Motorcycle clubs, also know as MC’s, have been around since 1903. They come in a variety of forms, but they all follow a similar doctrine. The media and Hollywood has generalized all motorcycle clubs into hoodlums who terrorize law abiding citizens. Just a few examples of movies with negative impacts on this culture are The Wild Ones, Beyond the Law, and even the comedy Wild Hogs. There are bad apples in all walks of life, but your local motorcycle club just may care more about you and the community than you realize.
Motorcycle clubs in the early 1900’s were merely groups of motorcycle enthusiasts who came together and would race on flat tracks. World War One saw a great usage of motorcycles. Servicemen returning home longed for the brotherhood they shared in the military and the excitement of two wheels. The majority of Motorcycle Clubs today were founded by servicemen.
There are all sorts of MC’s. You have veterans clubs, Christian clubs, minority clubs, women clubs, outlaw clubs, clean and sober clubs, support clubs and the list goes on. There are tons of associations, like those against child abuse, Moila, Masons, bike specific, motorcyclist’s rights and etc. Associations, sometimes called riding clubs are similar to MC’s but there is a difference. (To read the differences check out this link for motorcycle club education.)
MC’s and associations share a brotherhood that exceeds most organizations. The criteria for earning your colors or your patch is different in these two types of organizations. Most associations require you to meet their guidelines and pay monthly dues to get your patch. MC’s require much more of a commitment.
Generally you must ask an MC to be a “hang around” which affords the rider the opportunity to see what the MC lifestyle is about and there is usually no commitment. If the hang around like what he sees, then they must ask to prospect. If voted in as prospect that is when the commitment starts. As a prospect you do not choose when to participate, you must participate as much as the club requires and more. You will be asked to watch the bikes at events, get drinks for members, clean the clubhouse regularly, show up early and leave late and the list varies depending on the club. As a prospect this is your time to shine and show the club what you are worth and to develop the trust and brotherhood that keeps MC’s alive.
The club will decide when to vote a prospect to probationary member. Once voted in as a probate you will become a full member without voting privileges. This is a time for the club to see how you carry yourself as a full patch member and usually still requires extras duties as a done as a prospect. Like mentioned before in a motorcycle club you always participate as much as the club requires and more.
If you get voted in as a full member you are afforded all the benefits the club has to offer. Even full patch holders still must work hard every day to maintain their standing in the club. This is an ongoing process as long as you wear the club colors. There is no standard time line for what it takes to go from hang around to full member. Some clubs it can be done in as little as a year some may take up to two or three years. The commitment can be overwhelming sometimes and is usually why most of your local clubs are so small.
As hard as it is to become and maintain being a full patch member in a club, it is not without its rewards. If you are voted in this means the club trusts you and sees you as a true brother that will do anything for the other members and the club. If you are on vacation out of the area and you break down, you don’t need AAA, call your brothers and they will get you fixed up or even come and get you. If you are laid off from work and can’t make the mortgage payment, call your brothers and they will help you out either with a loan, a collection or they will throw a benefit for you.
These examples do not even scratch the surface of what a club will do for its members; just know that you must be willing to do the same. If you get a call at work saying that your club brother just got in a wreck, you should be prepared to leave work to be at your brother’s side or help in any way possible like getting their bike loaded and home. And suppose you got fired for leaving work, the MC community is so big, it is one of the best networks in the country and you can bet your brothers will help you get another job.
Motorcycle clubs police themselves and the bravado of 20 bikes riding down the road in a pack does not mean trouble. We try to conduct ourselves and move in an orderly fashion. We work hard to present ourselves in a good light to the public and disorderly conduct by one of our members does not go unpunished.
Some folks do not have the time or the desire to join a motorcycle club. Any good club knows the value of
its community and you will find that a lot of clubs sponsor community events that are usually bike related. Events include but not limited to, bike and car shows, charity rides and or raffles, toys for tots and events at your local downtown areas that help generate revenue for the community. We are not solely about us. For instance, last year my club visited a local veteran’s hospital and brought magazines, gifts, food and donated our own money to those vets who had no family and were permanent inpatient
residents. This year we are collecting warm clothes and coats that one of our members and his wife hand out to the homeless. And these clothes are not handed out in a local shelter; they actually drive around to where these persons are and deliver them.
To be perfectly honest, the majority of members in your local clubs are generally blue collar, hard working folks like yourself. They eat at the same restaurants, like the same sports, and do the same things with their families. They coach youth sports, mentor boy scouts and go to their children’s school plays. And you will find that local club members will be more willing to hold the door open for you than your look-down-their-noses-at-you YMCA board members. We are not all criminals, if you want that look at some of your local elected officials.