What are Motorcycle Whips for? (5 USES of Getback Whips)

If you are an old-school biker, chances are you have a biker whip hanging off your clutch lever (or your brake lever)!

Or you have at least noticed a few! That’s not to say younger riders haven’t.

But you get the point.

In the United States, biker whips became popular in the 1970s and 1980s (my folks were just about getting married then).

While the tradition continues, they aren’t as popular now, as they used to be.

But do you know what they are and what they were used for?

Motorcycle Whips, also called Getback Whips, are essentially used to indicate your Motorcycle Club Colors (MC). They are also used as a defensive weapon, gift from another MC member, token of remembrance, and for their aesthetic value.

Using Motorcycle Whips to indicate your Motorcycle Club’s Colors

This is where it all started.

When Getback whips first came into use, they were made to match the colors of your Motorcycle Club patch.

By looking at the whip, you could identify which Motorcycle Club the rider belonged to.

This gave members immense pride. Their leather whips (they were all leather back then) clearly signaled their club recognition and affiliation.

The whips also served as a warning.

As long as your whip was on your bike, it was constantly signalling.

It didn’t matter if you were with it. A quick look at the colors of the whip on a parked bike told you if you were welcome or not.

Many a confrontation was avoided by quick-thinking members when they saw colors that you couldn’t mess with.

Important note: This could save you a heap of trouble. When you buy a motorcycle Getback whip ensure you get the colors right.

If you are a Motorcycle Club member, get the whip in your club’s colors. If you are not, don’t accidentally choose colors that belong to an active Motorcycle Club, to which you do not belong!

You don’t want to risk getting roughed by an MC because you are sporting their club’s colors on accident.

Using Getback whips to make folks “Get back.”

In case of emergency, the whips have another use. With one panic snap, you can turn them into a dangerous weapon.

A Getback whip has a quick metal release at the top and leather fringes at the end of the whip (see photo below of the quick release).

Image of a quick release on a white background. Attached to a black leather whip.
Quick metal release on a biker whip

Many motorcycle riders would add ball bearings or make the fringes heavier by other means.

There are stories of riders attaching sharp objects such as blades to the end of the whip to turn it into a deadly weapon.

One tug at the quick release clip, and the whip would come right off the clutch or brake levers.

With the quick metal release in your hands, you can use the whip to attack back in defense or deter attackers as you defend yourself.

However, it can become deadly when held from the leather fringes or the bottom of the whip. Now that that metal clip became the end of the whip, one can only imagine the damage it would deliver!

You could also use the whip to warn anything that comes after you to “get back“! Be it another motorcycle rider, a car, an angry pedestrian, or even a wild animal.

But, picking a fight or using deadly force is not what I recommend at all, though. ✌️ ☮️

Important note: It is important to note that the local laws in your state might not allow a motorcycle whip.

In California, any Getback whips that are not attached permanently to the motorcycle may be confiscated by a state police officer.

You may get also get a citation and a fine for that!

So it’s best that you check the laws in your state. Different states may treat this differently.

You want to ensure that there are no criminal laws against using a motorcycle whip in your state.

And just how can you do that you might ask? Just stop and ask a police officer or call the local police station. 🙂

A Motorcycle Getback whip to remind you of a lost friend or riding buddy

Old school members of motorcycle clubs do hang whips in memory and honor of a lost friend or a loved one. Doesn’t mean you can’t. Just that back in the day it was a lot more common, than it is now.

That’s special to me. That means something.

If I ever bought a cruiser, I would do that. On crotch rockets, like my Kawasaki ZX-10R and Kawasaki Z900, you can’t really hang Getback whips.

Given the speeds and agility of supersports, motorcycle whips would become a safety issue.

And, of course, they would not look cool on sportsbikes!

Cruisers look the best with those on.

You can even have the whips customized with the name of your friend or family member on it.

And you can pick from the different colors. A lot of riders do that. That makes the whip even more special.

Receiving a Motorcycle Whip as a gift from another MC member

Say for a minute that I was part of the Hell’s Angels MC. And the late Mr Sonny Barger (RIP 1938 – 2022), a legend in MC culture like no other, gifted me a whip.

For one, I would go bonkers to receive that from someone like Mr Sonny Barger. I would be over the moon!

The honor, pride, and joy of hanging that whip on my motorcycle would be off the charts!

Not many would qualify to receive one from Sonny Barger, though. Not sure I would either.

But you get the point. If an MC rider does gift you one, it’s an honor for the both of you when you put it onto your ride!

Sporting a motorcycle whip for its aesthetic value

Today a whole lot of motorcycle riders use whips to look cool and aesthetically pleasing!

It’s not so much to reinforce the tough guy image anymore.

With their favorite colors on the whip, catching the wind on a highway, it’s the stuff of movies.

Where can I get one?

The best place to start would be to ask a fellow rider with a get-back whip. He has one, he just might know enough!

If you don’t know one in person, plenty of folks are selling it online.

You can buy these off of Amazon or Etsy. There are some custom shops too.

You want to make sure that you order the correct whip length and material when you order.

A longer whip can unnecessarily drag on the road or interfere with the mechanicals.

That would be dangerous. ⚠️

Also, check if you can get one in your bike club colors. Whatever you do, don’t get another club’s colors. That could lead to trouble.


Motorcycle whips are an unusual and attractive part of the Motorcycling Culture in the United States.

Since I wrote this piece, I have been feeling very inclined to get myself one. 

I should probably get a paracord whip in Red, Blue, and White!

And name it America.

Do you have a motorcycle Getback whip?

If you do, could you please post some pictures in the comments?
Thank you.

I would love to see them! ❤️

Photo of author


Mike, the motorcycle enthusiast behind SuperBike Newbie, fell in love with superbikes during his college years. He owns a diverse range of motorcycles and offers valuable insights into motorcycling advice, maintenance, safety gear, and laws. Despite two decades of riding experience, he continues to learn and shares his knowledge on his website. Mike also has a keen interest in motorcycle club culture. While not a club member, he aspires to be one someday.

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