Thursday, February 4, 2010

When a HOG Chapter Disbands

There have been many Harley dealerships that have closed up for good due to the recession. But I hadn't once given a thought to what becomes of their associated HOG chapter.

That is until after I read Mary Baker's article this morning about the Shreveport, LA HOG chapter disbanding after 25 years of existence...

Heads are still reeling and members are still in disbelief, but the announcement that Shreveport Harley-Davidson will close their doors and consolidate at the Bossier City location means that the Harley Owner's Group (H.O.G.) will disband. (link...)

The Bossier City location that Mary talks about is a nearby Harley dealership with its own HOG chapter.

I suppose it makes sense that if a dealership closes, its associated HOG chapter closes also. But on the other hand, why?

Isn't a riding club about riding together? What does a dealership have to do with it?

I guess Harley-Davidson owns the Harley Owners Group trademark, and so legally these riders cannot keep that chapter going. But a riding club isn't really about the name.

And so you think about that in more detail, and you realize that there really isn't any difference between a riding club and a motorcycle club. If a club is defined by its members, and if members truly care about the club, a club by any other word would still be just as together.

But obviously in the case of HOG chapters, a dealership holds the fate of its club.

I got sense from Mary's article that the Shreveport dealership and the Bossier City dealership were close enough together, that geography wasn't much of a factor in deciding which HOG chapter to join. It was more a question of which chapter a rider felt most comfortable in.

So if the Shreveport, LA HOG Chapter was truly a unique group of riders, that had something special going, then obviously it can still exist as an independent riding club, under another name. A club shouldn't have to die because of a dealership.


  1. What you mention here is something I hope never happens to my Chapter, but it could just like that, and at anytime. It's hard to come to grips with. Sure, what makes my Chapter special is the people, not the dealership that sponsors us. But, as you said, the MoCo owns it. We exist at their pleasure, just like a Charter of an M/C. Being sponsored gives us our basic by-laws, our tax status, our ability to have insurance coverage for our rides, etc. To be honest, if the Chapter was no more and the Members left without a home wanted to start an independent riding club, I'm sure we could. We could also join another Chapter at another local Harley dealer. It just wouldn't be the same, and I hope it doesn't happen in my lifetime.

  2. To have a HOG Chapter you have to be sponsored by a dealership. The chapter belongs to the dealership. If the dealership folds then the chapter folds. Most members of a HOG Chapter are aware there are other more exclusive clubs they can belong to, but they want to belong to HOG. Everyone has a right place in the motorcycle community and the HOG member belongs with HOG for his own reasons. He would be a fish out of water in a different group. HOG is an awesome organization in many ways. What HOG has to offer is unique and valuable. First off, not anyone can slap a patch on their vest and proclaim they are now a riding club. You have to run that through the big clubs for permission. You may have to pay allegiance to the dominent MC in your area. Belonging to HOG is understood by the MC's to be neutral and we coexist because of this understanding. This is not to be taken lightly. Secondly, as Joker points out, HOG has a turn key system, an insurance policy and lawyers to back it up. This insurance policy is what allows us to organize group rides and open events. As long as we follow our guidelines and fill out our paperwork we should be covered in the liabilty of someone getting hurt and blaming us. Sure you can start your own riding group, but if someone takes you to court because you lead them down a gravel road and they fell and hurt their rump... who is gonna have your legal back? If you think about it, the Dealerships are most at risk by having a HOG Chapter. The dealerships all deserve a huge thank you for putting their butt on the line to have a HOG Chapter. The HOG organization has pretty much thought of everything so that we HOG members can just concern ourselves with riding and having fun. HOG is great!

  3. I just went through this with the closing of my favorite dealership and the disbanding of my HOG Chapter (I was the Asst. Director for 2 years and about to become the Director for 2010).

    The dealer that sponsored us owns another dealership and has encouraged us to join the chapter there. Before the closing the two HOG chapters worked well together, most of our members were also members there, so that transition is going well for those members (myself included). The other chapter's officers and members have welcomed us with open arms and have gone to great legnths to makes us feel at home.

    Emotions are running high with our members right now, and a lot of them feel lost. Frankly I feel kind of lost too. 2010 was going to be the Chapter's 20th anniversary year, and plans were already well underway for the celebration that will now never happen.

    It's all just very sad.


  4. It is a shame that you need the dealership to have a chapter. I understand why but it kind of slaps freedom in the face. So, lets kill all the lawyers, and then we don't have to be worried about being sued.

  5. Don't worry if your dealership goes to the wall.You can still retain your chapter status.We did and have done for many years now with the consent of Harley Davidson!

  6. This sux. We lost our dealership also. We are Brooklyn HOG. New York. None of us want to join neighboring chapters in Queens or Staten Island. We are going to try and stay together as a club. Begining with Incorparating then getting affiliated with the A.M.A. For insurance purpose's and all the other reason's we became "H.O.G." members. But cutting a loyal chapter loose after 25 years dosen't make sense to me. These chapter's exist, and let there be no doubt about this, to keep you as a customer coming back into the dealer to service your bike and buy their merchandise. Simply put some guys from the motor company got together and said once the customer buys the bike how do we keep them coming back to the dealership. Hence H.O.G. You pay national dues to the motor company for what I still don't know (oh yeah you get to be towed free once a year) but your still paying the dues towed or not. Then you get to pay chapter dues to belong to the club so you may become a loyal custormer for the dealership. To keep you coming back! Then when they feel like closing a dealership because their not meeting their quota of bikes sold tney take back the franchaise.They don't care about the chapters. I for one will not be renewing my National membership and they will not care one bit. What I will be doing is sending letters and emails to my local papers and see how Harley-Davidson likes that. My local papers being the New York Times, The New York Daily News,And The New York Post.Someones gotta get their attention,we are one hundred plus members strong, we bought your bikes ,we bought into your idea of H.O.G. and you disband the chapter and cut us loose because in the hard times your not selling enough really expensive motor cycles.So let the little guy pay once more.

  7. The shreveport owners bled the dealership dry and destroyed a dealership that had been here for years. What a shame greed is.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)