Sociology Index


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.

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 acknowledge that the term one-percenter has long been 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.