Respect the Outlaws: Running into an Outlaw Motorcycle Club

By Tom Kiley on October 7, 2009 - 1 comment

Recently, the movie Wild Hogs illustrated a problem that happens in the biker community.  The movie was funny and entertaining but the underlying problem can be a serious one.

In this movie, 4 middle aged, middle class friends decide to take a road trip across the country on their Harley Davidson motorcycles. One of their wives created a patch for them and they were affectionately known as the Wild Hogs. During a stop for food, the Wild Hogs encounter a real outlaw motorcycle gang called the Del Fuegos who don’t appreciate their ‘fake gang’. At this point, a comedic conflict ensues between the Del Fuegos and the Wild Hogs.

Wearing a biker patch can draw the attention of outlaw motorcycle clubs.

Outlaw motorcycle clubs (sometimes called 1 percenters) are clubs embracing the motorcycle subculture popularized in the 1950-1960s. While not all of these clubs are violent or steeped in illegal activity, most outlaw clubs are at least territorial. Riding into an outlaw biker location wearing a biker patch could cause a conflict.

Outlaw motorcycle clubs are highly organized and most have an approved charter in order to exist. Within the charter are officers, rules of conduct, dues, scheduled meetings, and other formal requirements.

Membership to an outlaw motorcycle club usually requires dues to be paid and a trial period of observation to be completed. During this period the club ‘prospect’ has to prove himself worthy of membership. In the vast majority of outlaw motorcycle clubs, women cannot become full members.

Outlaw biker clubs are organized outside of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and governing bodies, and have syndicates of their own to valid clubs. Wearing a patch of a non-AMA and a non-syndicate approved club around outlaw bikers could cause a major problem. There have been incidents of fights, damaged or stolen motorcycles, or public ridicule.

If you and your friends are wearing patches and run into an outlaw motorcycle club locally or during a road trip, here are a few suggestions to keep the peace.

  • Take off your vests/jackets: Wearing a non-syndicate patch around syndicate outlaw biker clubs will always get a reaction. Take off your vest or jacket to show you are a ‘civilian.’
  • Ask to speak to the President or Honcho: Ask to speak to whoever is the highest ranking club member to let them know your intentions.
  • Be respectful:  Acknowledge the outlaw club and all its members and respect their wishes.
  • Apologize and leave: If nothing else works, politely apologize and leave as quickly as possible.

The best thing to do is not to wear a motorcycle patch on your back unless you are part of an AMA or approved outlaw motorcycle club. There are plenty of motorcycle apparel pieces to buy that look cool and will keep you out of trouble.

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