The do-rag is one of the
most universal wardrobe accessories among motorcyclists. No matter what kind of
motorcycle you own, chances are you have at least one do-rag. It's a rather
insignificant piece of a rider's wardrobe. It's not considered safety gear, but
it has become an almost mandatory part of biker dress in some crowds.
In the old west cowboys always wore a bandana. The cowboy's bandana had several
uses. It could be used to wipe sweat from a tired brow. Submerged in a stream
and then tied around his neck, it would cool a cowboy while he was mending
fences or riding herd across a dusty plain. He could pull the bandana over his
face for protection from dust, snow or any kind of storm. He could use his
bandana to conceal his identity while robbing a stagecoach or a bank. He could
use it to shield his horse's eyes from things he thought the horse shouldn't
see to keep him moving along.
The cowboy had real uses
for his bandana; but, he never wore it like a hat. Oh yeah I've seen pictures
of cowboys in dead of winter using a bandana to keep that big 10 gallon hat on
in the wind or using it to cover his ears to keep them warm at the same time.
But he never did wrap it around his head and wear his hat over it.
The do-rag gives
away the bandito...
The Mexican bandito guys
would wear a bandana on their heads like a hat; at least in the movies. And you
and I know how accurate Hollywood is about details and being historically
correct. But then, those banditos were probably from the barrio. Let's face it;
after all, wearing a bandana like a hat is a gang thing and is the mark of a
real bad hombre.
Zorro wasn't a Bandito but he used his
Bandana to hid his identity
Somewhere back in the very
early days of motorcycling in America; before paved roads and interstates, the
use of the bandana was still part of everyday life. It was adapted as part of
the motorcyclists gear, because back then it was still needed to battle dust,
rain, and the cold while traveling on the dirt roads of the day. Somehow it
went from being tied around the rider's neck, to being tied on his head worn
like a hat. The do-rag is a modern day adaptation of the cowboy's bandana.
Today just about 80 to 90% of the biker's I see wear a do-rag.
also have derived from the romantic notion that cowboys and motorcyclists are
kindred spirits; they share a magical bond of independence and freedom. The
image of the free spirited lone cowboy riding his horse across the prairie;
bikers see themselves similarly accept mounted on a motorcycle. Like the
cowboy's bandana; our do-rags protect us from the discomforts of summer heat
and winter cold, high gas prices and while braving the dangers of heavy cross
We've borrowed a lot more than an image from our
American cowboy tradition. Besides do-rags, motorcyclists have borrowed chaps
and saddlebags; and for some a predilection for things with fringe.
There are a lot of riders who love the association with the old west. Perhaps
the fascination with cowboys is a left over from the rivalry between Harley
Davidson and Indian Motorcycles. Maybe those folks weren't finished playing
cowboys and Indians. Interestingly that bandana folded just a little
differently could be used as a head band by the Indians
the artist he saw the connection...
Riders claim that wearing
the do-rag prevents a condition called helmet hair. Helmet hair happens when
you take off your helmet and your very cool hairdo explodes into that same
hairdo you wake up with in the morning before grooming. Now the discerning
biker has to find a comb and a mirror and attend to his or her hairdo's
appearance. With a do-rag on your head, helmet removal doesn't expose your
unkempt hair to the world at large. In fact that unexploded hairdo tucked into
your do-rag will remain hidden, because the do-rag doesn't have to be removed..
I guess they prefer do-rag hair instead. By the way, the do-rag doesn't fall
under the same rules as hats
so it can stay on no matter where you're at.
The do-rag is great for those middle aged bikers suffering from
pre-mature or post mature semi baldness. We all know those guys who sport the
comb over hairdos or they sport the monk look; having long hair on the sides
and in the back, but none on the top. They use any means to hide the loss of
their hair by covering up the head under or in a do-rag. For these guys its
hairy head camouflage.
I wear a do-rag at times; I've learned that it
helps keep the inside of the helmet free of hair or body oil and sweat. The
do-rag keeps my helmet's inside padding nice and clean and I like that.
Today you can buy the do-rag for just a few dollars. The do-rag is cut
from colorful patterned cotton cloth to form a neat little hat with two ties in
the back. Unlike the banditos and gang members, riders no longer have to learn
the art of folding and fitting that square or rectangle bandana around your
In fact there are a lot of folks wearing bandanas who never
learned how fold and fit it correctly; and they're pretty obvious. They manage
to look more like Mrs. Butterworth on the syrup bottles, Scarlet's nanny in
"Gone with the Wind", or a young gal wearing a silk scarf to keep her hair from
blowing in the wind while riding in a convertible with the top down. They just
can't seem to get the bandana folding and wearing quite right. They never get
the tough guy, bad ass image they're looking for. Of course there are those
riders who have very large size heads and most bandanas sold today aren't big
enough to cover them. Big headed people have to do whatever they can to make
The modern do-rag is quick and simple to put on. Head in, ties in
the back and there you go. But, why did they add the extra piece of cloth to
the back? That little flap doesn't fool anyone into believing you actually know
how to tie a bandana on your head. And unless you use that little piece of
cloth to wipe your eyes or blow your nose; they really don't seem to serve any
purpose. Perhaps it just looks cool to have an apron for that graying pony
tail. It could be the inventor figured that mentally challenged riders needed a
way of telling which end went to the back of his head.
suppose those little cloth flaps could serve as a warning device when you reach
speeds in excess of 55 mph; they tend to flap and slap your helmet. This
flapping and slapping tells you to slow down and get back to your safe limit.
But I suspect the little flap actually serve no purpose at all. And
they look even dumber on a do-rag with elastic in it. The elastic do-rags were
invented for those riders who have never learned how to tie a simple knot.
Perhaps these riders can't tie a knot behind their head because they have
suffered some horrible accident or birth defect. The elastic do-rag does cut
down on the time you need to get ready for a ride; you don't have to fold and
wrap a bandana around your head, or tie the do-rag's two stringy things. It's
just a "pull it on and go". It's sort of like having zippers in your work boots
or wearing loafers.
A serious problem with do-rags is the way they're
sized. For some reason, someone decided that they should all be the same size;
one size fits all. Just like a cheap ball cap with one of those plastic
adjusters in the back, it never fits or looks like it should. I've only had a
few do-rags that actually fit my size 7 head. Most do-rags don't start to fit
well until they been washed so many times you can read through them. Some never
do shrink down or fit correctly.
The elastic banded do-rags are a
headache in the making. The elastic in the hat band is generally too tight;
resulting in a headache. The tight elastic hat band and a too large top part;
wearing one makes you look like a French chef in training or a seasoned dish
washer with a hell of migraine.
Of course do-rag you wear is another
place the motorcyclist can show some personal style. Do-rags come in all kinds
of colors and patterns. The ones you pick to wear will make a statement about
you and your sense of color coordination.
It's funny but I have never
seen a pink one
. There are a couple of riders I think should be wearing a
pink one. No, not because we suspect their sexual orientation has gone askew.
But it's because they just can't ride. These are the guys (pansies) whose
motorcycles scare the hell out of them, or have never learned the correct way
to ride them. Although their lack of skills is pretty obvious to everyone else
they refuse to acknowledge it. They're always the first ones to complain or
give advice on riding tips which they haven't mastered. Forcing them to wear
pink do-rags would serve as a visual warning to other riders.
we should be glad that the early motorcyclist decided to emulate our old west
heritage. Just think of how it would look if they had chosen medieval Knights.
We would be wearing safety gear made out of sheet metal and chain mail. There's
something about chain mail do-rags that doesn't seem right. Somehow trying to
dip a chain mail do-rag in a stream to cool a sweaty brow on a hot day of
herding white lines doesn't seem like it would really work too well. And just
how do you carry a jousting lance and work the clutch at the same time
Paco, you take all of the Fritos and I'll
steal the dip...