Whether you’re excited about Sturgis, celebrating your first grandchild, or have just joined the Motor Maids, motorcycle vest and jacket patches are the way bikers show their affiliations, their journeys, what they’re proud of and who they are. Whether it is a full back patch, a three-piece back piece, sleeve rockers, or front emblems and patches, wearing a bike patch can show others who you are just as much as the bike you ride.
Few bikers have more than one riding jacket, so the patches they chose to put on their jacket becomes a true representation of the journeys they have undertaken – not just in the sense that they have done the Route 66 track, but also how the discovered God, found people who have the same interests or honor system, that they survived a tour of duty or they became grandparents. Once a biker you’re always a biker, it’s not a phase you will outgrow! However, your jacket may become a reminder of what you have outgrown.
Although you can get a custom designed patch, there are such a range of commercially available patches that are created for each purpose that you rarely need to worry. Generally, you won’t (and shouldn’t) be able to purchase an ‘outlaw’ gang patch – even wearing this as a Halloween costume is generally considered a bad idea. However, there are a huge number of different patches that will go on the back or front of your vest.
This is a popular design for patriotic American bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts. Symbolizing the freedom of the USA as well as the freedom of the road, although it often paired with the phrase “Freedom Isn’t Free” as a tribute to the efforts of the American military. American war veterans and their supporters will often have an eagle or USA flag, or both, placed somewhere on their bike jacket or vest.
Ok, this may be thought of as a bit morbid for non-bikers, but for those on a bike, no matter how carefully they ride, they are always aware that car drivers on their phones, or otherwise distracted, can hit them at any time. Vest patches that state the riders blood type can help first responders in the case of an accident where the rider is unconscious or in a state of delirium. Hopefully, it never happens to you, but if it does, having a blood type patch could just save your life.
Because of media hype, movies and pop culture, there is a stereotype that suggests if you ride a motorbike – particularly a larger, louder bike like a Harley-Davidson or a Triumph, then you are a criminal drug runner in an outlaw gang. Of course, we know that only 1% of bikers actually fit this description, but this is where the patches you wear can really make a difference. It’s also fun when you’re a Christian biker to see the look of fear replaced by the look of bewilderment when someone encounters you in your leathers and then actually notices your patches. Whether it’s a large patch that states “I Ride With Jesus”, an embroidered text patch saying “Every Saint Has A Past Every Sinner Has A Future” or simply a religious symbol (which are obviously available for any religion), you can change the perception of both riders and followers of Christ.
Being seen is one of the biggest challenges for bikers (see here). You don’t really want to have to wear a yellow safety vest everywhere you go, but you do want cars to actually acknowledge your existence on the roads. Even more so at night or on dark, stormy days when visibility is low. This is why reflective patches are a fantastic idea. They’re not obviously reflective so don’t stand out as such on a sunny day, but on a dark night they catch the light of both cars and street lights helping to make bikers more noticeable. Generally, they are embroidered over a reflective material, as such, they are available in pretty much any design that a non-reflective patch comes in – although more commonly found in black and white designs they are still available in colored patches. For an extra bit of safety, why wouldn’t you?
Support ribbons or patches are usually an embroidered stylized ribbon which may or may state the cause. Many causes have different colors, with pink for breast cancer, red often for AIDS, purple for epilepsy and so on. However, text and image based patches are also available for a range of courses, from supporting police K-9s, to USA Vets association, bikers bringing toys to sick children or riders raising money for animal shelters. Sometimes patches are sold as part of a fundraising endeavor and are only available for a set timeframe.
Patches For Women
Generally, you’ll find that there aren’t many women in motorcycle clubs, and those aren’t riders but generally pillion passengers. However, women DO love motorbikes, and they love to ride, so there have been a whole range of clubs exclusively for women that have come about since the 20s. Some of the ladies patches are designed for associates and passengers, but there is also a range of patches designed for women to be able to state quite clearly that they are the owner of their destiny, and their bike. The Motor Maids is one of the larger of these groups.
Just For Fun
Not all patches have to be serious or even have a strong meaning. Some can simply be to provide a smile – either to the biker or the audience. Just like tattoos, sometimes you just need to display a gun toting rabbit to the world, a bright yellow happy face, or a little horny devil. You won’t generally find these as a full back piece, but as smaller patches worn on the lapels, front or sleeves of a jacket. They’re just another way of showing that there really aren’t many accurate stereotypes when it comes to people who love their motorbikes.