What Does the Number 13 Mean in the Motorcycling World? (ORIGINAL Definition Found)

If you have been around the motorcycle scene for a while, especially in a motorcycle club, you surely have heard of patches and MC clubs.

One such patch that gets much attention is the diamond-shaped one with the number 13. Usually worn as part of the colors between the top and bottom rocker.

There have been different meanings and misinformation about the 13 patch for decades. This post will talk about the true origins and what the patch means.

The diamond 13 patch was created in Southern California as an anti-AMA (American Motorcycle Association) common patch. It was used by the early outlaw clubs to mark their distinctions from the AMA clubs and also express their dissatisfaction and defiance of AMA. In the early 30s, AMA tried to take over the motorcycling and club scene. Resentful of the rules that AMA had set up, outlaw motorcycle clubs were born, and the 13-patch culture was birthed. The 13 diamond patch also stood for the top 13 racing outlaw motorcycle clubs in southern California. These top racing outlaw motorcycling clubs were awarded both the patch and trophy. They became part of what was called the diamond club. The diamond club was a small part of the southern California outlaw federation racing scene. 

Read about famous motorcycling clubs in Florida including many 1% clubs.

Evolution of the 13 diamond patch

AMA had called the outlaw racing clubs and their club members 1percenters in the late 40s, which led to the birth of the 1percenter clubs. But it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the term 1% started catching on. The number 13 diamond patch shape began to be replaced with a 1% diamond patch. Outlaw motorcycle gangs began changing the colors of the club to show the 1% patch. Many motorcycle riders began wearing the 13 diamond shape and the 1% percenter patch together.

When worn together, the 1% patch was worn as a square shape, while the 13 patch was a diamond patch.

The transition from the 13 to the 1% biker patches was in full swing in the 1970s. And that’s when bikers completely gave up the 13 diamond patch and replaced it with the 1% patch in a diamond shape as part of their 3-piece patch.

Why was the diamond shape chosen for the 13 patch?

During the anti-AMA movement in southern California, lots of riders of the movement had a military background. The diamond shape was something that they were familiar with in the military, and they carried it forward.

What are some false narratives about the 13 diamond patch origins and meaning?

There are many false narratives, and the 13 diamond patch today means different things to different outlaw bikers. Here are the top inaccurate stories about the origins and meaning of the 13 diamond patch.

13th letter of the English alphabet: The 13th letter of the alphabet is M. And M stands for Marijuana or Motorcycle or even Methamphetamine. So if you are into motorcycles and deal in these illegal activities such as being a user of marijuana or Methamphetamine or other drugs then by wearing the 13 patch on your leather jacket you are announcing that to the world!

Jurors and judge: Another incorrect definition of the 13 patch is that the wearer has complete self-judgement and can mete out justice on their own. This comes from it being equivalent to twelve peers, plus one extra for being in charge — being the judge!

Support patch: Many believe that the 13 diamond patch was awarded to loyal support club members by the dominant MC of the territory. Dominant MCs would be Hells Angels Motorcycle Club or Bandidos MC, for example.

13 loops and 13 steps: A motorcycle rider would much rather climb the 13 steps to the gallows and hang from the noose made up of 13 loops than betray his brotherhood.

What are some other questions that get asked around this 13 patch topic?

All discussions around the 13 diamond patch will invariably involve the mention of the top outlaw MCs and various things about the biker culture.

1. Some of the top outlaw motorcycle clubs of the world are:

  1. Hells Angels MC
  2. Outlaws MC
  3. Pagan MC
  4. Black Pistons MC
  5. Bandidos MC

2. How did the Hells Angels get their name?

In their own words, HAMC says: “81 is a metonym. It stands for the 8th letter of the alphabet which is an H, and the 1st letter of the alphabet which is an A, HA = Hells Angels.”

3. How many patches are there on a motorcycle leather jacket?

Traditional motorcycle club members wear a three-piece patch on their jackets. These are the top patch, the center patch, and the bottom patch. The bottom patch indicates the territory of the club. The middle patch is essentially the insignia or the club’s emblem. And the top patch is the club name.

4. As a member of an outlaw biker world, can you renounce your membership?

The short answer is NO. If you try to, then be prepared for major problems. No outlaw motorcycle member ever leaves.

It is considered very disrespectful to leave and is tantamount to disloyalty. Not something any MC is prepared to tolerate.

You die with your boots on ☠️!


The three-piece biker patch is steeped in tradition and meaning. If you wear one, you wear culture, history, meaning, honor, loyalty, defiance, and a lot of pride.

Always dig and know what patches on your biker vest mean because every patch means something, but some patches mean everything ❤️.

Have another story or take about the 13 diamond patch came about to be? Please be so kind as to share that with me and the rest of the readers.
Thank you and see you on the next one! ✌️

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Mike, the motorcycle enthusiast behind SuperBike Newbie, fell in love with superbikes during his college years. He owns a diverse range of motorcycles and offers valuable insights into motorcycling advice, maintenance, safety gear, and laws. Despite two decades of riding experience, he continues to learn and shares his knowledge on his website. Mike also has a keen interest in motorcycle club culture. While not a club member, he aspires to be one someday.

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