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Skulls and Motorcycle Culture

July 08, 2019 4 min read

Skulls, as a symbol, have long been associated with biker culture. From jacket patches to apparel to custom paint jobs, you’re sure to find a massive collection of skull iconography within the motorcycle community. It seems that skulls are everywhere. On a surface level, it isn’t difficult to see why.

I mean come on, skulls look bad-ass! There’s no shortage of skulls on motorcycle apparel for this reason alone. Aesthetics aside, there are some deeper meanings associated with the skull symbol and its connections to the motorcycle community.

Before we get into the motorcycle community’s appropriation of the skull, here’s a bit of backstory on the broader history of the skull symbol and its usage throughout time.

Skulls Throughout The Ages

The image of the skull has numerous meanings and connotations dating back to near the beginning of recorded history. Artists, pirates, and even militaries have used skull imagery to symbolize a myriad of concepts and ideas.

Out of all the potential interpretations, the one recurring theme is that the skull is essentially a symbol of our own mortality. Artists used it in their works to depict the inevitability of death and the end that is waiting for us all.

pirate skull flag

Aside from the mortality theme, the skull has also been used as a symbol of going against the status quo. For example, pirates used the infamous Jolly Roger skull and crossbones as a symbol of rebellion and intimidation.

There has also been a long-recurring theme of using the skull as a way to connote danger to human life. Even today, the skull connotes hazardous conditions or danger ahead. Continuing on through the centuries, the skull symbol remained one of the most well-known signs.

danger skull sign

Skulls In The Motorcycle Community

Flash forward to the present day, and the skull continues to be a prominent image in modern culture. Bikers, in particular, have taken the skull symbol and turned it into something that is uniquely our own. Like many aspects of the motorcycle community, the skull symbol has quite a few different meanings.

Much like certain motorcycle vocabulary and phrases, the skull as a symbol can mean almost anything you want it to mean. There are, however, a few different meanings that are more or less generally agreed upon within motorcycle circles.

Acknowledging Our Own Mortality

One could argue that the idea of mortality is the most common association people have with the skull as a symbol. This is especially true for those of us who ride. Whenever we get on our bikes, we know that we are rolling the dice in a way.

No matter how experienced a rider you are, you are never going to be immune from the potential dangers of the road. The straight fact is, riding motorcycles comes with an inherent risk (as we’re constantly reminded by those oh so helpful cagers).

For this reason, the skull can serve as a symbolic reminder of our own mortality. Having a healthy respect for death can help to keep us alert and cautious while we’re on the road. It is a constant reminder of the consequences of being too complacent or not respecting the power of the bike.

biker skull on motorcycle

On the surface, embracing a symbol that reminds us of our own mortality can seem a bit grim. However, in doing so, it also reminds us of why we ride in the first place. That is, to spend the time we have on this planet doing what brings us joy!

Eventually, all things end, but it’s up to you to make the most of your time. This is a sentiment that a lot of motorcyclists seem to agree on. Go out and seize the day!

A Symbol of Rebellion

A vestige of the days where the skull and bones were used by pirates on the seven seas, the skull continues to carry with it a feeling of rebellion. Though bikers are not going around fighting, stealing, and causing mayhem, we do participate in our own form of rebellion against the mainstream. Many people see bikes as too loud or too dangerous.

Some even look down on those of us who ride and the culture of riding. These kinds of people will never understand and frankly, we don’t care. No matter what the majority thinks of motorcycles and those who ride them, we will continue to walk our own path and spend our days out on the road.

Sign of Brotherhood

The skull symbol in motorcycle culture is one of the most iconic symbols that bikers have adopted. The fact that it is so widespread throughout the community has allowed the skull symbol to become a mark of the brotherhood of motorcyclists.

Some think that this has origins in the military, where skulls symbolized the bond and brotherhood between soldiers. Many motorcycle groups got their start with veterans returning home from the war and looking for a way to cope with their experiences with people who understood what they had gone through.

This sign of brotherhood has continued amongst motorcycle groups to this day. Many clubs use the skull as part of the insignia for their group. The bonds between riders are incredibly deep, and the skull has come to symbolize the relationship motorcyclists have with their fellow brothers and sisters on the road.

Skull Apparel and Memorabilia

Skulls and motorcycles have a long-running history that is rich with meaning. As we mentioned at the beginning, the skull symbol has a mass appeal within the community. When we curate our selection of products to offer, we are drawn to bad-ass designs that evoke the senses.

We also aim to select products that resonate with the motorcycle community. Naturally, this has led to an eclectic collection of skull memorabilia on our website. From skull necklaces to leather bracelets, some of our best sellers include the iconic skull imagery.

Silver Skull Leather Bracelet

Stainless Steel Crystal Skull Necklace

Skulls are one of the most iconic symbols in the world, and this is especially true in the world of motorcycles. Whether the skull has a deeper meaning for you, or if you just like the way it looks, the symbol has become one of the premier images in motorcycle culture.

No matter what the skull means to you, always rock it with pride and remember to keep the shiny side up!