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Riding With 'Colors' On The Street

By: James R. Davis

Those vests and patches we wear at club meetings tell a story about us and our organizations - sometimes, the wrong one.

Sometimes we wear them while riding our motorcycles and it is appropriate to do so. For example, during a parade or a 'Toy Run' we are actively seeking to show the public that we are organized, that we are proud of who we associate with, and to show off how many of our group are there compared to other groups.

On the other hand, it rarely makes sense to wear our colors in public other than for events like I just described.


  • The public is 'unwashed' and has no idea what our colors mean. All they 'know' is that if a group of us are riding together a 'MOTORCYCLE GANG' has just gone by.

  • There are places in most large cities where real gangs stake out their territory with the wearing of their colors. If you happen to be wearing the wrong 'colors' you can happen to get assaulted, or worse.

  • Even as between the 'washed' and the 'unwashed', the wearing of colors can be seen as an invitation to confrontation. For example, there is some degree of similarity between the GWRRA patch and that of the Hell's Angels. Both groups of riders know the difference, but it is not unheard of for a Hell's Angel member to confront a GWRRA member because of the patch he is wearing.

  • Most policemen do not ride motorcycles; i.e., they may well be 'unwashed'. Do you *really* want a policeman who stops you for some reason to think you are a gang member?

  • Most of our vests are not simply adorned with patches - we often wear pins on them. If you were to hit the pavement while wearing a vest full of pins you would quickly learn that the catch on the back of them is designed to help keep the pins from falling off the vest, NOT to prevent the pins from penetrating your body!

  • Finally, to show off our vests while riding we are, by definition, not wearing protective clothing for our upper body (i.e., a leather jacket.)

Wear 'em proud, when it makes sense. But while riding on public streets, with rare exceptions, it doesn't.

Copyright © 1992 - 2022 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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