What States Are Get Back Whips Illegal In?


White Star Rides is your trusted Harley-Davidson companion, offering expert guidance and information to enhance your riding experience.

What States Are Get Back Whips Illegal In

Do you own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and you’re wondering if it’s legal to use a get back whip? Luckily for you, you’ll find out the answer here.

Get back whips are illegal in states like California as they have strict laws against whips. That doesn’t mean you cannot use them in other states. Get back whips are a key safety tool for Harley-Davidson riders, and they keep other drivers at a safe distance on the road.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about get back whips, what are get back whips, what states are get back whips illegal in, why use get back whips, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you’re looking for.

Get back whips for Harley-Davidson riders

If you’ve attended motorcycle rallies, you’d have noticed the riders having custom-made braided leather or whip-like objects on their bikes. This is very common among Harley-Davidson riders. If you’re a Harley-Davidson bike owner, you might have even considered adding a couple of them for customizing your bike. But it’s important to know a thing or two about these motorcycle whips for Harley-Davidson bikes.

Interestingly, these handy little leather decorations serve a purpose other than making your bike stand out as they flutter elegantly in the breeze as you drive. The braided leather cords also serve as weapons when they’re detached and can be used as a whip. This could be one of the reasons why these came to be known as the “get back whips”.

Many Harley-Davidson riders at rallies use customized get-back whips attached by wrapping leather strands around the clutch levers or brake. Meanwhile, offer get-back whips on online platforms like Amazon attach through clips, allowing you to easily detach them. When used as anything other than for customization, the whips could get you arrested for violating local or state laws. 

What are get back whips?

Get back whips are a kind of Harley-Davidson motorcycle whip designed to keep others at a safe distance when riding. They’re typically made using brightly colored materials and come with a long tail extending behind the bike. Get back whips are an essential safety tool for riders and keep others at a safe distance from your bike. They’re a great way of showing your style and personality while riding. They’ve garnered a bad reputation as they were used as weapons for biker gangs.

Traditionally, the leather braids were attached to a Harley-Davidson bike by braiding the leather or paracord strands around the clutch lever or brake for a permanent installation that didn’t allow the rider to remove it easily. Another installation method involves using a metal panic or quick-release snap. It’ll allow you to release it from the bike in cases where the manufacturers of get back whips used to refer to as emergencies.

What States Are Get Back Whips Illegal In - Rider Posing With Get Back Whips On Motorcycle

The history of get back whips will depend entirely on the source of the story. The widely accepted history has them originate in the 70s, when members of biker clubs would use dye to correspond to their club’s colors. Meanwhile, other versions of the history of motorcycle whips or wind chips lean towards a more violent side of the biker gangs back in the 70s.

See also  How To Tie Down A Harley-Davidson Motorcycle On A Trailer?

Which states are get back whips illegal in?

Get back whips are actually legal in most states. However, there are a few regions where these whips are banned. In Texas, for instance, it is illegal to have awhile that exceeds over 12 inches in length. In California, it is illegal to use whips that are more than 18 inches long. If you’re looking to buy a get back whip, it’s important to check your local and state laws before buying.

California has made it unlawful to possess a slungshot, which is a striking weapon that consists of a piece of metal or any other weighted object at the end of a strap. Say that you’ve got a braided leather strap attached to the handlebar of the bike using a metal clip. A police officer might see the piece of metal attached to the leather strap that fits the description of slungshots. A better way of displaying the get back while, at least in the state of California, would be by braiding it onto the brake or clutch lever. This eliminates any metal that might cause it to be classified as a slungshot.

Why do Harley-Davidson riders use get back whips?

The motorcycle whips or also referred to as “get back whips” became popular in the US during the 70s. It was during this time that biker gangs started becoming more prevalent. Although they aren’t quite as common as they used to be, every once in a while you’ll likely pass one on the highway. Here are some of the reasons Harley-Davidson bikers use get back whips –

Biker club colors

In large cities, it’s quite common to find Harley-Davidson biker clubs or groups of people who love riding together. They also organize themselves into democratically voted positions such as the president, treasurer, and more. Many biker gangs are involved in charity events, road rallies, and motorcycle shows.

The members of the clubs feel proud to be a part of the organization. Moreover, they show off their membership by specifically coloring the leather whips. The multicolored get back whips are generally the same colors as others in the club. Sometimes, many Harley-Davidson biker gangs give one to each new member after paying a paltry membership fee.

Some biker gangs are so large that they have chapters all around the country and the world. If you go on a road trip and pass by multiple bikers with the same colors, it’s likely that they belong to the same club. If you’re an interested Harley-Davidson biker, you can pull them over and talk to them. They may be able to introduce you to other bikers in the area and give you great tips about riding.

What States Are Get Back Whips Illegal In - Motorbike With Get Back Whips

If you’re purchasing a get back whip because you like it, ensure that you do ample research first. If there’s any club associated with those colors, you might end up offending them or making them feel bad. If you aren’t certain, you should purchase a full black one, as it’s the default option.

See also  How to Adjust Valves on a Harley-Davidson Twin Cam Motorcycle


Get back whips were commonly used in self-defense during the 70s and 80s. The two decades saw a sharp rise in motorcycle gang violence cases, especially against police. Get back whips come with a quick-release handle, which clips to the handlebars, front brake lever, or clutch lever. The quick-release handle will allow the users to give it a hard yank while pulling the whip off quickly whenever needed. Moreover, it’ll also serve as a hard surface to have a blunt impact.

As they’re made of leather, it makes them incredibly strong and flexible. If someone is looking to conceal the whip, they could wind it up easily and then tuck it away somewhere. If you have ever been hit with a leather whip, you’ll know that it is definitely an unpleasant experience. Another reason why riders like having it within hand reach is to potentially use it against other bikers while driving. Obviously, this isn’t really a good idea.

Get back whips are illegal in regions in America if they have a quick-release batch. If they are attached to the motorcycle exclusively for looks, then you might be allowed to have it. The police in California could pull you over and give you a ticket if it is not permanently attached. In some cases, they might even confiscate the get back whip.

Before purchasing a motorcycle whip, get in touch with local law enforcement and check if they’re legal in the state. Currently, California is the only state to have specifically advertised laws about motorcycle whips. 

Help other drivers spot your Harley-Davidson easily

One of the biggest annoyances to Harley-Davidson riders is vehicles cutting them off and swerving into them as they don’t look before merging lanes. Harley-Davidson’s riders have to be on edge all the time. They should be on the lookout for their safety, so anything that makes their bike more visible increases their safety.

The first time that someone sees a Harley-Davidson bike with a whip, it generates a lot of curiosity. It definitely goes a long way in generating attention. Safety is a major risk for Harley-Davidson riders. It is recommended that you should get a whip if you want the vehicles on the road to see. Some bikers also have two whips, one hanging off each side of the bike, to get other people’s attention. 

Remembering lost family and friends

Most online stores that sell get back whips offer customizable options for attractive colors or hard surfaces at the bottom of the whip. Some also have a Harley-Davidson or Indian logo at the end of them. As a token of remembrance of a lost family member or friend who used to ride a Harley-Davidson bike, bikers get the person’s name at the end of the whip.

It would be easy to attach a picture or quote from a lost biker at the bottom of the whip. Then, you can subconsciously feel that they are always with you while you’re riding. Anyone who has ridden Harley-Davidson bikes long enough will probably know the feeling of losing a fellow biker. If  get back whips were their style, getting one for your bike could be a great way of remembering them. You can also design the whip with their favorite colors or even the logo of their favorite sports team. There are many options that you can choose from.

See also  Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Oil on a Harley-Davidson Fatboy

To revel in the awesomeness of the past

Many bikers have the feeling that they were born in the wrong era. Not just bikers, many people wish how they could have lived through the disco era, the wild-west days, or the Presley era. This applies to Harley-Davidson bikers who wished they lived during the peak years of the biker gang era. If you are someone whose style comes from the 70s or 80s, then it will be a great option to customize your bike. Most bikers who have got back whips prefer using them for big cruisers or Softails or choppers, as that was the style of that generation.

Some people even use a small link chain as the get back whip, which is something highly discouraged against. If the chain came off when you were riding or wrapped around the rear tire, it can be quite catastrophic. If you’re looking to purchase one, then you should get either leather or vinyl.

Purely for aesthetics

There are bikers who buy get back whips just because they think it’ll be a cool addition to their bike. Everyone has their preferred style, and this is what makes the world so colorful and interesting. If you want to get a “get back whip” because you find them cool, then you should go right ahead.

Some old-school biker gangs frown on people who purchase whips just because they like them. But it’s not that deep, if you like one, just go ahead and buy it. It is not the 70s anymore, so not many bikers are going to give you grief about it. A splash of leather or color on your Harley-Davidson bike might be just what your bike is lacking.

If you’re going to buy one solely for aesthetics, then purchase one that isn’t removable. Get a permanent get back whip, such that if a police officer pulls you over and asks you about it, you will be able to prove that it’s only for the looks.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about get back whips, what are get back whips, what states are get back whips illegal in, why use get back whips, and more. Although get back whips are commonly used by Harley-Davidson riders, they are illegal in states in California. A few regions in the United States have strict laws against whips. However, that shouldn’t deter you from buying a get back whip. Go through the local and state laws and ensure that your state hasn’t banned get back whips.

Photo of author
White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.