In Style + Design

The Secret Society Of Modern Motorcycle Groups

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 ‘therepeutic’, 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, rather ‘bikers’. The latter term refers to those who ride for enjoyment either alone or with others, whether an ad hoc group or a more formal club.

Motorcycle clubs in Australia formed almost 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.

Fast forward to today when you have a motorcycle and are itching to ride with others, but can’t find anyone to go out with. You’ll be pleased to know then that modern motorcycle groups do exist.

Here’s where to find them:

Sign up for a ‘shop ride’

Harley-Shop-Ride

‘Shop rides’ are group rides for new owners organised by motorcycle dealers. Image: Harley Davidson

You’ve just purchased your pride and joy and none of your friends share the same passion.

Consider a ‘shop ride’. 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.

Sure, it’s a marketing and customer relations ploy, but it’s a fun thing nevertheless, especially for new bike owners to make some new friends.

Join an owners club

These are typically well-organised clubs who have themed events for owners of a particular make like Ducati, Harley-Davidson and Triumph.

With committees and presidents, the clubs do often tend to come with a bit of politics sometimes, but if you just want to be a fun member who likes a ride, that’s okay too. Stitching all those badges on your leather vest isn’t mandatory, by the way.

Seek out a social club

Social clubs are another variation of modern motorcycle groups. Image: Harley Davidson

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. 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 radio, side panniers and fancy paintwork.

Smaller ‘social’ clubs also exist in regional areas and districts as well as universities and vocational networks. Consider Sydney University Motorcycle Club or RMIT in Melbourne.

Ask around about a relaxed riders’ group

Just as it sounds, the Weekend Crew is a relaxed group of riders who go out whenever others are free.

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.

Drop by a motorcycle café

Deus-Camperdown

Deus Cafe Camperdown is a hip bar and kitchen on Sydney’s Parramatta Rd. Image: Deus Camperdown / Facebook

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 which began back in 1938 and are now opening up around the world and include 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’. Some places to start:

Sydney: Deus Cafe Camperdown. A hip bar and kitchen right on Parramatta Road.

Melbourne: Naked Racer Bar Café, Cheltenham. ‘bursting at the seams with live music and tapas ‘til late’.

Brisbane: Smoked Garage, Fortitude Valley. Classy bar and design space.

Adelaide: The Motorcycle Society. Grab a coffee or a cool T-Shirt while your bike gets fixed.

(Lead image: Journey Man / Pexels)

Published 29 March, 2019