Most of the old motorcycle movies involve motorcycle clubs in some way. In The Wild One, Marlon Brando played Johnny, the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club (BRMC). The image portrayed on the screen of the average motorcycle club was often not flattering. To the average non-motorcyclist today, a motorcycle club is often synonymous with a motorcycle gang. My experience with motorcycle clubs and other motorcycle groups is quite the opposite.
Motorcycle clubs (also known as MCs or M/Cs) have been around since the introduction of the motorcycle. If you visit any motorcycle museum, look for the old pictures of motorcycle clubs hanging on the walls.
Of course, any club is just a group of people who band together for support and fellowship whether it’s a stitching club, a fishing club, or a motorcycle club. The Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) , the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.), the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMWMOA), the Women on Wheels (W.O.W.), the Motor Maids, and the Women in the Wind (W.I.T.W.) are each national organizations that have local motorcycle club, association, or other group chapters.
Club members often wear what is referred to as “colors,” a vest or patch or hat that displays an emblem and other colors that are used by the club to distinguish itself from other clubs.
Some clubs are independent such as the Spokes-Women MC in New Jersey. There are even Internet clubs such as the Internet BMW Riders. There are some clubs that have the financial wherewithal to have their own club houses such as the Dawn Patrol, a club established in New Jersey in 1937 and the Jackpine Gypsies club formed in 1936 in Sturgis, SD. The Jackpine Gypsies started the Sturgis Rally in South Dakota which will be celebrating its 68th anniversary in 2008.
Of course, there are motorcycle clubs, motorcycle riding clubs, motorcycle associations with local chapters, and other motorcycle groups. Each has special characteristics, requirements, and functions that would take a whole book to describe. That’s not the intent of this article.
Clubs serve a very useful purpose and form a social bonding for their members. Some clubs exist to further a particular make and model such as the Honda PC-800 club, the GWRRA, or the Cushman Club of America. Some clubs exist to champion a particular cause such as the Bikers Against Child Abuse.
Some clubs exist for only part of the year such as the Polar Bear Grand Tour that rides throughout the winter in the NJ, NY, PA, and DE area of the USA.
There’s a motorcycle club out there to fit almost anyone who wants to be part of a motorcycling community. Of course, many motorcyclists never join clubs and enjoy the freedom of solo or small group riding with buddies. However, it’s hard to go out on a Sunday afternoon and not see groups of motorcyclists riding down almost any road in formation. Clubs are here to stay and will gain more importance as more people get into the sport.
The women’s clubs seem to be growing the fastest these days as more and more women are completing the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses, gaining their motorcycle licenses, and buying that first bike. Some women riders are attracted to the women’s clubs for support and fellowship as they gain proficiency in riding.
We at Southern Bike Night support motorcycle clubs immensely. They are great men and women.
As more people get on the Internet looking for information about motorcycling, they find out about the clubs that have Web sites and gravitate to them. In fact, one of the biggest factors in the growth of club membership these days is the Internet.
The fact that a motorcycle club was founded in 1937, doesn’t guarantee that the average rider evens knows that it exists — that is, until the Internet came along and allowed people to find first-hand information about many of these clubs from their Web sites.
We are entering a new era of increased participation in motorcycling. The motorcycle clubs will serve to manage much of this growth and channel it into worthwhile charitable projects as well as provide a way for new riders to grow in their motorcycling experiences. Let’s help to further this growth by making the surfing motorcyclists aware that your club exists.
We want to hear from you and your club. Our TV show will be traveling the country and filming all throughout the year. Drop us a line and let us help support you. Remember, keep the rubber side down.