Organized motorcycle clubs are recognized by their “colors” (custom motorcycle patches worn on their vests), in some areas these are also called “cuts.” While many motorcycle patch varieties exist, they can be categorized into three basic groups.
The one-piece patch, a single custom patch comprised of an emblem, traditionally worn on the back of a vest, that usually designates the member of a family club or riding club–not a traditional “MC.”
A two-piece patch that usually signifies a club in some sort of transition. It can mean that the members are awaiting approval from the area’s dominant club to become a sanctioned “MC” and earn the right to wear a three-piece patch.
A three-piece rocker style patch is worn to signify a true “MC.” Traditionally, this patch is earned by members in three parts. While practices vary from club to club, the most common practice is for a “prospect,” who has been sponsored by an existing member, to first wear the bottom rocker indicating where the club is from. Next, the prospect will earn the top rocker bearing the club’s name and finally the full emblem in the center of the jacket’s back. A three-piece patch is a public sign of commitment to a particular MC’s protocols and lifestyle, and therefore, MC’s take them very seriously!
If casual riders are planning on starting a motorcycle club, here are a few important considerations they should keep in mind. Riders thinking of starting a new club should check around their local area to see if an existing club is a good fit for them before starting another club. There are now hundreds of clubs across the country devoted to military veterans, firefighters, police, American Legion members, and many more. Most casual riding groups refer to themselves as riding clubs or “RC,” to avoid being mistakenly recognized as an outlaw club. A one-piece custom back patch can be fun to design and shouldn’t invite any negative attention from law enforcement or outlaw clubs in the area, as long as the design and colors aren’t a rip off of an existing club. However, if members of a new club have committed to a certain lifestyle known as “1%-ers” and are firm on wearing a three-piece patch, they should ask around their local area (motorcycle shops, biker bars etc.) or attend a Motorcycle Rights Association meeting to determine how to obtain permission to become a sanctioned club from the local dominant club. The local dominant club will, in most places, be a “1%” club, meaning they are an “outlaw” club not chartered by the American Motorcycle Association. Dominant MC’s have learned that bad publicity from one club can have negative effects on all clubs in an area, that is why they take it upon themselves to sanction the forming of new three-piece patch wearing MC’s.
Even after obtaining permission from the local dominant club, new MC’s should be aware that wearing a three-piece patch with the “MC” badge may bring their club unwanted attention from law-enforcement who treat many MC’s as gangs.
Once the one-piece or three-piece custom patch has been designed and voted on by members of the new club. The club should hire an experienced custom patch supplier, like Stadri Emblems to digitize and make the club’s custom patches. Using a trusted company ensures the new club patch does not fall into the wrong hands and the club’s design will never be sold to non-members or worn without a member’s permission. A club’s custom patches say much more about them than their name and where they are from. A new club should be informed and choose the style of patch that is right for them.