Motorcycle clubs have have existed in America for a long time. While TV shows like Riverdale would have you believe that members of such a club are edgy heartthrobs, reality argues otherwise. Some of them have a knack for evading the law, while others are just motorbike enthusiasts trying to make the most of their time and have some fun and thrill along the way. However, not all stereotypes are inaccurate. The biggest giveaway is the club members’ love for leather jackets, embroidered patches and amazing bikes. Being part of an MC (motorcycle club) has a lot to do with identity, each member has some sort of insignia displayed in the form of patches sewn on accessories and clothes (mostly jackets). Overall, it’s a tempting life, especially for those who love the road and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Also, not all motorcycle clubs are formed equal. While it is no secret that some of these clubs are much rather gangs, most of them abide by the law. The American Motorcyclist Association swears by its honest majority but that’s probably why the good ones don’t get as much attention. While it is untrue that the people associated with motorcycle clubs are all bad. It cannot be denied that being a member can get you a lot of raised eye brows. As interesting as it sounds, let’s dive into how some of the most popular motorcycle clubs and how they operate.
If you’re interested in joining a club, it shouldn’t be this one. Hell’s Angels top the list for all the wrong reasons. The club turned gang was inaugurated in Fontana, California in 1948 by the Bishop family. It may come as a shock that the club still maintains its reputation 62 years later but that’s because of how stringent entry is. The leaders don’t just go handing out membership badges to everyone. That said, there isn’t much information on how people can qualify to join; those who do, keep it to their comrades which is why such things hardly ever get out.
In 2020, Hell’s Angels are no stranger to the perks of globalization and it has expanded across the border with over forty chapters in various countries. The club has had numerous run-ins with the police to the point where some members have even been charged with murder. It is also no surprise that the club is a male majority with only a few non-whites or females.
To add to the mystery, members are given a different name upon initiation. Whether this is just a ritual or serves any proper protective purpose is unknown. Nonetheless, members ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles and when Hell’s Angels aren’t meeting up in bars, they can be found flaunting their powerful vehicles out in the open.
This club isn’t known for its stand-alone popularity. Rather, it has gained attention due to its association with Hell’s Angels. Although relatively small, Hell’s Angels have outsourced its work to The Tramps numerous times. So much so that the authorities call them their puppets. Because of their subsidiary status, the club doesn’t merit being called badass on their own.
Additionally, as a result of legal entanglement, many members of the Tramps have had their weapon licenses revoked but that doesn’t mean these people stop working for their ‘parent’ club. If anything, they only come into action when beckoned which is probably why there isn’t much about them in mainstream media to sift through. The public information reveals that they are based in Victoria, Texas.
What started as a harmless motorcycle club in the 1960s has now evolved into a traditional one-percenter. Naturally, as more members were allowed in, the motto of the group failed to withhold. Once peaceful, the Pagans are now a must-have in every notorious motorcycle club list. It is said that the Pagans’ humble roots became diluted after individuals holding grudges against the government came into the picture. Perhaps that is why this gang is officially governed by its president. You may be surprised to know that the first one was paid the same amount as the US’s president in the 1960’s. If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast looking to get rich, maybe you should start polishing your skill set to become the Pagans’ next president.
Unlike the majority of their counterparts, members of this club initially adorn denim jackets. There are no patches and no leather involved. Years later, they still haven’t conformed to the norm, however, it cannot be denied that you can look just as sick in blue as long as you’re riding a great motorcycle. And the Pagans’ taste in their vehicles was also once a point of distinction. Although they have shifted to Harley Davidson, members were very fond of Triumph Motorcycles in the past.
In a world thriving on resentment toward the law, the Pagans have managed to give Hell’s Angels tough competition. While most club rules are kept under wraps, one is understood by everyone. A pagan must never covert, and if they do, they’re accused of showing serious disrespect. This is partly the reason why the gang continues to expand; it has been known to acquire smaller – less powerful – clubs and keep its members under a tight leash of loyalty.
The Black Sabbath
Unlike the outlaws, the Black Sabbath isn’t part of the one percent minority. But that’s not all that makes them unique. Almost every motorcycle club in the US employs the use of one type of vehicle, it is what they come to be known for. Men and women belonging to the Black Sabbath don’t rely on a fixed preference. Members can ride different bikes according to their personal choice. Granted, the vehicles must be street legal. This is another indicator of the club’s disassociation with lawlessness and the authorities acknowledge that its activities comply with rules and regulations established by the government.
If you’re a fan of the English music band with the same name, you might be disappointed to learn that the motorcycle club has no connection to the band Black Sabbath. But besides that, getting into this club doesn’t seem to be as scary as the rest. Plus, if you don’t currently own a Harley-Davidson, you will still get in. What you should do is acquaint yourself with their motto: ‘a breed apart since 1974’.
Diversity matters and Chosen Few recognize that. Which is to say that it is one of the few mixed-race biker clubs out there. As the name suggests, the gang’s screening process is a little unique. Because members are not discriminated against based on skin color, all individuals seeking entry must hold certain values. Such that, racism is forbidden on all accounts and any ethnicity can join. One would hope that because the Chosen Few are so progressive; they would not be a 1 percenter. Unfortunately, they are. However, not all members of this club are outlaws and the club as an organization supposedly isn’t as ruthless as the Hell’s Angels.
It was founded in 1959 and currently operates in Los Angeles as one chapter out of the many all over the US. The first member of this biker club was black and a white male joined one year after its incorporation.
The Grim Reapers
The Grim Reapers originated in Kentucky in 1965 and later expanded nationwide into different counties. At one point in time, this motorcycle club was considerably large. Today, however, it doesn’t have as many numbers as its rivals as a result of multiple investigations by the authorities. Unlike the chosen few, this club has some pretty outdated membership criteria. All members must be white and this has been an integral joining requirement for decades.
While the club hasn’t always had top-notch civilians as members, it does boast of its extensive charity work. It does sound confusing but many biker gangs make sizeable contributions to helping the community. This is another stereotype that holds outside film and literature. Interestingly, even though The Grim Reapers are a one-percenter group, they have been hired to provide security against crime. Ironic, right?
Founded in San Leon, Texas in 1966, Bandidos is a notorious motorbike club that has also managed to branch out internationally. It is one of the larger biker gangs with locations in 22 countries including Australia, Germany, Greece, Canada, and Finland. Their motto ‘We are the people our parents warned us about’ is pretty hard to miss and vouches for their casual lawlessness. Unlike white-majority groups, Bandidos’ inception was a result of its founder’s admiration for Mexican bandits. According to sources, he was inspired by how the Mexicans set their own rules and thus, were truly in control of their lives. Today, this MC is where it is because of uncompromised and ambitious recruiting.
Once again, this club is also a male majority, however, it does have a fair share of Hispanic men. There are quite some Vietnam veterans in the mix too and initiation is long and difficult. Bandidos employs a set of challenges to decide whether people are worthy of joining. To say that it is not easy to get into this club would be a massive understatement. And even when people manage to gain membership, they must safeguard their label as well as their signature vests at all costs. Anything less is seen near to blasphemy which possibly can’t be met with a pleasant response.
If there’s any motorbike club that takes loyalty seriously, it is the Highwaymen. All associated individuals are required to treat their membership status carefully otherwise it can lead to immediate removal. Naturally, this means that members should not even think about joining rival groups let alone do something to suggest they are lacking in allegiance. At the same time, being loyal to the Highwaymen also means being a responsible part of the team. Attending all meetings is a must as the latter are usually held when important decisions need to be made.
There’s also a very prominent hierarchy within the club, whereby, top-tier secrets such as criminal activities are only revealed in the presence of certain ranks. Since its origins in Michigan, 1954, this one-percenter has boasted of how tough members are. Needless to say, the logo and the motto ‘Highwaymen forever, forever Highwaymen’ speaks volumes in terms of never-ending dedication to the cause – even if it isn’t appreciated by everyone.
The Warlocks truly live up to their name, and their notoriety is so unique that other motorbike gangs are hesitant to work with them altogether. The members of this club are particularly ruthless, so much so that their run-ins with the police have ended in gruesome ways. Moreover, they don’t take rivalry lightly. If any other club is seen posing a threat, the Warlocks are quick to take the offensive and claim what is truly theirs. This is probably one of those groups on the list that should not be messed with.
The club was initiated by ex-US naval men in 1967, Florida, and has spread beyond American territory over the years. Like their motto, they are very secretive and there isn’t enough information to go around to give this club a complete review. Nevertheless, their gleaming phoenix logo serves as a glaring marker of their presence as it is embedded all across their jackets and badges.
The Black Pistons
Founded in Germany, in 2001, this motorcycle club later laid roots within the US. The club has a whopping 70 chapters across various states and is run by a huge group of dedicated motorbike enthusiasts. It is obvious that being part of such an organization demands commitment to a certain kind of lifestyle but The Black Pistons have a lot more to them than their love for vehicles. They’re unregistered; however, the club isn’t widely recognized as an outlaw group. That is because even though some members have committed crimes in the past, they don’t represent the club as a whole. In fact, their support base is so strong that even the authorities haven’t been successful in shutting them down. The black Pistons are most popular in Britain and have been known to indulge in ‘less than innocent’ activities.
In retrospect, all notorious motorcycle clubs tell stories of their own. Since you’ve made it to the end of this article, you know that being a member could be your one-way ticket to a life packed with action – and of course, motorbikes! However, joining an MC means you must conform to a long list of rules, and if you’re someone who’s looking to start their club on their terms, don’t hesitate. To build your club’s identity, come up with a name that represents what you stand for, and take it from there. If you’re unsure about the branding of your club, reach out to us on 541-248-8831 or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org and get a quote for your custom motorcycle patches to brand and create an identity for your club. Stay legal and stay safe !