17 January 2023

The secret society of modern motorcycle groups

#letsride #webuildriders

Even before Marlon Brando stepped out with his bad boys in 1953’s ‘The Wild One’ the cult of the motorcycle gang has been an urban phenomenon. But not all motorcycle ‘gangs’ are about creating mayhem.

The pleasure of riding a motorcycle is a given, some might say ‘therapeutic’, and riding with friends of a like mind merely amplifies the ‘therapy’. Fun is infectious.

But let’s be clear, we’re not talking about outlaw ‘bikies’ in the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ mould, but rather ‘bikers’. The latter term refers to those who ride for enjoyment either alone or with others, whether in an ad hoc group or a more formal club.

Motorcycle clubs in Australia formed pretty much as soon as the first motorcycles arrived here more than 100 years ago. As early as the 1920s, it was normal to see whole pages in the newspapers devoted to the social and event calendars of the various clubs with rides, races and picnics common.

So you have a motorcycle and are itching to ride, but have no one to ride with. Well, read on, and let’s see how you can find new friends and enjoy a ride at the same time.

Members of Adelaide's Motorcycle Society social club assemble for a Sunday ride.

‘The Shop Ride’ 

Sure, it's a marketing and customer relations ploy, but the ‘shop ride’ is a fun thing nevertheless, especially for new bike owners. You’ve just purchased your pride and joy and none of your friends share the same passion. They’re more interested in X-Box or footy, right? Well, every month or so your dealer will call out to new owners and invite them on a ride to a beach, a cool cafe or a pub for a meal and chin wag, usually on a Sunday. Ditch the deadbeats and make some new friends.

Harley-Heaven Events: https://www.harleyheaven.com.au/events

‘The [brand name] Owners Club’ 

These are typically well-organised clubs that have themed events for owners of a particular make eg Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Triumph etc (The writer is a member of the H-D club). Okay, they have committees and presidents and come with a bit of politics sometimes, but if you just want to be a fun member who likes a ride, that’s just fine too. Stitching all those badges on your leather vest is not mandatory BTW.

‘The all-brands Club’

Come one, come all. The most prominent example is the Ulysses Club for owners over 40 years of age who live by the creed of ‘Growing old disgracefully’. Begun in Australia in 1983, it now has branches all over the world with a total membership of around 16,000. (The writer is also a member). These guys and gals love to ride the big ‘cruiser’ bikes and it’s common to see ‘mums and dads’ on big expensive machines with radios, side panniers and fancy paintwork. Smaller ‘social’ clubs also exist in regional areas and districts as well as universities and vocational networks.

The Weekend Crew

Yep, just like it sounds, a simple bunch of guys and girls who go for a ride with whoever can make it on whatever they’ve got. These ad hoc groups usually form among loose groups of friends and organise themselves on Facebook or other social media networks. Anyone can do it and mostly anyone can tag along. It’s a case of ‘more the merrier’. Ask around, you might be surprised who rides.

Outside of the riding groups mentioned above, motorcycle riders also like to ‘hang out’ and that’s where the term ‘cafe racers’ originated. A ‘cafe racer’ is a custom motorbike designed to ‘race’ around the streets from cafe to cafe where the riders can then ‘hang’, socialise and drink cappuccinos - or lattes.

The most famous of these cafes is the Ace Cafe in London (https://london.acecafe.com/) which began back in 1938 and is now opening up around the world including Beijing, Lahti, Lucerne, Barcelona and Orlando.

Every city has its own motorcycle cafe (or two) where you could infiltrate the scene and become part of the ‘gang’. Here are a couple of quick examples.

Sydney: Deus Cafe Camperdown. A hip bar and kitchen right on Parramatta Road. http://deuscustoms.com/cafes/camperdown/

Melbourne: Naked Racer Bar Café, Cheltenham. ‘bursting at the seams with live music and tapas ‘til late’. http://www.nakedracer.com.au/

Brisbane: Smoked Garage, Fortitude Valley. Classy bar and design space. https://www.smokedgarage.com.au/

Adelaide: Amberlight Motorcycle Cafe. A destination cafe in the Adelaide Hills. https://www.facebook.com/amberlight.motorcyclecafe/

And folks, remember that riding safely is a big part of the enjoyment. The fun stops pretty quickly when your leg is in plaster. Wear the best gear you can afford and don't take chances.

More about that: The Motorcycle Council of NSW http://www.mccofnsw.org.au/

Originally published at The Upsider

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