Today when we hear the words "motorcycle club" the first thing that crosses our minds is the successful FX series Sons of Anarchy, which follows the story of Jax Teller played by Charlie Hunnam and his role in a motorcyclist club outside the law, where he faces situations that make him question the club and himself. During its 7 seasons it showed diverse approaches to the importance of brotherhood, loyalty, redemption and of course problems with the law. But the problem of the entertainment industry is that it often ends up showing romanticized versions of reality. And yes! Sons of Anarchy is actually a romanticized version of what life is like for motorcycle club members.
There are certain rules that must be followed and it is not at all easy to get in one of these clubs. Often, you have to spend long trial periods demonstrating your fidelity with the brotherhood before you can get one of the patches, and this can take years, trying to show your brotherhood with sweat and sometimes blood that you are worthy of loyalty to be part of the family. So, if at some point the idea of joining one of these bands crossed your mind, today I'm going to talk about 20 curious factors that you should know before you even try to join them. We will dispel certain myths and talk about certain realities that many people who do not frequent these social circles do not know.
20 Women Have A Different Hierarchy
As I explained before, in these fraternities everything is based on respect, loyalty, and hierarchy. In the case of women, it is rare to see them as members of these bands and this is because the AMA is 75% dudes. However, it is not unheard of to see women as members of these brotherhoods, but it is not common.
Women riders represent 25 percent of the biker community. But nowadays we live in times where there is a demand for gender equality and respect for women's rights, which has led to the formation of various clubs exclusively for women across the country over the past few years. However, I must emphasize that there are clubs that are firm in their position and do not accept women as drivers. And sadly, in many cases, the concept of women as property within the biker world is maintained.
19 They Speak Their Own Language
As with most guilds, each club has its own language, and although there are words and expressions that are common in the world of motorcycle riders, it is normal for each club to create their own language to communicate with their brothers. For example, calling someone a “RUB” is the biker’s way of poking fun at them as a “rich urban biker.”
But they don't only have their own vocabulary, this is accompanied by certain codes of ethics and behavior each rider must have, Shadow And Act explains that "the Biker code is such that if a biker of whatever race or club sees another biker broken down on the side of the road, I have is obligated to help him. So that regardless of the racial segregation that exists within the world at large and within the biker world, the code of the biker, trumps all of these barriers."
18 Patches And Colors
Their vests and motorcycles are everything for them. But regarding vests, it takes time to get status inside these clubs, so when you get your vest it means you are one more member of the club. And after going through rigorous tests and having to show your loyalty to the rest of your brothers, it should not surprise us that people proudly show off their vests with the patches which identify their brotherhood. For these people, their vests is a sign of honor.
And according to The Little Things, their vests can be adorned with different patches representing the different organizations to which they belong. Meanwhile, their "colors" are usually a group of about three different patches: a "top rocker" with the club’s name; the club logo in the center; and a "bottom rocker" that identifies the club’s region.
Many people think that being part of a motorcycle club is all about free will and being rebels without a cause, but the truth is quite the opposite. If you want to join one of these clubs thinking that you will be able to do whatever you want, let me tell you that they will not accept it. "Rebels without a cause" is a thing of Hollywood and its films.
In real life motorcycle clubs, they have marked hierarchies, for which it takes time to get respect or even be considered part of the band.
According to Time "Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs (OMGs) are anything but rebel nonconformists. To the contrary, they follow a strict rank-and-file structure, implement an earned-patch system, vote in 'officers' and insist their members wear uniforms ('cuts')."
16 Hand Signals
Motorcycle clubs are based on concepts such as brotherhood and family, which means that they take care of their members, especially when they are driving. For this reason, they have their own sign language to notify each other in case someone sees something irregular on the road. Remember that in these types of clubs we see more than just 5 friends on motorcycles driving on the road, we are talking about large groups of people so this type of action can help them avoid accidents.
According to Little Things, they use hand signals to help each other out, "You can see this as they wave to each other, extending their hand low rather than high, or using specific signals to warn each other of speed traps and other traffic issues."
15 Safety In Numbers
Have you ever asked why these clubs always drive between large groups of people? Well, the answer is quite simple: security. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) around 4,990 people were taken on motorcycles in 2017.
This number, based on preliminary data provided by State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs), represents a projected 5.6% decrease from 2016 with a difference of 296 lives.
And the members of these clubs are aware of the statistics. A rider alone on the road can face more difficulties or dangers than when he is in a herd and everyone can take care of each other and be warned in case of problems along the way.
14 No Sports Bike Policy
Motorcycle club members tend to prefer rides like Harley Davidson or custom-built choppers. And although many could say that there are sports bikes that can offer better performance, the truth is that a cruise can surprise us with respect to its performance on the road.
Sports bikes are relatively new on the market, while cruiser models have been on the road for decades and improving. With respect to motorcycle clubs, we can say that they are classic enthusiasts of two-wheelers.
13 Charity Is Important To Them
For the members of the motorcycle club, charity is important, especially because they have very strong principles and values, and although these brotherhoods are usually associated with various negative aspects such as crimes against the law, these brotherhoods constantly try to have an active participation in society doing charitable activities.
According to The Little Things, "riders volunteer their time for annual toy rides to collect Christmas presents for needy children, offer protection to women’s shelters, and organize fundraising rides for other charities all year round."
And CNN explains that “MCs support a wide variety of local, national, and international charities that seek to end cancers, poverty, hunger and children's diseases, but especially supported are disabled veterans organizations.” Besides, they add that “Charity is to members of motorcycle clubs as gasoline and oil are to their machines. For some, it's a major reason why they join and stay in MCs.”
12 Earning A Full Membership Is Hard
If you really want to belong to one of these clubs, it's best to think about your reasons before you even try to apply because the first years you have to show the brotherhood what you are made of. That implies blood and sweat, for those who think that belonging to a motorcycle club is all about fun and games, let me tell you that things don't work that way. The initiation process in these circles is not at all a walk in the park.
CNN explains that "the individual is broken down in order to be reformed into a part of a collective: To think not of one's self but of others, and to understand that one's actions or inactions impact the team and the organization. But prospecting takes months and sometimes a year or more (5 years for one MC)."
Have you ever wondered why many members of these clubs wear a patch with 1 percent? The answer is simple, this 1% movement arose after the AMA commented that "99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens."
According to Austin Chronicle, everything began in 1947, during a brawl between members of the Boozefighters motorcycle club and the Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington at the annual Hollister, Calif., biker rally.
"The press turned to the Motorcyclists Association, the country's oldest riders' rights group, to explain the melee. In their now-famous response, the AMA explained that the brawl was not a comment on mainstream cyclists: 99% of bikers are law-abiding citizens, but there's that last 'one percent' that are not – those folks, the AMA explained, are nothing more than outlaws."
10 The First Motorcycle Club
Many people think that the Angels were the first outlaw motorcycle clubs in the U.S., but that's not true. The Angels are probably the best known around the world, especially due to their links with entertainment personalities in Hollywood, but the first outlaw motorcycle club was the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, the true original.
This club was founded in Chicago in 1936, the Outlaws is the oldest of today's OMGs. Its members were even the first to wear "colors" on their jackets.
And if you really want to join a motorcycle club these are details that you should know, because a true enthusiast must know the foundations and historical bases of these brotherhoods.
9 Marlon Brando
After that famous fight during the Fourth of July between members of the Boozefighters motorcycle club and the P*ssed Off B*stards of Bloomington in 1947, the film industry decided to take history to the big screen in the film "The Wild One" starring Marlon Brando. In the movie, they tried to show the raucous biker subculture.
And although initially, the idea was to scare people, the film became a classic in the film industry inspiring thousands of young people to become part of this movement. In fact, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club based their skull and crossed pistons logo, affectionately named "Charlie," on a similar logo featured in the Marlon Brando movie. Even when the club had already been around for more than 20 years when the movie came out, They were so inspired that they adopted the biker logo from the movie for their own.
8 They're Everywhere
If you think that these types of clubs were exclusive to the United States, you're wrong. There are OMGs almost anywhere there are roads, and this culture seems to have expanded around the world. Currently, with the benefits brought by globalization and the internet, it is easy to know about the bands that each country and city has, in addition to learning about their roots and culture.
Australia and Canada have had a huge explosion of outlaw motorcycle clubs in recent years, as have countries in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. But even when these brotherhoods have moved to different countries many of these clubs are still related to criminal activities.
7 The Angels
As previously explained, the Angels have been characterized by their contacts and their friends in the entertainment industry, so their popularity and reputation have been increasing over the years, which unleashed that thousands of aspirants, who come from every corner of the world and would like to join their ranks. They are the world's largest OMG, with 2,500 members and 250 chapters spread across six continents.
However getting an opportunity to belong to this brotherhood is not easy. They are the most demanding and exclusive of this culture.
In fact, even when chapters in different countries often don't have much contact with each other, the Angels is the most widespread and well-organized OMG in the world.
6 Copyrighted Logos
If you thought that this was just a game for children, you're wrong again. For the members of these clubs, their brotherhood is something sacred. Their brothers, their bikes, their vests and their logos are very important aspects in their lives which is why many of the big clubs have bought copyright for their logos to avoid inappropriate use by people who do not belong to them.
In fact, the word "Mongols" written in an arch, in a sans serif font, was copyrighted by the club in 2009. Unfortunately, the U.S. government successfully filed an injunction that year to have the copyright taken from them.
5 The Price For Leaving
In these types of circles, it is quite common for members to have different tattoos. By the time they officially become members of the brotherhood, many riders decide to get the logo of their motorcycling club on their skin to show others where they belong and how proud they feel to have been finally accepted.
The problem comes if someone decides to withdraw from the fraternity and if the person has a tattoo with the logo of the club or that refers to the motorcycle club. In those cases, they should remove the tattoo or cover it. Club members also have to seek permission from club leadership before having the tattoos put on.
4 "Sonny" Barger
Sonny Barger is quite possibly the most well-known outlaw motorcycle club member of all time, for which he is considered one of the most influential personalities in this niche.
Barger was national president of the Angels in Oakland and was known for using the media to his favor for several decades. Sonny not only played the role of president but was part of the original founders. According to One Percenter Bikers, "He has stated that they didn’t ask permission before founding the Oakland chapter of the Angels. It was Boots Don Reeves who came across a patch and they decided to start riding together and forming their own chapter. It is believed that this didn’t cause any major issues with the other chapters at the time as they were just a group of loosely related chapters, however, if a similar scenario happened today, and people began forming their own chapter of the Angels without asking for formal approval, it would be a completely different story."
3 Pay To Play
Yes, trying to join one of these clubs costs money, not only do you need the approval of the brotherhood but also pockets deep enough to be able to pay the membership after being accepted. According to a National Geographic special a Bandidos hopeful usually has to pass three stages (hangaround, prospect, and probation) before becoming fully patched in.
But once you're accepted, a Bandidos' membership will cost you $275, paid to the national treasury.
You'll have to provide an additional $275 for a new patch. If your bike is out of service for 30 days, you have to cough up $500. Meanwhile, according to BuzzFeed the minimum to maintain membership in the Hell's Angels is 20,000 miles per year.
2 The Numbers 13 And 18
As I explained earlier, within these fraternities there are universal codes and jargon that one only understands when they belong to these groups. And one of the details that we always see in these groups.
According to Play Buzz, "the numbers 13 and 18 are significant to bikers. The 13th letter in the alphabet is ‘M’ standing for ‘Motorcycle’, [and various other words that start with 'M.' The 1st and the 8th letters are for Angels."
Nevertheless, there are people who believe that a 13 patch means that the wearer is his own judge & jury - this is due to 13 standing for 12 jurors and the additional number being the judge.
1 The Most Famous Club
When you want to join a club the first thing you have to keep in mind is that it is not enough to just have an interest in joining them, you must know certain basic aspects related to the world you want to belong to. And in the case of motorcycle clubs, you should know about their history, beginnings, the most famous groups and about rivalries.
The Angels is a club that was founded in 1948, and although they were not the first club of motorcyclists, they are among the best known especially because they have differentiated from many other clubs due to had a close relationship with celebrities such as Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson and The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and for being part of the hippie movement from the 60s such. But they have also been one of the most controversial clubs due to certain events and clashes with the law.