Like most things in the motorcycle riding world, there are rules and regulations when it comes to motorcycle vest patches. Each patch has its own meaning, either for the individual or to the club or association he belongs to. Aside from these patches, which can be designed however the club or association sees fit and with whatever materials are handy, there are also a number of widely used vest patches that symbolized a biker’s ethnicity, home state, etc.
These patches are used not only for self-expression, but also, in the small community of outlaw bikers, to distinguish different groups. While law-abiding bikers and outlaw bikers might use the same patches, those who live outside the law will normally cut their patches into three pieces before affixing them to their vest, as an indication that they do not abide by the rules of society. In addition, most outlaw biker clubs will wear a patch with the 1% on it, to represent that they are part of the one-percent of bikers who consider themselves outlaws, rather than hobbyist riders.
A crescent, either above or below another patch indicates a lover of rock and roll music or a biker who is also a musician. In some situations, this patch can be taken out of context, to indicate an outlaw biker, but in its essence, it simply means that the wearer loves music.
The other 99% of riders wear patches simply to show their affiliation with the American Motorcycle Association, among a number of other distinctions. For example, a 9 or 934 patch shows that the biker is at least part American Indian. Flags are used to show either the state or country the club originates from, also an indication of nationality or ethnicity.
One of the most common symbols on a biker’s vest will be the ace of spades. This patch represents the biker’s willingness to fight for their club or their country. Because many legitimate biker clubs are involved in community issues, it could also stand for a willingness to fight to the death to protect those affected by domestic violence or abuse.
A wing patch is also common, and can have many different meanings. Among biker groups that abide by the law, a wing patch will usually denote some sort of special achievement, though what that achievement could be varies from person to person and club to club. In some of the more extreme associations, wings denote a criminal or sexual achievement, with different colors indicating different kinds of acts.
The skull and crossbones can also have varying meanings, depending on the club itself. In that 99% of legitimate clubs, it shows that the wearer has escaped a near-death situation.