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Are Biker Clubs Today Nicer than They Used to Be?

Are Biker Clubs Today Nicer than They Used to Be?

Ever watched a movie featuring a group of tough guys on motorcycles wearing leather jackets? This is a common representation of a biker club, also commonly known as a ‘motorcycle club’. If you ask an old rider about motorcycle clubs, he/she will have horrific stories to tell you. Motorcycle clubs were perceived as quite dangerous in the past. It was also true to an extent because of the existence of outlaws.

Biker clubs in the past have been associated with criminal activities and violence. Such violent behaviors of biker gangs make many people still feel uncomfortable in the presence of motorcyclists. However, are biker clubs the same today as they were in the past? Continue reading this article to learn whether biker clubs today are nicer than they used to be.

1. The Past and Origin of Biker Clubs

The Past and Origin of Biker Clubs
Photo Credit: Low Brow Customs

1.1 Post-World War II Era

Motorcycle clubs have their roots dating back to World War II. They have been existing and operating in an organized manner since then. Things were quite changed for everybody, particularly the returning soldiers. Their lives were not the same as before. They missed the bond and brotherhood between their fellow soldiers. They started looking for activities that could bring them back to a healthy and active life.

Motorcycles offered them a way to get back to life. These veterans introduced motorcycle clubs so they had company to go riding with. Also, to have an enjoyable time and to feel a sense of brotherhood once again.

1.2 The Friendly Image

The origin of motorcycle clubs was not something that made people scared. Also, they did not intend to cause any trouble back then. They just wanted to ride with their friends and show how much they enjoyed passing through the wind.

The early biker clubs were usually limited in size. They were only limited to the region they were located in. They only used to schedule weekend rides to visit neighboring towns or other social activities such as barbecues or camping. Some clubs also developed certain rituals like wearing formal jackets or having some form of patches with the name of the club inscribed on them.

2. When Biker Clubs Turned Rebel

When Biker Clubs Turned Rebel
Photo Credit: Britannica

The 1960s marked the turning point when some of the biker clubs did not remain sober. The perception of biker clubs in the U.S. completely changed. Before World War 2, clubs were quite fascinating and included a group of sober riders. They had a common passion for riding motorcycles. However, in the 1960s, things started to change so badly.

2.1 Going Outlaw

Some of the clubs got involved in unlawful practices. For example: selling drugs and even stealing motorcycles. This led to conflicts and clashes between motorcycle clubs and police. These clubs evolved into groups called Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs).

2.2 The 1% Symbol

To show that they did not respect the law or opinions of society, outlaw clubs designed a particular badge. It depicted a diamond figure with a “1%” written at the center of it. This patch was a way of telling people about their association with a small group that didn’t have to follow laws.

2.3 The Big Four

Some of these biker gangs gained popularity as outlaw clubs. The most notorious one among all is the Hells Angels. They have been associated with several terrible crimes. The United States considers Bandidos, Pagans, Outlaws, and Hells Angels clubs as the ‘‘Big Four’’ outlaw motorcycle gangs. 

2.4 Public Fear

The outlaw image of these clubs made many people to be afraid of all biker clubs. Newspapers and films depicted bikers as criminals and lawbreakers. This gave rise to an unfriendly environment between biker clubs and society. Some people had a certain fear that any group of bikers that they came across was possibly involved in some unlawful activities. 

3. Motorcycle Clubs at Present

Are biker clubs nicer today? The answer to this question isn't simple. Although there are still outlaw clubs around, they are targeted greatly by the police and other law enforcement agencies. Presently, the biker groups are much more diverse and friendly.

3.1 The Media Portrayal

The Media Portrayal
Photo Credit: Boss Hunting

Do you recall a TV show or a movie in which bikers are seen in a group causing havoc? This is how biker clubs are mostly portrayed in movies and on television. Such TV shows and movies give the impression that all biker clubs are gangs that are involved in wrongdoings. Many people believe that all motorcycle clubs are unsafe and will cause trouble.

However, one needs to understand that what is being portrayed on TV shows and movies is made for entertainment purposes and is not real. They exaggerate things when creating the story to make the show or movie more exciting. It is worth noting that in real life, the biker clubs do not resemble much of the movies.

3.2 The Changing Landscape

Most motorcycle clubs have the sole purpose of enjoying the real fun of motorcycling, particularly group riding. They plan rides, and tours, and arrange group meetings. These clubs have a strong sense of brotherhood, loyalty, and respect for others. They are willing to do better things to help the community.

3.3 Why Do People Join Motorcycle Clubs?

There are several reasons why people join motorcycle clubs. The most prominent among them are:

  • Love of Motorcycles : Members of motorcycle clubs are not only passionate about riding, but they also love their motorcycles the most. They are willing to experience the thrill and excitement of the road trip and the freedom of the open road.
  • Friendship : Being part of a motorcycle club provides riders the opportunity to make good friends for life. You will feel like a family member if you are a part of a club.
  • Shared Values : Most clubs have a defined code of conduct. They have set standards for themselves with which they operate.

4. The Other Good Side of Biker Clubs

The Other Good Side of Biker Clubs
Photo Credit: Ranker

People know about biker clubs mostly from the movies. However, there is much more to tell. Below are some facts you may not know about motorcycle clubs:

4.1 Community Involvement

Most people would be quite shocked to find out that biker clubs are very active in their societies today. They conduct charitable rides and events to raise money to help the needy.

Just picture a group of riders coming in for a ride to support children’s hospitals or organizations supporting veterans. This proves that motorcycle clubs are not merely interested in motorcycles. They are also interested in giving back to the community.

4.2 Brotherhood

Biker clubs are like a structured community of riders. It offers a sense of brotherhood and belonging. Members are always there to support each other in their hour of need. As a member of the club, you have a bunch of friends who enjoy the same thing as you do. They have the same interest which is motorcycling in this case. They ensure that they develop close friendship bonds and be there for each other like a family when on the road or elsewhere. That is what makes the biker club very special to the members.

4.3 Motorcycle Club Vs. Riding Club

It is important to know that there are different types of biker clubs currently operating. Some clubs offer membership to only a few. To get a membership in such clubs, you have to pass certain tests and give interviews. Meanwhile, some clubs are very welcoming. There can also be a variation in the activities they perform.

Here's a quick look at two main types of clubs:

  • Motorcycle Clubs (MCs) : These are the traditional clubs that are instructed to strictly follow the club’s rules and regulations. They also hold fund-raising events, long-distance rides, and rallies.
  • Riding Clubs : Unlike motorcycle clubs, riding clubs are more social. They have relaxed rules for the members. The objective is simply to have a good time while riding motorcycles together.

5. So, Are Biker Clubs Today Nicer Than They Used to Be?

The answer to this question is not as simple as saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Biker clubs are formed of people. People can be good or bad. There are the saints and the sinners. It depends on the leadership and members of a club which decides the objective of a club. However, the stereotype of all biker clubs consisting of only the bad guys is outdated.

Most present-day biker clubs are only groups of riders who love motorcycling, fellowship, and charity. Almost every motorcycle club discourages violence and other unlawful activities. Therefore, the next time you see a group of bikers on the road, they may be on their way to a charitable event or a weekend ride.

However, it’s good to be watchful if you come across a biker gang that doesn’t seem friendly. Just as you wouldn’t try to speak to a random person on the street, keeping your distance in such a situation is advisable.

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