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Can women join a riding club? Yes! Can a female be an outlaw? Yes! Can a female be a 1%er? No! But when older males think of female riding clubs, they often are reminded of “Dykes On Bikes.” However, things are changing rapidly and also staying the same, especially when it comes to motorcycle accidents. For example, allegations of homoerotic behavior in outlaw motorcycle gangs have been around since the 70s. And modernly, in L.A. alone, there are straight, mixed, and transexual female riding clubs and motorcycle clubs. Sexual preference is no longer the focus of most girl-riding clubs. Moreover, sisterhood seems to be the order of the day.
Although motorcycle culture is to California as low riders are to East Los Angeles, not everyone joins a riding association or motorcycle club (“M.C.”). Recently with the influx of women in the motorcycle scene, we have seen male-dominated biker culture change somehow and buckle down in others. Sure, male clubs still have their female biker bitches and ole ladies. But now, many female clubs have their own versions of the same.
Most of all, the stereotype of a biker is often a rugged-looking man. Sometimes he’s dressed in leather. Most times, a biker is characterized by his incredible, scraggly beard and wearing a bandanna. Maybe he’s decked out in sunglasses. Regardless of the stereotype, it’s not quite an accurate statement that all bikers look like Hells Angels of the 70s, and many outlaws, fully three patched motorcyclists, are women. But she might be dressed in lace and ride a smaller Harley than he does!
Riding motorcycles has become far more prevalent among women over the last several decades. As traditions change and stigmas fade, we can expect them to become even more so. Also, women are making up a growing number of riders on the road each year. Women riding motorcycles are the fastest-growing segment of motorcycle riders in Los Angeles, California. Whether as passengers or as riders of their own Indian, Harley, or crotch rocket, it takes a certain type of woman to get into the biker life.
Take a good example from the Joshua Tree run recently. Thousands of women of all ages showed their skills and motorcycle prowess. As a matter of fact, thousands of witnesses watched the rally. These women showed up in lines past the crowds. So this shows the incredible competence and diversity of the hobby. The Babes Ride Out Campout is another excellent example.
Females’ participation in the male-dominated motorcycle riding activity has jumped leaps and bounds ahead of tradition-based biker culture over the years. Here, we will attempt to limit the focus to Greater Los Angeles, California. To some women, riding is a leisurely activity that allows them to have an exciting life as a Citizen Wife without being full-blown into the M.C. alternative life.
Ever since motorcycle riding became a leisure activity, women have sat in is sidecars or in the back as passengers. Other than that, no self-respecting three patches or outlaw 1% M.C. would even let a female ride a motorcycle in their male formations. It is simply taboo. Female participation as ole ladies, sweeties, sweet butts, or house mouses in 1% and three patch motorcycle clubs has been a staple since these traditionally male organizations’ inception. Some studies indicate that the increase in equal rights politics and the “butch” aspect of lesbianism has led to a rise in female motorcycle riding and even female M.C.s.
Many women feel the empowerment by getting into traditionally male activities, as motorcycling may signal higher than average amounts of testosterone in some ladies. In other women, the sense of adventure and thrill from riding a motorcycle signals some other aspect of their personalities that remain outside what is scientifically average. Some females in the military like the idea of biker clubs due to their sense of structure.
But perhaps they don’t want to be a pass around the girl at a male M.C.? Maybe they want to ride their own motorcycles? For these few alpha-type ladies seeking stronger role models and a sense of female empowerment, riding in a group of other women may be just the thing. Most riding clubs are set up as charitable 501c organizations. Often they provide and raise funds for various popular issues as charities. They help the Marines with Toys for Tots events, raffles, runs, and other happenings that raise money. Afterward, part of the proceeds is donated to designated causes decided in advance by a vote.
Also, many clubs provide internal support networking and services on behalf of members with motorcycles. For example, the club will usually have tools to make repairs, storage units, mobile trailers, etc. The clubs also have strict safety and rider skillset rules and even harsher enforcement for slackers.
Women wishing to join a riding association or outlaw club still need to get a motorcycle license and riding permit to learn. And many new prospects will be novices until they get time behind the handlebars on the open road and crowded L.A. streets. Because of this, most clubs will have a “road captain” who monitors safe riding and enforcement of rules. Before riding, club members will normally conduct a pre-run safety check.
During your pre-ride safety checks, you look at motorcycle tire nitrogen or air levels, inspect brake lines and fluid levels, and give it a once over at the staging area. Also, in California, a special provision exists for “Funerals and Other Processions” to let packs of vehicles enter an intersection on a red, so long as one pack member entered the intersection on a green light.
Female riders will also be able to learn “high & tight” riding techniques to prevent other vehicles from ‘bullying’ into the pack of motorcycle riders. This is called a cage (car) and remains extremely dangerous to motorcycle packs. Like in the Marines, good clubs use “road guard” to block intersections and allow the biker packs to act as a unit when traversing the roadways.
The ‘team-building’ methods behind motorcycle clubs are likely adapted from military air force squadrons of World War Two, and it shows. Confidence comes from riding the back of the pack and learning from the veterans. Like a bombing run formation, less experienced riders have less chance of ‘bumping pegs’ with the other riders at the back. With few exceptions, women now have the same opportunities as men to feel this brotherhood of riding the steel horse.
It’s still a macho, warrior-like culture. But it’s also big business. And some female motorcycle riding brands have got in on the action. Some, including Biltwell, Chop cut, and Stance Muse Socks, are involved in awareness giveaways.
Additionally, these examples help build awareness of women riding motorcycles as a sporting, leisure, and lifestyle activity. While women are still a minority of bikers, they have carved out their niche and subculture. It also allows women to be more comfortable and confident in their hobby and other aspects of life.
These examples are just several of the integration of the hobby. One of the best portions of these changes is that it is not forced. There are no government mandates from above declaring that women have to ride. They do it because they love it.
Women do it for the love of the open road– the same as their male counterparts. These are essential factors to remember and consider when discussing the role of each gender on the open road. These are the chances for everyone to enjoy the same hobby.
An M.C. is an organized clique of zealous motorcycle riders who unite for camaraderie, the pack’s strength, education, esprit de corps, rider training, and social activities like fundraising and events.
There are several types of M.C., depending upon the types of clubs. Traditionally, several main M.C. types, with the most notorious being the most famous, the 1% outlaws.
Some riders are part of no club but live the biker lifestyle like nomads on the road. These people are usually neutral and called black and whites, or “independents.”
Motorcycle clubs (M.C.s) can be divided into:
Some three-patch clubs are considered outlaw clubs, even though it is a non-criminal club. Next, we need to understand that all clubs not sanctioned by the AMA are considered to be “outlaws,” not because they are criminals but because they have their own internal club bylaws. Hence, the term outlaw. You can’t even call yourself a “biker club” under AMA rules. Instead, you are a motorcycle association.
One thing most riding organizations have in common is a membership and leadership structure. How they are organized depends upon many variables discussed more below.
Most so-called mainstream associations and M.C.s elect officers and various types of directors. Most riding associations charge monthly annual or some other dues, and many are formed as nonprofit organizations.
Most associations, both outlaw and conventional, have in common, are rider safety and safety protocols. Almost every riding association sponsors or takes part in “rallies” such as the Sturgis Rally.
Most of all, this enables other riders a place to coalesce and commune together. BMW MOA and BMW RA include contact info for fellow riders in their annual touring book. That way, a loose organization of BMW riding enthusiasts can provide the rider with someone who already knows the lay of the land.
The Harley Owners Group and many Outlaws have in common the requirement of riding a Harley Davidson to be considered for membership. Some riding groups allow people with related past or present livelihoods to meet up.
For example, there are the Patriot Guard Riders. They provide funeral escorts for families and even solo military veterans. It appears the AMA maintains at least 269,884 active members with tons of chartered clubs under its banner.
Some motorcycle riding groups below are considered 99%ers and consist of cops, firefighters, and military vets.
Below are the names of a few riding organizations, including police, military, and firefighter clubs:
In some “biker” clubs, before becoming a full member, an individual must be voted into membership. Also, there will be an oath to fellow members and the M.C. Most male and female rider clubs have an unparagoned club patch.
Moreover, others sew on patches spelling “M.C.,” California, or the Chapter, etc. Together with their rider’s vest, these symbols are known as the M.C. colors (again, another military term analogous to a battle ensign). Like promotions in various elite military units, many patching levels exist with outlaw clubs (Read about some popular good, bad and ugly biker clubs in L.A.)
It is noteworthy that some military and veteran M.C.s and Law Enforcement M.C.s will often try to “emulate” the 1% clubs in their rites and regulations. Some examples of vets and LEMC-style clubs include the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets M.C., the Proud Few M.C., the Leathernecks M.C., etc.
Based on our research, none of these M.C.s allow women into their ranks as patched members. Ragnar and his Viking shield maidens may not have liked this, but who knows what the future may hold here.
To begin with, there are no female 1%er M.C., but there are plenty of lady outlaws. Below, we will cover both outlaws and AMA-styled associations for females. One thing for sure is that women can organize and fundraise just as well, if not better, than all-male M.C.s. And with the recent attention they are getting as riders, this is a legit proposition.
Women riders are known for toughness, a sense of community, and dedication to their fundraisers. So in the M.C. universe, clubs are typically smaller than male patches. Some women will belong to three patch-designated clubs, displaying WMC (“Women’s Motorcycle Club”), or the more traditional M.C. Contrasting testosterone-driven, male brotherhood, many W.M.C. seeks to achieve a more estrogen-influenced “sisterhood.”
But there are exceptions to this general rule, where the females want to emulate the biker life under the traditional male model. In any event, a biker sisterhood is surrounded by caring and compassion that a girl would find in a strong family unit.
Another difference between W.M.C. and M.C. is paying respects. In male M.C.s, the proposed club had better take steps not to step on anyone’s toes. So they may wish to contact the dominant M.C. and ask permission to wear your backpatches and colors.
Of course, if a W.M.C. wants to be considered legit, they should also bow to the dominant W.M.C. in the proposed locale for your chapter. It always makes sense to set up a meeting.
As with men’s M.C.s, W.M.C.s must take steps to have unique patches, rockers, and color schemes. For example, even a female club should stay away from red and white 1%er colors.
And don’t rip off color combinations. No club will put up with another club wearing a patch and colors that resemble theirs. Naturally, W.M.C. will have some dues to cover club expenses, etc.
Some women may receive an additional patch from an R.C. or W.R.C. designator. Also, it’s smart to look at club bylaws and rules. Some may require their riders to use a certain model, make or type of bike.
Below are 22 California Women’s Riding Associations and Motorcycle Clubs:
Don’t you see your women’s riding club or outlaw M.C. listed? Also, let us know if your organization is a three-patch or outlaw, so we can update your lady riding list.
Let us know by writing to us online here. There are also many less well-known riding groups and meetups posted online here. A motorcycle club’s typical internal organization consists of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, road captain, and sergeant-at-arms.
Local groups of larger M.C.s are called chapters. With a W.M.C, the first chapter remains the mother chapter. The president of the mother chapter sets club policy, and the rules flow down through the branches.
Moreover, in many male and female riding clubs, a particular hazing element takes place as the M.C prospects individual women to become full-patched members. But with women, it comes down more to sophomoric pranks.
But rumor has it some outlaw female clubs may require an act of civil disobedience or crime. During this time, the M.C. prospect may wear the club name on the back of their vest but not the full club logo, though this practice may vary depending on what group the woman wants to join. To become a full sister, the prospect or probate must be voted on by the rest of her prospective club’s members.
In some elite women’s riding clubs, more than a simple majority may be required for admission. For example, more hardcore female clubs can reject a prospect or probate due to a single dissenting vote. Afterward, a formal induction occurs. There, the oath of allegiance is taken, and the woman joins the sisterhood. Then the patched vest is offered up. So now she’s a “full patch.”
Motorcycle Associations or Rider Clubs are not allowed to wear the M.C./W.M.C. patch. The colors worn by these more vanilla clubs will either consist of a one-piece patch two-piece patch. Generally, the three-piece patch is at the more elite level of W.M.C., more closely resembling the rites, rituals, and togetherness of the 1%er male M.C.s. Generally speaking, the more butch, the more male-like the female clubs will be.
Bikers can often be seen wearing jackets adorned with colorful patches. While these patches may appear decorative, they tell other bikers certain things only known to fellow bikers. A well-versed rider will recognize from the vest, patches, and devices the name and location of the club to which a particular rider belongs and certain things the rider has done.
Like male clubs, a three-patch club strives to maintain its clubhouse, motto, and members. With no biker patch, you have no identity on the road.
A three-piece patch design typically carries the connotation of an outlaw motorcycle club. As noted, clubs with three or more patches cannot form part of the 99% as they are not part of the American Motorcycle Association.
Three pieces of patches will maintain a central logo with crescent-shaped upper and lower rockers.
In the biker world, members of motorcycle clubs must “earn” their patch. But in riding clubs (RCs), pieces are sometimes given to members without any fanfare other than paying a fee. Clubs that wear three-piece patches are generally more hardcore. So most biker clubs wear simple two-piece or one-piece patches.
The club patches always remain the club’s property, not the member, and only members are allowed to wear the club’s colors. A member must carefully guard their colors, for enabling one’s colors to fall into the hands of another remains an act of shameful disgrace. Thus, it may result in a loss of membership in a club or some other punishment.
Contrasting the black and white independent biker, the red and white, or Hells Angels, is easily the most famous 1%er outlaw motorcycle club. Most other one-percenters M.C.s do not allow females to become full-patch members, but women are often club property or hold other functions within the tribe, so to speak, that many women desire.
Membership in the Hells Angels is closed to blacks. And Latinos need not apply. Also, law enforcement and not even lawyers are allowed in. Any close connection to the law is never good for brothers who want to be sovereign.
Because the Hells Angels have such strict admissions guidelines, other rival motorcycle gangs rose, such as the Bandidos (patch modeled after USMC colors) and the Mongols Motorcycle Club in Los Angeles, California. Also, M.C. members are typically given “road names” upon patching in and displaying their road names on their colors. Oohrah!
Whether or not this practice was carried over from the military aviation history of colorful pilot call signs is unknown. Larger motorcycle clubs of this type often acquire real estate for use as a clubhouse or private compound.
These clubs often have security features such as closed-circuit television monitors, motion detector lights, and barbed wire-topped fences.
So this is an important distinction, for only authentic Motorcycle Clubs sport the “M.C.” moniker. All three patch clubs are considered outlaws, but the 1% patch distinguishes the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang or OMG. “Real” motorcycle clubs can be easily differentiated from “fake” clubs by the lack of “M.C.” (Motorcycle Club) or “MG” (Motorcycle Gang) on the back of their vests. (Here is a list of most 1% M.C. around the world). Don’t you see your club listed? Let us know by using our online contact form here.
The press asked the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) to comment on the Hollister riot incident in the ’50s. They responded that “99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens, and the last one percent were outlaws.” Thus was born the term “one-percenter.”
During the 1940s and 1950s, at rallies and gatherings sponsored by the AMA, prizes were awarded for the most beautiful club uniform, “prettiest” or daintiest motorcycle, and so forth.
Some of the more manly clubs hated the prissy image of the AMA organization. So they went ahead and sarcastically adopted the “one-percenter” moniker as part of their rider’s vest citations, creating the now infamous diamond-shaped 1%er patch.
Modernly, the so-called “deviant” M.C.s are identified as 1%er or outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs). The four main OMGs are the Hells Angels M.C., the Outlaws M.C., the Bandidos M.C., and the Pagans M.C.
All are famous for allegations of criminal activity and violence directed at another 1%er club for things like violating territorial restrictions or rules. Being a one-percenter means that club members remain dedicated to “biking and brotherhood.” To them, this is not a weekend activity. No, sir, this remains a way of life.
The “big 5” national 1%er clubs tend to be territorial and do not allow females to be members. Members of OMGs may present wounded bikers to the emergency department as brothers, refusing to leave their brothers’ side. Often these fellow bikers were in motorcycle accidents.
Other times, they may have been injured in a stabbing or a shootout. Motor vehicle accidents have ended more than one biker’s journey.
The good news is that this elite band of brothers remain in the emergency room to support their fallen comrades. A smart club will typically appoint a supporter who is also a motorcycle attorney to assist their riders with wrongful death claims and serious brain injuries. This same attorney will often handle any criminal-related club business as well.
Whether female M.C. will ever be accepted as full patches into 1%er clubs, one thing is sure; women have taken a foothold in the world of leisure and serious motorcycle riding.
Ehline Law Firm serves motorcycle riders injured in collisions in Torrance, California, South Bay, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Marina del Rey, and the Inland Empire. Plus, we have meeting places in Northern and Southern California. Call us for a free legal consultation at our Downtown Los Angeles law offices now at (213) 596-9642.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.