White Lighters

Main piece:

A superstition that bikers have? Well, first one comes to mind is white lighters. Bikers hate that shit. First of all, they just look… weird, right? There’s somethin’ about ’em that looks just a little off.

But one lighter in a group? Whole group is cursed. Whoever brought it is asking for trouble for the whole gang he’s ridin’ with. In fact, one time out on the way to Sturgess… I think it was in ’92 or ’93… I saw two guys on the side of the road. We stopped to give em a hand, and some jackass on a Honda bobber is sitting there with no oil left in his bike. No drain plug in the pan, burned the whole engine right up. And there in his shirt pocket, lookin’ right at me was a white lighter.

And honestly he probably got lucky! His buddy sure did – what if he’d hit him as he locked out? Yeah. All kinds of bad luck with white lighters. For everyone.


Stew has been riding motorcycles since the age of fifteen. He is a thirty-five year member of Glen Ellyn’s volunteer fire department, and is a Vietnam War veteran.


This myth is also perpetuated by marijuana enthusiasts. Often, it is tied to the myth of the 27 Club, a group of actors and musicians who died at the age of twenty-seven. Four of the most well-known of these actors – Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain – are alleged to have been carrying a white lighter at the time of their deaths.


This superstition is similar to a Jonah myth – in which the presence of someone or something turns ill the will of God and causes strife for members of a group. In this case, the group is a group of motorcyclists.


For more on white lighters, see Jack Pendarvis’ Cigarette Lighter.
Pendarvis, Jack. Cigarette Lighter. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. Google Books. 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.