The world of biker tattoos is a continually growing one but also a changing one. As the legion of bikers multiplies, the repertoire of their tattoos does also, moving further and further into the mainstream, even becoming part of fashionable pop culture. But one part of the biker tattoo stock of images that will likely never fade is the image of the motorcycle itself and its parts, including the wheel. Wheels, whether in racing or street riding, symbolize movement: in their constant spinning, in how they propel the bike forward, the speed with which they move. In fact, they are the most obvious outward moving part of any vehicle. Combined with wings however, the wheel transcends these more typical interpretations because wings are the definitive element of flight.
It seems natural to combine the two images, creating a compound symbol that really implies the kind of speed that it takes to become airborne. In a more real-world sense though, the addition of wings can also easily be a direct reference to one of the most well-known emblems in the biking world – the angel wings of the Hell’s Angels, typically flaring out behind a horned skull, both shown in profile. Either way, the meaning of wheel and motorcycle tattoos may not be difficult to appreciate but they are nearly impossible to summarize succinctly – encompassing, as they do, so much of the energy, resources, and time of these riding enthusiasts. They are ultimately a type of tattoo symbol that has less to do with the specifics of the bike, even in very detailed and realistic designs, and much more to do with the freedom of the experience, an open road, the camaraderie of fellow riders, and an entire lifestyle.