Biker Lifestyle

Motorcycle Club or No Motorcycle Club – That is the question

By James Macecari

As the title of the the blog post states, 2017 has brought up interesting changes in the biker lifestyle, some of which would be taboo- say in the 80’s or even 90’s. Have clubs become a thing of the past? Clubs served a huge purpose way back then after the Vietnam War, you actually couldn’t blame people for wanting to find like minded individuals to bond with and ride with during that screwed up period. But the question of today’s blog is an interesting one. Club or No Club? I know a ton of people in the lifestyle, been in it since childhood. when I look for things to write for this silly little blog, I often ask around for subjects to talk about. Lately one of the biggest things that have come to the forefront of those discussions have been about Clubs.

I have noticed that about 75% of the people I ask about this subject say the same thing. They love a good party, but the other responsibilities in life are way more important then being apart of any organized type of club. Yes about half of those 75% have a club they like to support, via it buying shirts or attending events, but the other half ,have no desire to even be supporters of any particular club. That actually surprised me a great bit, I know growing up it was every kids dream to get that Harley and be apart of something, not so much anymore. I had to ask about 20 people who said they had no interest in clubs why. I usually got the same type of answer from them. Most got into the lifestyle to just enjoy riding in the wind, being a biker didn’t define them as a person, in the old days being a biker was defined as living and breathing it day in and day out. A biker would try and put as many miles on the scooter as possible each week, try to attend as many rallies as humanly possible every weekend. Now a days people don’t let the lifestyle define them, sure they love the rides and brotherhood, but it seems like from the answers I was getting was more down the line of – “I have too many responsibilities to my family, too many responsibilities to my work to let a bike define who I am”.

With that information in hand, I talked to a lot of friends in the club scene. I posed a question to them about what they think has been the biggest changes in club life. The answers really didn’t surprise me all that much. One of the biggest changes, especially among the 1%ers I talked with ,was the fact people just didn’t feel like risking jail time any more. In the old days things were more mellow, a club didn’t have to go around worrying about being caught up in a RICO case as they do today. Clubs have seen a rapid decline among membership they told me, as the old timers got older, many were never replaced with fresh blood. They would tell me that the success of the Outlaw Biker image has in some ways, hurt clubs as a whole. People don’t want to risk anything of theirs being apart of a club. People just want to ride and party, go home and live their lives. That was a resounding answer to questions I posed to a lot of club members regarding club popularity these days.


After hearing a lot of the answers to the questions I posed to people, I started to get a bigger picture and window into the thoughts of bikers now. Both parties, club and non club bikers agreed on something. These days many people see clubs as a risk not conductive to the image that they want to see themselves as bikers. The whole lifestyle did a huge flip and turn around. Another thing that really cemented that point, looking at past club members compared to today’s club members I noticed something very striking. In the old days you would hardly ever find any 1%ers turning on their brothers. They would rather die then rat one out. Now you can see it in the news all the time, brothers in mass are turning states evidence against those who where one time brothers. Crap even officers, be it Chapter Presidents or National Presidents turned on the club. Rather then doing the time, they saved themselves. So what does that say about the club culture now a days? Crap some guys are out there writing books about their time in clubs, something that was taboo back in the day.

So I figured I end the post with some questions, I’m very interested in hearing in the comments about how you personally think. Would you join a motorcycle club if giving the chance? Do you think 1%er clubs will ever regain the luster they once had? Why do you think people shy away from being apart of motorcycle clubs? What do you think the future holds for motorcycle clubs. It will be very interesting to hear some comments and thoughts.

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8 replies »

  1. I think it’s all along the lines of what’s happening with Harley Davidson. Doctors and lawyers bought bikes and played biker while watching sons of anarchy now they’ve sold the bikes put the suit back on. Older bike riders wanted that club life. Just like Harley is losing market share because the buyers are getting older so are clubs, the millenniums want nothing to do with bikes or clubs. It’s an aging out kind of thing.


  2. Alot of clubs have members that put a patch on for all the wrong reasons. Very few truly know what its about they just feel it’s a status symbol that gives them the power to be As@h%les. And as you have pointed out in last couple of blogs, the clubs that to carry on more traditional ways of just riding and doing their own thing often get ridiculed. A lot of the older men that I know in the 1% are quitting and they all seem to say the same thing, this new age thing is not what it’s about. They also say that members that joined in the 90s and early 2000s are now at levels of power and have totally gone the wrong direction from where it should be. Seeing the club scene from an outside perspective I would agree. I would love to know what happened


  3. You are exactly correct on the other portions of life out weighing the commitment to being a patched brother for me. I do not agree with members today snitching anymore than they ever did, the facts of life to every LEO is they think EVERYbody rolls over. They don’t and I never did or ever will but I made that choice in Vietnam and have and will live it out. The amazing thing about the local dominant club – Red and White , at least. is that they have changed and made a vast improvement in the prospecting of young , intelligent relatively sober and non criminal history members . I believe it was because of SB’s revalation in the 90s that “I didn’t get this club going to have it’s members spend their life in prison”. Wow what a great change I have seen in last 15 years around the 1% clubs. Finally I feel comfortable hanging with the guys I all ways felt should be friends from the 60s when I roade Limey bikes but were so unstable from drugs and alky as to not know from day to day how I would be treated. I have no prison culture to share with them either, being smart enough to never have been caught . I don’t see a big decline in member ship of clubs around here, the gracious and wise dominant club encourages new ones to start up all the time. So that is my perspective.


  4. I grew up with clubs my dad always rode with a club cut . I’ve rode with many clubs but never with a patch don’t want to be tolded when to ride and were to go .. No club. For. Me


  5. I will celebrate my 60th birthday in a few days and 52 of those years have been on two wheels with an internal combustion engine attached to it. I have been associated with motorcycle clubs since 1977 and admired them a long time before that. When I was a young man it was not easy to find a place to drink beer and shoot pool if you were a motorcycle rider. Bars often refused to serve us. So having a clubhouse was a necessity back in the day. Now that motorcycles are chic and “bikers” are cool, clubs in this aspect have out lived their need. Heck look at all the places that have bike night! Bar owners compete for our business. I knew it was different when my wife and I topped a hill in central Ky one afternoon with a pack of motorcycles and saw a police road block set up ahead. They had some kids in an import tuner car jacked up and when the old folks on the Harley’s approached the cops did not even look up. My wife who has been riding nearly as long as me said I never thought that would happen in my life time!


  6. There’s still a lot of clubs out there, and more new ones starting up all the time. Growing up in Fontana, CA, I remember when the HA’s were guys who like to ride their bikes, drink beer and smoke weed. It’s not hard to search the net and find pictures of those early club days, say middle to late 60’s, and see behaviors that wouldn’t be tolerated today – old ladies wearing a guys cut, so the patch wasn’t covered up. Heresy!

    While all the talk, especially in H-D commercials, is about “freedom” and the open road, the truth is that most clubs have more rules than the Department of Defense. To be a club member pretty much excludes going wherever you want to go, and certainly never by yourself. Fear of law enforcement is drowned out by fear of other clubs, or their wanna-be support minions, giving you a beat-down for flying the “wrong” colors or being in the “wrong” place. Total strangers beating on total strangers. People that otherwise have basically the same interests, the same social class, the same beliefs.

    The talk of brotherhood is likewise shallow. Pick up any newspaper or follow any biker blog. Members rat on members all the time. Like someone said, everyone is a gangster until it’s time to time to do some gangster shit.

    I disagree with the few people I’ve discussed this with who think that there was a giant switch sometime in the 80’s when clubs went from essentially fraternal organizations to organized crime. That’s not what happened – instead the clubs went corporate. Global businesses selling a Walter Mitty dream of being a badass by virtue of the patch worn on the back. That is, until shit gets real.

    As long as guys buy into the myth (emphasis on “buy”) clubs will continue. But like a pyramid scheme, they’ll lose as many members as they gain on an almost one-to-one basis.


  7. I think MCs are suffering the same fate as any other organization that asks their members to put some effort into membership… too many folks want the benefits but not the responsibilities.
    I have always loved motorcycles, but didn’t get my first one until about 10 years ago. I absolutely love it- I don’t ride nearly as much as I would like to but I ride as much as I can. and I want to be a ‘real’ biker- one who stops for another biker who’s having trouble; one who shows support for family and community; not just riding so someone can say ‘oh look how cool that is’.
    I hope there will always be REAL MCs… it’s gonna be a sad day when there are no more.

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