What Is A 1% Motorcycle Club?
The term “1% Motorcycle Club” is commonly used to describe outlaw motorcycle clubs such as the Hells Angels or the Bandidos, as the other 99% of motorcycle riders are law-abiding citizens.
History of the expression 1% Motorcycle Clubs
The expression “1%”, “1%er” or “1 percenter” was coined when the AMA (American Motorcycle Association) was said to make a statement in response to the 1947 riot in Hollister, California which stated that 99% of motorcycle riders are law-abiding citizens. Not long after the comment was made by the American Motorcycle Association the clubs of the time stated that they were the other 1%.
How Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs Began
Outlaw motorcycle clubs gained momentum in the latter half of the 1940’s, the timing was not random. World War 2 was just over and there were a large number of ex-servicemen returning from the war who found that there was not the same “rush” as in battle when they were back at home with a normal life.
At this same time there were also a large number of ex-military Harley Davidson motorcycles that were no longer required.
Put the two of these items together and suddenly you had the fix for the boredom of the ex-servicemen. They had now regained their excitement as well as had a way to continue their brotherhood.
Above photo: A meeting between some of the most well known clubs.
Some Of The Most Well Known 1% Motorcycle Clubs
1% motorcycle clubs are spread throughout the world, with clubs such as the Hells Angels having sub-clubs, known as “chapters” or “charters”, in many different cities. These outlaw motorcycle clubs are usually legal entities and often have supporter gear that you can purchase.
Some of the most well known 1% motorcycle clubs include:
- Hells Angels – Founded in 1948 in California. Well known for the likes of Oakland chapter founder Ralph “Sonny” Barger and was also the subject of a book by Hunter S Thompson.
- Bandidos – Founded in 1966 in Texas.
- Pagans – Founded in 1959 in Maryland.
- Outlaws – Founded in 1935 in Illinois.
- Warlocks – Founded in 1967 in Florida.
- Gypsy Jokers – Founded in 1956 in California.
- Mongols – Founded in 1969 in California.
The 1% Patch
Clubs who have defined themselves as 1% motorcycle clubs will wear a patch with “1%” or “1%er” on their vest.
In The Media – Violent Crimes Against The Public
The media often shows stories on 1% motorcycle clubs, in most situations highlighting some sort of violent crime which has occurred. While it is true that there are crimes committed by some members of clubs, the airtime given to the clubs is most often disproportionate to the volume of crime in a bid to increase fear in the public.
While innocent citizens have been harmed, the large majority of outlaw motorcycle club related violent crime is amongst clubs and in general the old saying of “stay out of their way and they will stay out of yours” rings true.
A Government View On Outlaw Motorcycle Crime
US Government agencies are now able to charge the big four clubs (the Hells Angels, Bandidos, Outlaws and Pagans) under the RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). This was the statute that was created in order to attempt to bring down the power of the Mafia.
Outside of the United States of America there are also positions being taken against Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs by other governments. These attempts are to introduce similar laws to ban the contact of club members with one another.
Now you should have all the information to be able to answer your friends when they next ask “what is a 1% motorcycle club?”.
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