The Birth of Bikers, Part Nine

April 09, 2021 8 min read

The Birth of Bikers, Part Nine

The very American rebel notion of the one percenter motorcycle club has expanded throughout the world by the 1980’s, despite the machinations of the popular media, police harassment or changing moral values. In today's pasteurized, germ-free conspired consciousness of safety Nazis and industrialized, mindless laborers, the world needs the one percenter now more than ever. In a time when so many go to work every day hating their jobs and feeling disconnected to their lives, we all need to throw a leg over a throbbing motorcycle and raise a little hell. Sometimes, bikers raise more than a little hell.

Much has been written about the violent nature of outlaw bikers. It is true that over the years, individuals who happen to be bikers have been found guilty of heinous crimes including selling drugs, even murder. There have also been times when several members of a one percenter club have conspired to commit crimes which have included bombing a rival club's clubhouse, even killing members of rival clubs. This sort of crime is more prevalent outside the United States where there is no R.I.C.O. Act. But as has been proven time and time again in courtrooms across this country, you cannot condemn all the members of an organization because of the actions of a few individuals acting alone.

A word about the concept that one percenter motorcycle clubs are in fact notorious highly-motivated masterminds of organized crime… sort of a chopper riding Mafia. Have you ever met a real one percenter? Ever had a chat with one? If so, you would come away with the firm impression that the man you just conversed with is a lost warrior in a time that doesn't need his services, a Conan without a war in which to wield his mighty broadsword. You would definitely understand the one percenter's almost poetic passion for his motorcycle and his club, the two things in his life that he stands for and that stand up for him. Neither his bike nor his club will let him down. They have his back, so to speak.

What you would NOT come away with is that members of one percenter motorcycle clubs get together in order to pull the strings on some vast underground empire of doom. And their secretive "church nights"? Hardly clandestine meetings as holy as some Masonic rite wherein the officers of said club meet in dark stone temples by torchlight to conjure and control a mighty drug empire. No. These guys are lucky to agree on where to go to for a bike run or which charity to give the proceeds to. If you don't believe me, check out the rules and regulations of a typical one percenter club, hardly the stuff of Tony Soprano or The Godfather.

Club Rules, Regs and By-laws

Every one percenter motorcycle club has rules and regulations. Though one percenters are anti-establishment rebels who go their own way, every organization has rules and the motorcycle club is no exception. In fact, the by-laws of the average MC is reminiscent of the "articles" that a sailor had to sign before becoming part of the crew on a pirate ship.

What follows is a composite listing of some Club Rules taken from many different American One Percenter Clubs. They have been edited in order to be generic and would fit most clubs but certainly do not cover all the rules of all motorcycle clubs. During church night, the officers of the club hold sway in much the same way as any civic organization such as the Eagles, Jaycees or Moose Lodge. Roberts' rules of order apply. The President of the club along with a Vice President, Secretary, Sergeant-at-arms and Treasurer move the meeting along. Cookies are not served afterwards.

The rules of the club are strictly enforced. Anyone breaking them will be dealt with by a committee made up of original members. The breaking of club rules could result in dismissal or suspension.

Failure to pay club dues may result in dismissal.

All members will wear the club's colors in the prescribed manner with the club logo, club name and chapter displayed as shown in the club articles.

Prospects will only be allowed to wear the club bottom rocker as well as a prospect patch.

If a group or individual citizen (non-club member) attacks any member, the entire club shall stand behind him and fight if necessary. However, if the member is drunk and aggressive and purposely starts an argument, the rest of the club will remove him or step between him before trouble starts.

No member will disgrace the club by being a coward. This goes for prospects as well.

No member will destroy club property purposely.

Members are expected to help out their brothers no matter what. 

No member will go against anything the club has voted for and passed. 

No members will get together on their own and plan something for themselves on club rides. Their idea will be brought up for the whole club and the club will participate in anything decided upon.

The club will always stay together on rides, runs and events and will not fraternize with rival clubs. Members may only leave the group if allowed to by the President or whoever is in charge. All club members will leave together. Anyone staying behind will do so at their own risk and can expect no help (sort of like the pirate's code of "He who falls behind, is left behind.")

Members are expected to attend mandatory rides and church night meetings. You must have a good reason for not attending such as work, sickness, bike not running, or jail.

Dues will be $10 per month, payable at every meeting or every second meeting. Failure of paying dues within two weeks of them being due will result in suspension. If dues are not paid within two months, the member will be out of the club. The only exception is when a member is in jail, in which case no dues are expected, or out of town, in which case dues will be expected upon his return.

No female will be a member of the club. Wives and girlfriends will be allowed at certain club runs and parties as decided by the officers of the club. In some cases, wives and girlfriends may be allowed to wear support shirts, "property of" patches and tattoos.

Anyone wishing to become a member of the club must prospect for a period no less than six months and as long as the officers of the club deem appropriate. When voting a prospect in, the vote of members will be taken as an opinion. The officers of the club have final say as to whether a prospect is voted into the club or not.

Prospects are expected to participate in club affairs, rides, meetings, etc. They must have a running motorcycle (Some clubs insist the bike be of American origin, i.e. - a Harley-Davidson) and show a sincere interest in the club and bikes. Prospects will stand behind the club and its members and will go along with what the majority of the club decides (much like the democracy found on pirate ships).

If the club calls a ride all members will attend unless excused by an officer of the club. If a member's bike is down, he may pack on another member's bike or ride in the chase truck (usually loaded with girlfriends, tools and beer). 

On weekend rides, members should be able to take time off of work to attend. If this is impossible and more than four members can not attend the run, the club will wait for them the following day.

Church meetings will be closed to all except members, prospects and those who have business with the club. 

Any non-members attending one of our bike runs is expected to follow our rules. If another club is attending one of our rides and breaks our riding rules, we will stop and let them continue by themselves.

Talking during meetings will be kept to a minimum until you are recognized and given the floor by the President. The Sergeant-at-arms will evict anyone who disrupts a meeting.

No one will pass the road captain on a club ride.

The entire membership will vote on where the club will go on club rides.

The treasurer will keep a clear record of all money paid in and out and will report on the balance at club meetings.

All members will attend church meetings on their motorcycles, weather permitting.

A member whose motorcycle is down for an extended period of time may be suspended until his bike is in working order.

No one will lend his colors to anyone who is not a member of the club.

No one will bring heat to the house (meaning that no member will cause trouble or deal in illegal activities that might draw police to the club).

Members will wear their club colors on club rides.

Anyone leaving town for more than six months is expected to leave their colors with the President until their return.

Any member missing a meeting for any reason will be fined $10 unless he is in the hospital, in jail or out of town for a period of time.

No prospect or member is allowed to use heroin in any form. Hypes will be immediately kicked out of the club.

No explosives will be thrown into campfires for any reason (some clubs state that the fine for such activity is an ass-whipping).

Guns that are carried on runs will not be displayed after 6pm. 

Club members will not fight each other using weapons. Fights with members are to be one on one, prospects are regarded the same as members. 

If a club member fights a member of a different chapter of the club a fine of $100 will be taken from each man by the treasurer of their club and they may be suspended for a time decided on by officers of the club.

No narcotic burns. When making deals, person gets what they are promised or the deal is off. Breaking this law will get you kicked out of the club.

All fines will be paid to the club treasurer within 30 days. Monies will be held to use for upcoming runs.

If you are kicked out of the club, you will remain out for one year before being accepted back into the same chapter. Club tattoos will reflect in and out dates when the member quits.

If a member is permanently kicked out of the club (*out bad), the club tattoo will be completely covered or an "X" will be tattooed through the club tattoo at discretion of the chapter.

* - There are basically two ways to get out of a one percenter motorcycle club. If you leave honorably it is most likely that you have served the club well for many years and are still considered a brother though you have retired. The other way is to be "out bad". This means you have been kicked out of the club for some reason. At best, to be out bad means that you are shunned by the club as an outcast.


Next time, we’ll meet the Rich Urban Bikers who gave Harley-Davidson a new start in the 1980’s. These RUBBIES on their new Evo Softails paved the way for a new generation of riders. They were “Born to be Mild.”

To be continued…

—Dave Nichols

Brought to you by Steel Horse Audio - Motorcycle Audio and Speaker Sound Systems