Every group has its own set of rules, regulations and protocol, and sometimes they even have a set of people to ensure the proper implementation of these bylaws. Protocol is necessary to make sure that the group functions as it should, that conflict is avoided as much as possible, and that the people in the group remain satisfied and proud of their unit.
Motorcycle clubs, riding clubs and motorcycling organizations are no different. Each club submits to certain rules that must be followed at all times. These rules cover everything from territory to etiquette, from hierarchy to biker patches. The rules, however, depend on what type of club they are. For example, a family club would most probably fall under the regulations of the American Motorcycling Association. On the other hand, a motorcycle club (MC) would have their own set of protocols based on tradition and a code of conduct.
A rather comical rule comes in relation with the biking world’s “solo finger salute”. It’s not really a rule so much as an understanding, that if a biker extends his middle finger to you, it’s not meant to offend but rather to extend a friendly gesture. Flipping someone the bird is commonly regarded as the equivalent of a wave or maybe even a smile to bikers.
An example of a rule on how to wear biker patches is the need for permission from the clubs (or the most dominant club) in the area before a new design can be worn. It is a sign of respect, and it is done to avoid trouble and conflict with the clubs.
One interesting difference between riding club rules and MC rules is their definition of the word “colors”. To riding clubs, colors and patches are the same. To MC’s, patches are merely bought by anyone who wants to join a riding club. Colors are different. They are earned, and thus, traditional or old school clubs call their symbols “colors” instead of “biker patches”. Also, MC’s put a lot of premium to their colors because it shows allegiance and commitment to the club, and wearing one should never be taken lightly.
A very important thing to always remember is that members of clubs employ the hands-off rule when it comes to their colors. As mentioned, their colors are the symbols of their commitment to the club, an honor they had to work very hard for, and they will not take kindly to an outsider touching it. It’s something they would protect no matter what, and it will serve everyone well to remember that a biker’s colors are off limits to everyone but the biker himself.
In conjunction to that, it is also considered a big offense to borrow a rider’s jacket if it bears his colors. There is, however, a single exception to this rule. An outsider, or someone who isn’t a member, would be permitted to wear the colors if and only if she’s female, and she’s riding with the member. This exception may have come to existence to accommodate the significant others (girlfriends, wives, partners) of the club members.
Another rule, this one not having anything to do with biker patches but has the same idea, is that in order to take a photo of a member, a member’s bike, or both, one must ask for permission first. Also, under no circumstance should the photographer take a photo of the bike’s license plate.
On top of all these, one rule stands above the rest. It should be noted that these clubs are run by a strict and established code of conduct built on old school tradition and that on the top of their list is the importance of respect, for both club member and outsiders. It is something they demand, and it is also something they strive to give to others as well.