The freedom and individuality we experience through motorcycling, coupled with the fact that our machines carry only one or two people, tend to make us rather independent. Whether it’s race trophies or mile markers, we usually measure our accomplishments as motorcyclists in personal terms. However, before you become too comfortable with your motorcycling habits, perhaps you should ask what you and the other motorcyclists you know have done to help ensure the future of motorcycling, particularly at the local level.
There are always challenges facing us. A few of them are:
- The outlaw image that TV, films and video still portray when an easy villain is needed;
- Bike bans in our communities;
- Responsible access to public lands;
- Complaints about irresponsible riders on loud motorcycles;
- Helmet mandates; and
- Employer health insurance restrictions on motorcycling.
Working together, we have overcome many problems and we can more easily confront the threats of today and tomorrow.
Despite the image of the solitary motorcyclist riding into the sunset, motorcycling is also a tremendous social activity—if for no other reason than because it’s highly visible nature makes its followers responsible to one another for maintaining a good image. In essence, if it’s good for one of us, it’s good for all of us, and vice versa. This is a primary reason why the concept of the motorcycle club is so important to us all.
But there’s much more to it than that. Motorcycling is fun. You know that or you wouldn’t be involved. The obvious extension of the pleasure and satisfaction you gain from riding your motorcycle is in sharing your enthusiasm with those with similar interests. Remember the first time you met someone else who had ridden your favorite road or tough stretch of trail?
It’s this kind of shared experience and interest that forms the basis for all social activity and provides the foundation for the political and community relations activities that will ensure the future of motorcycling.
All this is best and most logically done within the structure of an organization.
It is the purpose of this guide to describe the structure, function and potential of motorcycle organizations and how to make motorcycling enjoyable not just for you but for the community at large.
In the Beginning
The concept of a large national organization with affiliated, smaller local groups is the key to the founding philosophy of the American Motorcyclist Association. In fact, it was such a local group, the New York Motorcycle Club, which laid the groundwork for the establishment in 1903 of the Federation of American Motorcyclists, the AMA’s forerunner.
The wisdom of such a structure is obvious. It works in democratic governments and for over 80 years has worked with a great deal of success for the AMA. Information and strength in numbers flow from the grassroots level to a central location, where it is channeled to improve motorcycling.
Frequently, organizations are formed to bring together riders with one particular interest—road and trail riding, racing or brand orientation. You probably have some riders in mind who would be interested in joining your club. While the natural evolution of your organization may be toward one of these areas, try to give your organization as broad a base as possible. Many times, it is desirable for an organization to be composed of motorcyclists with a wide range of interests. There’s no reason why a road rider can’t help score at a motocross race promoted by an organizer, and an enduro rider couldn’t help lay out a road poker run.
Once a general agreement has been reached on the direction of your group, you should begin to prepare a constitution and a set of by-laws. To help you, a sample constitution and by-laws, as well as explanations of officer duties, are here.
To find a place to hold meetings, you may discover that the dealer who sold you your motorcycle is happy to provide meeting space. If this can’t be worked out, don’t hesitate to contact municipal officials about using a community center, public meeting room or school for your meetings. You will be working with these officials in the future, so this is a good time to begin developing good relationships.
Restaurants often will supply a meeting room, provided those in attendance buy meals or refreshments. Another suggestion is to call on the church of a member of your group. Churches frequently provide meeting places at no charge or for a tax-deductible contribution.