What Is the Difference Between A Motorcycle Club and A Riding Club?

Though motorcycle clubs and riding clubs may seem similar, they are vastly different in many ways. In this post, we intend to explore their differences in the following key areas.


A motorcycle club is a group of people whose predominant interests and activities involve motorcycles. Motorcycle clubs are very different in their organizations and objectives. MC and MCC are both abbreviations used to mean motorcycle club.

A riding club on the other hand is a group of people whose primary focus is riding motorcycles. RC is the abbreviation used to mean riding clubs. A riding club’s mission is to enjoy the spirit of riding motorcycles together, without commitments or requirements.


Motorcycle clubs have existed in the US and other countries since the early 1900s. Some of the earliest motorcycle clubs predate to about 10 years after the invention of the first commercially available motorcycles. The oldest motorcycle clubs include the San Francisco motorcycle club and the Yorkers MC.

World War 1 saw an increase in the speed and power of the machines; however, it was not until World War 2, that the motorcycles reached speeds of 125 miles per hour, and the motorcycle club culture caught on.

Combat soldiers from the war joined motorcycle clubs as a way to recreate the rush of war on home soil as well as to experience the close camaraderie as was on the battlefield. The forties and fifties saw a major rise in motorcycle club formations in the US as well as in other countries such as the UK, Ireland, and Australia.

During this period, motorcycle clubs started showing signs of a tarnished reputation. This was partly because of their reckless attitude and the brash dangerousness of the bikers themselves. It was, however, mainly because of chaos that erupted at a rally in Hollister, California in 1947. The city had been hosting motorcycle rallies since the thirties, but the event was suspended during the overseas hostilities.

After the war, there was an influx in the clubs’ population, hence a lack of enough accommodation. This largely contributed to the unrest. The incident encouraged stigma associated with bikers as they were portrayed as outlaws.

In response to the incident, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) was said to have made a statement that stated that 99% of motorcycle riders are law-abiding citizens. This coined the expression 1% motorcycle club is now commonly used to refer to outlaw motorcycle clubs.

Riding clubs are some of the oldest structures in the motorcyclist community. They date back to the first bikes coming off the assembly line. Riding clubs at that time were mostly promoted by the manufacturers to get people to buy their brands.

Membership Requirements and Commitments

With motorcycle clubs, it may take years before one can become a full patch member. When joining, you first become a hang-around member. During this stage, you can hang around with the club, but you cannot take part in serious business matters.

The club is also not responsible if anything happens to you. After this stage, you become a prospect or probate. You can now ride with the club, attend meetings and carry out activities with the club. After this, the existing full patched members vote to determine whether you stay or leave.

Most motorcycle clubs do not allow women to be members; however, there are now clubs operated by women and exclusively for women.

In some clubs, the average age to join is 48 years and they must have been riding for 26 years.

Some motorcycle clubs have a minimum number of miles to be ridden per year. You must also own a specific brand of motorcycle to join other clubs. For instance, a Harley-Davidson or other brands owned by Harley-Davidson.

Members of motorcycle clubs are required to hold the club in very high regard and be deeply committed to it. They should also faithfully pay their dues and attend club meetings and activities despite their schedule. This is the main difference between motorcycle clubs and riding clubs.

Members of riding clubs may pay an entry fee and dues but are not required to be deeply committed to the club. Motorcycle riding is not the most important thing in their lives.

While members of a motorcycle club have to earn their patches, in riding clubs; patches are sometimes purchased and given to members without a strenuous membership process. Members can also continue to wear their patches even after exiting riding clubs. Motorcycle club members who wish to exit must however return their patches. Motorcycle club members also wear a three-part patch while riding club members wear only one patch.

Leadership Structure

Most motorcycle clubs have similar ranks in leadership. The typical ranks include the president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, road captain, sergeant at arms, member, and prospect.

Riding clubs however are meant to be social group-friendly events that are inclusive and generally have loose flexible leadership.

Both MCs and RCs love to ride and their differences lie in their level of commitment.  Members take care of one another, and whichever club you choose to join you can rest assured that you are with a group of dedicated bikers.



%d bloggers like this: