Motorcycle Vest Protocol – The Rules of Wearing Biker Patches

Bikers typically wear a vest or jacket with several patches. These patches often signify club membership, activities, and other special meanings unique to every club. Below is a comprehensive guide on the essential rules to follow when wearing biker patches.

What Are Custom Biker Patches?

Motorcycle club members usually wear biker patches on their vests to showcase their membership. Besides being necessary for identifying members, biker patches also portray unique characteristics about bikers and add a decorative element. Each motorcycle club uses customized biker patches with different designs and meanings.

How to Get a Biker Patch?

As a motorcycle club member, you have to earn your patch. That means you must go through a strict membership process involving participating in specific activities before getting your patch. 

However, in other riding clubs, you can buy or design your own customized patch. In addition, most bikers wear either one-piece or two-piece patches.

Types of Biker Patches

There are many types of biker patches available today, and they include:


  • Club patches: These patches symbolize club membership
  • Military customized patches: These patches showcase dedication to the country
  • Flag patches: These patches also show your patriotism to your country
  • Brand-based patches: Harley Davidson biker patches can honor the specific type of bike that you own
  • One-piece patch: This patch is placed on the back of a biker's jacket or vest, and it shows that the user is a member of a specific club
  • Three-piece patch: It contains three unique patches portraying the club's name, emblem, and location. 
  • Activity biker patches: These are given to bikers after completing specific activities, for instance, attending a rally.
  • Outlaw biker patches: Patches like "Number 13" are mainly used by outlaw motorbike clubs to denote that the users may have participated in various criminal activities.


The Rules of Wearing Biker Patches

The rules and etiquette when wearing biker patches vary between different clubs. However, some general rules apply to most situations, and they include the following:

  1.  Be cautious about where you wear your patch.
Biker patches have special meanings and should be worn to consider those commitments. For instance, a biker should never wear patches or colors of their club in another territory.
  2.  Never touch the patch or colors of other members.
Motorbike club members are quite proud of their colors and all their effort to earn them. Hence, it would be best to protect your vest to ensure no one tampers with your colors.
  3.  You have to surrender your colors if you lose your club membership.
If you voluntarily leave your club or lose your membership, you should return your patches to the club. Returning your colors is essential as it ensures that only strictly approved members can wear the patches. 
  4.  Never borrow a member's vest.
Unless you are a female passenger currently riding with a club member, you cannot borrow and wear another biker's vest with their patches or colors.
  5.  Patches should be placed on sleeveless vests only.
Biker patches should be fixed or embroidered on sleeveless vests only. In addition, you should never wear any patches if you have not been confirmed as a full club member. 
  6.  Motorcycle club colors must be earned, not bought.
The bikers in a motorcycle club must earn their colors, and they can't buy them. Buying your club's colors is considered disrespectful, and you should avoid it. 
  7.  Avoid putting unnecessary patches on your vest.
When you put too many patches on your motorcycle vest, it conveys that you are superior to your club. Hence, it would help to respect your vest and not have any other patch on your back apart from your club's unique patches. 
  8.  Never wear your patches while driving a car.
When driving in a car, the vest protocol is to wear it inside out. That way, you fully respect your colors by ensuring that your club's flag is always on your back.

Common Biker Patch Designs 

There are many biker patch designs available today. Here are some of them and their unique meanings:


  • FTW – This usually symbolizes that the biker is a complete rebel
  • Red cross – This patch is gained after having a homosexual relationship with testimonials available.
  • Men of Mayhem – This is an embroidered patch worn by members who have killed people in defense of the club.
  • Malta cross – This symbol represents courage and bravery.
  • #13 – Number 13 represents the letter M, and it means that the member uses drugs or is a drug dealer, particularly marijuana
  • Eight-ball – This symbol relates to gambling, and it is often worn by bikers who believe that life is like a game.
  • Ace of Spade: This patch shows that the user is always ready to defend their country or club


How to Apply Biker Patches onto Your Vest?

The best way of applying a biker patch onto your vest is by sewing it on. Although it is possible to use glue, this method isn't ideal since the glue might discolor or damage your vest. Furthermore, glue is a temporary solution since the patches will likely come off after some time. 

Here are a few guidelines when sewing biker patches onto leather vests:


  • Always remove the renewable liner on the biker patch before sewing it on your vest
  • Avoid using cotton threads and only use either 100% nylon or 100% polyester
  • Use a thread that has the same color as your patch's border to get a cleaner fit
  • If applying the patch at home, always use a strong needle that can handle the tough leather skin
  • Remember to begin and end the stitching from the internal side of your vest to conceal the knots
  • In addition, always use close stitches to prevent the patch from being ripped off while you are riding


Alternatively, you can also buy iron-activated biker patches if you want a more convenient application method. You can iron these patches onto various types of materials ranging from denim to cotton. However, it would be best if you never ironed biker patches onto a leather vest.

Reasons Why Many Bikers Wear Motorcycle Vests

A vest or a cut is essential attire for many bikers. Here are some of the reasons bikers wear motorcycle vests:

  • Protection: The vest protects bikers from weather elements and other things like rocks that can cause injury while riding.
  • Identity: The vest may contain biker patches that showcase their identity or membership in a specific club
  • Style: Motorcycle vests are regarded as trendy items and are often worn to attract approval or recognition from other members
  • Display: Vests with biker patches can display important information, e.g., a biker's character, mission, designation in the group, etc.

Can Everyone Wear Motorcycle Vests?

Generally, every biker can wear motorcycle vests, but you must ensure that you have the appropriate patches or colors in your area. For instance, independent riding clubs do not have stringent rules regarding their vest protocol. In such cases, you will only need to buy the patch, like a name or flag patch, and apply it to your vest without any issues.

However, if you are not a member of a motorcycle club, you are not allowed to wear motorcycle vests with the colors of that club. In addition, even if you are a member of a club, you should be cautious about where you present your colors. That means you should never wear your patches within the area or territory of a different dominant club.

What Is a Biker Patch Made of?

A biker patch is usually made from robust materials like denim or heavy cotton to withstand harsh weather conditions without any issues. Basic patches require minimal embroidery, while detailed ones often need more embroidery during production. Here are the various types of biker patches based on their embroidery coverage:


  • 100% embroidery: It represents the top-quality biker patch with maximum embroidery coverage and almost zero twill background visibility. Ask for this version if you want highly detailed and accurate patches and have a big budget.
  • 75% embroidery: Most biker patches fall into this category. These patches are relatively affordable and look good since they contain a sizeable amount of embroidery to cover the design and background.
  • 50% embroidery: It is ideal for simple biker patches, such as text only, since less than 50% of the patch contains embroidery. 


Where Can You Buy Customized Biker Patches?

Many bikers prefer buying and wearing customized biker patches, particularly if it's permitted in their clubs. In this case, you can place an order on the various online stores or design customized patches to fit your needs. Custom biker patches enable bikers to showcase their personality, character, and beliefs.  


The most significant biker patch protocol to keep in mind is that every club has its own rules about wearing biker patches. It is essential to understand and follow all your club's rules without making any assumptions. 

It is always best to get clarification from another member if you are unsure of your biker patches' proper usage, design, and placement. That will show respect to the club and its members, and it will also help you avoid misunderstandings.


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