A question I get asked quite often is what purpose does one’s cut serve? In a personal sense the answer may be simple. However, looking from an “outsider’s” perspective the answer may not be as clear-cut. (Pardon the pun.)
A cut can have different purposes in different settings. This all depends on the bylaws that the club holds its members to. Each club is a unique entity. An organism evolving and moving similar to others, but unique in its own right. Once one understands that each club is different, and that the biker culture differs from region to region, the cut becomes somewhat easier to explain.
The heart and soul of every cut is definitely the patch. The patch is the piece of embroidery usually on the back of the cut bearing the club name and insignia. Think of this as a club’s identity. This is how members show their affiliation to a specific club. The club name above the emblem is commonly refered to as the top rocker. The piece below the emblem is refered to as the bottom rocker. The bottom rocker usually displays the location of the charter that the member associates with.
On the front of the cut, some clubs prefer to display the club name once more, and the rank of the member if applicable. Most clubs have ranks in the following order: President, Vice President, Sargent at Arms, Road Captain, Treasurer/Secretary. However it has been seen that clubs prefer to place the rank on a secondary bottom rocker in some regions.
Another addition that some clubs hold members to is a 1%er emblem. There is a stigmatic history attached to this emblem, although some clubs claim that the symbol is merely decorative. If my research serves me right the 1%er symbol is usually linked to outlaw clubs, i.e. clubs that willingly and knowingly conduct themselves in contravention to the law. I don’t want to speculate on the truth of this, as I feel there are too many conflicting views on the subject. Furthermore, it is not my place to judge the manner in wich others conduct themselves.
Another tradition that I have come across and partake in here in South Africa is badge and pin collecting. In some regions, such as South Africa, riders receive, upon entrance, a metal or cloth badge commemorating the event. Riders often attach these badges to their cuts as a way of displaying events that they had previously attended. Once more the club bylaws dictate whether or not this is allowed. For instance, the current club I associate with encourages this collection. Whereas certain clubs in the same region do not allow for this.
Along with the commemorative badges riders will often add other personal/customisation badges. Like in the image above I have added the Honda Wing emblem as I prefer Honda bikes. So each rider will add trinkets and such to make his or her cut their own. Another piece of customisation that I have come across is riders having their nickname embroided just below the bottom rocker on their cut.
So in essence, and to summarise, the cut can be seen as a biker’s passport. The patch and rockers displays the riders “nationality” (club), the customisation bits convey the rider’s identity and the badges can be seen as passport stamps, showing all the events and locations where the rider had previously been. All these things combined gives a rider a significant bond to their cut.
With all this in mind I wish you a safe ride and enjoyable journey. Go collect some “stamps”