Everything You Need To Know About Starting A Motorcycle Club

How to Start a Motorcycle Club  

Motorcycle clubs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are motorcycle clubs recognized by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), as well as “1 percent” clubs, also called outlaw clubs or MCs.

Over the years, subgroups have formed often based off of the type of bikes, or for demographics of people, such as the Women’s International Motorcycle Association, the Christian Motorcyclists Association, and clubs for gays or lesbians, among others.

Should You Start One?

If the idea interests you, there is a lot to consider before starting a club. Beginning your own motorcycle club is entirely possible, but you will need to do research, and it is smart to take the proper steps in doing so.

Before going down the path of starting your club, research options available in your area. Not all motorcycle clubs have the traditional “biker“ connotation if that is what you are looking to avoid. Many MC’s will tolerate “riding clubs,” also called RCs if they ride in different circles or have a particular niche.

The Purpose and Types of a Motorcycle Club

The most substantial club in America is the American Motorcyclist Association or AMA. There are hundreds of thousands of active members and well over 1,000 chartered clubs under their umbrella. They were founded in 1924, and for the first couple of decades had a whites-only membership.

One percenter motorcycle clubs, sometimes called outlaw clubs, are what many people think of as the counterculture group of motorcyclists. In part, these groups formed to go against the archaic origins of the AMA.

Today, outlaw clubs do not all necessarily have ties to criminal behavior at large, but many have been recognized as being involved with crime families, gangs, and drug smuggling. The general persona of these clubs is a rejection of authority. However, many MCs have their own hierarchy of authority and unfortunately, do take part in illegal activity.

Other subgroups such as the Harley Owners Group or BMW Motorcycle Owners of America band together with a shared appreciation for their specific brand of bikes. Different demographics based on gender, religion, and sexual orientation exist for those who either feel uncomfortable in the two groups above or wanted a more specific niche to ride with.

Naturally, bikers will join a club for a sense of camaraderie and shared interest in their demographic or type of motorcycle. Before jumping to start your own, see if one that fits your interests already exists. If you have another reason for wanting to start one, take a thoughtful look at your “why” and consider whether it will be disrespectful to other existing clubs in your area, or whether it makes sense for both to coexist harmoniously.

How to Start One

If you reside in an area with very few options for a motorcycle club, and you’ve tried a hang out with a traditional club or a one percenter/outlaw group or in your area and didn’t feel like a fit, there are some options to starting your own.

One of the first things you will need to do is contact the leader of your local MC club and discuss your idea with them. In the motorcycle community, it is considered disrespectful or in poor taste to begin your own club unless it is a very niche group that does not already exist where you live. This can be seen by older members as a way of trying to avoid learning respect from the existing clubs or getting out of paying your dues among these “brotherhoods.”

With the younger generation, perhaps thankfully, some of these overly traditional and territorial ideas will inevitably change, and more clubs will form with a less questionable history or ties.

Region, Niche, Colors

You will need to define where exactly your club will be based out of and the region it will cover and what other motorcycle clubs are that exist in your area. You also want to research what their colors are (patches they often wear on the back of jackets).

You will need to do your research on the local colors of clubs and if you decide to have some for your own if any former clubs were disbanded that may have used these colors. Some could have been parted for dishonorable reasons.

Check online for the most popular clubs in your area or ask at local motorcycle shops and find out their requirements for joining their club. Some are a bit secretive, and the only way to get thorough information is to become a member.

Rules of a Motorcycle Club

The provisions of a motorcycle club will vary depending on the organization. Many will include regulations for members such as respect for the organization and dignity to represent the club well. Other rules often surround what it takes to wear club colors, what level of participation is expected, and attendance to meetings. Examples of different club rules are occasionally available online.

Support from Existing Clubs

If you are starting a group, you will likely begin with a Riding Club. As mentioned, most MCs will accept Riding Clubs that are in a niche outside their own. In some areas, you might only get that, tolerated, and nothing more. You will likely find more luck from fellow Riding Clubs who operate in a niche different than yours.

Bikes Accepted

Many clubs will dictate what kind of bikes are accepted, although this may not necessarily be the case if the organization is based more on gender, religion, or orientation. You will need to decide if this is going to be a factor for your club, or if you will have sub-groups within your club for people who ride similar bikes—such as sport bikes or cruisers.

Will your group be newer bikes? Or will it be for people who hold vintage, used motorcycle values and an appreciation for old machines? A general Riding Club is not what you want to aim for. Be specific and carve out a niche if possible.

Membership Fees

The membership fees for motorcycle clubs can vary quite a bit. Some could be as low as $25 a year, while other clubs could charge $600 annually. If you are going forward with starting your own Riding Club, you will need to realistically factor in all of the costs to run the organization.

Cost of a Club

You want to be fair with club members, but you also don’t want to go into debt to keep your group going. Consider the cost of recruiting members, holding events, the time you will spend running the club, and all of the small items, such as having patches made for members to wear colors on jackets if you choose to do this.

Prices of motorcycle club operation will probably be more than you expect, so it’s reasonable to track all of the potential expenses.

Recruitment

Recruitment for motorcycle clubs is changing rapidly. This is thanks to; you might have guessed it, the internet. There is a lot of debate about the internet and its use for recruitment. There are more traditional thinkers, or “protocol believers” who dislike the use of the web and think clubs should stick to the old ways (in person) route for membership.

The web is admittedly much more accessible in many cases to find new members, though. If you go this route, just do so very wisely. It’s recommended you require a hang out period for potential members after meeting or Skyping online, and meet a few times before giving colors (patches) to anyone.

The same goes for potential members—never agree to wear colors for a biker club without knowing who is running it or what kind of people they are. You need to remind yourself these are people from the internet. They could be cool but find out before officially joining or bring new members on board.

Going Forward

Do your research, be respectful (or at least cautious) of other MCs in your area and be smart about who you admit into your club if you decide to start one.

Remember, this could be a commitment for several years, too. If people pay to be part of the organization, they will expect to get at least the paid years’ worth of Riding Club benefits.

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