A motorcycle club is a group of individuals whose primary interest and activities involve motorcycles.
Types of clubs, groups and organizations
Most clubs are either organized around a brand or make, or around a type of riding (e.g. touring). Motorcycle clubs vary a great deal in their objectives and organizations. Mainstream motorcycle clubs or associations typically have elected officers and directors, annual dues, and a regular publication. They may also sponsor sports events and annual or more frequent motorcycle rallies where members can socialize.
There are a great many "brand clubs", i.e. clubs dedicated to a particular marque, including those sponsored by various manufacturers, such as the Harley Owners Group, the Honda Riders Club of America and some independent, such as the Triumph Owners Motor Cycle Club. There are large national independent motorcycle clubs, such as BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, the STAR Touring and Riding Association, and the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA). There are also specific clubs for women, such as Women's International Motorcycle Association, Leather and Lace MC and Women in the Wind MC, and clubs for lesbians and gays, such as Dykes on bikes.
Clubs catering for those interested in vintage machines such as the Vintage Motor Cycle Club are also popular as well as those centered around particular venues. Clubs catering for riders' rights such as the Motorcycle Action Group, and charities like the The Royal British Legion Riders Branch are also popular. Many affiliate with an umbrella organization, such as the British Motorcyclists Federation in the UK, or FEMA in Europe. Producing national and local branch club magazines and events are typical activities of such clubs. More informal groupings also exist for riders local to each other or even particular models of vehicles. Some publish in book form lists of members that can be used by touring motorcyclists needing assistance.
Other organizations whose activities primarily involve motorcycles exist for specific purposes or social causes such as the Patriot Guard Riders, who provide funeral escorts for military veterans, and Rolling Thunder, which advocates for troops missing in action and prisoners of war. While neither of the latter two groups require a motorcycle for membership, they are motorcycling-oriented and much of their activity involves rides.
There are numerous religiously oriented clubs such as the Christian Motorcyclists Association, a biker ministry, charities such as Freewheelers EVS, which use motorcycles to provide an out-of-hours emergency medical courier service, and clubs which attract membership from specific groups, such as the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, for law enforcement personnel.
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is the largest American motorcyclist organization. It serves as an umbrella organization for local clubs and sporting events. As of March, 2006, the AMA counts 269,884 active members and many chartered clubs.
MCs and MCCs
The abbreviations MC and MCC are both used to mean "motorcycle club" but have a special social meaning from the point of view of the outlaw or one percenter motorcycling subculture. MC is generally reserved for those clubs that are mutually recognized by other MC or outlaw motorcycle clubs. This is indicated by a motorcyclist wearing an MC patch, or a three piece patch called colors, on the back of their jacket or riding vest. Outlaw or one percenter can mean merely that the club is not chartered under the auspices of the American Motorcyclist Association, implying a radical rejection of authority and embracing of the "biker" lifestyle as defined and popularized since the 1950s and represented by such media as Easyriders magazine, the work of painter David Mann and others. In many contexts the terms overlap with the usual meaning of "outlaw" because some of these clubs, or some of their members, are recognized by law enforcement agencies as taking part in organized crime.
Outside of the outlaw motorcyclist subculture, the words "motorcycle club" carry no pejorative meaning beyond the everyday English definition of the words – a club involving motorcycles, whose members come from every walk of life. Thus, there are clubs that are culturally and stylistically nothing like outlaw or one percenter clubs, and whose activities and goals not similar to them at all, but still use three-part patches or the initials MC in their name or insignia. In other countries, such motorcycle clubs will adopt the abbreviation MCC.
- Pat Hahn, How to Ride a Motorcycle: A Rider's Guide to Strategy, Safety and Skill Development, MotorBooks International, p. 134, ISBN 9781610590334
- Feuer, Alan (May 29, 2006), Revving Their Engines, Remembering a War's Toll, The New York Times, "The Patriot Guard was formed last fall in response to protests staged by the Westboro Baptist Church, a Christian splinter group from Topeka, Kan., whose 75 parishioners have been turning up at military funerals across the country with placards reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and tattered American flags. [...] It was, after all, [Jeff] Brown who first thought to bring together disparate groups like Rolling Thunder (which rides on behalf of soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war), the Blue Knights (law enforcement officers), the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, the In Country Vets Motorcycle Club, the Christian Motorcyclists Association and the American Legion Riders into one Web-connected crew."
- Grant, Japhy (March 28, 2006), Biking to block Phelps, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine): 22(1), ISSN 0001-8996, "For many years notoriously antigay Kansas preacher Fred Phelps has been met by counterprotests as he travels around the country demonstrating at the funerals of gays and their allies. But none have been as organized as the Patriot Guard Riders, a band of about 5,000 bikers formed to counter the Phelps clan's recently initiated practice of picketing military funerals."
- Platoni, Kara (July–August 2006), The hogs of war, Mother Jones 31 (4): 16(2), "The Patriot Guard Riders formed last November to confront fundamentalist pastor Fred Phelps' Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church, whose parishioners have been picketing soldiers' funerals with signs reading 'Thank God for Dead Soldiers' and claiming that dead GIs are divine punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality. The Patriot Guard Riders started accompanying the families of dead soldiers (with their consent) from wake to church to cemetery, riding in a proud parade of chrome and gasoline fumes, sometimes blocking the protesters from view with flags and gunning their engines to drown out renditions of 'God Hates America.'"
- "Police Motorcycle Club Invades Tyler". Tyler Morning Telegraph (Tyler, Texas). July 25, 2012. pp. 1A,6A.
- AMA Newsroom: Facts and Figures, retrieved September 10, 2007
- Drew, A. J. (2002), The everything motorcycle book: the one book you must have to buy, ride, and maintain your motorcycle, Adams Media Corp, pp. 273, 277, ISBN 9781580625548, "Biker slang or babble (marked BB) [...] mc (BB) Motorcycle Club; this abbreviaion usually refers to an outlaw motorcycle club. [...] outlaw (BB) Generally speaking, any motorcycling club that is not represented by the AMA. This does not connote criminal intent."
- Wolf, Daniel R. (1992), The Rebels: a brotherhood of outlaw bikers, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 9780802073631
- Scher, Steve (4 February 2009), Easy Riders: Motorcycle Culture in Seattle, Weekday (KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio; University of Washington)
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