Guest Author - Nancy Brotherton
Have you heard of the Hells Angels, the Pagans, the Bandidos, and the Outlaws MC? These are considered the big four names of motorcycle clubs that are “outlaw” motorcycle clubs. The term “Outlaw” and “One Percenters” are commonly used interchangeably to refer to these types of clubs.
In 1947, there was an American Motorcycle Association (AMA) sponsored rally, entitled the “Gypsy Tour” which resulted in overwhelming biker attendance. What was supposed to be some fun times with other bikers and great motorcycle racing ended up changing the culture of motorcycling. The small town of Hollister, California wasn’t prepared for the large attendance and some rowdy bikers got out of hand by drinking and fighting. The newspapers sensationalized the event making it look like the bikers took over the town.
To minimize damage to the motorcycling world, AMA went on record by saying, in a nutshell, that ninety-nine percent of all motorcyclists are law-abiding citizens, and the last one percent of motorcyclists are outlaws. Then in 1953, a movie starring Marlon Brando as a wild, leather clad biker in “The Wild One” fed the public fear of the outlaw biker type. It is believed that “The Hollister Incident” was the birth of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
The patches that bikers wear on their jackets or vests help to identify what motorcycle group they are with. There are motorcycle clubs, motorcycle riding groups, and motorcycle associations. Motorcycle clubs have three piece patches and these patches are considered their colors. A true motorcycle club has a main patch that is their club symbol or logo, a patch with their club name and a patch designating the Chapter identification. When a member of a motorcycle club wears their patches, they also have one that has an “MC” for motorcycle club to indicate that they are a “true” motorcycle club. Outlaw clubs also may wear a one-percenter patch. If it is a riding club, like the Harley Owners Group, there is no “MC” and their patches consist of two patches with a large group logo patch and a rocker that has the Chapter or State Identification. A Motorcycle Association such as the American Motorcycle Association will have a one piece patch.
Outlaw groups are very exclusive and membership information isn’t typically posted on their websites for public knowledge because you have to contact one of their members to find out about joining. One of the websites stated, “If you have to ask the question, you probably won’t understand the answer.” Outlaw groups may have some form of initiation challenges of some type to prove your worth and riding abilities. Many won’t even consider you for membership unless you ride a minimum number of miles per year (20,000 or more per year). Riding is their life and passion, so it should be yours as well, to the exclusion of all else.
Until next week