Club tales: Life and times of motorcycle clubs

Date 26.5.2013

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader

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Featured clubs:

If you’re a member of a club, here’s your chance to tell your story in Motorcycle Trader.

Did you know Australia has well over 1000 motorcycle clubs? Some are inspired by politics and religion but most are just inspired by fun. If you’re a member of a club, here’s your chance to tell your story in Motorcycle Trader.

Starting with the BSA Owners Club, MT will be devoting a few pages each issue to let Australia’s huge number of motorcycle clubs tell their story to a national audience.

Most clubs come together because a common interest is identified. Some end up being huge, for example the Ulysses Club, while others are quite content with a small membership devoted to the cause, like the British Two-Stroke Club of Australia. All clubs have a history and stories to tell, and we’d like to help you get your stories out.

THE CLUB SCENE

Many of Australia’s clubs formed out of affection for a certain make or model. Their names speak for themselves: BMW Motorcycle Club; AJS and Matchless Owners Club; Australian Goldwing Association; Norton Owners Club; Kawasaki Z Owners Club; The Oz V-Max Club etc.

Other clubs have religion as their point of reference: Righteous Christian Motorcycle Club; God’s Squad; Hills Riders; Chariots of Lights M/C; Crusaders for Christ and plenty of others. On the fringes are other ‘spiritual’ motorcycle groups including the Celtic Warlocks Brotherhood and the Masonic Motorcycle Association of Australia.

Some clubs are formed around occupations. Front Line Tourers is a club for ambos, police and fire-fighters and the Vietnam Veterans M/C, the Patriots Australia club and the Diggers M/C cater for vets and the military.

If your interest is mainly with riding, there are plenty of clubs whose sole purpose is to allow you to hook up with other riders for tours and adventure. Motorcycle Touring Club, Central Victoria Riders and the Caboolture Tourers are all examples.

What about politics? Most of these groups are ‘associations’ rather than clubs in the strict sense but the MRA, Motorcycling Australia Riders Division and the Independent Riders Group are examples of motorcyclebased collectives where politics is practiced.

Location is another rally point for clubs: Bundaberg and District Motorcycle Enthusiasts Club; Coffs M/C; Port Pirie M/C and the Mornington Peninsula Motorcycle Club are examples.

CLUB STORIES

All clubs develop stories that become part of their legend and history. Some are tragic but most are usually funny. Clubs that spend time on social causes or to raise money for charities build pride as part of their culture.

The Victorian branch of the 59 Club is a good example, it initiated a tug-of-war on Brighton Beach between itself and the scooter clubs of Melbourne, notably the Crusaders, to recreate the ‘Mods vs Rockers’ riots at Brighton in England. The event raises money for a kids’ charity and is now a major part of the Victorian motorcycle calendar. It includes a ride and a party afterwards with bands, beer and awards. The event now attracts many hundreds of participants and spectators and is part of the cement that keeps the club together.

The SR500 Club held a rally once which resulted in the police closing the Murray Valley Highway so a helicopter could land to take away the injured. One of its best stories, though, is the ‘tour of Tasmania’ where one SR in the group had four punctures in one day. The last of these happened on a bridge over a wide river and the repair was done on the spot. To check that the repair was successful, the wheel was lowered into the river by a rope. No bubbles so all was good. When they inserted the wheel back into the swingarm, it was noticed that the rear sprocket and carrier were missing. They had fallen off the wheel while it was under the water…

The club camped by the river that night and early the following morning one of the group made a grappling stick out of tent poles and tent pegs. Unbelievably, the sprocket carrier was retrieved.

What about the BSA Owners’ Club’s All-British rally? The All-Brit was mired in controversy when it was first held because the club insisted that only British bikes could attend. The letters pages of Australia’s motorcycle magazines were full of accusations of discrimination. The BSA Club held its ground and it’s still the case (loosely) that the ‘inner circle’ of the rally is only for Brit bikes. Riders of lesser machines can camp around the outer perimeter of the site and nobody seems to care anymore.

The 2011 All Brit had its own scandal. A 1950 Ariel twin which was just about rusted into one solid piece was at the site with a ‘for sale’ sign on it. It attracted a lot of interest, mainly from people laughing at the idea that it was actually worth selling. Someone bought it, though, only to discover afterwards that it had been stolen from Victoria’s Maryborough region the month before.

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WHAT TO DO

Check out Rob Blackbourn’s BSA Owners Club story as an example of what a good club story should look like. We’ll want a maximum of 800 words which should have a brief review of the club’s history, how it came about, what it’s up to now, what services it provides for members, up-coming events and a few stories that reveal the club’s culture.

We’ll also want some high-resolution images (minimum 600kb) so that the world can see why it should join. Make sure you also include all the necessary contact details and a website address if the club has one.

You can email the story and pics to MCT@bauertrader.com.au or post it to us at:

Motorcycle Trader

Locked Bag 12

Oakleigh VIC 3166

There are a thousand stories out there – let’s start telling them!