Riding clubs are a great way for riders to connect—and, of course, hit the road—with other enthusiasts. But even a quick Internet search yields a staggering number of club options, especially in warm weather areas. So, how do you narrow down your choices and find a comfortable group of motorcycle riders?
Long story short: a motorcycle riding club isn't a "motorcycle gang." Instead, a riding club is simply a group of riders organized around an idea—enthusiasm for a particular brand of bike—and dedicated to hitting the road with other like-minded folks.
Deciding on a riding club really comes down to narrowing your focus: Are you simply looking for fellow motorcycle riders? Or are you geared up to ride with people who own bikes similar to yours? Ready to hit the road with riders with similar life experiences? Or is your goal to meet a bunch of new and interesting people? Is your idea of "riding" a 30-mile jaunt or an overnight trip? Bottom line: decide what you're looking for and search from there. And remember—there's nothing saying you can't ride with multiple clubs.
- "Brand X" enthusiasts: there are probably more clubs devoted to specific bike manufacturers, or even specific models, than any other type of club. They're great for riders with different experience levels, potentially offering a "master's class" in the bike you're interested in.
- Vintage bike owners: vintage clubs are especially good for sourcing parts and expertise about bikes that probably haven't been in production for decades. If you're fretting about replacing the chain on your 1967 classic, vintage clubs are probably for you.
- Military veterans: search for riding clubs in any state and there's a good chance you'll find a handful of clubs with membership limited to military veterans. Several of these clubs also work to support veterans-related charities and raise awareness about POW/MIA issues.
- Police officer, law enforcement, and public safety officer clubs: exactly what the name says, these clubs are typically open to both active and retired officers. They're also often some of the largest and most active motorcycle riders' clubs.
- Open-to-all clubs: all you usually need is a motorcycle and the desire to ride.
- Specialty clubs: from clubs for female riders only to "clean & sober" clubs celebrating sobriety and recovery, there's no shortage of special-interest clubs.
Remember that no matter what type of club you choose, top-notch protective gear is an absolute must for safe riding. Picking gear can be overwhelming, so learn more about the dos and don'ts of safe protection in our gear-buying tips article
Even if you regularly ride with an established club, you'll find plenty of organizations that sponsor or participate in once-a-year events. Often tied to charitable events or organizations, these rides can be a great way to meet new people—and to find out about new riding clubs. These clubs may not always show up in online searches, so keep an eye on the "community bulletin boards" at your dealer or mechanic's.
The most active riding clubs may meet monthly, even when there's no ride scheduled. One way to check out a club is stopping by and meeting your potential touring partners. You may even be able to join and pay any membership dues at the meeting.
Once you find a club, make sure your first road trip is fun—and safe. To learn the secrets of planning a great road trip, check out our article on planning the perfect road trip.