These days, when you think of Hoboken, it's cappuccinos and carpacio of beef, trendy clothes and day spas, high-rise apartments with a view and warehouses converted to pricey condominiums. But before all of that, Hoboken was the kind of place that fostered sneakers dangling from telephone wires, factory workers and Elks clubs. It was the kind of place from which a motorcycle club sprang. Twenty years later, the Hoboken Motorcycle Club still thrives. Though most of its members have moved from Hoboken or never lived there in the first place, and their digs are technically in Jersey City, they still proudly wear the HMC logo on their denim jackets and ride up Washington Street each spring. "We set off all the alarms," said current club president Joe Fersch, whose shaved head and fu man chu might set him apart in some circles, but here, it's hard to pick him out of the crowd. The club itself, just over the Hoboken - Jersey City border on Hoboken Road, is a Harley lover's version of a converted shop: where once rubber ball bearings were made, there's now a bar, a big screen television and a few bedrooms for the more discreet behavior of club members. Founded 26 years ago by a group of motorcycle enthusiasts that included current member Peter "Chipper" Falco, the Hoboken Road address is the club's third. They started out at 102 Clinton St. for just a few months. They moved to more spacious digs at 1317 Willow Ave., now the sight of a health club. The move to Hoboken Road in 1987 will likely be permanent. They've got lots of space and are far enough from their neighbors that they don't worry about noise complaints. So just who are the members of the Hoboken Motorcycle Club? Though they're still the place for motorcycle enthusiasts to meet, the club now only takes prospective members who drive Harley Davidsons. Why Harley? "Is there any other kind?" said Falco, who is a lieutenant on the Hoboken Police force. But Falco remembers the club's beginnings, when some members even drove Honda bikes. "It's just a decision we made as the years went by," Falco elaborated. "Having a Harley is the dream of any biker." Though the number of Hoboken Motorcycle Club members is a secret - Falco will go only as far as to say there are a lot - the membership is as healthy as ever with would-be members going through the initiation process at all times. For you to get the 12-piece Hoboken Motorcycle Club patch (they're the only club in the U.S. to have a patch that's more than one piece) club members have to be pretty sure they want you. The process starts with the initiation period, during which the prospective member gets to hang out at the club for a few months, go on a few rides and reveal his general character. (And it's always his, because there are no women allowed in the Hoboken Motorcycle Club.) "We want to make sure they're really interested in riding," said club vice-president Dennis Sicola, a refrigeration and plumbing technician at Nabisco. "No drunks or alcoholics," adds Fersch, who works for the Clifton Board of Education. The next phase is prospecting. "Then we really treat them like dirt," said Falco. "They clean and dump the trash." After four months of prospecting/maid service, the existing members decide by a vote whether to let the prospective member in. The club, which meets every Friday night, operates under parliamentary rules and has an extensive set of bylaws governing it. Members are required to attend one meeting a month. On Sundays, the club typically schedules a run, or a motorcycle ride to various locations in the tri-state area. And hitting the open road is really what brings the men together. "It's a feeling of freedom," said Sicola, his poetic waxing briefly interrupted as another member enters and flashes a new girlie calendar he brought for the club. "You're completely in control and completely relaxed." But beyond the call of the open road, the club has another vocation: charity. Though the members downplay their involvement, the club holds a toys-for-tots party and donates four bulletproof vests to a local police department each year. They also pitch in whenever they hear of someone in need, from relatives with cancer to children with serious illnesses to established charities like City of Hope, which uses funds to help AIDS patients. "We help anybody that needs it," said Fersch. The club also sponsors Hoboken-based soccer and baseball teams for kids. But the event that most people remember them for is their summertime parties, which attract 12,000 to 14,000 people and ooze out onto Hoboken Road and down the block. They're rumored to be fun but wild, with events like wet T-shirt contests that become bare-breasted affairs as the day wears on. But you'll have to check it out to find out what really goes on. So even though you don't see the club's trademark row of Harleys on Eighth Street anymore, and their visits to the Elysian or the Cadillac Bar are becoming fewer, they're still making a place for themselves in Hoboken.