I often get people asking me if I have ever met a biker gang on the road. No I haven’t, and you probably wouldn’t realize it if you did meet a motorcycle gang member unless they had their vest on. There are very few members of motorcycle gangs compared to how many people ride motorcycles.
I want to point out one thing before you dive into this article. Most of these gangs or clubs have been involved in heavy criminal activity throughout their history. That does not mean that all members of these clubs are criminals. Most members are just looking for brotherhood and a group to ride with.
My advice to those people who are worried about meeting a motorcycle gang is always the same. Be respectful to them and leave them alone and you’ll be perfectly fine.
In this article I’ll outline all the famous motorcycle gangs, where they’re located, membership numbers, and some of the things they did to become famous. Some of the most famous motorcycle gangs include:
- Hell’s Angels
- Pagan’s Motorcycle Club
- Sons of Silence
- Outlaws Motorcycle Club
- Vagos Motorcycle Club
- Highwaymen Motorcycle Club
- Free Souls Motorcycle Club
- Road Knights
- Brother Speed
- Rock Machine
- Warlocks Motorcycle Club
- Dragons Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 2,500 members
The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club was founded in 1948 in Fontana, California and originally consisted of mostly World War 2 veterans. They saw themselves as misfits and outcasts and found brotherhood by riding together with men who had also served in the war.
The first charters of the club originated in San Francisco, Gardena, Fontana, and Oakland. The club gained notoriety through famous movies that portrayed them, especially in the 1960’s.
Hell’s Angels members are typically white males though there are a few members from minority races. Anyone accused of child molestation or applying to become a police officer disqualifies you to become a member.
The United States Department of Justice defines Hell’s Angels as an organized crime syndicate since the club has been involved in so many illegal activities throughout the years. The club is completely banned in the Netherlands and there are individual charters (or groups) that are banned all over the world.
Current Membership: 5,000 members
The Bandido’s Motorcycle club was founded in 1966 in San Leon, Texas. They are also referred to as “Bandido Nation” and have the motto “We are the people our parents warned us about”. There are currently 210 chapters in 22 countries.
The club consists mainly of white and Hispanic males, but they have no rules against those of other races or genders joining. In the early days of the club it consisted of mostly Vietnam veterans who came home from the war and felt unwelcomed in their own country. They banded together to enjoy a common interest and it grew rapidly from there.
The clubs membership is concentrated in the southeast and midwest United States with many other isolated chapters around the world.
There have been countless gun and drug charges against members of the club, but club members insist that those are the problems of the individual members and not a collective whole. There is a whole laundry list of murders that have happened in Texas that led to convictions of members of the club.
Mongols Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 2,000 members
The Mongols Motorcycle Club is also referred to as “Mongol Nation” by many people and was founded in Montebello, California in 1969. Most of the club members live in southern California, but there are organized chapters in 14 states and 10 countries.
The club’s official motto is “respect few, fear none” and they seem to live by that motto whole heartedly. Members of the Mongols have been involved in heavy criminal activity since their inception. They have been heavily involved in drug trades, money laundering, robbery, extortion, gun trafficking, murder, assault, and many other felony charges.
The club insists that those are actions of individual club members and not a message from the club as a whole.
In 1998 a federal agent infiltrated the club and rose to the position of vice-president of one of the chapters. He was able to convict 54 members of the club with felony charges in a matter of two years. In 2008, four more federal agents were able to infiltrate the club and arrested 110 other members on felony charges.
Several attempts have been made to ban the use of the Mongol’s patch, saying that it is an emblem of domestic terrorism. All attempts at banning the patch have been dismissed in court.
Pagan’s Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 1,350 members
The Pagans were founded in 1958 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. They started out as a harmless motorcycle riding club of men owning Triumphs and Nortons but quickly expanded at the end of the Vietnam War.
Membership has dwindled in recent years and members are now only allowed to ride Harley Davidson motorcycles 1,000cc or bigger. Members of the club are concentrated in the northeast US and often have fights over land with members of Hells Angels.
The Pagans were the ones who originally invented the 1%er patch, which is now used widely by almost all motorcycle clubs. In the 1970’s their membership grew to 5,000 members under a man named John “Satan” Marron.
There are very few requirements to become a member of The Pagans. The only requirements I could find through my research were that members had to be 21 years or older and have a 1,000cc or greater Harley.
The Pagans have been heavily involved in drug trafficking over the years, especially in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There have been many members convicted of murder and assault, most of which was directed at rival gang Hell’s Angels.
Sons of Silence
Current Membership: 200 members
The Sons of Silence was founded in Niwot, Colorado in 1966 and quickly spread into many other states in the Midwest and Southeast US. The club spread to Europe in the early 2000’s and has been slowly growing since then.
Their logo is a copy of the Budweiser logo, a bald eagle flying through an A. Their motto is “donec mors non separate”, meaning “until death separates us”.
Several years ago, two federal agents infiltrated the club and were active members for two years while they gathered evidence against other members. 250 law enforcement officers dismantled several of the Colorado chapters and arrested 39 members of the club, including the club president.
Federal agents seized dozens of illegal automatic weapons, hand grenades, homemade bombs, drugs, stolen motorcycles, and mounds of stolen cash. According to a news report, the Sons of Silence were one of the largest meth traffickers in the country.
One of the local chapters was protected by a 1.5” thick steel door and found inside one of the closets was a shrine to Adolf Hitler with a vulgar sign and weapons hanging below it.
Membership in Colorado has not grown much since the federal agent bust.
Outlaws Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 700 members
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club or American Outlaws Association (AOA) was formed in McCook, Illinois in 1935. Making it one of the longest running motorcycle clubs in the world. Their primary rivals are members of Hells Angels motorcycle club which gave rise to their motto ADIOS, meaning “Angels Die In Outlaw States”.
The clubs membership dropped significantly during WW2 as many of the members were deployed to Europe, but grew in even greater numbers after the war. There are several international motorcycle clubs who also refer to themselves as the Outlaws, but these clubs are not affiliated with the American club.
There is a long list of indictments and convictions of members of the AOA including gun and drug trafficking, murder, assault, illegal possession of firearms, extortion, and other charges. Different AOA chapters across the country are raided by federal agents every few years which results in the seizing of guns, drugs and usually a few arrests of members.
In 2015 the AOA celebrated their 80th Anniversary with parties and rallies around the world and giving out commemorative patches to members, showing a middle finger with the letters AOA around it.
Vagos Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 4,000 members
The Vagos Motorcycle Club was founded in San Bernardino, California in 1965. The club is also known as “Green Nation” because riders typically wear green clothes or ride green motorcycles. Their insignia is a picture of Loki, the god of mischief, riding a motorcycle.
The club’s motto is “We Give What We Get”. The clubs membership is most prominent in the western US with some chapters in several countries around the world. The club wears green to pay homage to the Mexican founders of the club.
The name Vagos comes from the Spanish word Vago, meaning vagabond or wanderer. Most club members receive a patch embroidered with the letters MF, meaning motorcycle family, after a several year probationary period. Some members of Vagos also wear green swastikas with the letters SS under it.
In 2010 over 30 members of Vagos were arrested in California for creating homemade booby traps and bombs to try and hurt police officers. These arrests were followed by busts across California by law enforcement officials who later seized countless guns, large amounts of drugs, and uncovering several meth labs owned by the group.
The group has been classified as urban terrorists by several federal agencies and pose a threat to law enforcement officers. Vagos commonly has run-ins with other motorcycle clubs that end badly for both parties.
Highwaymen Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 800 members
The Highwaymen Motorcycle Club was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1954. The club has been involved in a lot of very publicized federal investigations and raids throughout the years. Most members live in the Eastern US and has not spread much to the western states.
Their logo is a black and silver winged skeleton wearing a cap and jacket. The Highwaymen have been banned from the Detroit Federation of Motorcycle Clubs due to violence.
The Detroit Highwaymen clubhouse in Detroit was condemned in 2010 for being a drug den and is still vacant. In 2007 the FBI arrested 40 members of the Highwaymen in Detroit under charges of racketeering, murder, assault, cocaine trafficking, vehicle theft, and a number of other felonies.
The large sting operation conducted by the FBI involved 2 undercover agents that joined the motorcycle club. One of them was eventually found and murdered for snitching on the club.
Free Souls Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 200
The Free Souls Motorcycle Club was founded in Eugene, Oregon in 1968 by Harley Davidson motorcycle riders. The group’s clubhouse and headquarters are still in Eugene today.
The group’s motorcycle patch is the Egyptian hieroglyphic of an ankh in front of a motorcycle wheel and handlebars. The ankh is the symbol of life. The club’s colors are blue and white, which is what rival clubs refer to the Free Souls as.
There are also small chapters of the club in Australia and Europe but membership numbers are still small and not growing quickly.
The last time the group made mainstream news was in 2010 and was actually for a good reason. Several club members were at a meeting in Salem, Oregon when a neighbor’s SUV caught on fire. The Free Souls called the fire department but put out most of the fire before local firefighters got to the scene. Their quick actions saved the house from going up in flames.
Current Membership: Less than 100
The Road Knights was founded in 1979 in southern New Zealand and has never seen a large number of group members. There are three other chapters in the world; the US, Netherlands, and Thailand.
The Road Knights have had an ongoing fued with the Mongrel Mob and it came to a boiling point in 2008 when the Mongrel Mob set their headquarters on fire and stole several motorcycles. Most of the former leadership are in jail or have dispersed.
Current Membership: 250 Members
The Brother Speed Motorcycle Club was founded in Boise, Idaho in 1969 by a group of high school friends. The friends put an ad in the local newspaper to see if anyone in the area was interested in getting together to ride and about 20 people showed up to the first meeting. A name and logo were picked and the club was started.
The club’s patch is a black and gold winged skull with a cap, goggles, and a scarf. At this point there are only two chapters in Idaho and Oregon.
In 2009 the club was on a ride outside of Wilsonville, Oregon when many of the members were involved in a large pileup crash. 26 riders were injured and 1 rider did not survive the wreck. There has not been near as much criminal activity reported on Brother Speed as some of the other motorcycle clubs in the area.
Current Membership: 150 Members
The Notorious Motorcycle Club was founded in Wuppertal, Germany in 2013. The club’s logo is a half-human half-skeleton face with a cap and cigar. This new club is not to be confused with the Notorious Motorcycle Club that existed in Australia which has since stopped.
Three friends began the club as a way to gather likeminded people to ride together. The club has since expanded to London, England and is slowly growing in Europe. The club does not have a presence in the US or Oceania at this point.
The club is very new compared to all other motorcycle clubs and have not been involved in any government raids or large scale illegal activities to this point.
Current Membership: 1,200 Members
Rock Machine was founded in 1986 in Montreal, Canada by Salvatore Cazzetta. There are currently six chapters in Canada, six in the US, and eight in Australia. The Rock Machine Motorcycle Club has been competing with the Hells Angels club for decades for the drug trade in Montreal.
Rock Machine was heavily involved in the Quebec biker war from 1994-2002 which saw over 160 casualties and many more injured. The club was dissolved into the Bandidos Club in the mid-2000’s and then a new one started again in 2007.
The current Rock Machine Motorcycle Club in Canada claims to be a different organization than they used to be and does not want to be involved in any criminal activity at all.
Warlocks Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 500
The Warlocks Motorcycle Club was founded in 1967 in Florida by several US Navy veterans who served on the aircraft carrier USS Shangri-La. There are currently chapters in the US, Canada, England and Germany. The Mother Chapter is still located in Orlando, Florida.
The club’s logo is a red and yellow flaming phoenix.
In 1991 the club was infiltrated by an undercover agent which led to several arrests on drugs and weapons charges.
Dragons Motorcycle Club
Current Membership: 500
The Dragons Motorcycle Club was founded in Oakland, California in 1959 by Tobie Gene Levingston. The club is an all male, all black club for those who ride Harley Davidsons. The club was originally founded as a car club but the club was getting into so many fights with the police that people recommended they switch to being a motorcycle club. Motorcycles are less conspicuous and easier to evade officers so the switch was made.
Obtaining Harley Davidsons proved difficult for members of the club since there were only two Harley Dealerships in the area and Harley did not sell to black customers at that time. So all members of the club had used motorcycles that they would have to buy from previous white riders.
The Dragons is the 2nd oldest all black motorcycle club in the world but has a much larger membership than the 1st largest.
The Black Panthers and the Dragons had a lot of involvement with each other in the early days and the Dragons attended as many civil rights parades and activities as they could to show their support for black rights.
Today the Dragons try to stay very involved with community service and holding fundraisers for poor families and schools in the Oakland area. The Dragons were even honored to ride alongside the Golden State Warriors in 2015 after their National Championship Title.