For the serious rider, patches are more than decorations — they tell riders’ stories. From the club they associate with to the epic rides they’ve taken and the people and places that are near and dear to them.

If you’re unfamiliar with common biker patches — and what they mean — here’s a primer.

1. The Club Patch These are always the most prominent patch on the back of a rider’s jacket or vest. These are either one, two- or three-piece patches, depending on the club — if it’s a social riding club or association, the patch will always be a one-piece, while dedicated motorcycle clubs will feature two or three-piece patches (with the club name up top, logo/symbol in the middle, and city or region of origin at the bottom.

There is a difference. Any MC (motorcycle club) patch-holder will tell you: Riding club patches are bought (i.e., any rider can join a riding club), while MC patches are earned. Club officers may also wear patches that indicate their position in the club, and some clubs issue patches denoting how many years a rider has been a member.

2. Rally Patches Have you done a ride to Daytona? Sturgis? You’ve earned a rally badge. These are given to riders who attend rallies. They’re a great conversation piece as well, as they show fellow riders that you’ve gone to these legendary events.

3. Charity Ride Patches Riders who participate in charity rides often receive commemorative badges (or pins) to show they’ve supported great causes.

4. Travel Patches Riders who’ve made some epic trips are proud to show other riders their accomplishments. These patches can vary — they can show the places visited, or they can be an honorific, like the badges worn by those who’ve earned the Iron Butt title.

5. Flag Patches Riders often wear flags showing their (or their bike’s) country of origin. For American Victory riders, a Stars and Stripes flag patch proudly denotes both.

6. Military Service Patches Vets are rightfully proud of their time in the military and often wear patches denoting their branch of service, or the conflicts in which they fought. POW/MIA badges are often worn as well, reminding others of servicemen and women who remain unaccounted for.

What patches do you have on your jacket?


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