Most motorcycle clubs are identified by their “colors,” a unique embroidered patch or set of patches, most often sewn on the back of the denim or leather vest worn while riding.
To join a motorcycle club, prospective members are sometimes asked to perform/endure a set of tasks. During this probationary period, the prospect may wear an embroidered patch, but usually not the full club logo patch.
Once the trial time is completed and a formal membership vote is taken, the final logo patch is then awarded in a ceremony. Club members are often known as “full patch members” or “patchholders” and the membership process known as “being patched.”
The club embroidered patch is usually large for high visibility, 6-12 inches, with the name, logo, chapter (city/state, etc.) and “MC” for motorcycle club. The vest with patches is known as the colors or cut, as early clubs would cut off the collars and sleeves of a jacket to create a vest.
Collecting motorcycle club patches can be difficult as the patches are considered property of the club and only members are allowed to wear the club’s patches; losing/selling/trading one’s colors is considered the ultimate disgrace. Non-members affiliated with the MC may wear support patches with the club’s colors, but not the actual member logo.
The colors worn by MC members sometimes use a system of a single patch for nonconformist social clubs, with a two piece patch for dues-paying members and a three-piece patch for so-called “outlaw” clubs (those who are not members of the American Motorcycle Association, AMA). A three-piece patch typically consists of the club logo with top and bottom patches, usually crescent shaped, known as “rockers.” The exact number and layout of these embroidered patches varies from club to club and a three-piece patch system doesn’t necessarily mark an MC as outlaws.
Some outlaw motorcycle clubs are readily identified by a 1 percent (%) patch worn on the colors, referring to the AMA’s purported statement that 99 percent of motorcyclists are law-abiding citizens, therefore identifying the remaining 1 percent as non-conformist outlaws.
There are all types of different clubs, most of them the “99%”, and include clubs dedicated to certain types of motorcycles, clubs that like to ride long distances, racing clubs, and even clubs of police officers or medical first responders.
The Chicago Embroidery Company has made club patches for all sorts of clubs in addition to the American Motorcycle Association. For more information visit http://www.c-emblem.com