No, I’m NOT looking for a new boyfriend. I’ve just noticed that most of the Hell’s Angels I see tooling around these days look to be at least 55 years old. Am I seeing the aging of an American institution, or are the younger guys hanging out elsewhere (I’m in New York).
Ahh, the aging of the American biker.
First off, it is important to know who you are refering to when you say “Hells Angel”.
Do you mean any Harly riding biker? Or a patch holding Angel, New York (name borough) Chapter?
Lots of greybeards ride Harleys, some might even be Hell’s Angels. It is critical you know the difference before posing such a question.
Plenty of guys ride motorcycles in the Midwest, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actual Hell’s Angel.
Well, EvilGhandi, I try not to stare… but I was thinking of the guys with the leather jackets/vests & patches on Harleys in particular (saw a couple this past Sunday).
But since you mentioned it, I have noticed a lot of other older folks decked out like bikers. My boyfriend was recently in Lake George at the same time as Motorcade 2000 or whatever that gathering was called - he noticed the same thing. Presumably these folks are mere poseurs.
Well, from a European perspective:
The Hell’s Angels we see around here (in full regalia - patch, wings, name of the local etc.) seem to be mainly in their thirties and early forties. Prospective members (vests without the entire paraphernalia) are generally speaking a bit younger. But since their turf war with Bandidos a couple of years ago, the badass biker clubs lost a lot of their general appeal. They used to be able to project an image of “mean-looking dudes, but really lovable once you get to know them”, now they’re more or less considered criminals. Well, they brought it on themselves.
Anyway, over here the Harley D. is no longer the icon of rebellion it used to be. They’re expensive bikes this side of the pond, turning them into playthings of the upper middle class - 45 year old dentists, accountants, etc. - who park them next to their Volvo, have their dealer add street-legal accesories and ride them (well, park them outside the nice cafes) in the week-ends when the sun is out. Posers.
I’d venture to guess there are a few reasons. First, the Hell’s Angels (and other “clubs” of their ilk) are (or were originally) basically gangs. Hoods. I think the demographic has changed.
Also, Harleys are expensive. Not too many 20-somethings can just go out and get one.
“Kids” like fast bikes that look like something out of an anime. (I know I do!) A sport-bike is much cooler than a Harley when you’re young. If you’re a gen-xer, do you want to be associated with a fat greybeard on a bike that sounds like your great grandfather’s Model T?
Trust me, if you ever see a Hell’s Angel you will know it. And if you see one up close you will never forget it. And if you encounter a group of Hell’s Angels, you will probably have bad dreams for years to come.
Spoken as an ex-Bay Area resident of the sixties and early seventies.
When my sis and bro-in-law were RIDING (don’t get me started on idiots who put their bikes on a trailer and DRIVE to Sturgis) back from Sturgis a couple of years ago they heard a blurb on the radio warning tourists that the Hells Angels were NOT a tourist attraction.
Apparently some guy thought it would be cute to get a picture of a couple of memebers and they beat the crap out of him.
Also, are you sure of the age of the guys you’re seeing? When bro-in-law and his buddies are dressed up in leathers with their goatees and ponytails they all look old, at least from a distance. in actuality they’re all under 35 and have owned hogs for at least 10 years.
That’s pretty much the situation in the States as well. They’re relatively expensive and there is a huge waiting list. Right now, a Harley is about as rebellious as being a yuppie-scum Chicago Cubs fan. Man, I can’t wait to beat on their ass this weekend as Wrigley…
I know hard living takes a toll, but no way were these guys under 35. All were significantly gray & sufficiently wrinkled to be really no younger than late 40s. The ladies with them looked pretty much the same. (BTW, I was about 10 feet away from them at the time.)
So, are the Angels giving way to yuppie bad-boy wannabes?
Have you seen Sonny Barger’s book? ::smack:: freeking search ::clunk:: oops, sorry, I’ll get back to you.
Does anyone know anything about the evolution of their badness? When they started out in the late 40’s and 50’s, were they as bad as in their heyday 15 years later? Are they as bad now, generally speaking? I realize that there’s a fine line between rowdyness and ruthlessness, and biker gangs seem to flirt with the edges here. Even today, if you
rent “The Wild One” the cover blurb will probably say that
it deals with a “vicious” motorcycle gang, but when you see
the movie, Brando’s gang is hardly vicious…some property gets broken up but not people’s heads. When Lee Marvin’s gang arrives on the scene they seem decidely meaner and
seedier, but even they show restraint. So there’s obviously
some exaggeration going on here.
And is it true that PigPen of the Grateful Dead was a member?
For a pretty good look at the Hell’s Angels up till about 1965, read Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson. He rode with (not as a member), drank with, doped with and was finally stomped by the Hell’s Angels.
I had a good friend from our hometown in Texas. His employer transferred him to Oakland, Ca and he had the bad luck to rent an apartment next door to an Angel’s hangout. I went to visit him one Sunday and he was preparing to go next door and tell them to turn the damn music down. He asked me to go with him as back up and I simply inquired as to where he would like his body shipped. He was a hot tempered guy but after doing a little observation, he cooled off about the situation. Live and let live is the best policy with those guys.
I guess you’re still waiting, huh?
I hold no affiliation as a patch-holder. I have and will ride with whom I choose and when I choose. I’ve riden with members from different clubs, great guys. But, when you pledge to a club, this means for life. You become the club and brother to all members. You now know your first priority in life. Considering the commitment, I understand why there isn’t a long line of ‘Evo riding, weekend warrior, yuppie professionals’ trying to pledge.
So Fillet, just my opinion, but I think the clubs may be getting a bit older, but are still keeping the ranks up with
candidates that meet the criteria, just difficult to find the dedication (or obsession) in Gen-X. Of course, all us bikers look the same!
I really enjoy riding to Daytona Bike week and watching the ‘posers’ get out of their yuppie mobile, open the trunk to put on chaps and half gloves to look ‘bad’ while walking on Main street.
Thanks for weighing in, hflathead. I was beginning to think I’d managed to hit on yet another unanswerable question.
LouisB, life has changed. The bike culture especially. I know that the Angels had a really bad rep (and rightly so), now, this group is tame(at least in Colorado). You have the Banditos, the Sons of Silence, Brothers fast, ETC… These have become the hard core clubs.