When most people see a person full of tattoos wearing a black leather jacket covered in patches, the first thing that comes to mind is "danger". Bikers are notorious for fighting, placing fear into the hearts of many, as well as possibly being involved in illegal activities.
But there are many things about biker gangs that you don't know. So, let's dive into a few facts that may change the way you see these road-loving folk.
Camaraderie Built Within Ranks by Using Aliases
To protect their privacy as well as build a deeper connection with each other in the form of brotherhood, bikers are known to have aliases, which are given to them by other members of their biker gangs. They're given names such as Burns because they love burning their tires on the road making Donuts, which is when your rev your bike at a high speed while holding on to the breaks making the back wheel slowly spin you in circles, or Playa, when a gang member is unable to form a commitment with one woman and choose to have many different sexual partners, earning him the reputation of being a player.
These names represent predominant qualities in the members and build camaraderie within their different ranks of the biker gang. Some have more hardcore meanings behind their names like Bones when getting into fights and breaking other people's bones.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
During the 1940s, women were not allowed into biker gangs. There was a strict code for men-only clubs and women were forced to start their own clubs as they too enjoyed riding bikes and having the wind gushing through their wild hair on long open roads. 1941 saw one of America’s first all-women motorbike clubs called Motor Maids. It saw a quick rise in all-female biker gangs as so many women shared a love for motorbikes.
Women took things into their own hands and proved that they could do anything men could do. This wasn't so much trying to prove a point from their side but rather, wanting equality in the sexes as so many men didn't approve of their wives riding on a motorcycle, let alone allow them into their clubs.
Strict Code Concerning Club Related Merchandise
Any flags, badges, club-related logos, or vests are to be treated with the utmost respect and represented with dignity and honor. No merchandise is allowed to be sold or swapped out or even left dirty. It's clean and always needs to maintain a respectable look. Upon leaving any bikers club, all merchandise is handed back to the club president, and anyone who fails to hand these things over after leaving a club more often than not faces very serious consequences.
The gang is your family and they believe that family comes first so they will take matters into their own hands if the rules are disrespected to protect and seek justice for their fellow biker gang members. One has to admire their loyalty to one another and their code.
Some Claim to Be the Rebellious One Percent
We have all heard the expression "there's always that one percent". This saying was taken to the next level by those in the biker community. While most bikers are good people with a decent moral code and an ethical value system among them, there is that 1 percent claimed by the more hard-core, mischievous biker gangs like Hells Angels, Mongols, and Outlaws. It's these gangs that have given the rest of the biker world a stereotypical reputation of being bad boys.
During 1974, a rally was held in California which had thousands of bikers gather in attendance. It was here that one of the organizers gave an impressive speech where he claimed that 99 percent of bikers were "good people" which led to the famous "1%" badge worn proudly by those belonging to the biker gangs with bad reputations.
Good Causes Covering Up Bad Intentions
Let’s talk about women. The Hell Angels are particularly known for their adulterous behavior when it comes to women, but they took it a step further when information leaked about them buying and selling women. Not only was this done against their will but the women experienced a lot of abuse. Hells Angels are also known to cover up their illegal activity with a charitable front including fundraising, where they actually did help many organizations but not as much as it helped their own pockets.
It has been reported that Hells Angels have used women as their currency in places like Berlin and more recently in Spain. The veils were lifted on their criminal activity and caused many of them to get rightfully arrested.
Justice Will Prevail Where Justice Is Sorely Needed
Since the start of biker gangs and mobs many, many years ago, authorities have had to resort to all kinds of lesser-known criminal act laws to clamp down on their criminal activities, especially concerning biker gangs as they always manage to find loopholes. Unfortunately, as with any society that runs on money as a currency, there are those in high places who get paid to turn a blind eye.
If you have been following the news at all, words like "RICO" might ring a bell. RICO stands for racketeer-influenced and corrupt organizations which is an organization that acts against these gangs, bringing justice to as far as possible to all. It's organizations like these that specialize in finding loopholes to bring the "bad guys" down.
Bikers and Violent Gang Wars
As much as we would like to believe that there are no longer dangers involved in joining biker gangs, there are still the unfortunate events of violence ultimately leading to tragedy. The most recent shootout occurred in 2015 between two biker gangs and the Texas police. Bandidos and Cossacks broke out in a gun-firing war on each other forcing officials to get involved, leaving nine people dead and a few injured.
Proving again just how nothing is assured in biker gangland. Your life and safety hang on the line and when there are firearms involved you are bound to lose either one. That said, biker gang culture has changed dramatically over the last decade or two and it has become less violent in many aspects.
The Biker Gangs Known for Causing Trouble
Let's look at the logistics, so the Pagans rule the East Coast, Midwest has the Outlaws, Colorado belongs to The Sons of Silence, and Vagos and Cossacks also have their fingers in the pie. The Hells Angels and Mongols have been having constant turf quarrels around California and the authorities have been keeping a close eye on these notoriously dangerous biker gangs.
On this note, it's safe to say that not all biker gangs are involved in illegal activities and unnecessary troubles they cause society. They are the 1 percent that gives the other ninety-nine percent a bad name due to their dealings in organized crimes like drug trafficking, arms deals, and violence.
Sharing a Love for Bikes Not Enough to Stop the War
Bikers all share the common thread of their love for riding, but unfortunately, it is not enough to stop them from hurting each other to gain power. We see these violent outbreaks among biker clubs or gangs all too often. Like the 2002 Nevada casino battle that broke out in public leaving just over a dozen injured and six dead. These wars are fatal and almost always have men or innocent bystanders in hospital, dead or injured.
The casino incident started out as a fight between the Hells Angels and the Mongols which turned into a bunch of these men pulling knives on each other, ultimately erupting into them taking out their firearms creating a mass shootout.
Capitalizing on Biker Gear and Merchandise
The biker scene has become more of a fashion statement than anything else and many people have caught on to the trend. You can now purchase any club's merchandise easily online and also rock the biker look without even having a motorbike. The Hells Angels have managed to create a very successful online shop through their reputation as one of the most hardcore biker clubs on earth.
Therefore their popularity has increased tremendously for all the wrong reasons, yet they have learned to capitalize on all this attention, bringing in large sources of income for themselves. The Hells Angels have also managed to create not only an online shop but an amazing online presence with links to their photos, videos, and all the information you need around the world of their doings, but we’re pretty sure they don't expose all of the details.
Think Twice Before Getting That Tattoo
The permanence of tattoos has its advantages and disadvantages just like with most things in life. When it comes to biker gangs, getting your club's logo or flag or name tattooed on your skin is the ultimate test of loyalty and a lifelong commitment. The problem comes in when you leave that club because it wants all its 'stuff' back once you leave so that there is no longer affiliation.
So, when you leave they would probably want their flag back too which has been permanently inked into your flesh? By no means are you allowed to still represent a club once you have left, in any way, shape, or form? This could also help you think twice before committing to biker gang tattoos.
Biker Clubs Are Impeccably Organized Within Their Ranks
There are many roles within the club with leaders, captains from the very top right to the bottom of the latest member to join. Those at the top have spent a long time staying dedicated to the club and took time to learn all the ins and outs. Many people have a misperception about biker gangs, thinking that they are all about the booze and the chaos, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Every position within the club's ranks has been placed strategically with a specific purpose. There is even a waiting period, like a type of probation before new members are allowed to join, first having to prove themselves before they are allowed to represent the club.
Hells Angels Are All About Protecting Their Image
Due to their reputation as one of the most hardcore motorbike gangs in the world, people assume they are somewhat animalistic, but the Hells Angels have managed to do themselves justice by portraying more of a business image these days than a hardcore biker gang. They are actually pretty sophisticated with their fine dining and good behavior in public as a means to protect their image and the Hells Angels name.
There has also been an incident where the club reportedly sued Walt Disney for using their name. Today there are many copyright laws in place protecting their name from being used against their knowledge or permission. Here the Hells Angels are seen enjoying a meal at a nice family restaurant like “normal” members of society.
Race Plays a Big Part in the Biker Community
Unless you are blind, there is no way to avoid seeing members of the same racial groups in clubs together. Most biker gangs have chosen to keep people of the same race together by not allowing others from different racial bloodlines to join. Hells Angels are an all-white males-only biker gang who have made it very clear to those of other color thinking about joining, to rather avoid it. To be honest, it seems pretty intimidating so we doubt any other racial groups have even thought about joining the Hells Angels.
The gangs are racially driven due to old mindsets shaping old traditions passed on through generations. There are rumors that many of these all-white male biker gangs have ties to white supremacist organizations so it's no wonder they are not allowing other racial groups within their clubs.
Only Men Allowed
Not only do biker gangs not allow people of other racial groups to join their clubs, but they also prohibit women from joining. Those clubs that do manage to allow women in, only allow women certain duties and force them into doing chores rather than have rights. The same rules do not apply to both sexes and males are by far the hierarchy.
Biker gangs like Bandidos have been known to exploit women and take full advantage of their desire to be a part of the gangs. We can't help but wonder why some women would want to be a part of these all-male clubs but we respect their freedom of choice.
Good Hearted Bikers and Clubs for Good Causes
There are many biker gangs who have the right intentions and whose hearts are in the right place. We spoke about the 1 percent of bad apples earlier like Hells Angels and Bandidos, but then there is the other ninety-nine percent that has built their empires on good causes, who ride in the name of love, like BACA, bikers against child abuse who go on rides handing out toys at orphanages or child care facilities, making sure children are safe and happy.
These bikers are known to act against bullying, we are not quite sure exactly how they do this and we chose to rather not find out. These guys take their causes seriously. There are clubs that prohibit the use of alcohol because of family members who died in car crashes due to drunk drivers. There are so many different, good-hearted bikers and bike clubs out there.
Violent Disputes Between Bikers
Bikers and their clubs or gangs are found all over the world. Almost every continent has witnessed some biker gang roaring on their highways, drawing ghastly attention to themselves. As much as it's amusing to watch, most of them manage to cause some kind of trouble ultimately leading to their so-called road party coming to an abrupt end.
Massive fights have broken out in places such as Great Britain and in Australia, some of these disputes between clubs have led to so much chaos, that bikers got kicked out of the country, like in Australia where the citizenships of some gang leaders' were taken away to prove just how serious the government was taking these violent outbreaks.
The Great Northern Biker War
Violence peaked at an all-time high during the 1980s' as two of the main biker gangs namely Bandidos and Hells Angels bashed heads on many levels. It became such an issue that it was even named the Great Northern Biker War. It lasted for three years and left many dead and injuries soaring to over a hundred.
It will go down in history as one of the most brutal and violent biker gang wars to ever come out of the United States of America, and even though a peace rally was captured on television with the promise to stop the war, the conflict never really ended there as they still cannot see eye to eye or agree on their governing areas.
It’s a Democracy and There Are Rules
Rules within the biker clubs or better-known gangs, do not always correlate with the rules of the law outside of them. There are many meetings held just like any other club which allow all matters to be addressed by each person in the club. Those rules are strict and if not obeyed lead to very serious consequences and punishment. It's a democracy and there are guidelines as to how to put issues forward.
Sometimes, the only way to follow these rules set out by the club President or biker gang leader is to break the law and possibly face prison sentences, but even this is better than breaking the rules of the biker gangs as punishment is sometimes even more severe. We are quite curious as to how much worse it can get than being locked inside a prison with no one to protect you?
Joining a Biker Gang, Everything but Easy
Some initiations into these biker gangs are quite horrific but it's something they have all gone through which makes the idea of riding in a shirt covered in human excrement until it's dry, a lot more bearable for some.
This is the initiation into the gang called the Bandidos which was issued by a journalist in 2012. There is also a very long waiting period and new possible members are forced to do many other disgusting chores.
The Wind in Your Hair Comes at a Price
Some rituals are too disgusting to mention but we have to get the facts out. Are you thinking about a biker gang? Well, we have to inform you that riding on that long open road dressed in leather and having a beautiful woman on the back being supported by fellow club members is just the tip of the iceberg that is visible to most of us. Yet, the reality of joining a biker gang is far from appealing.
With over 2500 members, the Hells Angels boast one of the biggest biker gangs stretching over 26 countries. It has been reported that they have to bathe in human excrement as part of their initiation. This is probably one of the most unhygienic initiations known to us today.
Compulsory Attendance or Else
When joining a biker gang, you have to live, eat, sleep, and breathe that gang. It must be your first priority before anyone or thing else. It becomes your world so it goes without saying that you are obligated to join every meeting or else face serious consequences. This means there are zero excuses no matter what. Whether you need to attend to your wife, your children, a sick family member, you name it, it does not count. It is for this reason that we can understand that some men choose to leave the gang at some point. although it seldom happens, it's quite the commitment and dedication.
Of course, there are some exceptions like being locked up, having a serious injury, or suffering from an illness. It’s only then that you can inform your gang and then ultimately the deciding factor is up to the president or gang leader.
Turf Wars That Kill
You can tell a lot about the patches on a biker's jacket. Aside from the importance of the name of the club, the area in which they rule is also stated below or around it and that is the deciding factor in turf wars. The most common reason for biker gang wars is due to the area they control or would like to control which leads to violent outbreaks. Gangs need territories to rule in order for them to make their money by moving things and people around under the protection and dominance of their own club.
When two or more gangs display the same area's name on their jacket, one can only assume that they will get into a fight somewhere along the line. A town or city is only as big as it is until it's too small for these biker gangs and their desire for full power and control.
It All Boils Down to Respect and Loyalty
There is only one moral code of the biker in a gang, and that is their loyalty to their club. Above everything, their dedication and commitment to their club are everything. It is the single most important thing in a biker belonging to a clubs' life. Without it there is no reason to be part of the gang, you have no reason to wear the merchandise or attend gatherings. Betrayal to your flag or club name ultimately leads to brutal beatings and even death. Biker gangs do not tolerate or have any sympathy for anyone who disrespects the club's name or even the merchandise as it always needs to be presentable.
These men who join the biker gangs are not your average member of society who follows 'normal' rules. They are the fearless outcasts, the ones who do things differently. The answer to their club president and no one else.
Keeping Club Secrets Inside These Walls
We all know what they say about Vegas. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, and the same applies to biker gangs and their business. It is the unwritten rule that no information about any of their doings is allowed to be shared with anyone outside of the gangs. Whether their doings are legal or illegal, it simply does not matter to the men who give their lives to serve their club.
Like with most things concerning biker gangs, anything aside from the rules will be dealt with in a very serious matter so leaking information has its sometimes fatal consequences. Rules are clear yet strict and some rules even go as far as not permitting to be talked about on the phone. No information is allowed to be shared with friends or family, proving just how serious the secrecy of the clubs is.
Harder to Get Out Than It Was to Get In
Now that we have delved into the difficulty in attaining membership within a biker gang, let’s look at the difficulty of leaving because it might turn out to be harder to get out than it was to get in. Some clubs do not allow for you to leave which makes us wonder how some men are then actually able to get away from the brotherhood they’ve shared and been working with side by side for many years, sharing in all kinds of dirty secrets.
It is, in fact, very difficult. Some men leave very abruptly and disappear to greener pastures overnight in the hopes of not be found again, but others are not so lucky and then end up facing horrid consequential beatings.
Biker Clubs Who Are Only in It for the Love of Riding
A lot has changed since the notorious biker clubs have become known for all the wrong, and illegal reasons. Many people enjoy riding and being a part of a club with good moral values and who really just want to share their riding experience with fellow riders. There are many biker clubs these days that have no involvement in drugs, wars, or other things not socially acceptable by the standard.
Some clubs exist today that, for example, only have medical professionals riding. Those ones crave camaraderie, brotherhood, and taking their petal horses out onto the road in the name of fun. Their lives are gentle and friendly and involve friends and family gatherings, unlike the one-percenters we spoke of earlier who share a dark secret life with only their gang members.
Hand Signals That Belong to the Bikers
With roaring motorbikes, bandanas, and often big helmets, these all hinder communication on the road do bikers have come up with hand signals to indicate their movements whether wanting to stop for a break or signaling roadblocks up ahead, you name it, they have managed to indicate their desires and warnings on the road.
It’s a universal road language for the biking community but we’re sure some clubs have their own signals too. Maybe those indulging in some illegal activity have their violent indications too meaning it's time to take someone out? Either way, they share a special bond and communicate on the road while riding.
Famous Connections Between Bikers and Celebrities
If you are a fan of good music, you will know that The Rolling Stones have had their connection to the Hells Angels too when they employed the biker gang to be security for one of their festivals. It ended up being one of the most tragic days in the band's music career as they could not stop the Hells Angels from living up to their violent reputation and saw one man killed in the audience.
It turned into a full-blown aggressive riot and it shed a bad light on their musical ethics a while after that, but they redeemed themselves with media apologies and explanations during the year 1969 when most people just wanted peace and love during an already violent time in history concerning the United States of America.
Added Security When Riding Together
We have all witnessed the roaming gangs of bikers at some stage in our lives as they are momentarily paused by a red light. You try to avoid eye contact but the scene is so amusing that you fail and your eye catches theirs. Your heart skips a beat while pounding like a washing machine and you quickly look away, only to return the gaze again while admiring their leathery attire.
Some wonder why they move in such numbers, and as it turns out, it comes from needing protection against rival gangs which has become standard procedure over time. With biker gangs like the Hells Angels who were and are in trouble a lot of the time, there is safety in numbers.
There Is a Strong Code to Follow With Each Club
When it comes to matching outfits, attire, and requirements, some biker clubs have even gone as far as having requirements for the motorcycle you are riding. There are many expectations and they differ with each club. From the look, to brand and make, to engine power and color. Those who want to be part of the Hells Angels are required to only ride Harley-Davidsons, while other clubs look down on sports bikes as they do not want to be affiliated with the flashy sports styles and racing.
Clubs that do not take part in criminal activities are more likely to be more accepting of different motorbike models as it is not so much about the look but more about just rising and having fun.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Let’s take a look at the history of the world of motorbikes. The first motorbike was invented in 1887 with there being no indication of any clubs until a few years later when the first club was recorded in 1903 with the New York Motorcycle Club making huge waves. Up until 1936, there was nothing tieing biker clubs to any criminal activities until the McCook Outlaws established themselves as the first biker gang involved in illegal activities.
Whatever the reason you ride or join a club, ever since the beginning of the invention of the first motorbikes, people have loved riding and also sharing their riding experience with other riders, hence the forming of clubs.
Veterans Became Very Present in the Biking Community
There is nothing that forms a stronger bond between people than experiencing extreme emotions together, those emotions are at their peak during tragedy and war. Therefore to maintain camaraderie, veterans have leaked over into bikers clubs and therefore have managed to maintain a strong presence in the clubs and gangs.
They are also well respected especially after making a big impression on the bikers community after World War Two. Joining the bikers community was like going into war with your brothers but with less trauma and this time on the roads which are more known territories, riding their bikes instead of shooting guns.
Violent Initiations Causing Unnecessary Fatalities
A lesser-known fact, yet surprisingly more shocking is another way of being initiated into the biker gangs. Another way they go about it is to get the newly joining member to perform certain illegal and violent tasks like killing or hurting another member from an opposing or rival gang, and sadly sometimes they have to inflict this on innocent people too. It depends on the gang and how notoriously violent they are.
This is done in order to ensure the gang that the new member is not affiliated with the police or any part of the justice system. In a way, it also counts as leverage or blackmail material, allowing other gang members to feel safe to continue their illegal activities.
Well Known for Distributing Illegal Goods
Biker gangs like the Pagans are very well known for their distribution deals, which has them running and doing drop-offs across long stretches of the East Coast while other gangs like the Hells Angels operate their distributing of illegal substances among many other things on the other side, but they work all across the United States and they are well known for these activities.
Many deaths and injuries have occurred due to these distribution deals and drop-offs but authorities have yet to put an end to this constant battle on the war on bikers moving drugs as it gets more and more difficult with bikers finding new ways to hide and change information.
Next up, take a deeper look at some of the most dangerous biker gangs in the United States.
The Most Brutal Biker Gangs in the United States That You Wouldn't Want to Mess With
Warlocks - Bad Crowd
The Warlocks are a biker gang with a horrible reputation. The Warlocks are particularly violent. In fact, there are a ton of other dangerous biker gangs who won't have anything to do with them. If that’s the case, you know they must be bad!
There are about 300 members in the Warlocks biker gang and they travel up and down the Eastern Seaboard with their Mother Chapter being in Orlando, Florida. They are also very prevalent in Pennsylvania and Florida.
Warlocks - Drug of Choice
If you know anything about the drug culture in Pennsylvania and Florida, then you know that meth is the drug of choice for the Warlocks biker gang.
Then it’s no wonder that four members were arrested after they sold 500 pounds of crank the same year one of the upper-level members was arrested for having 10 pounds of it on him. Some other heinous crimes the biker gang committed include killing police officers and jumping leaders of rival gangs.
The Highwaymen - A Few Tough Men
The Highwaymen don’t have nearly as many members as the Hell’s Angels or the Outlaws, but they certainly have made their mark.
They are mainly located in Detroit, Michigan, but have several different chapters in the South and the Midwest. There are about 200 members in The Highwaymen biker gang. Despite having fewer members than other gangs, they are just as dangerous. They have committed crimes like fraud, trafficking cocaine, arms dealing, and assassination.
The Highwaymen - Fear No Evil
Some of The Highwaymen were even convicted of bombing the homes of their rival gang, The Outlaws.
And there was a raid in 2007 where 40 Highwaymen were arrested. They have since expanded their operations to places like Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, and Florida. One of the mottos of the Highwaymen is “Yea, though we ride the highways in the shadows of death, we fear no evil, for we are the most evil motherf*ck*rs on the highway.”
Black Pistons Motorcycle Club - Violence Is Key
The Black Pistons are a “support club” for the larger gang, the Outlaws. “Support clubs” are smaller clubs that do the dirty work for larger clubs so they don’t get their hands dirty. If a large one-percent gang won’t do something, then you know what they do must be bad!
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club is scattered all over the United States and has about 200 members. Despite their low membership, they are still considered to be a very violent and dangerous gang.
Black Pistons Motorcycle Club - Organised Chaos
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club deal drugs and violently react when the Outlaws are attacked in any way, often roughing up their enemies for them.
Their entrance into a new city is a violent undertaking like it is with many support clubs. The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club will often clash violently with other gangs that already exist in the area. The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club is thorough and has a membership list, a constitution, crested jackets, weapons, and much more.
Vagos Motorcycle Club - Crossing Borders
The Vagos Motorcycle Club is mostly known for smuggling drugs across the United States border with Mexico alongside their Mexican chapters. They are located primarily in the southwestern portion of the United States and have about 4,000 members.
This motorcycle gang was founded in the 1960s and they have been feuding with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang ever since. The Vagos Motorcycle Club has fallen in line with many other one-percent gangs that pick fights with the Hell’s Angels.
Vagos Motorcycle Club - Evading Time
The Vagos Motorcycle Club has been the key target of many police sting operations over 70 some years of operation, but especially in more recent years. They were even recently accused of placing booby traps in police cars and at task force buildings.
At one point, the Vagos Motorcycle club even sued their local law enforcement for defamation over the accusations. Their case ended up getting settled out of court and not one gang member went to jail over it.
The Sons of Silence - Packing a Heavy Punch
The Sons of Silence are located in the Midwest and the South with their base being in Colorado and have only 275 members in their 30 chapters. Despite being one of the smaller motorcycle gangs on this list, they have the firepower of a much larger gang.
A raid on the Sons of Silence in 1999 gave a peek into the gang’s massive arsenal that included grenades, pipe bombs, and machine guns. Their large amount of weaponry is a result of the turf wars they have been a part of for many decades.
The Sons of Silence - Safety in Numbers
The Sons of Silence originally made a name for themselves, especially in Kansas, Arizona, and Colorado, by challenging the Outlaws motorcycle gang. However, more recently, they allied with the Hell’s Angels.
Allying with the Hell’s Angels has provided the Sons of Silence with a small amount of safety, but they still haven’t let their guard down. Their alliance makes them a natural target for all of the Hell’s Angels’ enemies. So the Sons of Silence will continue to be in an arms race for quite some time.