The History of Motorcycle Clubs and Motorcycle Paraphernalia

148Just like a book club or a gardening club, a motorcycle club is a gathering of individuals with the same interests. But they have a fascinating history behind them, as well as the paraphernalia and accessories used to promote and advertise one’s inclusion within a motorcycle group.

The Birth of the AMA

The birth of motorcycle clubs actually started back in 1924 when the American Motorcyclist Association, or AMA, was organized as a division of the existing Motorcycle & Allied Trades Association (M&ATA) in Cleveland, Ohio. The organization has one mission in mind: “to protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists while serving the needs of its members.” The AMA charters biker clubs around the United States, and current helps lead approximately 1,200 clubs across America. The AMA assists these various chartered clubs in running events, promoting their club, and gives these clubs the opportunity to vote on matters that affect AMA clubs and members.

While the AMA is considered one of the largest motorsport organizations in the world, it does not oversee every motorcycle group in America. Many clubs are formed outside of the AMA rules and regulations, and these clubs are called “outlaw motorcycle clubs.”

Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs

The American Motorcycle Association enlists a number of rules and regulations for their chartered clubs to follow and maintain. But as with rebellion in anything in life, biker clubs were formed outside of the AMA rules and were quickly dubbed “Outlaw” clubs or “One Percenters.” Some popular outlaw clubs that formed outside of the AMA include the Hell’s Angels and the Bandidos Motorcycle Club. They grew extensively after World War II when American soldiers were coming home from war and looking for adventure or companionship with other World War II veterans. Many bonded over motorcycles, which led to the development of hundreds of outlaw clubs–as well as more sponsored clubs within the AMA admission. Many motorcycle clubs are created for those who have a particular loyalty to a certain brand, such as Harley Davidson, BMW, and Honda, just to name a few.

The Negative Perception of Motorcycle Clubs

Motorcycle clubs have gotten a bad rap in the past. Due to the “outlaw” nature of many of the clubs, as well as the frowned-upon lifestyle and unfavored appearance of those riding the road, biker clubs and those who are part of them have not always had a positive reaction from others. Throw in a few Hollywood movies that gave the groups a negative connotation and made them out to be violent and favor illegal drugs and activities, and one could see why these clubs were portrayed in such bad light. However, over time, motorcycle clubs and members of them continue to go about their hobby without concern as to what others may think of them, and many are realizing the assumptions and rumors of motorcyclists and their hobbies have been very much off the mark. The assumed lifestyle of motorcyclists has changed over the years, and others are more accepting of those who enjoy the hobby and involvement in the motorcyclist community.

Identification of Motorcycle Clubs

In order to show one’s participation and acceptance into a particular motorcycle club, many members will sport leather jackets with club patches and paraphernalia. As with membership and relation to any other particular club or social group, leather vests, patches, vest pins and zipper pulls. Each biker club will have a certain design and color that represents their organization, and members of particular motorcycle clubs will don these colors and patches to represent their membership with a certain organization, whether or not it is sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association or is an outlaw club. Leather jackets are typically worn by motorcyclists because of their high quality and ability to withstand excessive wear and tear while on the road, while offering protection from dirt, debris, and the weather during one’s ride. Many will stitch on biker club membership patches onto their jackets, as well as add zipper pulls and vest pins that match their interests, their history, or their club.

Motorcycle Club Patches and Their Meanings

The patches worn on motorcycle jackets and vests have particular meanings depending on the number of pieces to the patch itself. If a patch has only one piece, it means that the club is a family club or a “law-abiding” group. The two-piece patch denotes a transitional biker club from a law-abiding club to an outlaw club. These are typically worn while a club is waiting on approval. An outlaw group is signified by the official three-piece patch, showing admission into the Outlaw Motorcycle Club of outlaws, or “One Percenters.” There are different variations of the patches that have a number of meanings, but the most notable and most recognizable feature of motorcycle club patches are the one-piece, two-piece, and three-piece vest and jacket patches.

Rocker Patches

Rocker patches are those that have a “banner” over the top and bottom of the main patch with the motorcycle club logo and/or name. These rocker patches will typically show the name of the motorcycle club on top, and the location/region on the bottom. These are oftentimes three-piece patches which represent outlaw motorcycle clubs, or “One Percenters.”

The Meaning of Motorcycle Vests

Motorcyclists are commonly seen wearing leather motorcycle jackets in order to keep warm while on the road. However, motorcycle vests are also seen. There are two reasons why motorcycle vests are worn. The first is to allow a motorcyclists to show their club affiliations with patches and other accessories. Just like the jacket, patches can be sewn on and worn to display one’s association with a particular biker club, either an AMA club or an outlaw club. However, jackets may be too warm during hot summer months, and when layered with other clothing underneath for warmth during cooler months, it can restrict one’s ability to move their arms and elbows freely for riding. A motorcycle vest is sometimes worn in order to lessen the amount of layers on one’s arms and help with movement, while still allowing a motorcyclist to display patches while riding.

Motorcycle clothing, patches, and clubs have been around as long as the motorcycle itself, and the history behind them is fascinating and intriguing. Learning more about motorcycle clubs and the background of them will help you easily associate with other motorcycle hobbyists and community members and determine what makes each group and motorcycle club different and distinguished from the others.

How To Express Yourself With A Leather Motorcycle Vest

156Leather motorcycle vests have been an avenue for bikers to express themselves for many years. Some like to wear a plain leather vest, and others like to decorate theirs with patches and pins.

The motorcycle vest doesn’t necessarily serve as a form of protective gear, but it does have its own purpose. As I have said before, bikers come in all forms. Each motorcycle enthusiast has an opportunity to start from scratch and tell his or her story.

Whether it is about the past, or about how they live their life in the present, it is a way to make a statement. Lets discuss some of the things that one might choose to display, keeping in mind that no two are alike.

  • Many Veterans decorate their leather vest with patches that relate to their service, or the service of others.
  • Others might display their religious beliefs.
  • Some will display patches or pins from biker rallies that they have attended from years past.
  • Many will advertise the particular motorcycle club that they are a member of, or some of their favorite sayings.
  • Most will put together a wide variety of things that will allow you to better understand who they are, what they believe in, and how they live their lives

So, I urge you to tell us your life’s works, beliefs, and story if you haven’t already done so. If you have already designed a motorcycle leather vest to your liking, we most certainly look forward to seeing it! Wear yours proudly. It is a work of art, and you are the artist!

How to Create Motorcycle Club Bylaws Part I

147Bylaws create the solid foundation that will hold your motorcycle club together. If they are written careful and strictly followed they will ensure that your club will survive the many challenges that will confront it over the years and decades. If you look around forty years from now and your motorcycle club is still around it is likely that the constitution you create today will be largely responsible for your club’s success.

When you create your bylaws you should keep in mind that this document will be the great club equalizer that will be the law from which no single club member can out rank, disregard or move against. There should be great consideration and thought put into the creation of this document. Once written, the bylaws will be the roadmap that will guide your members.

This article series will show you what your club’s constitution should contain and give you basic instructions on how to write them:

· The bylaws should begin with a creation/amendment date prominently displayed at the top. This date will allow all members to know that they have the most up-to-date version with a quick glance.

· There should be a table of contents to allow members to quickly search and access desired sections.

Article 1 should stipulate the date of the inception of the motorcycle club. Along with the club’s birth date it will state what the name shall forever be. It should give the physical address and the website URL, Facebook page URL, email, phone number and other contact information.

Article II

Section 1 The Club:

Section 1 of Article II should explain what the physical makeup of the club should be. It will state how many members a club contains (or an unlimited number of members) and what the male and female members shall be designated (i.e., property vs. members). It will designate what percentage of the membership must own motorcycles (in Georgia this is 80% of the club’s members) and how long a membership will last (i.e., until the member dissolves their membership or violates the constitution).

Section 2 Membership:

Section 2 of Article II generally states what is required to be a member of your motorcycle club. It should state the requirements of regular or prospective (probationary) membership. It will state the minimum age of a member and what qualifications the member should have on their driver’s license before they can join. It will stipulate how a prospective member (hang around) will become designated as a Prospect and how the Prospect will become a regular member. It will also state the minimum age required for membership.

Section 2a: Prospective Membership:

Section 2a of Article II will detail the conduct of a Prospect during the prospecting period. It will specify the duties of the Prospect’s sponsor and the duties of the Prospect. It will list all requirements of a Prospect and specifically state what a Prospect cannot be asked to do and what cannot be done to a Prospect by regular members.

Section 3a: Auxiliary Membership

Section 3a of Article II will discuss auxiliary membership or the duties of club Property. It will tell how old the auxiliary members should be and discuss the nature of their association with the club and what it will take for them to gain their colors.

Section 4: Initiation

Section 4 of Article II will state what is required during the club’s initiation of a new member.

Section 4a: Inactive Members

Section 4a of Article II will specify how inactive members will be treated and what will be considered a period of inactivity. It will detail how the MC will grant members a leave of absence, emergency leave or relieve duty responsibilities from a member for special circumstances. It will also state how long leave periods can be granted.

Section 4b: Continuous Good Standing

Section 4b of Article II will specify what is required for a member to be in good standing with the MC. Usually if a member is current on dues, stands duties, and has completed a specific membership period of time; they could be considered in “Good Standing,” for example.

Section 5: Discrimination

Section 5 of Article II will contain the motorcycle club’s anti-discrimination clause if one is desired.

This article has been an examination of what general subjects are contained in Article I and II of well written motorcycle club bylaws. Join me in my next article as we delve deeper into how to write motorcycle club bylaws.

The Mighty Black Sabbath M.C. was established in 1974 in San Diego, CA by 7 men who rode on Sundays. We now have 17 chapters nationally.

Getting Ready For the Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally


There are different events and gatherings that occur all over the world. They happen due to the fact that people have common interests and they meet up to share and celebrate this fact. One of the things that bind some people together is the love for motorcycles. Across the globe, celebrations are held at different times of the year and one of which that happens every first week of August is the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

This motorcycle event was founded by the Clarence “Pappy” Hoel of the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club last August 14 of the year 1938. Before, it was focused only on the race done by a few individuals and making some stunts. But today, because of the different events, thousands of people across the state and even from other states bringing with them different kinds and designs of motorcycles gather to enjoy and celebrate this fun-filled event.

In this motorcycle gathering, you get to see a lot of things and join different events and contests. There are races that you can join or just enjoy seeing with your family and friends. A live concert brings the whole pack of people dancing and singing. Aside from that, you can visit different booths and vendors wherein you can buy various stuffs like T-shirts and other interesting products and eat good food from small stalls.

Since you will be celebrating with people from different places across the country, you must know how to protect yourself with your family and friends. You must learn about the security measures that the whole Club has implemented to make the event successful and safe. But other than that, you must also equip yourself with a handy device like the runt stun gun just in case you will be in the middle of a dangerous situation.

If you have a problem as to where to stay for the whole week of celebration, you can have a lot of options. First of all, South Dakota has a lot of campgrounds. You just need to bring all the things needed. Secondly you can stay in various motels or hotels, cabins and cottages or go cheaper on bed and breakfast services. They are great in number that is why you will not have any problem at all for accommodations.

Lastly, when you go to this event, try not to miss riding on the Black Hills. Together with other bikers, you get to see and enjoy the beautiful scenery while making some curves on the road. Once the event is done, you can try to visit and take a look at Mt. Rushmore. It can be educational for your kids especially that you get to see a historic structure. Take some pictures to treasure fond memories.

When you plan to join this once in a year motorcycle gathering, you should remember to plan your itinerary and do some reservations to make sure that you will be able to stay at a safe and comfortable place while celebrating the event. Pack your things and do not forget to include your money, personal tazer gun and some clothes. Above all, bring your motorcycle and enjoy the event with other bikers.

Motorcycle Clubs 101

146So You Want To Start A Motorcycle Club Series?

Motorcycle Clubs 101 “Bylaws”

The heart of a well-run motorcycle club can be found in its adherence to its bylaws. So whether you are starting an MC, taking one over or trying to make yours better your first goal should be to establish or strengthening your club’s bylaws.

What is so great About the Bylaws?

Think of the bylaws as being as important to your club as the United States constitution is to our country. The bylaws are the constitution of your motorcycle club. If you have strong bylaws that are coherent, fair and adaptable, and your MC strictly adheres to them-your MC will have discovered a recipe that will set it up to last for 50 years or more with great success! No member will stand above the bylaws and that fact serves to keep everyone honest-thereby keeping the MC eternally strong!

What Sorts of Things are Contained in the Bylaws?

The bylaws are your club’s bible. They document the history and beginnings of your club. They state the mission and the motto of the club. They specify how club members and officers will conduct themselves, chain of command, order of succession, how dues will be paid, how fines will be levied and how much fines should be, how and when elections will be carried out, how prospects (or probies) will be initiated and how punishment will be meted out. Bylaws also specify the powers and responsibilities of club officers, terms of office, financial protocols the club will follow, dates for annuals and other historical functions, as well as the qualifications for club membership and the criteria by which members may be dismissed. The bylaws are in fact the very document that give your MC the authority to exist and operate.

Should your Bylaws be set in Stone?

For the most part your bylaws should be set in stone; however, every set of rules must have the ability to adapt to changing culture, technology, people and times if they are to remain relevant. So your bylaws should be a rigid but flexible document and should be set up so that a two-thirds club majority can amend them during a normal or special vote. This is a key element to having great bylaws.

From Where Should You Obtain Your Bylaws or is it Better to Just Write Them?

When looking for a source for your bylaws you should never just sit down and write them from scratch. There is no need to reinvent the wheel in this case. Consult a motorcycle club that you hold in high esteem and ask them if you can obtain a copy of their bylaws so that you can base your club’s bylaws upon theirs. Oh, by the way, the club you should ask should be thirty years old or older. The reasons for these suggestions are:

    1. It would take you perhaps six months to think of and write everything from scratch, that the bylaws should contain in them.
    1. An older club’s bylaws have been “matured” over time and well-tested. They will contain subjects in them that you may never consider because in the past 30 or more years they have seen basically everything and their bylaws will contain the answers you will need to handle the best and worst case scenarios your club is bound to experience.
  1. Bylaws strong enough to keep a club running for three decades will be strong enough to get any new club started.

We’ve got a Set of Bylaws, Now What?

After you obtain a set of bylaws you should sit with your prospective club members and amend those bylaws until you transform them into bylaws that work for your proposed motorcycle club. Notice that I said proposed motorcycle club. No motorcycle club should form until those bylaws have been written. This way you will have an operations guideline from day one that clearly spells out everyone’s responsibilities, positions and requirements. This will keep you from going down the wrong road before you head down that road.

One More Thing about the Bylaws!

President’s, I get so damned sick of club members coming up with suggestions or asking me things that are clearly stated in the bylaws, don’t you? New Presidents, after you get a good set of bylaws written and adopted insist that your members know them backwards and forwards if you want your jobs to be easier. The best way to do that is to have a reading of a chapter or two of your bylaws at the start of each club meeting. And always, when one of your non-reading club members asks you something silly that has been covered in the bylaws-make them LOOK IT UP instead of telling them the answer! This will make your club member stronger in their bylaws knowledge and that cannot be bad!

Black Dragon
National President
Mighty Black Sabbath M.C.
A Breed Apart
Since 1974 and Still Strong!