Think a Motorcycle club, think the FX television series Sons of Anarchy. The show has given Motorcycle clubs an exciting view, revealing that new members go through really tough and interesting stages before becoming fully patched members.
Movies don't usually display real-life situations, but this part is actually real, joining one of these organizations is a real hustle.
Many people do not initially aspire to be in these clubs, but once you join the world of motorbikes, eventually you will want to enjoy the company of people with the same interests as yours. While to some, motorbike riding is a way to move around, for others this is the most crucial part of their social life.
Even though they all ride motorcycles, the real definition of a given club depends on the reasons behind its establishment.
While some are based on the culture and traditions of the people of the area from where the club originates, others may be found on the brands of the bikes they ride. For instance, you cannot join the Hells Angels motorcycle club if you are not riding a Harley Davidson motorbike. Some other clubs are based on their preferred biking style like the off-road, and racing. We have motorcycle organizations for social causes in the community.
So, if you love riding, and want to have some fun during the weekends, you might want to make some friends with similar interests to yours. You will find such in a motorcycle club.
So, do you know everything about MCs? Here are 24 things you should know if you want to join one.
Let me be clear first on this, all the clubs that are not affiliated to the AMA are said to be outlawed clubs, or one percenter clubs. This does not necessarily qualify them as criminal gangs. Some of them are instrumental members of the society, and as innocent as a newborn.
So, how can you identify these clubs? It is easy. The one percenter organizations advertise their disregard for the law by wearing a 1% patch that is easily visible from their jackets. The one percent came about from the AMA statement that 99% of their members are law abiders. So the non-members took the remaining 1%.
It can take years of waiting before you become a full patch member. And there is no guarantee that you’ll ever become one. When you join the club, you become a hang-around member. You can hang around with the club, but cannot take part in serious matters concerning the family. At this stage, you are on your own, if anything happens to you the club is not responsible for you.
From hang-around, you become a prospect or probate. While on probation, you can ride with the club, attend meetings, and carry out activities with the club. After this stage, the existing full-patched members vote to determine whether you can remain or leave.
If you are looking for ladies, you won’t find many of them here. In the AMA, 95% of the member riders are men. Most three-piece patch bike clubs do not allow women to join. At all. They can hang around with them, but that’s how far they can go. When it comes to essential club activities and meetings, no woman is present.
While there are some MCs which have established women auxiliary clubs, there are also motorcycle clubs for women, created by women, and for women riders.
To join a motorcycle club, you must find an existing member of the club of your interest, and ask him how to enter. There is a statement on the outlaw’s homepage that clearly says, “Do NOT write us asking how to join! Find an Outlaw, and ask him.”
Hells Angels MC says in their FAQs section that if you really are interested in joining the club, then you should find a member in your area and ask him; and if you are still asking where the nearest chapter is, then you’re definitely not ready to be a Hells Angel.
There’s a golden rule of respect that is the same in all motorcycle clubs. And it says, “If you respect others, you’ll be respected in return, if you carry yourself around with respect, you will be treated with respect."
The difference might only come in depending on the different interpretations and the methods of enforcing the rule by various clubs.
Respecting others, however, cannot be a problem for someone who already passed the test of deep commitment and self-discipline. MCs are brotherhood organizations, and love and respect are some of their binding forces.
Becoming a fully-patched member in a motorcycle club is a hustle. You can go through all the stages and still be asked to go home. Why, because you are not selected based on some criteria. You are voted in or out by your fellow members.
It is your years of commitment and self-discipline that will determine whether you receive the unanimous vote needed to become a full patch member or not.
There are, however, some other requirements after you've passed this stage. These are highly secretive and are not the same in all the clubs. Existing members only know them.
The primary difference between a motorcycle club and a riding club is the level of commitment by the members. The main agenda of a riding club is to meet up and enjoy riding bikes together. They have very little or no other personal commitments. Members have nothing in common beyond loving riding.
A motorcycle club, on the other hand, requires that members are deeply committed to the club, and conduct themselves with a high level of self-discipline.
It is not just a group of motorcycle riders; their bond is as strong as that of a family. You must pay the compulsory dues, and make time for the club meetings and activities despite your busy schedules.
99 percent of motorcycle club members highly regard the law, and they wear a 99% patch to prove this fact.
In the FAQs section of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club on “who can join the organization,” the response states that if you have attained the age of 18 years, a male, law-abiding, you own a cruiser style bike of 650+cc (not necessarily an domestic brand or Harley-Davidson), you have an unwavering desire to benefit your community while being a part of an international brotherhood of men with like minds, then you qualify to join.
The AMA is an organization that was established in 1924. It started off as a “white only” group of motorcyclists. Today the association is all-inclusive.
The association currently consists of over 1,000 bike clubs, with its primary duty being to speak on behalf of the clubs.
The AMA organizes and promotes all biking activities in the United States. All the member clubs under this association wear a 99% patch to signify that they’re law abiders. Most of the 1% MCs are said to be outlawed gangs, but this is not true, it’s just that they are not members of the AMA affiliated clubs.
Motorcycle clubs have different sets of rules, including the recruitment process rules. For some clubs, joining is not as hard as it is in others, you simply submit an application form, and if they approve you, then you can start paying the monthly dues and enjoy the road runs.
There are others that require that new members be introduced by an existing member, stay under probation for some time. After probation, you can either be voted out or in by the full club members. Some of the MCs don’t allow lady riders to be full patch members.
Most motorcycle clubs have similar internal leadership structure; position and ranking. At the top is the organization’s president who’s aided by the vice president. After these two is the club secretary, treasurer, sergeant-at-arms and the road captain.
The road captain is the final law when it comes road runs and is usually a non-voting member.
Down from the leaders is the ordinary full patch members, the prospect members (under probation), and the hang-arounds. In some clubs, the topmost leader is the founder, followed by the president down to hang-arounds.
The Patriot Guard Riders is a homegrown organization that attends funeral services of soldiers, police, and firefighters at the invitation of the family of the deceased.
The organization was founded in 2005 to protect the fallen soldiers’ family from those that come to disrupt funeral services, and also to drown out the Westboro hate. Today the club has grown to include thousands of members from all over the United States.
Unlike other motorcycle clubs which have a thousand and one requirements before you qualify to join, the only requirement for new members to join the PGR is that you must have respect, and be ready to show it. You don't have to be an ex-soldier, and you surely don't need to be a motorcyclist.
An average motorcyclist eligible to join a motorcycle club is 48 years old who has been riding for at least 26 years. This is to say that most of these members are mature men. This rule, however, does not apply to all motorcycle clubs.
For example, as long as you have attained the age of 18, you own a cruiser style bike of 650+cc, and you're a law-abiding citizen, you're eligible to join the Iron Order MC.
The Patriot Guard Riders, on the other hand, accept members from 18 years, and not necessarily those who own and ride bikes, as long you’re ready to show respect.
The answer is yes, and the main reason is that once you join the MC family, you don't have an option of leaving. It's like you were born there. The bond is actually stronger in motorcycle clubs than in many traditional (blood) families.
So, if your motorcycle is stolen (who steals from a motorcycle club member?), or crashed in an accident, you remain part and parcel of the family.
You have access to every other privilege enjoyed by full-patched members. You have your voting rights, you can attend club meetings, and take part in any activity carried out by the club, except of course the road runs.
The AMA rides over 1 billion miles a year, according to their website. That is equivalent to going to and from the moon over 2,000 trips. This is only possible if the only business they do is bike riding. Which it is.
The association approves motorcycle sports competitions and other fun activities around the world more than any other organization.
The AMA links their members with trusted and well-known suppliers of important motorcyclist’s needs like gears and other apparel. This is to ensure that none of their members can miss out on an event or a road run.
Well, not to mean that you die a motorcycle club member by force, it just means that you can easily complete the required stages before graduating to a full patch member than you can leave the club. If you want to exit, the best time to do that is during the hang-around and the prospect stages.
Joining an MC is something to think of as a lifetime commitment.
If you must leave, you leave everything behind, including the patches. And you cannot escape. The only exception is when the member has been in the family for a long time; then he can be allowed to exit, and retire gracefully. Such a person may also be entitled to keep some of his patches.
So there is actually a way out of a motorcycle club? Yeah. You just need to ride less than 20,000 miles a year, and you lose your membership. This is a reminder that once you join an MC, your business comes at number two. You have to give priority to the club activities like nothing else matters, and that includes the road runs. One explicit requirement in every motorcycle club regardless of its settings is that you must be highly disciplined, and deeply committed.
Like I mentioned earlier, some motorcycle clubs are based on the brand of bikes they ride. For the Hells Angels, if you don't have Harley-Davidson motorcycle, you cannot be a member.
However, there's a provision that allows other brands of bikes as long as Harley-Davidson owns them. Buell Motorcycle is one of them. Generally, many motorcycle clubs ride only on domestic bikes, with their reasons going way back after WWII ended when most of these clubs started. They believed that that riding their own is one way of practicing patriotism.
A motorcycle club assumes a serious hierarchy in leadership just like any other organization. At the top is the president who is the head of the executive committee and the MC CEO. The secretary keeps club records and takes minutes during meetings.
The treasurer is in charge of the motorcycle club funds. He is also the custodian of the club assets like unissued patches.
We have sergeant-at-arms whose job is to ensure that the club’s bylaws are adhered to. The road captain is the boss in the road runs and everything related to the road.
Just by looking at the patch on a rider's jacket, you can answer all the fundamental questions about the club.
The top rocker shows the name of the club. At the center of the patch, you'll see the MC's symbol. The bottom rocker shows the place of origin of the club, the name of the chapter, or simply the area to which the club belongs.
Every club patch must have the initials MC which stands for "motorcycle club." This is to make sure that you do not confuse them with riding clubs.
Many people want to be in motorcycle clubs, but they are not. They tried, but they did not make it. One of the reasons is the amount of commitment required of you. If you are not ready to transform your life and make the club your number one family, then you better stay miles away from MCs.
It is in a motorcycle club where you will experience unconditional love and care from your brothers, so you must be ready to do the same.
The president is not a ruler or a boss. He is the club CEO who chairs the executive committee, but he doesn't make decisions leaning on his own understanding or interests.
He has been elected to keep the club in order and act in the best of the interests of the MC and its members.
He does not vote, make motions or second them. He is only allowed to vote in case of a tie, or if something else results depend on his vote.
The MC road captain has one significant role, making sure that road runs are successful. He researches and plans all the club road runs; the routes, and the intermediate stop points. During the actual road run, the word from the captain’s mouth is absolute law, not even the president or vice president can question.
He is the boss on this, above the president. The captain must be well aware of the landmarks in the selected route, including repair shops, hotels, and any other relevant marker.
This is Hells Angels’ main rival club. They employ the same code in recruitment like the HA and other one percenter clubs, “Do NOT write us asking how to join! Find an Outlaw, and ask him.”
To become a full patch member of the Bandidos, you must go through the hang-around stage, a prospect, and then probation.
The fourth stage is the final, fully-patched member. This process can take ages, at least two years. And you are not guaranteed that you will actually be voted in as a full member.
Sources: buzzfeed.com, hells-angels.com, onpercenterbikers.com, bustle.com, leatherandlacemc.com