Biker patches are lovely pieces of clothing accessories that can improve the look of your jacket. While some of these patches could purely be for adornment purposes, most of them have some distinct or hidden meanings. If this is the case, it makes sense to try to find out what the different patches mean before purchasing one or some for yourself. You may want to read a little background on this here.
Why Do You Need to Know What the Patches Mean?
There are three main reason why you should as a matter of responsibility know what the patch or patches on a biker’s jacket or at least your own jacket mean. The first reason why you should know is that what they mean reflects on you. For example, the insignia on a military man’s uniform tells you what unit he belongs to. You therefore do not want to be wearing something that will say you are what you are not.
Secondly, wearing the wrong patch may put you in trouble. Let’s look at another example. Gangs are known to have tattoos that identify them both to themselves and to rival gangs. Imagine that you saw a tattoo design, loved it so much and had it done without knowing it is a gang’s identifier. You then walk innocently into a rival gang’s territory, flaunting your new tattoo. We can only hope that the rivalry between the two gangs is not a deadly one or you may just pay a costly price for something you have no idea of.
The third reason why you should know what these patches mean is just so you know. It’s never a bad thing to know what is happening in your surroundings.
So, let us now begin to look some motorcycle patches and what they mean.
Structure of Biker Patches and What They Mean
While we possibly cannot begin to list every biker patch out there, we can at least explain the basic concept of how they are structured. After that, we will then list some specifics that you may find on some of them.
Let’s begin with the different structures of these biker patches.
This type of patch is usually indicative of a biking group that is sanctioned and duly recognized by the American Bikers Association. This usually covers social riding clubs, family clubs and other such clubs. The wearer of such a patch therefore fully identifies with such a group which will have its details printed thereon. The details will include the club or group’s name, the group’s logo and in some cases their location.
Adding a location to a patch is however an indication of affiliation to the area’s dominant club. If this is not the case, the wearer of such a patch may be courting trouble as the addition of a location on your patch may be seen as an indication of your control of that area.
Clubs that have this type of patches are usually affiliates of a three-piece patch club. They could be playing the role of support clubs or simply be waiting to be fully accepted into the higher club.
Now this is the main patch. The dominant MC (Motorcycle Club) in an area will usually have a 3-piece patch. The name of the club is indicated in the top rocker and their emblem in the center piece. The bottom rocker is for displaying the location that the club controls.
This 3-piece patch is what bikers call colors. This is the club’s colors and it must be earned after the individual has fulfilled certain obligations.
MCs with 3-piece patches are almost always regarded as 1%ers but they may actually not be. However, they usually are not under the control of the American Motorcycle Association.
An MC can only have 3-piece patches under any of these two conditions. First, they are the dominant club in the area signified in the bottom rocker of the patch or they have been recognized and authorized by the area’s dominant club.
These are another type of patches that we should mention. These are used to indicate that the wearer participated in an event or activity.
Other Important Details
Aside from these major patch structures, there are a number of other symbols or acronyms that you may be interested in knowing about.
Earlier, we mentioned the 1%ers without really explaining what that meant. Well, the term was derived from a statement made by the American Motorcycle Association stating that about 99% of the bikers in America were law abiding citizens. 1%ers proudly consider themselves to be the remaining 1% that are not law abiding and therefore referred to as outlaws.
If you therefore see a patch with the 1% sign, know that the wearer belongs to an outlaw biker group.
This should be pretty clear from the explanation for the 1%ers above. A patch with the sign shows an affiliation to one of the recognized and legit associations.
This symbol represents the 13th letter of the alphabet – M and is a code way of representing marijuana or methamphetamine. A biker with a patch that has this symbol is saying that s/he either uses, sells or can get these items.
9 or 9ers
This like with the case of 13 above stands for the 9th letter of the alphabet – I. The “I” stands for Indian and it shows that the wearer has Indian heritage.
There are other signs and symbols that indicate that the wearer has engaged in certain activities. Some of these are not so savory. You can find a much extensive list of this signs and symbols here: http://www.segag.org/mcgangs/mcglossory.html.
Aside from these ones listed above, there are others that are just decorative and without any hidden meanings. It is however important that you are sure before you put on any biker patch. Biker associations take their colors very seriously and if you are caught wearing one without having the right to do so, you may just find yourself in trouble. If you totally want to be on the safer side, you can order your own custom patch so you can be absolutely sure that you are not infringing on anyone or group’s rights.
Photo by Josue Escoto