A lot of terms get bounced around when talking about motorcycle clubs and rider organizations so hopefully I can shed a little light on the subject. There are many levels of organization and a lot of intermingling between some of them. I am going to try and start at the top and work my way down. Now while there is no “top” motorcycle organization, I would have to say that Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) would be the largest, so that is where we will start. In no way though is this list in any order and I do not suggest that one of these may be of higher stature than the other.
- Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) – They are the worldwide motorcycle sanctioning body ran from Geneva Switzerland. They establish and enforce rules for motorcycle racing across the globe. They also keep an eye on laws that effect motorcyclist and lobby governments for our rights as riders. They are comprised of national federations from 97 countries. The AMA is the organization that represents the United States.
- International Coalition of Motorcyclist (ICOM) – I couldn’t find information on exactly what function the ICOM has when it comes to motorcyclist rights and laws that concern us but I have provided a link to a page that shows member organizations. I imagine though that they provide an international voice for those organizations listed with the riders best interest at hand.
- American Motorcycle Association (AMA) – The AMA is one of the bigger organizations in the U.S. that works and fights for riders interests here in the states. Founded in 1924 from the The Motorcycle and Allied Trades Association (M&ATA) Riders Division they are probably the largest single American organizations dealing with motorcyclist. They are also heavily involved in road and offroad racing events. They are probably the best means to have our collective voices heard when it comes to issues that directly effect riders.
- National Coalition of Motorcyclist (NCOM) – According to the AIM site “NCOM is not another association, but rather a bringing together of existing motorcycle groups for the purpose of mutual exchange of information, legislative strategy and the combined strength to fight all that is adverse to the freedom of the road.” Essentially they facilitate a coming together at the national level for the confederation of clubs and other groups. They are also part of ICOM.
- Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) – National level of Motorcyclist Rights Organizations. They work hand in hand with the state MRO’s to ensure the rider is represented at a national level.
- Confederation of Clubs (COC) – The page that is linked to here is a listing to each states COC. For the most part the COC gives a voice to the member clubs in a particular state. There are varying degrees to how each state works and I have found that each state may be different in who they will accept as a member. Some may only accept clubs while others will accept other organizations. I am sure each also has differing rules on who is allowed to sit in on a meeting. For the most part some of them act as a Motorcyclist Rights Organization (MRO) and serve to prevent harassment of motorcyclist. They may also serve as a judicial body to the motorcycle clubs in the state and facilitate communication between the member clubs. There doesn’t seem to be one standard for the COC, but most seem to operate in a similar way.
- ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments) -The acronym also has many other variations but the focus is the same; motorcycle rights, safety, training, education, and representation. These are state organizations and most states have active chapters. This would be the organization that most riders should consider joining. They represent you at the local level and are usually very active in the communities.
- Motorcycle Clubs (MC)- You could talk about the different clubs all day long. For the most part they are referred to in a few different groups. Overall you would consider someone in a MC as a “patch holder” meaning that they wear colors or a back patch with the club insignia. MC colors consist of a 3 piece patch on the back with a bottom and top rocker with the club insignia in the middle. MC will be somewhere on the insignia or right beside it. There are two basic types of MC’s, one will be your typical club (99%er). They may represent any number of affiliations (law enforcement, firefighter, military) or a particular group. The 1% will be one of the big five or an affiliate club. The big five are; The Hells Angels, The Bandidos, Pagans, Outlaws, and Mongols. I wont get into the particulars of these, just know they are a special level of MC and may be considered Outlaw motorcycle clubs or gangs by certain levels of law enforcement. The 1% tag began after the AMA commented on the Hollister incident and said “99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens, and the last one percent were outlaws”.
While this may not be all of the different organizations out there I am sure it will give you a good idea as to what organizations are out there. I strongly recomend that if you ride participation in some type of group can be benificial to you. The comraderie that you may experience can be unparaleled for the average person. So get out and get involved.