By: James “Hollywood” Macecari
To: Hollywood- I was wondering what your viewpoint is on riding clubs and motorcycle clubs. I’m 24 years old, just got my first motorcycle (Honda Shadow) and have a friend who is in a riding club, what is the difference between a riding club and motorcycle club? Which one would be better for someone like me to join?
Stephen Little Rock Arkansas
I will try to answer your question the best I can Stephen.Insane Throttle has been getting many emails asking us our opinion on a question that gets asked a lot. “Should I join a riding club or motorcycle club”. It’s a great question, but one that has so many moving parts to it that you as an individual will have to think about, mainly, the pros and cons of each one.
Insane Throttle can lay down the pros and cons to the best of our abilities, but it will be up to you, the individual, to decide what you are looking for. Insane Throttle cannot possibly know what kind of person you are, or what your definition of either set up is, so we will throw out general points in this article and hope it will go a little way to helping you.
Riding clubs are for those who love to ride, love to share that ride with as many friends as possible (This bodes true for motorcycle clubs as well). Most riding clubs are ones you will see wearing the 1 pc patch. It can be a mixed riding club, meaning male and female can be members, which most of the time this is the case. Riding clubs do not mind what type of motorcycle someone rides, where most motorcycle clubs, there will be bylaws stating what type of motorcycle is required. Riding clubs are some of the oldest structures in the motorcycle community. Riding clubs date back to the first bike coming off the assembly line. Mostly back then, riding clubs were pushed by the manufactures to get people to buy their product and build the brand.
Pros of a Riding Club
– Noncommital or in other words, not mandated to attend specific functions or meetings. You can attend or not attend based on what you feel like doing. The independence of a riding club is based on your preference, not the officers or group as a whole
– Politics- Every organization has politics or clicks within them. But when I talk about politics, what I’m saying is, being a supporter of one club or another. Riding clubs are most often considered neutral and have no preference for one M/C or another. Thus the reason way riding clubs are a 1pc patch and do not have M/C on them. Most often, they will have R/C or just the riding clubs name on the patch.
– Dues- Riding clubs most often or not have only yearly dues. Those dues are usually very low, sometimes as low as $25 per year and the cost of the patch. Motorcycle Club dues can run as much as $300-$600 a month depending on the club, the expenses the club has, such as clubhouse etc.
– No Prospect or Hang around period- Most Riding clubs you can join right on the internet. since riding clubs are not based on a Motorcycle Club structure, but instead built around the idea of just getting together and riding, there is no need for a prospect or a hang-around period.
I didn’t have any cons to the riding club because it’s hard to think of any. Riding clubs afford a person a ton of freedom in what they choose to participate in and what not to participate in. That has to be the best thing about them. The structure is different then what most traditional motorcycle clubs are about. This is one of the reasons why you always hear me questioning why “LEMC” just don’t go and throw on a 1 pc patch. Nothing wrong with that, least they will not be acting like something they are not. Riding clubs are respected for that, they don’t go out there acting like something they are not. So think about that LEMC
Motorcycle Clubs Pros and Cons
Motorcycle Clubs Stephen, are a whole different can of worms. Motorcycle clubs, at least the ones in the traditional sense, are highly structured brotherhoods. Now, don’t get me wrong, riding clubs can be the same, but with motorcycle clubs, you have the membership that is bonded together by a process and common goal. What do I mean by process? This is the process in which motorcycle club tradition comes into play. Most clubs will have a set hang-around period, prospect period before the individual is allowed to become a member.
Motorcycle clubs follow a set of protocols determined by whats called the Dominant, or 1%er club. Such clubs are the Hells Angels, Outlaws, Pagans, Mongols and so on. These are clubs that have been around starting after WW2. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to protocol and tradition to a link I have at the top of the website “Motorcycle Club and Rider Education”. This is an excellent source of information that has been passed on from clubs to their prospects for years. (Insane Throttle is NOT the author of this page or site)
What you will find Stephen is a great deal of commitment to a motorcycle club. Depending on what type you choose, you could be in a situation where its work, club, family. This is especially true with the 1%er clubs. These club members live, breathe and work their clubs. As far as 1%er clubs Stephen. You will probably see them all over the internet, you might even see some so-called 1%ers advertising for membership in Craigslist. Stay as far away as you can from these type of clubs. These are not true 1%er clubs. What do I mean by true 1%er clubs? It’s my opinion those clubs that have started in what many call the WW2 era and Vietnam Era. Let’s just say, 1940’s through the mid 1970’s. Any club after that time period is on a case by case type of basis when you talk with 1%ers.
These types of clubs, such as what is called the “Big 5”, have a long tradition and staying power in the M/C world. The 1%er clubs in those time ranges put in the blood, sweat, and tears that make clubs what they are today. This is why you will find motorcycle clubs have such respect for them, follow the traditions and protocols that they set up.
Motorcycle Club Pros
– M/C’s are usually a more intense form of brotherhood. The members live and breathe the M/C.
– M/C’s are an extension of the real family. Meaning, they are with each other so much, the brotherhood becomes one with each other.
– M/C members are the closest you can come to having someone that will be there when you need them. When you become a member of a traditional m/c, you will find that those you call brothers will be there for you no matter what.
Motorcycle Club Cons
– Less freedom then you will have a riding club. When you make a commitment to wearing a patch, in this case, 2 pc or 3pc, you’re expected to be with the club when you’re needed.
– You’re expected to make the club a big part of your life. This even means putting the club before your family.
– Depending on what side your club chooses, there are no independent clubs, no matter what you hear on the internet. If your club followed proper protocol to start up, your club will be on the side of the dominant that gave you the ok to fly the colors. This means, who they don’t like, your club doesn’t like.
– Must be able to defend your patch at all times. When you become apart of a club, you will at one time or another get challenge from someone on the opposite side of the fence.
These are just some of the minimal pros and cons Stephen. The list could go on and on. This is why I always tell people to hang around a motorcycle club at least a year. This enables you to see what a motorcycle club and it’s members are all about. Don’t be in a rush to join something because you want to feel apart of something. This goes for both riding clubs and motorcycle clubs. Go to the events, the parties and rides, build up personal relationships with those people you might one day call brother.
Personally, in today’s environment with motorcycle clubs, I would recommend people join riding clubs. Especially if they value their time and independence. Riding clubs is what most bikers enjoy because they do not want to be tied down in politics between clubs. Most who join the riding clubs just want to go out there and ride hard and party hard. Don’t get what I call “Patch Struck”, meaning you see stuff on TV or hear wearing a patch in a motorcycle club is a must to be cool. That’s the farthest from the truth. You don’t need any patch, be it a riding club, or a motorcycle club to be a biker. To be a biker is something that is in your heart, not some piece of cloth on your back.
It will be interesting to see what the readership says on this subject, feel free to post questions or comments down below. What do you think is the best route to take, Riding Club or Motorcycle Club?
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