WORLD OF SOUL MOTORCYCLE COMMUNITY

a progressive motorcycle enthusiast organization

History of the three-piece patch

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) was founded in 1924 as an organizing arm of motorcycle manufacturers and mainly supported by [them] to promote motorcycle riding in America. They sanctioned groups of riders from the same area that rode together as motorcycle clubs. Some wore complete matching outfits with the name of their motorcycle club stitched on the back of their shirts and jackets. At events, the AMA gave awards for the best-dressed club--so this was the start of motorcycle club patches. During an event in 1947 in Hollister, CA members of the Booze Fighters MC and Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington (POBOB) made the headlines with a sensational news story. The AMA wrote an article in their magazine shortly after the episode denouncing the offensive bikers stating, "99% of all of their members are law-abiding citizens and only 1% are outlaws". Thus began what are today referred to as outlaw motorcycle clubs and "one percenters." These clubs were not sanctioned by the AMA and were banned from attending AMA events. In order to designate themselves as an outlaw club to all other clubs, the one percenters cut their club patches into three separate pieces. The top rocker was the name of the club, the center was the emblem of the club, and the bottom rocker was their locale. The outlaw motorcycle clubs organized their own events and parties and did the opposite of what the AMA had been doing: There were no Best Dressed awards, they modified ("chopped") down their bikes leaner and meaner, to go faster and look different, scrapped the mufflers, guzzled beer, and did other "wild" things which, with the help of a willing press and Hollywood character studies, created the cultural icon of the rebellious outlaw biker. A fictionalized version of the Hollister "raid" later became the storyline for a movie called "The Wild One" starring Marlon Brando as leader of the fictional Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, and Lee Marvin as the Booze Fighters' infamous Wino Willie. And so it went. More movies, more bikers, more fear, more headlines. Today, a three-piece patch signifies that the club is an "outlaw club," but not necessarily a 1% club. With very few exceptions, the club has been approved by the dominant club in the state or area. The three-piece patch is awarded in three parts as a prospective member earns the privilege to wear the full patch. A "hangaround" is someone who is eligible for membership and has been invited to attend club events and runs, but wears no part of the patch. If he is sponsored by a full member and approved by the club members he may wear the bottom rocker and is considered a "prospect" or "probate". If he successfully completes the training period and is approved by 100% of the members, he is allowed to have the top rocker and the "center patch" or club insignia. His colors are then complete and he is considered to be a full member or "patch holder." The traditional, or "old school," three-piece patch MC is one that adheres to established protocols, traditions and a code of conduct.

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WORLD OF SOUL MOTORCYCLE COMMUNITY IS FUNDED IN PART BY RIDE FOR CHANGE RIDE FOR HOPE FOUNDATION AND THE GENEROSITY OF ITS MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS.

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