a valid medical reason or not, so no reason that superstitions wouldn’t work in the same way.

    • DickRuble

      It’s a placebo effect. Whatever affects you may or may not benefit from it.

    • Steve Slaughter

      In college, they were doing medical experiments and asked for volunteers. After the testing and results were tallied, I found out that I was given placebo. I’ll tell you, that placebo is good shit, man.

  • kenneth_moore

    I also put my left glove on first, every time. I have no idea when or why that started, but I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. Fortunately it hasn’t extended to my socks, boots, pants legs, etc. That would be weird.. 😀

  • Alaskan18724

    I always put on a helmet, gloves, boots, and jacket before going for a ride. I always put them away afterward. Works for me.

  • Rocky Stonepebble

    When I get up to a door, I always knock three times, individually, whilst also saying the householders name with each knock.

    • Joe Smith

      Thanks for the info Dr Cooper

      • Rocky Stonepebble

        Well done. I was beginning to think no one would get the joke/reference.

  • RyYYZ

    Some of your “superstitions” really sound more like OCD behaviours.

    I can’t think of any motorcycle-related superstitions that I have. “Superstition” suggests some belief in the paranormal, “luck”, or stuff like that.

    Other things you mention are just habits/routines.

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      So good to hear from someone that agrees with me! Superstitions ARE OCD behaviours, and have no basis in reality. Thank God.

      • Steven Kelby

        GOD Haha. Religion is also superstition 🙂

        • Rocky Stonepebble

          You do get the joke, right?

          • Steven Kelby

            Ahaha yeah I got your joke.

  • John B.

    Superstitions are innocuous in situations where you have no influence over outcomes (e.g., while watching a ballgame on television). In situations where one’s performance has a direct impact on outcomes (a player in a sporting event, or a person riding a motorcycle), superstitions serve no good purpose. Time wasted on superstitions would be better used contemplating one’s game plan, analyzing conditions, and/or reviewing fundamentals among other things.

    Human beings do not like being out of control. So we create superstitions as a means to beguile ourselves into thinking we have influence in situations where we have none. It’s a curse to have the ability to contemplate one’s precarious existence in this world.

    • Rocky Stonepebble
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  • Steve Slaughter

    My second season of racing, I switched from old 3rd-hand Syed leathers to new Z-Custom. When I picked them up, Adolf told me to throw them down on the pavement. It neutralizes the gravity magnet. It worked for a little while.

    After leaving the pits, I’d always stand on the pegs and shake/wiggle. It kinda made the leathers fall more into place. It became more a habit than superstition.