The Long Leather Dealie

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.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

2 thoughts on “The Long Leather Dealie”

  1. My buddy had a whip hanging from his clutch lever for a couple of years. During that time, he could never understand why his bike was wearing out its clutch plates so quickly. Finally, a service technician told him: the wind was blowing the whip hard enough to slightly the disengage the clutch enough, to wear down the discs. He threw his whip away after that.

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