Motorcycle colors refer to the patches or insignia worn by members of various motorcycle groups. The patches help identify members of the groups as well as their rank and location. Often worn by outlaw motorcycle groups (OMGs), these patches originated in the 1930s. At that time, they were worn on the back of the coveralls of workmen. Once worn to instill fear and mark territory, these patches are now worn by recreational motorcycle groups, as well, and show a sense of pride in their organization.
The significance of colors depends on the type of group. OMGs, for example, often award colors after an initiation as a sign of acceptance in the brotherhood. Just as gang members wear colors to identify their affiliation, members of OMGs wear these patches to identify their group.
Within these groups, they are not handed out until members are initiated and have gained acceptance by the group. Sometimes these initiations involve mundane but otherwise harmless tasks. Other times, they can involve criminal activity. Once earned, these patches bear great meaning. When members leave a group, either by their own volition or as a result of being booted, these colors are revoked.
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Within traditional riding groups, these colors are given more freely, and although they are still significant, they aren’t held quite as sacred. No matter what type of organization they represent, motorcycle colors or motorcycle emblems generally have the same design. The name of the club or organization spans the top of the emblem.
This is usually a separate patch, but may be built into the logo. Separately along the bottom is the chapter location. This may be the city (i.e. San Diego) or the country (i.e. Australia). The logo or emblem of the chapter is shown in the center. These emblems often are related to the name of the organization, and skulls and other symbols of power are not unusual.
Sometimes, in addition to these patches, there are other patches. These might show rank within the group or the title held within the organization. Some members choose to put their nickname on their jacket, as well.
Some motorcycle clubs and motorcycle organizations use colors, numbers, and signals on the patches to signify meaning. For example, the Wolf Pack Motorcycle Club in Oakland uses gray and black to signify diversity within the organization.
Members of a motorcycle club may specialize in custom motorcycles, making frequent modifications in an effort to perfect their bike. But do not get a custom paint job confused with motorcycle colors!
In addition, their patch has the number 9 as a tribute to the founding members of the group. As more and more groups embrace the use of colors to bond members, they become more diverse and meaningful.
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