"Wherever the motorcyclist chooses to go, he is welcomed with open arms by fellow motorcyclists. He is given free range of their club rooms and invited to any entertainment that might be scheduled. If he should encounter trouble on the road, another motorcyclist will go out of his way to help him. Such is the fraternal spirit prevalent among motorcyclists." "Dad" Barrett, motorcyclist, July 1922 Motorcycle clubs reinforced the natural connection between riders. From the sport's very beginning, motorcyclists gathered to share experiences, socialize, and show off their bikes and riding skills. These informal get-togethers led to organized events and races and the formation of official clubs.
When attending rallies, gypsy tours and picnics with his or her club, it was important that a rider look sharp if there was any hope of winning a "Best Dressed" award. Club uniforms were popular for showing unity among members and proclaiming pride in a club's hometown, as it usually appeared as part of the organization's name. Some were military- or police-inspired, or simply carried a nickname inspired by a city or state.
This uniform, worn by member Hank of the Bath City Riders of Mt. Clemens is one example of a club outfit that is part of the Harley-Davidson Archives. We collect them because they are a first-hand record of club activity and can help us construct a rider's story. There is no more personal of an artifact that a piece of apparel with the rider's name embroidered into it. Hank was also a member of the American Motorcyclist Association, as his patch and pin indicate. Some of our collection uniforms are currently displayed together in a case in the Clubs & Competitions gallery in the Museum along with photos, patches, pins, caps and other materials relating to group riding in the 1920s-1940s.
Since these textiles are sensitive to light, we rotate them approximately every 18 months to minimize damage. We put one set back into storage, and display an entirely different set, so even if you have visited this gallery, it might be different when you return!