Outlaw Clubs 101

Subject: 1%er / Outlaw clubs 101 by Dan Housee

Courtesy Of Motorcycle Club & Riding Club

The "Biker" world has been mine for some thirty-five years, from hardcore 1%er’s to the new and improved “Riding Clubs”. I've seen and encountered just about everything you can pull from any movie. Being knowledgeable of an element you might encounter is always critical to your safety. Whether it is road rage from a cager (driver of a car) or a robbery at your local Seven-Eleven. You learn what parts of town to stay out of because someone has told you or you learned the hard way. You have the intelligence not to provoke a Pit Bull or stand in the middle of a fire ant mound. You learn to ride a motorcycle safely and so you must learn about the world you have entered. Now, many of you have entered the "Biker" or “Club” world and are not aware of the issues that may affect you and only need a little guidance. It would be my suggestion to do some research on this issue because knowledge is power. It’s hard to convey the complete understanding of this culture in a small article but it will help.

This information is to educate you on the outlaw 1%er lifestyle, not to scare you away from riding. (And remember, please think before you respond to anything, don't do any bashing of anyone or any club on the e groups, forums or at any bars.) First off, the likelihood of anyone getting into a scrape with outlaws/1%er”s is slim to none unless you frequent their bars or hangouts. But make no mistake, this is very real. Since most bike clubs are “NOT” outlaw clubs, they will have no issue with you as long as you stay out of their “business” and follow biker protocol. There is rarely a problem at a public event or poker run but it is always possible.

The AMA was founded in 1924 as an organizing arm of Motorcycle Manufacturers and mainly supported by the Motorcycle Manufacturers to promote motorcycle riding in America. They sanctioned groups of riders from the same area that rode together as motorcycle “clubs”. Some wore complete matching dress outfits with the name of their motorcycle club stitched on the back of their shirts and jackets.

At events, the AMA gave awards for the best-dressed club so this was the start of motorcycle club’s patches.

As motorcycle club patches are recognized today:

• A one-piece patch normally signifies a family club or Social motorcycle club when it's done with respect to the area clubs.

• A two-piece patch can have many different meanings as long as it's done with respect to the area clubs.

• A three-piece patch normally means that the club is a Traditional MC club. With the top rocker being the club name, the middle being their patch and the bottom being the territory they exist in. There are also a few 3pc patch clubs where the bottom rocker has something other than territory, such as a saying.

The traditional MC is one that adheres to the protocols and traditions established. There are few exceptions, but, traditional clubs are approved by the local dominant. The traditional 3pc patch club is not necessarily a 1% club or even the dominant club.

During an event in 1947 in Hollister, CA when a member of the Booze Fighters Motorcycle Club made the headlines with an exaggerated news story that was later made into a movie called "The Wild Ones".

The AMA wrote an article in their magazine, shortly after this stating, “99% of all of their members are law-abiding citizens and only 1% are “outlaw””. This then, began what is today known as Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs and one precentors. Clubs that were not sanctioned by the AMA and non-members of the AMA were banned from attending AMA events.

These outlaw motorcycle clubs put on their own events and parties and did the opposite of what the AMA had been doing. There were no Best Dressed awards, they “chopped” down their bikes to go faster and look different, rode with no mufflers, they would drink, and do other “wild” things. Such is history.

In order to designate themselves as an outlaw club to all other clubs, the one precentors cut their club patches into three separate pieces. The top rocker was the name of the club, the center was the emblem of the club, and the bottom rocker was the local from which they came.

The term “colors” is used in referring to a motorcycle clubs’ patch set up. In the case of a 3 piece ..... One is placed over the top of the middle large graphic patch and one placed underneath it. The “rockers” are usually curved bars with the top bar designating the club name and the lower bar designating the location of the club. The two rockers are separate from the middle, larger graphic type patch, hence the term three-piece patch.

Motorcycle clubs differ from motorcycling organizations as they traditionally have “prospecting” time required before the club members decide whether the individual will be accepted into the group and allowed to wear or “fly” the “colors” of the group. Most club “colors” will also have M/C printed on the “rocker” or a separate "cube" patch with MC on it to further clarify it as a club rather than an organization.

So lets start with the "Rocker" you hear about. The rocker is in the form of a half moon, for lack of a better term. Similar to the bottom of a rocking chair. If you think about it, you have all seen photos of "Hells Angels" and the way the patches are arched above and below the center patch.

Many national organizations in the early 1980’s set policy to unite their “rockers” with their patch to make it one piece to avoid any designation or confusion within the motorcycling club community. H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) and the Blue Knights (police officers) are an example.

Nomad Rocker…..

Some MCs entitle a Member to wear a "NOMAD" bottom rocker. This is only when that member continues to exhibit a lifestyle within the common definition of the word nomad.


  • A member of a group of people who have no fixed home and move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land.
  • A person with no fixed residence who roams about; a wanderer.
  • It is a valued distinction of lifestyle that only a few can truly live up to, and as such, causes unfavorable notice when seen used by those most obviously not living up to the common meaning. By definition a "NOMAD", more often than not, will be traveling alone and needs an ability to represent, maintain & otherwise survive under circumstances unusual from the norm..

MC (Motorcycle Club) patch and the 1% diamond will also be found on their Cut (also referred to as Colors). There are also many other patches some clubs wear that only mean something to that particular club.

The 1% diamond is the key to identifying a 1%er. It is a patch in the shape of a diamond with “1%” on it. That is mostly worn on the left shoulder but is seen on the back of their colors also. They, (1%er's) ride mostly Harley’s only, along with their support clubs and almost all outlaw clubs, but that's another story.

The Diamond patch with "1%" or "13" worn with the 3pc back patch signifies the club is a 1% or 1% support club.

While rare, they may not be the dominant club for the area but will be sanctioned by the local dominant. There are also a few areas where the dominant is not a 1% club, but those are few.

Flying a certain style of patch on the back of colors is how the outlaws identify who is or is not claiming territory. Territory is a huge issue and they will fight and/or kill over it if it comes to that. It’s just “Business”. The rocker or the bar style patch is not acceptable to 1%er's unless approved by them. And just because an M/C club wears “Rocker” or “Bar” style patch’s that doesn’t make them an outlaw club. You just have to learn who is who but your officers should have some knowledge on that.

As I said, most clubs are not outlaw clubs and don’t wear a top and bottom rocker. They may have a top rocker but if they have a bottom patch it will not have State, City or County wording on it , many times it will be the member’s road name. For example any club in Texas (unless it’s grand fathered by the Bandido’s) that’s not affiliated with Bandidos, (and other than a police club) are not allowed to fly the "Texas" patch ("Bar" or "Rocker") on the back. They have even forced some police clubs to remove the Texas rocker. Also, 99% of Bandido support clubs cannot wear Texas on the back. The Bandidos claim that right as an MC (Motorcycle Club) and will aggressively approach you if you are seen wearing it on the back of your colors. Most states have its dominant 1% club where the same rule applies. The Bandidos are the dominant club in Texas as well as several other states.

A 1%er overall is also referred to as a “1%er”. Outlaws Bikers (not to be confused with the 1% “OUTLAWS” Motorcycle Club) are also hard-core clubs NOT wearing a 1% patch but have very close ties with 1%er’s. That would also include any 1% support clubs. Appearance is important, it would be chaos if everyone wore "Police" uniforms; identification of who you are is imperative. You would surly be put in jail if you were not a police officer but were wearing the uniform and acting like a cop. So, on the other end of the spectrum, you don't want to be mistaken for something you’re not for safety sake in all walks of life.

Wearing an AMA patch on the front of your colors/vest will identify you (to outlaws) as a family club member and are of no threat to them. 1%er’s push the AMA patch to all clubs because 1%er’s and other outlaws clubs don’t wear one. Some clubs wear the AMA patch upside down in protest of being forced by 1%er’s to wear it.

1%er’s and outlaws will have nothing to do with the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) and vise versa, and will NEVER wear an AMA patch. The term 1% comes from the AMA. In the 60's, the AMA labeled the "Hells Angels" and the likes, as making up only 1% of all motorcyclists as being "The Bad Boys". The Angels adapted that and became an exclusive 1% club. And ANY club that tried to wear that 1% diamond had better be able to back it up or rival 1% clubs disbanded them. More often than not they were disbanded, in many cases by death. The term “The Big Four” is the four largest 1% clubs and the most dangerous clubs in the world.

  • 1. “Bandidos" established 1966
  • 2. "Hells Angels" established 1948
  • 3. "Outlaws” established 1935
  • 4. "Pagans" established 1959.

The Bandidos, are the fastest growing outlaw motorcycle club in the U.S.

There are hundreds of smaller 1% clubs that can be just as dangerous as the big ones on a smaller level. Just a note. If you are ever around outlaw clubs when they greet each other, you may see some of them kiss each other on the lips. This started back in the 60’s when 1%er’s used it to shock people when they were around them. It has since evolved into a ritual that is proof of a very tight brotherhood.

To become a 1%er or an outlaw is not an easy task. Not many will ever wear the 1% diamond, and only men can join an outlaw or a 1% club. The prospecting process is more than most men can take or will take. Thus eliminating the possible club invasion of undercover or "Feds" as best they can.

Always be aware of a 1%er  Outlaw Club prospect. He will be wearing a prospect patch or have no center patch, or an armband depending on the club. Members and Prospects are expected to behave in such a manner as to avoid discrediting or dishonoring the club, especially, but not only, when wearing colors. But 1% Prospects have been known to provoke trouble. Recognition is important for a prospect to “Patch Out”. But negative recognition can sometimes work against a prospect.

When someone starts out he may just be hanging around (“a Hang Around”), He has no part of the patch. Then when he is sponsored by a full member and approved by the club as a prospect he may wear the lower rocker that only says "Prospect". In some areas, the prospect wears the "Prospect" rocker at the top of the vest. Some clubs even allow the lower rocker saying prospect and the upper rocker with the club name but not the main patch. Different clubs do things differently across the country. Different rocker combinations of what a prospect might wear differs depending on each club.

If he is approved after his prospect time has been determined to be over and the vote goes in his favor, he then is allowed to have the full colors and is considered to be a full member, having all three pieces if that club uses the 3 piece patch.

It is not generally easy to prospect for any M/C club, especially outlaw clubs.

Their structure is very much like the military and very political, they earn their patch the HARD way and will defend it to the death. If a 1%er or outlaw club members looses his colors, they will go to unbelievable lengths to recover them. And God help the one that has them, especially if there is no reason for having them. If the Police have them, they will take the police department to court and get their colors back if they need to. Usually the Police just save themselves the hassle and give them back. They always do get them back.

Rival clubs have killed each other for years over things like territory and simple arguments over what seems to be nothing to the average citizen. Outlaw/1%er clubs for the most part keep the violence in the rival Motorcycle Club circle. Unless you are involved with them or have a death wish and chose to provoke hardcore bikers, the violence rarely spills out into the general public. That still goes on to this day. Declaring WAR is in their eyes just what it means. Last one breathing wins, nothing less, no exceptions, no rules. They have no fear of the consequences, that's what makes them so dangerous in a confrontation. Jail, prison, or death means nothing to them and threats will actually encourage them to strike.

The comment was made about numbers, that the citizen riders out number them 50 to 1. That is true, but, think what you will, five average guys are sometimes no problem for one hardcore 1%er. If you take on one, you take them all on. For the most part, now days, outlaws will try to stress their position very clearly before resorting to violence.

Until now, the outlaw element has been pretty much on its own. (And as you know they seldom wave at anyone. It is nothing personal and has nothing to do with the bike you ride. They also seldom wave at another outlaw club) The reality is, however, that 1%er/outlaw clubs aren't quite like everyone else, it's best to recognize and admit that up front. The outlaws are a society within a society, with their own rules, own codes of conduct, own ways of reacting to the world. It’s kinda like the building of a city further out into the wilderness areas. You are going to encounter new forms of life you didn't know existed this close to you until now.

Many of you are relatively new to the MC world and are just seeing it. The big bike sales has increased 52% in the last two years putting a tremendous amount of riders on the road, at rally's, and on the web. Most riders paid no attention to 1%ers till they started entering the "Biker" world by flying colors just as 1%er's/outlaws have since bike clubs began.

Outlaws, 1%er’s, and motorcycle clubs in general have been around since the 30's with some non-outlaw clubs such as the "Gypsy M/C International" that was established in 1932. It's also been said that there was an all female M/C known as the "Metermaids" that was established in 1931. The "Boozefighters" Motorcycle Club was established in 1946.

Be as patient and as tolerant as you can when in a situation where you are approached by outlaws. “RESPECT” is what they expect from you and nothing less.

NEVER be macho or show disrespect to 1%er / outlaws clubs. “People who don't understand the chemistry and the volatility may get themselves into a situation way, way beyond anything they're ready for." That will cause a very explosive situation that no one wants to be in. Even if you don’t respect them, it would be in your best interest to show respect at the time of the encounter. Show respect to ANY club you encounter, outlaw or not.

There are some great clubs out there and not all the outlaw clubs are bad. It sometimes comes down to a particular member. Also try and be aware of where your officers are in case something comes up. 1%er’s (outlaws) only respond to male Officers of any club. Also, if outlaws are not on their bikes they will not always be flying any colors; it’s part of their laws. That makes it difficult to know who is who unless they are wearing a patch shirt that has the name of the club they ride with. So if you are at a cycle event or a biker bar, be careful what you say when talking to a stranger. Even if they look like the kid next door, you just never know.

An 1%er / outlaw could care less if he goes to jail, particularly if he is prospecting. If you make him mad, he will get your attention at any cost. And they don’t care WHO you are, an ex-1%er, a cop, an attorney, a body builder or a CEO. It don’t matter to them how tough you are or think you are. If you have pissed them off there will be trouble.

I want to stress again, it’s not likely it will ever happen to you unless you travel those circles or challenge them when they are present. But at least you now have some type of awareness on what to do or not to do, so you are in control of your own actions. It is not always a good idea to approach them even if you are just being friendly. Outlaws are very suspicious of an approach by a stranger. However, some can be very friendly provided you don’t ask questions about their “business”.

Outlaws can also be a lot of fun to be around, and MAN can they party. Most clubs, including 1%er’s rarely give anyone any trouble unless they are provoked, you challenge them, or you show disrespect. I have acquired many outlaw/1%er friends over the years that are great guys and wouldn’t cause anyone any trouble as long as they or their brothers aren’t messed with. They are the kind of brothers you want beside you if the going gets tough. Once club members consider you a good friend they will try and recruit you to join their club.

The loyalty of brotherhood is the greatest strength of any club or friendship, and the club loyalty’s ALWAYS come first. And they won’t call the cops; they Take Care Of Business themselves. (You may see that on a patch that some earn.) In fact, history shows that outlaws or 1%er’s are less likely to testify against each other than the Mafia is. Not to mention they are certainly a special breed, and the brotherhood is as tight or tighter than any Mafia.

1%er’s have a death code for snitches, if you snitch against the club you will be hunted down. 1%er’s are so successful at doing this just recently after a federal agent had infiltrated one of the “Big Four” clubs and gave the feds all the incriminating evidence of murder and drug running conducted by the elite portion of that club. He then committed suicide knowing they would find him at any cost and torture him to death.

“Riding clubs” are, for the most part, the new kids on the block and no matter what anyone thinks, the 1%er's/outlaws will always be here, even when or if the riding craze is over. The greatest law enforcement in the world has had little effect on this type of organization, so you can do little but try and work things out and co-exist peacefully. I think we can ALL co-exist if we keep doing what we are doing. Making smart choices and having friends from all types of clubs.

I know there are plenty of “Rights” arguments and debate in what I have written, but what you have read here is very real like it or not. We all have at least one thing in common, “Motorcycles” not to mention close friends! I encourage you all to enjoy this life style by being knowledgeable of it. Learn and realize how dangerous this outlaw organization can be at times. This article has only scratched the surface in regard to the lifestyle or information that is available. And much information is only available when you live in that world.

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