Many people, motorcycle riders, and non-motorcycle riders alike, have watched TV shows like the Sons of Anarchy, the Mayans, or the old Marlon Brando movies, or even the old Clint Eastwood movies with “The Black Widows,” and got a very bad impression of motorcycle clubs.
Admittedly, some members, a small minority, of some famous clubs have also been in the news, because they failed for one reason or another to conform to the laws of our society.
Many law enforcement officers consider some motorcycle clubs to be a gang, or outlaws, but as you know you cannot generalize every member of an organization just because of a few bad apples. I do not agree with a blanket generalization, however many states do have gang enhancement statutes that they will try to apply to members of some motorcycle clubs or organizations that are accused of committing crimes. If they can prove you did the crime in furtherance of a gang you will get hit with enhanced penalties. This is not the subject of this article, but it is something you should consider when joining certain motorcycle clubs. Bottom line, if you do not commit crimes you will be okay it is as simple as that.
The vast majority of clubs out there are family clubs.
I have been riding, and in motorcycle clubs for well over 20 years. In my own personal experience, the guys (and in some clubs gals) that make up the membership of the vast majority of motorcycle clubs, and motorcycle riding clubs, are some of the straight up most friendly, best, righteous, honest, and upstanding people I have ever met. Yes many have tattoos and dress a certain way, most wear cuts, which are vests that have club patches affixed to them. You cannot judge a book by it’s cover. I am not saying everyone is perfect, hell there are always a few assholes no matter where you hang out, but the vast majority are good people.
Just like in any group of people who get together, you will always have a minority of people who will do bad things. That does not mean you should blame the entire club or organization just for a few bad apples.
I personally would not tolerate hanging out with people committing crimes or not following the law because I have a career and a family that I want to go home to at night.
I have met guys in motorcycle clubs who are attorneys, law enforcement, dentists, doctors, optometrist, judges, military members, in every profession you can possibly imagine. The guys and gals in these clubs are representative of what you will find in society.
The difference between riding alone, and riding in a motorcycle club, is that when you are with the club, you get a chance to socialize with other like-minded people, you get to attend club events, and if you’re in the right club you will have people who will help you if you need help, you also have people that you can ride with, which is much more fun than riding alone, it’s kind of like an extended family, and in some cases becomes a family for many members who do not have family members.
There are many people out there who as they get older lose family members, lose touch with friends, or find it hard to meet new people to hang out with and ride with. A motorcycle club or a motorcycle riding club is a very good solution to meeting new people to hang out with, and socialize with.
There are different levels of motorcycle clubs all the way from riding clubs, to family clubs, up to 1%er clubs.
You may have heard a lot of bad things about 1%er clubs, but the reality is the term 1%er just means that the club does not follow the rules of the AMA. Back in the 40’s and 50’s the AMA held races called the Gypsy Motorcycle Tour. Some of the clubs did not like the AMA rules and decided to do their own thing. They were the 1% that did not follow the AMA, that is where the term came from. 1%er clubs usually require much more of a commitment than let’s say a family club.
Some riding clubs require a minimum level of commitment. You can buy a patch, and ride whenever you want to all you have to do is show up. There are other more traditional clubs that require you to earn your patch, attend weekly or bike weekly meetings and follow the club bylaws. Obviously a 1%er club requires a bigger commitment than that say a family type of motorcycle club.
The crap that you see on TV has given motorcycle clubs a bad name and reputation, and is mostly that just crap. If all motorcycle club members acted like the guys on the TV shows and in the movies, there would be no motorcycle clubs, everyone would be in prison.
In my opinion, being in a motorcycle club is very gratifying. It’s nice to know you have a bunch guys and gals that you can hang out with (or gals if you are a woman). Most clubs for men allow the wives and girlfriends of the men to hang out and be a part of the club so it is a family type of atmosphere. There are all gal clubs and mixed male and female clubs as well.
I recently had a brother in my club who passed away. The club chipped in for his memorial service which would have been difficult for the family to pay for on their own. This brother had a big turnout for his funeral, and we all met later on to celebrate his life and to have one heck of a good meal.
Many people in this country die alone with no family, or little family and just a few friends. It’s nice to know that when you’re in a motorcycle club, that there is an extended family there for you, and that will be there for you all the way to the end.
Obviously, you should do your research, if you want to join a motorcycle club. Some riding clubs and motorcycle clubs you can simply contact on the Internet and inquire as to how to become a member. Other more traditional clubs require you to ask a member in person how to join. Some riding clubs let you join right up. Some clubs require you to prospect for a short time so that you can have a chance to learn about the club, and the club can learn about you, to see if you becoming a member is a good fit for both.
Prospecting into a motorcycle club seems like a mythical and daunting task, but it’s not. It’s all about learning how to become a motorcycle club member. There are certain protocols that more traditional motorcycle clubs follow, and the prospecting period gives you a chance to learn the rules, the traditions, and the protocols of being in a motorcycle club. It is like a hazing and right of passage that all members go through if the club requires it.
Whatever you do, do not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable as a prospect or member. If you meet with the motorcycle club and you don’t get the right feel, seek out another club. You should never do something when joining a motorcycle club, that you know you should not be doing, especially committing crimes.
I repeat, just because you are joining a motorcycle club, and putting a patch on, does not give you a license to commit crimes. On the contrary, every motorcycle club that I know will kick you out if you commit a crime while wearing a club patch. It’s the complete opposite of the bullshit you see on TV. Clubs do not like to look bad, especially in public.
No motorcycle club wants members of other motorcycle clubs to commit crimes either, because it gives all a bad name.
Even amongst Walmart employees there are always a few bad apples. Stay clear of the bad apples and you will have no problems. It really is about common sense. It is like picking a girlfriend. You will know whether it feels right or not. However, in most cases, the club will be there for you even if your wife, girlfriend, or husband if you are a female, leaves you.
Most traditional motorcycle clubs have anywhere from a three month to a six month or more prospecting Period. As a prospect you’ll be expected to attend as many events as possible, shake hands with as many people as possible and introduce yourself, be available to club members to do chores, and to clean up and be of service. It is a rite of passage that every traditional motorcycle club member has to go through, and frankly it’s not that hard. Just show up and do it.
Each club treats their prospects differently. I am not going to come on here and write an article impugning any motorcycle club whatsoever. I for one have prospected in multiple clubs for over a year total. Some clubs are harder on their prospects than others. Again, the prospecting period is for you and the club to feel each other out. Some riding clubs do not require prospecting.
With the modern-day Internet it is a lot easier now to do research on different clubs if you’re looking to join a club. If you contact a club through the Internet, you will be surprised to find that many of them will respond and invite you to an event. Then again, many of them will not respond, they expect you to approach a member and ask about membership.
Some clubs require you to hang around a bit before becoming a formal prospect. This again is a rite of passage and it is standard motorcycle club protocol for traditional clubs.
There are all types of motorcycle clubs out there, and there are clubs for everyone.
On TV you will see a fictional superhero criminal portrayal of motorcycle club members, but the reality in my own experience is the complete opposite. You will find a lot of guys with tattoos, who also have families, jobs, and the last thing they want to do is get into trouble, this is true for the vast majority of 1%er club members as well. Don’t believe everything you read.
So, for all of you that are looking for a club to join, I wish you well and I will see you on the road.
By California Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., February 6, 2020