Sociology Index

ONE-PERCENTER

The term one-percenter was coined after a gathering of the American Motorcycle Gypsy Tour on July 4, 1947. 3000 riders descended on Hollister, California which was sponsoring a dirt hill climb. When violence broke out the Motorcycle Association issued a statement saying that 99% of riders were respectable, pleasure riders and the other one-percent were troublemakers.

Since that date groups like the Hells Angels have referred to themselves as the one-percenter. This event was depicted in the Hollywood movie The Wild One. During my research compelling evidence emerged that suggests the existence of non-one-percent outlaw clubs that do have factions of members who espouse a one-percenter philosophy: individuals I will call quasi-one-percenters.

Quasi-one-percenters aside, the outlaw motorcycle club organizational ethic, in and of itself, can be a harsh one to live by at times. - William L. Dulaney - A Brief History of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs.

Quasi-one-percenters hold positions such as sergeants-at-arms, special enforcers, or bodyguards. These members display a diamond-shaped patch identical to those described above, usually on the front of their vest, but inside the patch one usually finds the letters of the motorcycle club rather than a one percenter signifier. - William L. Dulaney.

Since the beginning of the Transformative period in 1948 the number and types of outlaw motorcycle clubs have swollen the ranks of the subculture; some clubs meet the criteria to wear the one-percenter emblem but most do not (Dulaney; Barger, et al; Wolf).

There is evidence that the HAMC in Canada uses motorcycling to build alliances with other one percenter motorcycle clubs, to make a show of force, and to foster a reputation for violence and intimidation. - David Freedman

Tom Lindsay, the AMA's Public Information Director, states We [the American Motorcyclist Association] acknowledge that the term one-percenter has long been (and likely will continue to be) attributed to the American Motorcyclist Association, but we've been unable to attribute its original use to an AMA official or published statement - so it's apocryphal.

The reality is that all one-percent clubs are outlaw motorcycle clubs, but not all outlaw motorcycle clubs are one-percent clubs. The original meaning of the term outlaw, which denotes a lack of an organizational AMA charter and nothing more, still holds in motorcycle clubs that do not define themselves as one percenters. - William L. Dulaney