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Some bike clubs charge annual dues or fees to join.

What do I have to consider when determining whether to join a club? Any clear tell-tale signs to avoid?

A more subjective question is: what is the point of joining a club, especially if you are going to be contributing an annual fee?

  • This might be better posed as "What benefits do bike clubs provide?" to get objective responses. The worth paying for part is pretty subjective to each individual. – Batman Nov 23 '15 at 19:37
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    Also, not all the cost is money, a lot of clubs will expect you to attend working bees to maintain their velodrome or other facilities. Some clubs will allow you to work in lieu of some or all of the fees, and others have deep discounts for some people (often non-racers and students, for example). If you have time and not money the working bees are often an excellent way to build goodwill and find out about ways to save money. You may find that "$200, and by being a member you save $200 in the first year by getting cheap deals" is something you can afford. – Móż Nov 23 '15 at 20:45
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    Also, consider whether you fit in with the social group. If the club appears to be comprised mostly of arrogant lycra wankers with $10k carbon bikes who ride 20 km once a month, might not be a good fit. Likewise if the club is predominantly green car-hating hippies who do critical mass rides to annoy traffic, then consider your group fit. Will you get into an argument with people? If so not worth the bother. – Criggie Nov 23 '15 at 21:24
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I'm going to disagree with Frisbee and note that there are many cycling clubs which aren't race teams but are just a bunch of people riding together and supporting a community of cycling in the area.

There are several things that you can get:

  • Group ride organization (support for the rides, sometimes food, planning, etc.)
  • Discounts at local bike shops and for certain group rides which cost money
  • Access to a workspace (shared tools)
  • Meeting people who bike in your area (social networking too, like Strava groups or whatever)
  • Advocacy for local cycling efforts (trails, etc.)
  • In some cases, the clubs run race teams as well (which will increase costs, to get team kit and stuff).
  • Insurance (as pointed out by RiderX in the comments)

That being said, is it worth it? Look at the clubs in your area and look at how much they're charging. If it makes sense to you, you may want to go for it. If not, don't. A lot of clubs are only 15-20 dollars a year, some will be good, some will be bad. Some will be more expensive, and some will be free, depending on how much they're providing and what not.

The best thing to figure out to avoid or join a club is to talk to cyclists in your area -- you may want to visit bike shops you trust and talk to the staff there, and other cyclists you know in the area. If you're new in the area, you may have some work to do in this regard.

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    What about insurance? Often club fees include paying for insurance (we actually did this for our non-racer memberships). We also included the club kit as part of the reg fees... you will be assimilated... – Rider_X Nov 23 '15 at 19:38
  • Read the answer again. Typically - if the are $400 and don't sponsor. Putting a name in an answer? – paparazzo Nov 23 '15 at 19:46
  • The point I'm disagreeing with is not the cost primarily (though I'm noting that many clubs are much less than that), but that they're typically for racers. The name is there to point to which answer it is (in case more appear). – Batman Nov 23 '15 at 20:06
  • Come on $400 does not assert that is a typical cost. In case more appear? - what if another appears with with same assertion. Good answer but you have comments to disagree. An answer should stand on its own. – paparazzo Nov 23 '15 at 20:45
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    +1 Many clubs also allow a few rides as a guest while you work out if you want to join. – andy256 Nov 23 '15 at 21:31
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Your fees pay for the running of the club, and your return is that they exist to do some/all of:

  • run bike races, on road or off road or track or whatever.
  • bulk purchase and supply of standard consumables like tubes or gels (ie my local 4wd club organises tow-ropes made to length for 1/4 the retail cost and superior hand-made quality.)
  • Advocacy - Raising cycling awareness by being active in politics (eg Cycle lanes vs Motor Vehicles)
  • Social meetups
  • Tool sharing - there are bike tools which you rarely need, and may not be worth owning yourself (a spoke tension meter for example)
  • Bike fixups/giveaways to help the community
  • Fundraising to assist top riders to remote events/races
  • Event-watching socials, so you watch "the game" on TV together.
  • Organise bike events other than races (float in the local Christmas parade, we're "jousting" with big foam lances on BMXs)

Not the same but related to Is it ethical to ride with races without being part of them?

  • Park Tool FR2 is a bad example, since most people who service their own bikes will have their freewheel tool or cassette tool pay off within one service. DAG 2.2 (derailleur alignment gauge) or TM-1 (spoke tension meter) or something would be more likely that people wouldn't have on hand, but a club might have. But I'm being nitpicky -- +1, anyway. – Batman Nov 23 '15 at 19:32
  • That's a much better example. Updated. – Criggie Nov 23 '15 at 19:36
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They are non profit. They do it to cover costs. This is typically for racers. You then ride for team X. I think there is a cost to register the team name. Often they will sponsor one or more races / rides and they will expect you to help. At a race they may have a tent and some shared supplies.

Ask them what the money goes for. If they tell you it is $400 and they don't sponsor any events then that is a bad sign. Group rides are typically free - that may be what you are looking for.

  • True they are nonprofit, but when you're on a fixed income it seems more like an investment than a drop in the bucket ($400 is way out of my budget), and biking isn't cheap. If I want to get the most bang for my buck I would stick with a group ride. That only depends on skill level, and fitness. However, like you mentioned being an advocate would be worthwhile. That would be great if they sponsored a race, especially if that is beneficial to the biking community. What things (other than advocating and race sponsoring) should I look for to know if a club is worth joining? – leaflifelayf Nov 23 '15 at 19:00
  • I don't know a single club that charges that is not associated with racing. If you are not a racer then I would just go for free group rides. If you want to give large rides are often looking for volunteers. Races typically want volunteers with race experience. – paparazzo Nov 23 '15 at 19:13
  • I am in a big town and shops and corporations will sponsor non-racing teams on some big rides then you you get access to their tent and/or transportation and you pay a fee. I just don't think of that as club but I guess it is. – paparazzo Nov 23 '15 at 19:54
  • I belong to a club that sponsors or supports racers and races, benefit rides, etc. Is it a racing club? No. They provide all the benefits listed in Batman's answer plus a few more like 4-5 group rides per week at varying levels of ability, and a spring and fall club dinner or picnic. Members get a 10% discount on everything at the LBS, which pretty much makes their prices match online prices. Non-members are welcome on the group rides. Membership fee is $40 per year. $400 per year is nuts unless you're getting something worth a hell of a lot more than group rides. – Carey Gregory Nov 23 '15 at 22:49
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    @Frisbee I was agreeing with you that $400 is ridiculous. – Carey Gregory Nov 24 '15 at 0:39

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