Steel Horses Cruising Motorcycles Social Club is typical of how small, niche clubs are becoming more popular while larger motorcycle clubs are struggling to retain members.
With its emphasis on small membership, riding every Sunday, plenty of social meetings and “fun”, the Brisbane-based club is the antithesis of big, impersonal and “political” clubs.
“Most of our members have come from other clubs that are just too big,” says president “Steiny”.
“A big club is not necessarily a good thing. They can be too cliquey. You’re better off with a good core of members.”
Steel Horses was started in Brisbane in 2009 by members of other motorcycle clubs. They wrote some rules and immediately incorporated the club for insurance reasons, so members knew they rode at their own risk.
It now has about 26 members and while they are always interested in new members, they see the club stabilising around an “ideal” 30 members.
Steiny says they did get a little too political at one stage, so they moved “back to our roots of riding and social activities”.
He says the club is an ideal size because everyone knows everyone else in the club and “cliques” don’t develop like they do in bigger clubs.
Ride ride ride
Steel Horses has an emphasis on riding with a long ride (300-500km) every Sunday even if it falls on Christmas Day, plus unofficial breakfast rides to Mt Glorious every Tuesday and Springwood Suzuki on Fridays.
Club newsletter editor “Kim” is also a Ulysses member, but says they don’t go for rides often enough.
“As far as I know we’re the only club that rides every weekend including Christmas,” he says. “That’s a big attraction. I know people who have tried to ride with Ulysses and haven’t been spoken to the whole ride.”
Ride captain “Rowdy” says there is no pressure on members to ride hard with an emphasis on a cruisey ride in staggered formation with no overtaking.
“I trust everyone in this club not to do anything stupid,” he says.
“But we’re not squeaky clean, either.”
Steiny says safety is a big issue among members who believe that riding in a group creates more road visibility.
“Also, if you are out riding on your own and go off the road and no one sees you, you could be missing for days,” he says.
“And on the social side, when you ride in a small group you always have someone to talk to when you stop.”
Unlike large clubs which organise their own charity events, Steel Horses members say they are too small to organise such events.
However, they do attend some charity events on a voluntary basis.
Steel Horses members
Steel Horses has four female members and also allows pillions and social non-riding members.
Former Ekka Wall of Death and Globe rider, “Ned”, says she is not typically a club-joiner.
“I don’t like to be regimented,” she says.
“Steiny talked me into riding with the club and I rode around for a while and didn’t think I’d be a joiner, but here I am.”
She says there is no intimidation by male members.
“Most of the members are quite protective of the women,” she says.
“I’ve ridden with a lot of clubs, but this club is more social.”
Exception to the rule
Founding member “Ynot” says Steel Horses has a 20-page rule book and a seven-step grievance process to ensure there is no dispute over procedures, membership and other issues such as suitable bikes.
“We’re democratic, transparent, allow certain types of bikes and we have fun,” he says.
However, Steiny is an example of how the club can be flexible to accommodate good mates.
He crashed his Goldwing on a club ride and was several months in rehab. When he returned to riding, he moved to a Can-Am Spyder because of issues with his leg.
Although three-wheelers aren’t included in the club rules, he was allowed to remain because he had been a club member before his crash.
Steel Horses has an active website which includes every newsletter they have produced.
You can also view their ride calendar, photos and join up.
Club prospects have to ride with the group four times and attend two meetings before they can be approved for membership. They also must own and ride a cruiser or tourer motorcycle.
It costs $36 a year to be a member and $40 to join which includes a patch and club name tags.
Their ride calendar also features weekend getaways, including an annual Christmas-in-July event at Bowraville on the Central NSW Coast.
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