I vividly remember purchasing my 2012 Harley Street Glide and seeing them wheel it off the showroom floor to take it into service for its make ready. I was given the golden ticket tour of the dealership, rotating through apparel, parts, then service, and asked if I wanted the bell rung to signify the purchase of a new Harley. The final question came as a surprise and I didn’t have an answer to it. What would you like to name your bike? The name would then be engraved on a trophy plaque that you could hang on your wall. Name my bike? I hadn’t even gotten to know it yet.
My 2015 FLHXS (not named)
I’ve talked to a lot of people about bike naming. The most common questions being why name it, what brought about the name, how did you determine if it was a male or female, and how long did you wait before naming it. Varied questions brought about varied answers.
One person in particular that I once worked with, Robert (Crash), gave me an answer that has never left me. He is a life long rider and has gone through a variety of bikes through his life and acquired a significant amount of experience in all venues of motorcycling. His short and simple answer was “as you ride the motorcycle, it will tell you its name”. I had to think about that statement, more than once. It made sense to the extent that as you rode, things about the bike would come forth to be noticed. These would be the physical characteristics that identify each bike. Maybe a rattle, or a quick acceleration boost at a specific RPM. Could be a color shift in the paint, a rough or smooth ride. Maybe the sound of the exhaust or clicking of the valve train. Any of these things and an uncountable amount more could easily embed a name in your head spontaneously as a result of specific trait the bike possesses.
Then I considered the spiritual side of “it will tell you its name”. Here we have to move into the belief that a mechanical man made piece of metal is able to transfer a thought or whisper into your head. We have to believe that in some way and inanimate object is cognitive of itself to the extent that it has applied a naming designation to itself that it wants to share with its rider. As a society people have a lot of personal ideas about the relation between objects and spirituality. It seems in the motorcycling community this relationship is quite strong. Riders tend to bond very tightly to their motorcycles often times making the bikes place in their life a top priority. Putting an objects importance at the center point of life could easily invoke a sense of spirituality between the rider and motorcycle which could lead to the naming of the bike. Whether imagined or a genuine magical or spiritual occurrence, according to some people, the naming of a motorcycle can often reveal itself in this manner.
I have also talked to others that simply pick a name randomly and apply it to the motorcycle. Through baby naming books, online name generators, or someone they know or knew in their past, a name is plucked out and used as a designation or identification tag for the motorcycle. Some thought might be applied to the naming but in these cases the name is simply used as a quick reference to the bike during conversation. After all, its more personal to say, “Freddie Two Wheels went in for an oil change today”, instead of ” My Black Harley Davidson Road Glide CVO went in for an oil change today”. Then the recipient of the conversation would easily know from then on that the rider was referring to his bike when using that name. Even though the name might have been applied without much thought, it still personalizes and bonds the rider to the bike more than just referring to it by its make and model. This method might not seem very personal but is applied more than you might think when it comes down to naming a motorcycle.
Names can create a bond between a rider and their bike whether spiritually or just as a reference. It seems to be a human need to identify in a personal manner with the objects we possess. The method of naming comes to people in different forms and is quite important to most of us. It’s quite an intriguing trait and interesting to talk to people about their motorcycles name and how it came to be. If you feel inclined, post a picture of your bike with its name and a short description of how the name came to be. Tag Ride It Wrench It on Facebook or Instagram with the info so others can hear your story!