Although there are countless motorcycle clubs around the world, none are quite as famous - or infamous - as the Hells Angels. Over the past few decades, this exclusive motorcycle club has made a name for itself as a lawless group of Harley-loving riders. But it turns out that they have way more rules than we ever would've expected. And those in charge are very strict about members obeying these little-known bylaws. Read on to see exactly what Hells Angels have to do to join the most famous motorcycle club in the world.
Their Ride Order Is Always Based on Superiority
Just as with any other organization or club, there's a hierarchy in the Hells Angels motorcycle club. And when they hop on their motorcycles and go about their business, they don't just ride in any order. The order is all based on superiority - with the top echelon riding at the front of the pack. This means that the president of that particular charter will always lead the way. And there are no exceptions.
Behind the president, you'll then have the vice president, followed by the sergeant-at-arms, the road captain, the secretary, the treasurer, and so on. This rule promotes structure and further enforces the hierarchy that's so important to them.
Talking to the Press Is Off-Limits
Although the Hells Angels motorcycle club is one of the most famous motorcycle clubs in the world, there's still so much about it that we don't know. That's because they keep a lot of their secrets to themselves, and they abide by the one law that they can't break: talking to the press is off-limits. Confidentiality and loyalty are a big deal to these guys, and talking to the press contradicts those things.
Of course, that doesn't stop the press from spinning their own stories about the motorcycle club. However, you can almost guarantee that this information has somehow come from within the club itself.
There's Absolutely No Fraternizing With the Enemy (AKA, Other Motorcycle Clubs)
What happens within the Hells Angels stays within the Hells Angels. And while there are charters across the world, the members of this motorcycle club keep their circles small. They keep everything within the club, and they don't fraternize with the enemy - including other biker groups. While these groups share the same passion for motorcycles, they don't want to share any of their dealings with anyone else. So, they keep to themselves.
Of course, there are some charters that take advantage of the benefits that come with fraternizing with the enemy. But in most cases, these motorcycle clubs keep to themselves and don't stray from that.
They Don't Leave Any Member Behind - Even When Someone Is in Danger or Pulled Over by the Cops
One of the biggest values of any motorcycle club is loyalty and brotherhood, and this is no different for the Hells Angels. When one member succeeds, the whole club succeeds. But when one member falls, they all fall. Because of that, they never leave any member behind - especially when they're in danger. No matter what they're doing, they'll stop and rally around the member to support him and help him through the ordeal.
This is even the case if a member of the motorcycle club is pulled over by the cops. Instead of riding on by, they'll all stop and deal with the officer as a group.
Donating to Charity Is a Must
Although the Hells Angels are largely known for their associations with organized crime, it seems as though the members of this motorcycle club also love to give back to those less fortunate than them. In fact, a prerequisite of being a member is donating to charity, and they can often be found helping out at events such as toy drives and soup kitchens. In their eyes, this is all part and parcel of being a good citizen.
Although they don't like to brag about this charity work, the Hells Angels are very conscious of the fact that "when we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets."
Prospects Must Prove Their Loyalty for Years Before Joining Officially
Unfortunately for some, you can't just call yourself a Hells Angel - and you definitely can't buy your way into the club. You have to be invited to join the motorcycle club, and the only way to do this is to prove your loyalty to the club, the members, and their values. Those starting this recruitment journey into the club are called "Prospects," and the road to full membership is tough.
It's important to note that prospects aren't given free entry into the club. They sometimes stay an outsider for up to two years, only allowed a partial insight into club activities. Only when they've proved themself can they fully integrate into the club.
They're Not Allowed to Work for Law Enforcement
While it's never outright been confirmed, it's long been suggested that Hells Angels take part in lawless behavior. Their links to organized crime have seen them investigated by the police time and time again, but they continue to evade law enforcement. However, they can't be too careful. And that's exactly why members of the motorcycle club aren't allowed to work for law enforcement in any capacity - even if they left years ago and claim no loyalty to them.
Former police officers, security guards, or prison officers will automatically be rejected from any motorcycle club, as this conflict of interest just doesn't sit well with them. And we can understand why.
They Have to Follow a Strict Dress Code
Despite the fact that Hells Angels members largely refuse to accept societal rules and laws, they have a lot of rules within the club - especially in terms of what they wear. Although this is not the case with every charter, many charters do require their members to follow a strict dress code. Normally, this will revolve around the traditional "biker" look, which involves a lot of black, denim, leather, and sometimes even camouflage.
These strict codes act as somewhat of a uniform, showing the outside world who they are. Of course, the strictest dress code of all is that they must wear their biker cut at all times.
There Are No Women Allowed in the Club - And Wives and Girlfriends Can't Know Club Business
Although there are countless female motorcycle enthusiasts out there, the Hells Angels are very strict on the fact that only male members are allowed to join the motorcycle club. Although it's not known why this is the case, this long-standing tradition means that this club is entirely male-dominated. However, that doesn't mean that women aren't associated with the club, as the members are still allowed to have girlfriends and wives.
While these women are allowed to attend family Hells Angels functions and ride with their partners, they're not allowed to be privy to any information or any business dealings within the club.
If a Member Goes Missing, It Is Never Reported to Law Enforcement
While it's not a common occurrence, some members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club have gone missing in the past. Whether under mysterious circumstances or not, this is something that the club deals with themselves. After all, when you're part of the Hells Angels, you're part of the club for life - and it's down to your brothers to look out for you or keep any secrets related to the disappearance.
This means that missing members of the club shouldn't concern anyone else - including the authorities - and they wish that everyone would leave them to sort out their own situations within the club.
Substance Abuse Is Prohibited at All Times
While many people may assume that the Hells Angels partake in illicit substances, it seems as though that isn't the case at all. They have strict rules when it comes to these substances - especially when it comes to their members and their usage. Apparently, the motorcycle club is willing to turn a blind eye to less powerful substances when they are used at home, but any and all use is strictly forbidden during club meetings.
They have zero tolerance for those who take harder substances - regardless of whether it's done at home - as they want to protect their reputation and keep their minds in check while they are going about their business.
There Are Nearly 500 Chapters in Over 60 Countries - And They All Must Follow the Same Rules
There are so many rules the Hells Angels have to follow, but that's not because they want to lay down the law like other forms of law enforcement. By making and following these rules, they aim to keep all of their brothers on the same page. They want to ensure that their values match each other and that these rules are applied across all of their charters so nobody has any doubt as to what they're about.
But more than anything, they want to follow their own rules - rather than abiding by the rules of a governing body that sits outside of their motorcycle club.
Any Prospect Must Get Voted in Unanimously
While prospects know that their hard work and dedication could land them a seat at the Hells Angels table, getting there isn't easy. They have to spend years proving themselves through tests and other assessments, but they're not guaranteed a place in the motorcycle club even then. That's because a prospect has to be voted in, and the vote has to be unanimous. If the vote isn't unanimous, the prospect won't earn his cut.
In fact, it's down to the prospect to make sure that he gets a unanimous vote. As part of this process, he can travel around nearby charters, answering questions, doing favors, and winning his votes.
Some Patches Are Earned
While all members of Hells Angels have the same patches, there are some members of the motorcycle club who earn extra patches over the course of their lifetimes. To our knowledge, there are two extras: the "Filthy Few" patch and the "Dequaiallo" patch. Although it's claimed that the "Filthy Few" patch suggests that the wearer is willing to commit murder for the club, Hells Angels has claimed that it's a simple badge of honor instead.
The "Dequiallo" patch is an indicator that the wearer has previously been arrested and been violent against the police officer. Because of this, many police officers steer clear of those with this patch.
The Rolling Stones Once Hired Them as Security for a Free Concert - And Someone Was Killed
Since their inception, people have been intimidated by the Hells Angels motorcycle club. In fact, the Rolling Stones decided to use this to their advantage in 1969 when they planned a free concert for fans in California. Instead of hiring normal security guards, they decided to hire the Hells Angels to keep their fans in check. But they weren't anticipating them to take their jobs quite so seriously, and it resulted in carnage.
When one of the Angels learned that a teenage fan had pulled out a deadly weapon in the stage area, they decided to act. This ultimately resulted in his death before the Rolling Stones had even finished their set.
They'll Sue You if You Rip off Their Brand (just Ask Disney and Alexander McQueen)
Hells Angels are notorious for breaking the law and don't like to follow the rules. That's why it might surprise you to learn that the motorcycle club has filed countless lawsuits against regular people, high-profile millionaires, and huge companies. This is because they are extremely protective of their brand, and their trademarked status means that they are allowed to sue anyone who has tried or will try to steal their likeness.
Over the years, the motorcycle club has filed lawsuits against the likes of Toys R Us, Walt Disney, Alexander McQueen, and so much more. In fact, they don't show signs of stopping.
They're All About Community Spirit and Planning Community Events
Members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club are very secretive about their club, but that doesn't mean that they close themselves off to the world. In fact, they're all about that community spirit, and they like to go out into the community to socialize and help those who live near them. They've been known to throw parties for their local area, plan Christmas events, and even make appearances at famous conventions.
This is their way of proving that they are so much more than intimidating bikers. They want the world to know that they care about the community they live and ride in.
Once a Hells Angel, Always a Hells Angel
While there are certainly instances where a Hells Angels member can be excommunicated from the motorcycle club, those who stay loyal to the club are considered family - no matter how old they get or whether they pass away. In their eyes, when you're a Hells Angels member, you're always a Hells Angels member. They see themselves as brothers for life, and they're immensely proud of the family unit they have.
Because of this, the funerals of Hells Angels members are busy affairs. Hells Angels from around the country gather for this occasion, paying respect to their fallen brother and offering love and support to their family.
Harley-Davidsons Aren't Mandatory, but They're Certainly Encouraged
Of course, those who join a motorcycle club need to have a love for motorcycles. But while those who join the Hells Angels can technically ride any motorcycle they like, it's been noted that the preferred bike of choice is a Harley-Davidson. Often considered the kings of the motorcycle world, Harleys have long been associated with outlaws and hardcore riders who understand and respect the craft that goes into a motorcycle.
According to the Hells Angels, riding a Harley supports the club's beliefs of being free and living by their own rules. So, that's why you see so many of them riding Harleys.
What Happens in the Motorcycle Club Stays Within the Motorcycle Club
Hells Angels are big on loyalty and respect - both for their club and the club members. Because of this, they believe that what happens (or what is said) within the club stays within the club. The information they hear within the clubhouse will never be repeated, and they can only choose to share this information with other members of the Hells Angels. There are definitely no exceptions to this rule.
What's more, a Hells Angels member will never answer any questions about another person in their club. Everything they learn is confidential unless they're told otherwise by the charter president.
Prospects Have to Do Jobs Nobody Else Wants to Do
Becoming a Hells Angel isn't an easy process, and some prospects don't make it through this initial phase. This form of initiation is tough and grueling, and they're also forced to do jobs that nobody else wants to do. This is a way for them to prove their undivided loyalty to the other members and the motorcycle club as a whole - and it's the job of the official members to make this as hard as possible for them.
Prospects are subjected to jokes and hard labor, but if they can get through that phase, they're able to prove themselves worthy of their patches. And for some prospects, the thought of that makes it all worthwhile.
Their Vests Are Their Most Prized Possessions
While Hells Angels members often have a similar look with their love of denim, leather, Harleys, and their beards, they're most recognizable by their vests. These leather or denim vests prove their allegiance to the motorcycle club, offering the club name, insignia, and their charter location. And when on official Hells Angels business (and sometimes just for fun), you'll always find the motorcycle club members wearing their biker cut. In fact, it's essential.
Not only do these vests help them stand out from the crowd, but they also prove their loyalty to the club and their other members. These vests don't belong to the members, though. They belong exclusively to the club - which means they need to be returned if need be.
The Club Should Always Come Before Anything and Anyone Else
Hells Angels isn't just a motorcycle club; it's a family and a lifestyle. Because of this, it's important that all members realize that the club must always be a priority - sometimes even taking priority over their own flesh and blood. As soon as someone becomes a Hells Angel, they commit themselves to attending every single meeting, following the rules, and traveling around the country with their charter on business matters.
This means that most members don't have time for anything else in their lives. But for some members, that's exactly what they need. The Hells Angels give them the brotherhood they're looking for.
They Must Follow the Rules, or Else
When you join Hells Angels, you join a brotherhood for life. You're protected on a personal and professional level, and you get to live your life following your passion and riding with like-minded people who all share the same values as you. All the motorcycle club asks for in return is for you to follow the rules. This is of utmost importance, and failure to follow the rules will result in consequences.
Although it's not known exactly what these consequences are, it's been suggested that rule-breaking members will be excommunicated. Of course, the severity of the broken rule will determine the punishment.
Honoring the Dead Is of Utmost Importance
Hells Angels is a brotherhood, and every single member sees their comrades as their family. Because of this, death hits them hard. When they lose a member of their motorcycle club, they do everything they can to honor the dead and show the world that they are loved. To do this, they organize a motorcycle ride in the name of the deceased. When this happens, you can often see motorcycles for as far as the eye can see.
As if that wasn't enough, they also dedicate a section on their website to every single member who has passed away while part of the club. In their eyes, this respect doesn't go away just because the person has passed.
They Want to Push Back Against Societal Norms
During the 1960s, the Hells Angels were a force to be reckoned with. But while they already stood out from the crowd with their leather jackets and their loud motorcycles, that wasn't enough for many members of the club. When they saw someone staring at them during this time, many of the members of the motorcycle club would grab the man nearest to them and kiss them hard on the lips.
The idea behind this was that they wanted to push back against societal norms and rules and prove that they didn't follow the status quo. Of course, this also proved that they were comfortable in their heterosexuality.
Where and How It All Started
Today, Hells Angels is one of the most famous motorcycle clubs in the world. But what you might not realize is that this club has been around since the 1940s. In fact, the Hells Angels were formed when smaller motorcycle clubs in Fontana, California, decided to band together and create one bigger club. At the time, the majority of the club was made up of former World War II soldiers.
With extra time on their hands, after the war ended, they decided to follow their passion for motorcycles and create a club that would allow them to share this passion with others just like them.
The Name Was Inspired by a Movie
You might be wondering how Hells Angels came to adopt such a name. Well, it was adopted by soldiers in World War II, who were inspired by the Howard Hughes movie of the same name. However, the name of the movie and the squadron was Hell's Angels with an apostrophe. When it was later picked up by veterans to be used as the name of their motorcycle club, they decided to drop the apostrophe.
The club has been questioned over the lack of apostrophes over the years. And while they know that technically, they should have an apostrophe, they're happy with the way it's spelt.
Not Everyone Can Apply to Be a Prospect
We already know that to become a member of Hells Angels, you have to first go through the process of becoming a prospect. However, getting to this initial stage isn't as easy as you'd think. To even be considered to be a prospect, you have to possess a few things. First, you must have a driver's license that's valid and on date. Then, you must already have your own motorcycle.
Personality is also a huge part of this process. You need to possess a personality and values that fit the rest of the club, and you definitely can't be a member of law enforcement or have been convicted of predatory behavior in the past.
They Went Worldwide in 1961
Many people assume that the Hells Angels are only in the United States, but that's not the case at all. In fact, the motorcycle club first expanded its reach in 1961 when it opened up its first chapter in New Zealand. After that, they decided to expand even further. In 1969, a London chapter was formed, and by the late 1970s, there were members across Canada. Today, their reach is even bigger than that.
It's been suggested that the Hells Angels can now be found across 59 countries, with over 467 charters to their name. Considering they're so big, it's impressive that so little is known about them.
Journalist Hunter S. Thompson Got up Close and Personal by Going Undercover
Although the Hells Angels rarely talk to the press about their everyday lives and their business dealings, that didn't stop information about them coming out in the late '60s. That was all thanks to journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who managed to infiltrate the motorcycle club and become friendly with members of the club. In doing so, he was able to uncover some of their secrets and turn them into a bestselling book.
Unfortunately, this didn't go down well with the motorcycle club, and he was beaten up when they discovered what he had done. But the book was still published and can still be read today.
Maurice "Mom" Boucher Was the Most Infamous
Although the Hells Angels have long been associated with dodgy dealings and illicit activity, many of their actions remain unknown today. However, most people know what Maurice "Mom" Boucher got up to. During his peak, he was known as the president of the Montreat charter, and he was infamous in the Hells Angels community. In fact, many people claimed that he was a violent gangster - and this is what landed him behind bars.
He went to prison in 2002 for setting up the murders of law enforcement. And while he was set to stay behind bars for three life sentences, he passed away in 2022.
Sons of Anarchy Was Incredibly True to Life
The Hells Angels have had a huge impact on popular culture, and many younger generations know this motorcycle club due to the FX show Sons of Anarchy. While watching this show, many people have wondered whether it's a true reflection of what life is like for those who live and breathe these motorcycle clubs. And it turns out that the show's creator actually used Hells Angels as a basis for this show.
Kurt Sutter not only brought in members to act as consultants and make it look as true-to-life as possible, but he even hired a few members to act as extras!
Their Patches Are the Most Important of All
No Hells Angels member would be caught without their 'cut' vest, but it seems as though there's something even more important than the actual vest. According to reports, it's the patches on the vests that really mean the most. These patches show off their charter name, the Hells Angels insignia, and, of course, the Hells Angels' name as a whole. There are also a few other patches that still remain a secret today.
Only those who join the Hells Angels will ever know what these other patches really mean. But one thing we do know is that these patches show the mark of a true member.
Sonny Barger Was a Big Deal
Many of the facts and stories associated with Hells Angels came from Sonny Barger. This Hells Angel was the founder of the Oakland Charter in California, and he became somewhat of the unofficial spokesman for the motorcycle club. During his lifetime, he shared many secrets about the club - all with permission from other members. Because of the secrecy surrounding the club, Sonny became extremely famous, as people wanted to know more and more about the elusive club.
In fact, Sonny even wrote a few books about his experience of being a Hells Angel. They all helped to boost his career and his standing within the club, but sadly, he passed away in 2022.
Respect Is Important, but Always Earned
The Hells Angels put a lot of emphasis on respect, and their aim is to treat everyone with respect, no matter who they are or what they do. However, they also understand that respect is earned - and if someone doesn't show them respect, they won't show it back. Infamous Hells Angels member and Oakland charter founder Sonny Barger actually spoke to the press about respect in the motorcycle club.
He explained, "We treat people the way we want to be treated. When they don't treat us back that way, we react." So, if you come across a Hells Angels member, it's best to treat them with respect!
George Christie Managed to Get Out
Although Sonny Barger is considered to be the most famous Hells Angel, there's no doubt about the fact that George Christie comes a close second. He's the former president of the Ventura Charter and is the longest-serving chapter president in the club's history. However, with power comes a huge amount of responsibility - and also a lot of heat. Because of this, he has spent a huge portion of his life behind bars.
When he left prison in 2011, he decided that it was time to start afresh - and he opted to retire from the motorcycle club. However, this didn't go down well, and the other members accused him of being a rat. To this day, there's bad blood between him and the club.
Passion for Riding Is a Must
While there's no doubt about the fact that the values and beliefs of the Hells Angels probably appeal to many people around the world, there's no point trying to join this group if you don't have a genuine love for motorcycles and riding. Above everything else, the Hells Angels is a motorcycle club, and so a passion for these bikes is essential, especially as members are expected to ride these bikes all the time.
In fact, the Hells Angels website states that most members will ride over 20,000 kilometers every year as part of the club. This is for general business, pleasure, and riding to visit other charters.
It's All About Protecting the Brand
Although the Hells Angels started off as a motorcycle club full of members who all had a passion for bikes, the club has become extremely famous over the years. This has forced the club to make decisions in order to protect themselves and what they stand for. Because of that, the Hells Angels name and logo is actually trademarked. This means that they own the rights to their name and everything they stand for.
Because of this, people will now think twice about trying to rip off the motorcycle club. Not only will they have the bikers to contend with, but they'll also have lawyers to contend with!
Their Patches Have Secret Meanings
Aside from the self-explanatory additions to their biker vests, the Hells Angels also have numbers and percentages on their patches. And while this may seem completely random, there's actually a reason for that. The "1%" number is a clapback against the American Motorcycle Association, which stated that while 99% of bikers in America are squeaky-clean citizens with a clear wrap sheet, the other 1% of bikers aren't quite as law-abiding.
Alongside this, their cuts also feature a patch with the number "81" on it. This essentially translates to "HA" for Hells Angels, as the H represents the number 8, and A is the number 1.