Maltese Mirrors

Written by Charles Peacock
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Custom motorcycles have adopted all sorts of common design cues over the years, from the obvious to the somewhat baffling. American flag gas tanks are pretty common, for instance, and were popularized by the chopper that Peter Fonda rode in "Easy Rider." On the more baffling end is the Maltese cross mirror, which has a history that is decidedly not related to motorcycling.

Why the Maltese Cross?

The Maltese cross is most easily described as a cross formed by the intersecting points of four arrowheads. It basically looks like a fat cross with edges that angle in towards a small point at the center. But where did the Maltese cross come from? And what does it mean?

It is generally agreed the Maltese cross was first used by a band of Christian knights in the 16th century. They were called the Knights of St. John, and they lived for nearly four centuries on the Mediterranean island of Malta. The cross was named after their island home.

The Maltese cross has since been adopted by countless countries and organizations. The German army used the cross during World War I, and many American fire departments continue to use it as their badge even to this day. The Maltese cross is considered to be a symbol of protection and honor, so in a sense it has a universal meaning. The reason many motorcyclists add Maltese mirrors to their bikes probably has more to do with style than meaning, since it's unlikely that many people know its true origins.

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