Biker Patch Etiquette

Biker jacket patches symbolize the beliefs and experiences of the rider.
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Bikers, or motorcyclists, demonstrate their unique and often nonconformist identity through their clothing and appearance. Their hair, style of dress, and the symbols displayed on their clothing and motorcycle are not arbitrary, but rather carry meaning, expressing a particular subcultural identity or belief system.

1 Symbolism and Meaning

Bikers not only express their identity through their bikes, but also through their clothing. The denim jacket is particularly central to this expression as it is most visible. It serves as a landscape conveying personality, experiences and beliefs through an array of patches and badges. Patches can indicate a regional affiliation or association with a particular motorcycle club or gang. Club members sometimes wear club officers' patches indicating they hold a position, such as president or vice president, in their club. Often the location and type of patch worn is regulated by the sergeant-at-arms of the club.

2 Etiquette of the Patch

Patch holders are expected to maintain a high level of decorum, understanding that their actions and words reflect the club as a whole. Patch holders are expected to keep club business information private and limited to members of the club. They are also expected to honor their club membership as a commitment that requires care and work in both good and bad circumstances. Lastly, the golden rule of club circle membership is you will get what you give; particularly regarding respect.

Rachel Alexander is a cultural and political area specialist of South Asia and the Middle East. She received the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship in 2011, and again in 2012, to live in northern India and study advanced Hindi. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Loyola University of Chicago.