Out here in California, I see these long, braided leather things hanging off handlebars. I’ve always wondered what they were. I thought they were just some sort of silly decoration, but I had no idea what, if anything, they were supposed to signify. I’ve scoffed at them as just some sort of over the top decoration.
Yesterday, I learned that tey are actually called a getback whip. In old-school biker culture, the biker getback whip served two purposes. First, the braided leather was dyed in the colors of the motorcycle club to which the bearer belonged. Second, the whip served as an emergency weapon. In the old days, the end of the whip close to the fringe was wrapped around a piece of rebar.
In many jurisdictions now, including California, putting a piece of rebar in the end would constitute making a sap, the manufacture or possession of which would be illegal. So, you can’t really obtain one from any retail source that has the rebar in it. It is still used by motorcycle clubs, however, to fly the club’s colors, and the whip–minus rebar–is perfectly legal everywhere.
The thing is, even though adding the rebar and making a flail or sap out of it would be illegal, it’s held onto the clutch or brake cable by a big, heavy, quick-release clip made out of brass or iron. So, if you swing it by the leather-wrapped end above the fringe, it makes a nasty–and perfectly legal–flail anyway. That quick-release catch is heavy.
When I thought it was simply some stupid leather thong put on for looks, I thought it was stupid. Now that I know it’s a weapon, I really like it.
In fact, I purchased one this evening directly from the manufacturer, who happens to live locally. I didn’t get it in any club colors, but dark blue and black to match the color of my bike.
I don’t care for leather fringe or accouterments that have no purpose. But, I have nothing against weapons at all. Quite the reverse, in fact.