Mention green motorcycles in the motorcycle world and you’re likely to be told that green bikes are a definite no-go. In fact, if we want to be specific green Harley’s are a definite no-go. The reason isn’t quite what you would expect.
Turns out there’s no solid rationale, such as safety or visibility. The reason it’s bad to have a green motorcycle is based on superstition. It is generally believed that the curse of the green motorcycle was born during the second world war. Although it now extends to all motorcycles, the bad luck associated with green motorcycles originally related to green Harley Davidson’s.
Why Is Green a Bad Color For Bikers?
The Curse of the Green Harley
During the second world war, green Harley Davidson’s were used by the military. Often they were deployed to the front lines and were used in reconnaissance and communication, including transporting important dispatches and those in command. As a result, German snipers used to target the bikes and their riders.
The high rider casualty rates saw the bikes develop a reputation for being cursed. However, the story doesn’t end there.
When the motorbikes returned with the military, they were often surplus to requirements and sold to the public. Often with their army paint job still intact. Unfortunately, the rigors of army life were such that these bikes were pretty beat up, meaning they frequently broke down and had mechanical issues.
The Green Car
The superstition of green being bad luck also extended to the car industry where green vehicles seemed to have a propensity to develop strange noises or smells. They were also prone to mechanical failure.
In the motor racing industry, teams refused to paint their cars green. It wasn’t until Jim Clark and his British racing green car in 1963 that a green car managed to take out the formula one world championship. Not even that banished the superstition, with it being said, Mario Andretti to this day refuses to sign autographs in green ink.
The Kawasaki Green
If green is such bad luck then why on earth did Kawasaki choose bright lime green as its brand color. Turns out it wasn’t because they hadn’t heard stories. The superstitions associated with the color green were the very reason Kawasaki choose to identify with the color green.
If folklore is to be believed, the engineers at Kawasaki chose the green to make a statement. They wanted to show the consumers that the engines they designed and built were so superior they could handle anything, even a curse.
Kawasaki will tell you the lime green was chosen because it is the greenest of greens, proving just how superior their engines are. Maybe that’s true, although it does have to be said, lime green and army green sit at opposite ends of the green color spectrum. It kind of makes you wonder if the engineers weren’t quite as brave as they’d like us to believe.
Like any superstition, it’s up to you to determine the weight you give it, but it is certainly something to take into account the next time you’re buying a motorcycle.
About the author: Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.