Motorcycle clubs like the Bandidos and the Hells Angels don’t have the best reputation with law enforcement officers and members of the public. Many of their members are involved in criminal activities, and some club leaders have ended up serving time in prison for their part in violent crimes.
These clubs refer to themselves as the 1%ers, or outlaw motorcycle gangs as the rest of us call them, because of the statement from the American Motorcycle Association that 99% of biker clubs are law-abiding. While there are plenty of well-behaved biker gangs who spend their time raising money for charity, it is the law-breaking clubs that make the headlines.
10 Own A Specific Make Of Motorcycle
Because they rely on organized crime to make money, leaders of the biggest outlaw motorcycle gangs also have strict rules about who can and can’t join their club. They need to make sure that new members are going to pull their weight and not cause trouble for other members.
These gangs often require members to ride a specific make of motorcycle, usually Harley-Davidsons. The Hells Angels will allow members who ride Buell bikes because the company is owned by Harley, but non-American motorcycles are frowned upon.
9 Ride A Certain Number Of Miles Per Year
It isn’t just enough to own a Harley-Davidson or another classic American motorcycle, however; you have to prove to the motorcycle gang leaders that you are a regular rider. One easy way that some clubs weed out the committed bikers from the weekend riders is to insist that their members ride a certain number of miles per year.
If you want to join the Hells Angels and to remain a member of this notorious gang, then you have to be willing to ride at least 20,000 miles every year.
8 Some Clubs Make New Members Race As An Initiation
Being accepted as a club member is a little like getting signed as a member of a fraternity. Potential members will have to prove to the rest of the gang just how much they want to join by doing anything and everything that is asked of them.
This can include carrying out all the menial tasks at the clubhouse, often for weeks or months at a time, or potential members may be asked to race against each other in order to decide who gets to be a new member.
7 Criminal Gangs May Ask More From New Recruits
When it comes to the toughest 1% motorcycle gangs worldwide, humiliation is not enough to show that a biker is committed to the club. In some cases, new members have been ordered by senior figures in the gang to commit crimes to prove themselves to the other members.
One Hells Angel recruit, who was working for the ATF as an informant, said that he was told he would have to kill a rival gang member before he would be granted full membership of the local chapter.
6 Take Care Of Your Biking Gear
The club colors and patches are a hugely important part of any 1%er gang’s identity, and members have to wear branded jackets identifying themselves at all times when they meet up with other bikers.
Anyone who fails to wear their gang colors, or who doesn’t keep their bike and their biking gear in good shape, is embarrassing the rest of the crew. And no-one wants to be on the wrong side of the kind of guys who have built their way up to leading outlaw motorcycle gangs!
5 Attendance At Meetings Is Mandatory
The life of a motorcycle gang member may look like it is carefree, but there are actually a lot of rules if you want to be one of the 1%. Aside from owning the right kind of motorcycle, and riding a set number of miles every year, many clubs insist that members attend every club meeting, which is referred to as church.
If they don’t have an acceptable excuse for missing a meeting, then they can be penalized or even kicked out of the club.
4 Follow The Strict Rules At Meetings
The meetings themselves are also run very strictly, with military-style road captains and sergeant-at-arms keeping everybody in line. Bikers clubs may look dens of iniquity from the outside, with lots of drinking and fighting, but everyone has to behave during meetings.
All clubs have their own rules, which usually revolve around obeying the commands of those in charge, while still allowing every member to have their say and not getting into fights during “church”. Anyone who does step out of line can expect to be penalized.
3 Women Are Not Allowed To Join As Members
The world of the outlaw motorcycle gang is still one that is dominated by white men. Many of the most notorious 1% clubs explicitly ban women members, while many frown upon allowing black or gay men to join either.
Women have their own role to play in motorcycle gangs, and it isn’t always a pleasant one. This explains why in many parts of the world female bikers have been so keen to set up their own women-only clubs, the first of which was the Motor Maids, established in 1940.
2 Loyalty Is Demanded From All Members
Loyalty is a major part of being part of the 1%ers. These are gangs that are involved in serious criminal activity, so they need to be sure that the other members have their backs. This loyalty covers everything from behaving properly at meetings to not seriously injuring or killing a fellow club member.
All bikers have to follow the orders of their superiors in the gang, regardless of what they are asked to do and what the consequences might be, and refusal to obey a command could have serious consequences.
1 It Is Often Harder To Leave Than It Is To Join
Any member who breaks enough minor rules could find themselves kicked out of the club; break one of the club’s major rules and your exit from the gang could be a bit more permanent.
If a biker has second thoughts about joining a motorcycle gang, they may well find that it is harder to leave than it was to join. Joining a group like the Hells Angels is seen as a lifetime commitment, though long-term members are sometimes allowed to retire with dignity after years of service.
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