Southern California Norton Owner's Club Cambria Ride, on Highway 41 near Creston, CA

Once in a while, you may notice a long line of motorcyclists with similar vehicles and clothes riding in a formation on the highways or streets. Motorcycle clubs are close-knit organizations comprised of members who all share a love for riding, customizing, and showing off motorcycles. Due to how widespread motorcycle culture has become in recent years, there are dozens of motorcycle clubs throughout North America. Some are legally recognized and do charity work, like the Canadian Motorcycle Association or the Motor Maids. Others engage in criminal activities and have garnered a dangerous reputation, such as the Hell’s Angels or the Devils Army. 

Though motorcycle clubs can differ in their purpose, membership, and territory, there are a few characteristics that they all share. It is difficult for non-members to discern a true motorcycle club, but you should be able to identify a motorcycle club so long as it meets the following criteria. 

  1. Members Must Own A Motorcycle

To be eligible to become part of a motorcycle club, you must own a personal motorcycle. Depending on the motorcycle club, you may be able to bring any type of motorcycle, regardless of the series, model, or brand. However, some motorcycle clubs are particular about all members riding only vehicles from only one specific brand, either Harley Davidson, Honda, etc. You will not be accepted into a club if you borrow a motorcycle from a friend, family member, or rental service. 

The longer you stay part of a motorcycle club, the more you will be expected to upgrade and customize your ride with the latest technological features and add-ons, such as sissy bars. You can check the complete guide about what and how a sissy bar is useful at Viking Bags.

  1. Hierarchy System

Like any organization, motorcycle clubs have a hierarchy system that separates the more experienced members from the newer ones and the leaders from the subordinates. Several key roles are responsible for the financial, organizational, and decision-making that goes on in a motorcycle club. The descending order from most authority to least authority differs between motorcycle clubs, but most organizations include the following occupations: 

The founder is the original or first member of the motorcycle club. If the founder is actively involved in club decisions, s/he usually takes up the responsibilities of the president. Often among long-lasting motorcycle clubs, the founder has long since retired and has passed on leadership to someone else. 

The president serves as the leader of a motorcycle club, overseeing all meetings and acting as the organization’s spokesperson when dealing with other motorcycle clubs, law enforcement, or news groups. 

The vice president oversees and ensures the smooth operation of all motorcycle club activities, including meetings, events, rides, etc. S/he also addresses any concerns the members may have and bring up any issues to the president. Should the president be absent, the vice president will temporarily take up the president’s duties. 

The secretary is responsible for writing and storing the motorcycle club’s records, including the material covered in meetings, financial documents, and other essential paperwork. S/he also doubles as the historian, keeping track of important events in the club’s history. 

The treasurer handles the club’s funds, ensures that monthly payments from each member are on time, and ensures the organization pays all the required bills for location, repairs, and events. S/he also advises the president on how to best spend the club’s finances. 

The sergeant-at-arms ensures that every member follows the rules and disciplines those who break them. S/he has the authority to strip members of their rank and expel them from the club. The sergeant-at-arms is also responsible for security, ensuring that no dangerous individuals infiltrate the club or anyone has a weapon. 

The road captain organizes group rides, plans out the possible routes and rest stops, sets the pace of the trips, and leads the procession from the front. 

The members are full-fledged members who have earned their patches and have been accepted as subordinates in the motorcycle club. 

The prospects are individuals who wish to become members but have yet to prove themselves. They will serve a probationary period until they have fulfilled enough obligations and earned the trust of the other members. 

  1. Designated Territory

Depending on the size and influence of a motorcycle club, the leadership will stake its claim within a specific neighborhood, town, or city. The larger and more well-known a motorcycle club is, the more territory the organization will have under its control. There is an unspoken rule between motorcycle clubs that members should not encroach onto each other’s territory since doing so implies a lack of respect and willingness to undermine the other party’s authority. Motorcycle clubs that have tried to move in on each other’s territory have often resulted in violent confrontations. Typically, only one major motorcycle club can occupy a state at a time. 

  1. Requisite Number of Riding Miles Per Year

For motorcycle club members to remain part of the organization, they need to do more than just pay a monthly membership fee. Being part of a motorcycle club means you need to spend as much time on your motorcycle and participate in club events as often as possible. The exact value differs between motorcycle clubs, but you are required to ride a minimum number of miles as part of fulfilling your yearly obligations. Not riding the required mileage each year implies a growing lack of interest in motorcycle riding. If the leadership feels that you no longer care about the future of the motorcycle club, you may be stripped of your rank and privileges. At worst, you will be expelled from the club if you hardly touch your motorcycle and have prioritized other aspects of life. 

  1. Loyalty, Responsibility, & Camaraderie

Joining a motorcycle club is a long-term commitment that requires a lot of your attention, time, and money. The motorcycle club expects you to put the needs of the organization and its members first, even over your wants and needs. If the motorcycle club has an emergency or requires your expertise, you are expected to drop everything to help. Whenever the motorcycle club organizes meetings and events, you are required to attend. Failure to do so implies a lack of interest or disregard for the authority of the older members. 

Each motorcycle member is required to pay a monthly membership fee to help cover the costs of expenses, utilities, etc. When organizing a charity or an event, you may be required to make a donation or contribute to the budget to ensure there is enough funding. 

When you become a full-fledged member, you are expected to treat the other riders as brothers and sisters and support them as if they were family. The more trust you develop, the more respect you receive from the other members. Just remember to show proper respect to the more experienced motorcyclists. 

The Qualities of Motorcycle Clubs

Motorcycle clubs are led by and formed by motorcycle enthusiasts who have a deep passion for riding on roads at high speed. Though they range from legal to illegal, motorcycle clubs are well-structured organizations with a clear hierarchy, requirements, and sets of values. Though joining a motorcycle club can be difficult and intimidating, it can be a rewarding experience for those looking to expand their social circle and experience memorable rides. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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