South Florida Bikers

The Ubiquitous Bandanna

January 2006

This is the sixth installment in a series about the combination of rider, ride, route and resources required to endure and enjoy long distance riding (LDR). Our resource focus this month is the ubiquitous bandanna.

Those who view motorcycles as toys to be towed rather than beasts to be rode probably see the bandanna as some sort of fashion accessory to complement their custom-fitted, hand-tooled leather chaps. But like the cowboys before them, seasoned riders of the steel horse know that the real value of the bandanna is found in function rather than flair.

I normally ride with one bandanna in my pocket, one in my forward toolbox, and a third in my saddlebags. Here are just a few of the many uses I’ve found for them:

Cleaning Bike. Sure, a soft cotton bandanna is great for cleaning your sunglasses. But what never ceases to amaze me is that–in a pinch, of course–you can damn near detail your entire bike with just one bandanna and a little spit!

Checking Oil. Sooner or later, you’re going to need to check your oil in a place without towels. Wiping the dipstick on your pants will work, but using a bandanna is cleaner.

Highway Flag. If you’re bike is broken down and you’re tired of waving for assistance, try tying a bright red bandanna to the top of your antenna or the most prominent place you can.

Head Cover. The best head cover is a helmet. But if you’re riding lidless, lose your official H-D skull cap, and still want to keep some UV rays off your bald head, just break out a bandanna and you’re good to go.

Neck Muffler. That cool-looking black bomber jacket can’t keep you warm if the winter winds whip in around the collar and down your back. Tie a bandanna around your neck, tuck it under the collar to block the air, and you’ll be good for another 20-degree drop.

Impact Pad. If you have a cellphone, iPod, XM satellite radio, or some other device or commodity you want to cushion from a long and bumpy ride, try wrapping it in your bandanna before you drop it in your vest pocket.

First Aid. The utility of the bandanna as a bandage or sling is surely no surprise, but don’t forget it also makes a fine tourniquet. About 600 miles into a Bun Burner 1500 run, a road rock hit near my left knee causing immediate pain and swelling. A quick bandanna tourniquet kept the swelling in check, and eased the pain enough for me to complete the ride.

Quick Repair. The wind shredded one leg of my chaps halfway through a SaddleSore 1000 ride, but another bandanna tourniquet around my ankle held the leather in place until I reached my destination.

Yes, the ubiquitous bandanna offers a lot of utility for only a buck or two. And even non-bikers can put them to effective uses … like wiping noses … or robbing banks.

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!