The Cubscout chapter I was in was horrible, but my kids thought theirs was great ....
As with any group that has many local chapters, there are some great local groups and some horribly bad ones. HOG membership is free the first year after you buy a bike, so it might be worth it to check out your local chapter just to see if there's anybody you want to ride with. If your chapter sucks, no loss, just don't go back.
My local HOG chapter does put on a lot of 2 to 7-day well-planned rides, 1 or 2 per month during the riding season. The political bullpucky stays pretty low. There are posers, but the majority of folks seem to actually ride. The dealer seems to let the elected leaders run the show. From what I've heard, all this seems to be unusual.
I'm staying in HOG for a while so I can easily get a rental bike and get into the 100th party when we go to Australia next year. I prefer to ride in small groups of 1 to 6, not 50 to to 1000, so I only ride with the group occasionally. And personally, I can do without all the patches and pins stuff (shouldn't you have to kill somebody to get patched?... I do appreciate their charity work, so I show up and help out when they do MDA, etc.
Just go to a dang meeting and decide for yourself. I do actually have a relative that is the pres. of his chapter and they are actually a pretty organized group that takes a lot of great trips and no other BS. I also know my dealers chapter is a joke. If nothing else you might meet some other guy who is there just out of curiosity and you end up with a new riding buddy and you both never go back. I'd feel silly in some of the patch and pin get-ups some of them wear but that's just me...I tend to pretty much not join anything. My jacket has nothing at all on it, I don't own a vest (or a do-rag, chain-drive wallet or closet full of dealer shirts for that matter), it just isn't my style to feel the need to play dress-up when I ride. That's fine for the people who find dressing like that comes naturally but for me it isn't natural and I'd be a phony if I did. That does seem to be a big part of HOG...but then again it's a big part of HD culture in general.
I rolled into a parking lot with my wife July 4th to take in the local fireworks and a few other Harley riders waved me over to the corner they had staked out, they obviously reccognized the bike as a Harley. When I pulled up and they saw me in my golf shirt and short hair it was like I dropped a turd in their punchbowl. I wasn't unwelcome and we chatted a little but clearly they didn't think I looked "Harley" enough to them. My wife and I laughed all night about it. I only wished we'd had dug out our old full-face helmets before we left the house and really offended them. sorry...that story had nothing to do with HOG did it??