Everyone wants to find a place where they belong. Not just geographically, but a group, job or hobby where they share the same interests as others, and feel comfortable to be their complete selves. For Harley-Davidson bikers, it doesn’t matter where the road takes them. As long as they have their bikes and a few great allies along for the ride, they have found their place in this world. Contrary to popular belief, motorcycle riding clubs aren’t gangs carrying out organized crimes. A riding club is a group of like-minded individuals organized around a particular brand of motorcycle who share a love for riding. While there is a variety of motorcycle clubs from which to choose, from military veteran clubs to outlaw clubs, no club compares to the subculture built around Harley-Davidson.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to motorcycle clubs and the type of people that join them. Some associate these clubs with “gangs” intended to carry out criminal activities. This stereotype is typically directed at Outlaw Clubs, such as Hells Angels and Pagan’s, which are much more exclusive and have a tough, rugged image. Others see motorcycle clubs, like Harley, as a group of middle-aged, white-collar men playing pirate on the weekends.
There are also those that roll their eyes at the thought of millennial hipsters trying to emulate the old-school look and reinvent the wheel. Many will be hesitant to join a motorcycle club, due to the idea that they are conforming themselves to something that is orchestrated and unauthentic. However, those who give these motorcycle clubs a chance are quick to realize that this isn’t the case at all. While members of these groups typically share the same morals, values and unwavering love for a specific brand, they simply love to ride, and will welcome those who do, too.
Known as the “spirit of American freedom” via Joseph W. Lynch, there are several reasons why Harley-Davidson has survived for over 100 years. The success of Harley-Davidson is primarily due to the culture built around it. Not only does it have an inclusive essence of family, it creates a lifestyle for consumers and an avenue in which they can escape. Customers aren’t just purchasing a motorcycle from Harley, but they are buying into the Harley experience. Not to mention, Harley employees are also customers, allowing them to boast so much passion into its products.
These products represent much more than a style or look, but make a bold and rebellious statement that a lot of biker enthusiasts want to join. The name and patriotic attitude makes the company an American icon, binding customers together under the ideals of freedom, independence and strength. Harley T-shirts and merchandise typically picture the bald eagle, American flag and the colors red, white and blue. Many biker enthusiasts wear their Harley gear with pride to exemplify their strong beliefs in American ideals. This united empowerment brings many servicemen and military members together. In fact, Harley-Davidson holds many charity events that make the community aware of the needs of veterans.
Furthermore, its products carry western elements, such as fringe and leather, creating a connection between cowboy and exploration. The Harley Owners Group (HOG) provides the opportunity for these cowmen and women to saddle up and embark on various routes around the U.S. The joy in traveling is that these motorcycle club members can stop at various Harley-Davidson stores to get souvenirs. In fact, all Harley locations carry T-shirts personalized to their home cities. For example, those traveling to Colorado Springs can grab a beautiful mountainous Pikes Peak jacket, while those visiting Las Vegas can get a shirt with the “Welcome to the Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
If you own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and are interested in expanding your experience as a customer, you should consider joining your local H.O.G. These clubs are made of law-abiding bikers who hold strong family values within the community, and are bound by the love to ride. There are various membership types, from those looking to be fully active for a year to others who wish to be members for life. Additionally, there is an associate membership for a passenger or a family member of a fully active member who would like to reap some benefits, as well.
Benefits for a fully-active member include roadside assistance, invitation to exclusive H.O.G events, access to a touring handbook and five issues of the H.O.G. magazine. These events consist of motorcycle tours, rallies and races all around the world. There are also charitable events that you can be a part of that will help your community thrive. These clubs typically have a minimum monthly meeting where events, trips and local outreach opportunities are discussed and followed by a ride out on the town.
These rides are executed in formations, with the most experienced or long-standing member leading the pack, while the rest of the captains are evenly placed throughout the group to ensure that everyone stays together. Most of these groups have network systems, such as Facebook, where bikers can connect and plan unofficial rides together, as well.
If you are interested in joining a club and a H.O.G. doesn’t seem like the right fit, you may want to consider other riding clubs. If you are vintage bike owner, consider joining a vintage club, if you are interested in marveling at the handiwork of early motorcycle pioneers. There are also motorcycle clubs strictly for military veterans who not only share a common interest, but common experiences.
These clubs typically work with charities related to veterans, and take the initiative to raise awareness about veteran disabilities and prisoner-of-war issues. Much like military veteran clubs, there are also clubs tailored to both active and retired law enforcement officials and police officers. You can also find specialty clubs, such as Women in the Wind, which is a club that unites women motorcyclists across the globe.