On-road trolls: the global spread of bikie clubs

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Outlaw motorcycle gangs are expanding around the world with large, established clubs like Hells Angels constantly creating chapters internationally, global survey of ‘bikie’ clubs, which counted 5072 separate clubs, has found.

  • About 100 outlaw motor cycle gangs (OMCG) have chapters outside their country of origin
  • Australia’s Rebel OMCG has chapters in 18 countries
  • Major OMCGs actively pursue international expansion
  • OMCG members ‘enjoy being intimidating, annoying and scary’.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs are expanding around the world with large, established clubs like Hells Angels constantly creating chapters internationally, global survey of ‘bikie’ clubs which counted 5072 separate clubs has found.

Associate Professor Mark Lauchs will present Outlaw Motorcycle Gang international imperialism: plotting the worldwide expansion of the Big 6, at the Crime Justice and Social Democracy 5th Biennial International Conference July 15 to 17, hosted by QUT on the Gold Coast.

Professor Lauchs, from QUT’s School of Justice, said outlaw motor cycle gangs (OMCG) were made up of misogynistic men who are intentionally deviant.

“OMCGs want to be outside society, to be outlaws,” Professor Lauchs said.

“They enjoy being intimidating, annoying and scary. They aren’t rebelling against society; they are rejecting it.

“We don’t know what draws men to join OMCGs.

“If it was brotherhood they are after, there are plenty of motorcycle clubs they could join. Nobody joins an outlaw motorcycle club without knowing what they are getting into.”

Professor Lauchs found approximately 100 OMCGs with chapters outside their country of origin.

“Three US OMCGs top the list: Hells Angels have chapters in 50 other countries, Bandidos are in 30 and the Outlaws have spread to 23 – all three have chapters in Australia. After that comes Australia’s own Rebels and the Netherlands’ No Surrender each with chapters in 18 countries.

“Our data shows that western countries formed clubs much earlier than other regions, but that Scandinavia, South America, and East Asia are continuing to form new clubs at an increasing rated.

“It is clear international expansion is actively pursued by major clubs and they appear to not only want to grow in club membership but compete for territory with other clubs.

“This is in line with their ‘warfare mentality’, the integral part of OMCG culture that seeks conflict and rivalry with other clubs.”

Professor Lauchs’ research on the formation of motorcycle gangs found they are quintessentially an American cultural phenomenon that arose from a mix of returned servicemen seeking the brotherhood and risk-taking of World War II, and a subset of the 1960 counter-culture.

“Today military veterans tend to join military motorcycle clubs, like the Patriots,” he said.

“OMCG attract an entirely different crowd of men who are looking for more than the ‘weekend warrior’ biker image.

“When you join an OMCG, the club becomes the primary focus of your life; more than your job or family. More research is needed into why such a lifestyle is growing exponentially around the world.”

Professor Lauchs’ study, A global survey of Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Formation, was published in the journal, Deviant Behaviour.

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