Biker patches are arguably the most important part of a motorcycle rider’s outfit. Signifying the club to which the biker belongs, and the area of their territory, biker patches are the riders’ badges of honor. It’s not at all surprising, since a biker would have had to undergo probation, votes of membership, and a difficult tradition in order to wear those patches.
The bikers wear their colors, or what biker patches are more commonly called, after they’ve sworn allegiance to a motorcycle club or a biker gang. Of course, these colors are unique and exclusively worn by club members. The importance of these patches cannot be stated enough, and one cannot call himself a true biker without this identification sewed onto his vest. But how exactly is a biker patch made? It is more intricate than it seems, the process needing several carefully thought-out steps before an output can be produced.
First and foremost, there’s the design. Of course, if a biker is joining an already established club, then it’s not an issue any more since the patch would have already been designed. Generally, patches contain the club’s name, the club’s logo, and of course, the club’s location. Logos usually denote something symbolic to the club, like an animal or an object, and most of the time it displays the tough, hard and strong reputation the clubs maintain. The colors (literally) are also decided at this stage, with patches ranging from black and white to multi-colored. Another thing to be considered during the designing stage is the patch size. A larger patch is more noticeable, almost more powerful to the outsider’s eye, but it is also more expensive to make.
Once the design is set, it’s now time to decide on which material to use. This depends on the material availability and the rider’s budget, but usually biker patches are made from denim or other heavy fabrics. This is so the patch would last longer and hold up better to the outdoors. Rain and heat and dirt are very common parts of a biker’s life, and his patches should be able to withstand those elements.
Biker patches are embroidered, and thus would require thread. This is the next part of the process: deciding what thread to use. Different shops nowadays offer different threads, customizable to the biker’s, or the club’s, taste. These choices include metallic and neon threads. Metallic threads are shinier, while neon threads show extra bright colors. Once again, special threads add to a patch’s overall cost, but it’s almost always worth it.
The embroidery percentage is also important, since it involves the amount of thread needed and the amount of work required. Percentages generally go anywhere from 50%, where only half of the patch’s total area is embroidered, to 100%, in which the patch is completely embroidered. The higher the percentage, the higher the price. A biker patch could be embroidered by hand or by machine. Most patches today are embroidered using a machine, since embroidering by hand is a harder process and takes a much longer time.
After embroidery, the last step in making the patches is deciding how to attach the patch to the biker’s vest, usually determined by the patch’s backing. Custom shops offer many options for this step, including iron-on, plastic, tape, Velcro, button-loop, and hot-cut backings. Iron-on has an adhesive on the back that melts when heated, while plastic serves to increase the stiffness. Tape and Velcro both allow for the patch to be applied and removed at the biker’s discretion, although tape has a limited life span. Button loops are for hanging, while hot-cut backings are made by using a laser to seal the borders of the patch, preventing snagging on the edges.
After all those steps, the patch is now done! All that’s left is for the biker to don his colors and take them out for a spin.