Hello moto-snowflake. Let’s talk about the different clubs out there and how to find one that fits you.
Did you know there are actually many different types of motorcycle and riding clubs? While the traditional biker club, with leather vests and Harley-Davidsons as portrayed in the Sons of Anarchy TV show, is the most popular image of a motorcycle club but clubs like those are in the minority.
In fact, there is a huge variety of motorcycle clubs that cater to all types of styles of motorcycle, social backgrounds and activities. For example, there are clubs for vintage motorcycle restorers, religious clubs, scooter enthusiasts, and everything in between. So, in this article, we’ll cover all of the types of motorcycle clubs to help you decide which ones may be a good fit for you.
If you ride a motorcycle then there is a club out there for you with riding buddies you haven’t met yet.
How To Choose a Club
Before diving into many categories of clubs, let’s first dive into the best way to choose a motorcycle club to join. So, when you are looking for a group like minded riding buddies the best way to think about it is to consider the following six things about you and what you want to get out of a club experience.
1. Type of Riding
The first thing to decide on is to determine what type of riding you want do. Do you want to join a group that does long distance tours or a sportbike group that meets at the local diner on Sunday for breakfast to chat about MotoGP before heading off into the canyons for the day? Do you want a group that’s into motocamping and riding backcountry trails, or one that helps members get their vintage bikes up and running? Once you decide on your preferred riding theme, you can quickly narrow the options down.
2. Club Structure
Next, you need to decide on what kind of club structure you are looking for. Are you seeking a loose, knit group that occasionally posts a “who wants to ride tomorrow?” to their Facebook page or do you want a group that has scheduled rides and activities posted months in advance. Or are you looking for a more encompassing structure like those found in a traditional biker club which has a formal structure to join and participate. So, think about your typical free time for moto-centric activities and keep that in mind when choosing a club to check out.
Ideally, you want to find a local motorcycle club near you. But what is “near” is relative to you personal preferences. You have to decide on how far you want to ride to get to and from the club’s regular meeting spots. There are thousands of motorcycle clubs out there but unless you live near the start of the Tail of the Dragon, you probably will have to ride a little to meet with the group. For example, the distance to ride to get to the meet, going on a day ride and then riding home can add up pretty quickly. So, you really need to consider how far you want to go to meet other club members.
4. Skill Level
The average skill level of the club is sometimes overlooked by potential club members. When this happens you can either exceed the skill level of the group and get bored or when your skill level is below the clubs’ typical riding activities, you get in over your head and now you’re the person who made the ride less fun for everyone else. So, it’s important to assess your abilities and match that club’s regular activities.
And, this is doubly important if you are a beginner. If you are just starting out in the world of motorcycling check and make sure that the club is accomodating to novice riders. Most are friendly to beginners and have easier rides that are novice rider friendly, but some clubs only want experienced riders. So, when thinking about joining a club, take a look at the clubs past rides and make sure you can fit in comfortably.
5. Your Contribution
This is important for getting the most out of the motorcycle club experience and making the most friends. Some clubs are formal non-profits funded by local sponsors but most moto groups are just a hobby for the organizers. These people love motorcycling so much that fund club operations out of their own pocket and spend their free time mapping out good routes and finding interesting places to go. So, it’s expected and respectful in that if you join a club that you give back in some way. Giving back ranges from just showing up to the meets on-time with a full tank of gas to suggesting, organizing and leading rides. So, be mindful that someone is working hard to keep the club running and it’s nice to help out when you can to make the experience better for everyone.
6. Multiple Clubs...Say What??
A common occurrence for riders looking to join a club, is the difficulty in deciding on just one. But, you don’t have to limit yourself. You don’t have to find the perfect moto club that does everything you like to do. You can always join multiple clubs to cater to your different interests. For example, if you love multi-day adventure riding tours but want some place to go with your cruiser on nice sunday afternoon, you can join two different groups to cater to both interests.
In any case, when considering a specific club or group, attend one of their meetings or rides to get a feel for the group and people. There are no hard feelings if, upon the first meeting, you decide that it won’t be a good fit for you.
Types of Motorcycle Clubs
There are many types of motorcycle clubs but most of them fall into the one of the following seven categories:
- Riding Style Clubs
- Motorcycle or Bike Type Clubs
- One-Make Clubs
- Origin Clubs
- Social Background Clubs
So, let’s dive in and discuss each type of motorcycle club:
For those interested in tightly bonded group of motorcyclists with a high level of commitment, traditional clubs might be the type for you. Most traditional clubs place an emphasis on member dues, consistent meetings, prospecting and earning patches. The overall theme of this type of club is brotherhood and a family type of bond. The traditional club is about making a commitment to lifestyle choice that is centered around the club. You put in a lot in type of clubs but you get a lot in the form of lifelong friends and an instant camaraderie across geographies in clubs that have multiple chapters around the world. But you can’t just sign up for one of these clubs. Usually, to get into one of these clubs, a current member has to invite you.
This is the club that believes in the biker lifestyle. They are usually traditional clubs but with biker clubs, particularly in the United States, there is a focus on owning and riding Harley-Davidsons. So, what is the biker lifestyle? Well if you have to ask, then you should probably avoid joining this type of club.
Riding Style Clubs
These clubs are focused on specific type of motorcycle riding like sport-touring, club racing or adventure riding. Most clubs of this type engage in several types of riding activities to keep things interesting but the club’s primary mission is usually centered around one or two styles of riding. Most of these clubs are brand agnostic.
Bike Type Clubs
Bike type clubs are centered around a certain type of motorcycle such as sportbikes, dirtbikes, tourers, etc. Typically, these are similar to riding style clubs (because, for example, sportbike owners go sport-riding) but they are little more focused in engaging in a certain type of riding that the bike type specializes in. Most of these clubs are brand agnostic. So, no matter what your manufacturer preference is, you will find owners of similar styles of motorcycle here and enjoy activities that cater to that specific kind of motorcycle.
Members of one-make clubs are enthusiasts of one motorcycle brand. These clubs welcome all riding styles and bike types as long they are made by preferred motorcycle manufacturer. For example, there are clubs centered around Harley-Davidsons, BMW’s, Ducati’s, Triumph’s and almost every other brand. Here you will find people that have deep knowledge about the brand and its motorcycles. These clubs typically engage in widely varied riding activities to cater to all of the different types of bikes in the club.
Origin clubs cater to motorcyclist who love motorcycle brands from one part of the world. Clubs of this type are usually cater to enthusiasts of American, European, British, Italian or Japanese motorcycles. They are bike type agnostic and engage in all types of events to cater to many different types bikes in the club. They frequently attend rallies and local motorcycle events that showcase bikes from a certain area of the world.
Social Background and Special Interest Clubs
These are clubs are for motorcycle enthusiasts that all have a common background that isn’t related to motorcycling. The founding basis of clubs include religion, gender, charitable causes, sexual orientation, employment, military veteran status and more. So, think: women’s motorcycle clubs, clubs for police and law enforcement, firefighter and EMT clubs, LGTBQ clubs, Christian and Jewish clubs, family-friendly clubs and more. If you ride and want to find riding buddies with a common background, there is probably a welcoming motorcycle club already out there waiting to hear from you.
Get Ready To Ride!
Whether you’re an established rider with loads of experience, or just got your first motorcycle and are looking for friends to share your journey with, the many types of local motorcycle clubs across the country provide an excellent way to continue your passion and make lifelong friendships.
With so many different riding clubs and categories available, it can be tough finding one that suits your individual preferences. Our advice to all riders interested in joining a club is to pick a few in your local area and attend a couple of the club’s events. Just by meeting up and joining in on a ride or a club meeting can give you a great taste for the people and goals of the club without committing.
Need help finding the right local motorcycle club for you? Just contact us and we would be happy to help.