Nobody embodies the freedom associated with motorcycle riding more than those who dare wear the colors of the largest motorcycle clubs in the US. When someone puts on a vest with their club's patch, they're saying something about who they are and their values.
Here's a quick rundown of some of the biggest and most well-known MCs in the country.
You probably wouldn't expect a senior biochemist at the National Institute of Health to also be the founder of a motorcycle club, but that is the case with Lou Dobkins. A respected scientist at his 9 to 5, when he wasn't peering into a petri dish, Dobkins was tearing up the highways all over the East Coast with the Pagans, the motorcycle club he founded in George's County, Maryland in 1959.
The Pagan's old school patch features the Norse god of fire, Sutr, sitting cross legged with his sword of flames. Today there are approximately 400 full patch members spread out over 44 chapters throughout the Eastern United States.The Mongols
Formed by Hispanic Vietnam veterans returning from the war in 1969, this motorcycle club was established in Montebello, a city in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles, California. It's hard to say how many official members of The Mongols there are. Law enforcement puts the number somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 (a large spread to say the least) but this number is probably even greater seeing as how they have recently expanded into Australia.
One thing that's interesting about the Mongols' patch is that, out of all the patches worn by the members of major league motorcycle clubs, theirs is one of the few that actually features someone on a bike. Their patch is black on white, and it shows a rider sporting dark shades and a Mongolian warlord's pony tail cruising on a chopper.The Vagos
Also known as the 'Green Nation', The Vagos are the most dominant motorcycle club in the American Southwest, although they do have chapters all over the country, as well as in Ontario, Canada, ten chapters in Mexico, and even in Europe. All in all, there are at lest 4,000 members of the cub worldwide!
The term 'Vagos' in Spanish is used to refer to someone who lives a care-free, nomadic lifestyle, and is more often than not up to no good.
The club's colors are black, red, a dark forest green, and an eye-popping lime green. Their patch features Loki, the Norse god of Mischief.The Bandidos
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club was formed in 1966 in Texas. Today the clubs 2,400 members ride in 22 different countries across the globe.
For years there's been a debate as to whether or not the cartoon character on the club's patch - a stout little Mexican with a six shooter in one hand and a sword in the other who's wearing an over-sized sombrero and a poncho - is inspired by "Frito Bandito", the one-time mascot for Fritos corn chips. Frito Bandito was the face of Fritos in the 1970s, before a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit brought forth by the Mexican-American Anti-Defamation Committee put an end to his run as the brand's mascot. (There's no denying that Frito Bandito was a super stereotype).The Hells Angels
No list of motorcycle clubs in the US would be complete if we didn't include the one-and-only Hells Angels. Although they may not be the largest club in numbers (there are an estimated 2,300 members in 230 chapters in 26 countries) the Hells Angels is easily the most easily recognized motor cycle club and the most emblematic of motorcycle culture. In fact, they're more than just a motorcycle club; in the US and Canada the organization is incorporated as the Hells Angels Motorcycle Incorporation.
The most famous of all Hells Angels members is Sonny Barger, who was the president of the Oakland chapter during the clubs heyday in the 1960s. Television viewers today will undoubtedly recognize Barger for his portrayal of Lenny 'The Pimp' Janowitz on the immensely popular T.V series "Sons of Anarchy".