Sunday, April 22, 2012

Biker Gangs

What motorcycle blog would be complete without mentioning gangs? Early on motorcyclists were seen to be bad-ass and "hard" stricken men that didn't shave, had tattoos and gave their lives to the Motorcycle Club they belonged to. Doing some research I found out that this image is fairly new, arising after WW2 when all of the motorcycle gangs started to pop up (Women on Wheels).  While this is the impression many of us have, the truth is those Men riding those bikes are people like you and I. They have families to go home to and jobs to keep so the idea that all of them are out there running drugs and selling illegal weapons is only a very small percentage of what we know as "Biker Gangs." --Disclaimer-- I'm not in a gang so I can't say everything I say here is 100% accurate.

Personal Encounters

I've had a few run in's with these guys, once on a freeway and another time just at the local motorcycle shop. When I was riding home on a trip from Santa Barbara I came up on a group of bikers that were all wearing the same type of vests and patch. There were about 10 of them and as I recall, I rode along side of them for a while and gave them the friendly hello wave but not one of them would even so much as look my way. I like to travel in a group of riders because it can offer more of a safety measure then anything but something wasn't right about traveling with this group of guys. They acted as if I didn't exist, I was a little surprised at first then I got my wits about me and decided that I was better of going at my own pace which was actually a bit faster then theirs. Ergo why I caught them on the freeway on the way home. This experience left me with a feeling that even though your on a bike doesn't mean your part of the club.

I had another encounter at the local Bike Shop when I was simply trying to find a riding jacket for an old girlfriend of mine. I was leaving the shop after not having any luck with the jacket and this guy pulls up with a vest and a few patches. As he approached me I could see his vest a little more clearly, San Francisco Division underneath his name, "Loc-Ness." He said hello and before I knew it, I knew why they called him Loc-Ness, because his teeth looked like they were straight out of a horror film, or the Loc-Ness monster's dentures. Anyhow he tried recruiting me into his gang saying I'd get a hook up on track days and all kinds of cool stuff. I'll admit he made it sound very enticing but I have too much going on in my life to be part of a "Club" or "Gang." I kind of had the notion that Loc-Ness was trying to sucker me into somthing, and for those that know me, I usually like things that are different and go against the grain. Loc-Ness was making it sound like it was cool to be a part of the gang and that's not something I'm into, I usually like the solo missions, going out with one or two other people that can really ride at my pace. Getting into a whole social gathering thing seemed a little over the top for me and I just simply never called him.

Most Notorious Biker Gangs
Browsing the internet I was able to come across a website that listed 10 of the most well known "Biker Gangs." Top 10 Biker Gangs This website proved to be very useful, hitting all of the stereotypes that bikers get when getting a "Patch." Getting "Patched" in is where a young biker actually becomes part of the gang and gets to fly the logo of the desired Motorcycle Club. I don't want to copy and paste the whole website but I feel like it's definetly worth a look at.

Hells Angels

Probably the most well known American biker gang, The Hell’s Angels have a long and thorough history on American highways. Much information concerning their origins is hazy due to their long-standing code of secrecy. Sometime within the 1940’s or 1950’s in California Hell’s Angels MC was formed. Their insignia is the “death’s head” logo which is copied from the insignia of the 85th Fighter Squadron and the 552nd Medium Bomber Squadron. Red lettering over white backgrounds stands for the club’s colors. With so much popularity, Hell’s Angels chapters have sprung up across the Untied States as well as Russia and New Zealand and the continents of North America, South America, Europe and Australia.

The Hell’s Angels MC have gained mass notoriety in the U.S. due to their involvement in many highly publicized run-ins with the law and rival biker gangs. The most note-worthy of publicized events happened during the Altamont Free Concert at Altamont Speedway in December of 1969 where it is alleged that The Rolling Stones hired members of The Hell’s Angels to stand-in as bodyguards for the band. Violence erupted in the crowd and also onto the performance stage and as a result one male was stabbed to death after brandishing a pistol.

Another website agrees with this other that I've found.

New Zealand was the first country outside the United States to get an official Hells Angels chapter, in 1961. London became the first European beachhead for the Hells Angels in 1969 when George Harrison, of the rock group The Beatles, invited a couple of San Francisco club members to London. In fact, many musicians have held an affinity for the Hells Angels, and they're often hired as security at concerts.

I think that history has shown that biker gangs have been proven to be linked to some kind of power and/or run-ins with the law.  In becoming a part of a bicker gang you will most likely be percieved in this way. That is unless your gang is called the Kittys and drive a bunch of mopeds and scooters.


I've seen two documentaries, one on the Mongols and another on the Hell's Angels about undercover policeman that spent years trying to infiltrate these gangs.  In the documentary about the Mongols, there were two cops that were assigned the task of infiltrating the gang and one got so caught up in the actual gang life that he lost his job and life outside of the club.  
  The cop describes his partner as being sucked into the life of the gang, where all they would do is drink, do drugs and basically all of those bad stereotypes they are known for.  If a cop is to do drugs on the scene with the gang their investigation has been compromised and this officer found it incredibly difficult to try and hide that from the rest of the gang.  
After a long story the Mongols start to move some guns and this was the opportunity that the police were waiting for to arrest the Mongols.  After 2 years of infiltration and so many years on the force this cop had to change his locations as to not be tracked down by these Mongols.  He flies from location to location because he's afraid of running into them somewhere along the road.  Now I ask myself is it worth it?  Was it worth the years of losing your own life to simply try and take down a small number of bikers?  I personally don't think so.

Wild Hogs
Times are changing, and with this change comes a movie called "Wild Hogs." The movie stars, Tim Allen  Martin Lawrence, and Jon Travolta as trying to take on this "bad boy" biker image when really they are simply suburban men that live average lives. During the course of the movie they have a run-in with a local biker group the Del Fuegos that scare the life out of the four suburban men but by the end of the movie there is an underlining message that "Anybody that rides is part of the gang."  While this is far from the truth, we are seeing many more weekend riders come out because this biker image isn't so closely tied with the fugitive biker look any longer.

No matter what, I believe there always will be this group of bikers that are only dedicated to being the most bad-ass people on the road, and then there is going to be the weekend joy riders that like to ride together.  There is a whole spectrum and by stereotyping motorcyclists as only one type of person is ignorant to all of the other people that are out there riding.

Women on Wheels. (2001). American Heritage, 52(1), 20.
Hope you enjoyed the read-

Johnny 5-

No comments:

Post a Comment