Although original motorcycle clubs were formed as more of a hobby, current clubs are run like a business. The majority of motorcycle clubs have a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, sergeant-at-arms and road captain.i The club starts with a mother group and various chapters are established later. It is also run like a business in that members pay dues.
Outlaw clubs, especially, are run as a business. Illegal business, but business all the same: "Federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), say that outlaw bikers, with over 300 clubs, 5,000 members, and at least 10,000 regular hangers-on, are one of the nation's largest organized criminal networks, after the Mafia and Asian gangs. They are also a business. The feds believe the Hells Angels and the other large outlaw gangs earn up to $1 billion a year worldwide from drug dealing, prostitution, gunrunning, theft, extortion, and murder."ii
The person who joins a motorcycle club is looking for a variety of things. Some want more experience riding with a group and the confidence that comes from experience. Others want the camaraderie that comes with belonging to a group. Also, there is safety in numbers and a new rider may feel more secure riding with a large group. Other people join because they want to learn from others: safety tips, techniques, the best routes.
Dulaney explains why he joined a motorcycle club: "For me, one of the best unexpected perks of joining a motorcycle club has been and remains the joy of riding with likeminded souls: members of a motorcycle club have at least one thing in common: their love of riding. Everything else, age, gender, race, looks, economic background, etc. disappear under the leathers. You can relax, laugh, talk or simply observe, it's up to you . . . it's your opportunity to be free and to unleash that part of yourself which has been hiding all these years . . .iii
So who joins a club depends on their reasons for joining. Men are traditionally known to purchase motorcycles as part of a mid-life crisis. A club may provide a group atmosphere for regaining some of their youth.
For some, the reason to join is two-fold: Motorcycle enthusiasts take great pride in their bikes. So many join for the opportunity to show off their bikes while helping a charity at the same time.
There are three critical eras involved in the origination of motorcycle clubs. Dulaney explains these as: the pre-formative period between 1901-1944, known as the genesis of social organization around motorcycling; the formative period between 1945-1957, where social and historical events of the post-World War II era coalesced in the formation of outlaw motorcycle clubs; and the trans-formative period from 1958 to present.iv
Motorcycle clubs emerged shortly after the origin of motorcycles. The clubs formed to bring together riders for camaraderie and other events. The McCook Outlaws were one of the first long-lasting clubs. The name transformed through the years to the Chicago Outlaws and then the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. Long-distance touring and racing are attributes accredited to