Of all the motorcycle organizations in the world, the Hells Angels are probably the most famous… or should that be infamous? Ever since they formed in 1948, they’ve been attracting controversy, getting on the wrong side of the law, and making all kinds of mischief they’d be too ashamed to tell their mothers about. Yet despite their reputation as troublemakers, they’re actually sticklers for rules. Anyone who wants to wear the official Hells Angels vest is expected to abide by a fairly extensive list of guidelines… and woe betide anyone who decides they’re above the code. Here are 20 Hells Angels rules you might not be aware of, but which every hopeful prospect will need to learn by heart.
1. Don’t ask to join
As scientificfeed.com says, if you want to join the Hells Angels, don’t bother asking. There’s no application form, no formal process, and as the FAQs on the official website say, “If you have to ask, you probably will not understand the answer.” Your best option for getting in is to make friends with an existing member and wangle an invite to a “hang out,” an invitation-only event where inducted members get to check out prospective candidates and work out who’ll be a good addition to the gang and who won’t.
2. Only wear official Hells Angels merchandise
If you come across some Hells Angels gear that you think would make a stylish addition to your wardrobe, think long and hard before you start wearing it around town. Hells Angels members don’t look kindly on civilians who wear their sacred vests, and neither do they think too much about members who eschew official merchandise in favor of cheap knock-offs. They’re not shy about dishing out retribution, either, so think twice about dressing like a Hells Angel if you’re not one, even if it is Halloween.
3. Don’t discuss absent friends
It goes without saying that what happens in Hells Angels meet-ups, stays in Hells Angels meet-ups. No matter what tasty piece of gossip you pick up about another member, share it at your peril. So seriously do Hells Angels take their collective vow of silence, they won’t even talk about members who’ve disappeared. If someone suddenly stops showing up at meets, don’t breathe a word of it to anyone else – you never know who might be listening.
4. If one member gets pulled over, all members pull over
Like the Musketeers, the Hells Angels live by the motto of one for all, all for one. Whether they like it or not, they’re also obligated to live by the laws of the land, meaning that if they get caught riding or behaving illegally, they stand just as much chance of being pulled over as anyone else. But timid cops might want to think twice before exercising the power of their badge. When one member gets pulled over, all of their brothers will pull over too. Ostensibly, it’s meant to be a show of solitary, but if you’re the police officer on the receiving end of a hundred Hells Angels’ hostile stares, you might be more tempted to call it a show of intimation.
5. Don’t do drugs
Let’s face it, the Hells Angels don’t have a reputation for being squeaky clean. Throughout their existence, they’ve made trouble their business. Yet surprisingly, the one thing they haven’t made their business is drugs. Whereas certain other motorcycle gangs have become as closely associated with the drug trade as with bikes, the Hells Angels have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal substances. Members are strictly forbidden from using them or selling them – if they’re caught doing either, they can kiss goodbye to their membership.
6. Never snitch on a brother
Hard though it is to believe, not all Hells Angels make the best role models. According to rumors, some have been known to engage in all kinds of naughty things, which, as you’d expect, can occasionally get them into trouble with the law. When it does, the rest of the brotherhood is expected to keep their lips sealed. Any Hells Angel that passes on incriminating information about a fellow brother or the charter can expect swift, harsh retribution.
You might find a few links to other websites scattered around this page. What you won’t find is any link to the official website of the Hells Angels. Why? Because we’re scared. The club doesn’t take kindly to anyone, members or otherwise, linking to the site without prior written consent. And even if you get permission once, don’t bank on it lasting forever – if they decide to, the club can withdraw the permission at any time.
8. Don’t talk to the press
As alphacute.com says, there’s a very good reason why the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is such a mysterious organization: its members make a point of keeping it that way. They’re notoriously tight-lipped, refusing to share anything that happens in the club with anyone outside it. They’re particularly disinclined to speak to the media, mainly as a way to protect their image and safeguard their members.
9. Members always ride in formation
Most Hells Angels have regular lives, regular homes, and regular jobs, but you wouldn’t know it from the amount of time they spend on their bikes. But whereas some people like to ride alone, Angels like to ride as a group. In the same way that they’re very particular about their clothes and their codes, they’re also picky about the formation in which they ride. According to Grunge, the chapter’s fearless leader always leads the procession. Up next will be the vice president, followed by the road captain and the sergeant of arms. After that, it turns into a chaotic free for all, with the rest of the members all jockeying for position.
10. Members can’t be cops
It’s doubtful many police officers would want to risk their reputation by becoming a Hells Angel, but in case there are any, we’ve got some bad news in store – they can’t. There are certain things a Hells Angels charter simply won’t accept, and a police uniform is one of them. Prison guards can also forget it. Even if you never became a fully-fledged officer, if you took any steps to become one at all, there’s no chance you’ll ever get into the club. Child molesters and rapists are also banned, although for very different reasons.
11. Once you’re in, you’re in for life
As thechive.com says, once you join the Hells Angels, forget about ever leaving or retiring. It’s one of the reasons the process of joining is so intense – the club wants to make sure that all of its members are committed enough not to want to back out a few years down the line. The only way you can ever hang up your badge is if you go against the rules – although, given the consequences of doing so, it’s probably best that you accept your lot and plan on being an Angel for life.
12. Show up to events
As top5.com writes, the Hells Angels do more than just ride bikes. They throw events – lots of them – and as a member, you’re obligated to attend unless you have a very, very valid excuse not to. Unless you’re on the other side of the world, in hospital, or dead, failure to show up to a meet will be taken as a sign of serious disrespect…. and if there’s one thing you should never do to a Hells Angel, it’s show disrespect.
13. Don’t ask if your wife can join
Like living.alot.com says, the Hells Angels are called a brotherhood for a reason. Women might play a role in the club as far as respecting the lifestyle and remaining loyal to the code, but only men can become official members.
14. Only ride a Harley
Hells Angels aren’t only expected to show loyalty to their brothers. Since their inception, Hells Angels have only ridden Harley Davidsons, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. If you’ve got a sneaky passion for Ducatis or a secret yearning for Hondas, keep it to yourself. Hells Angels ride Harleys, end of story. Get caught on anything else, and you can expect a stern ticking off.
15. Be nice
Make no mistake, Hells Angels aren’t the kind of people you want to mess with. But while their image isn’t just for show, they’re not always the big, bad menaces to society they’re made out to be. For a start, all members are expected to show respect and brotherly love to other members of their charter. A lot of charters also require members to show love and respect to the outside world by engaging in charity work. And then there’s the fact they have a zero-tolerance approach to sexual assault and violence against women. They might not be many people’s idea of model citizens, but in some ways, the rest of the world could do well to follow their lead.
16. Vests are sacred
Once a prospect becomes a fully-fledged member, they get a vest with the name of the club, the iconic Hells Angels logo, and the name of their charter sewn into it. The vest is sacred and members are expected to go out of their way to protect it. If they get arrested while wearing it, they’re expected to hand it over to another member to look after until they get released. If they get caught up in an accident, meanwhile, they’re expected to do whatever they can to avoid it getting ripped or torn.
17. Don’t interrupt a meeting
It’s tempting to imagine a Hells Angels meeting as one of the most raucous and rowdy places on earth. In fact, they’re very orderly and well-behaved. To make sure things stay civilized, the group follows Robert’s Rules of Order, which was written over a century ago to help businesses ensure any meetings run smoothly and along democratic lines. Each meeting has a written agenda that has to be respected, and members are only expected to interrupt if absolutely necessary. Any questions should be raised before the meeting starts so they don’t disrupt proceedings. Anyone who breaks the rules by speaking out of turn can expect a $100 fine.
18. Don’t even think of joining a different club
Being a Hells Angel isn’t a part-time job. Unless you’ve got a good excuse not to attend, meetings, hangouts, events, and rides are all mandatory. And there’s a lot of them too, meaning that once you’re a member, you can forget about any other interests. There’s no time for hobbies and there’s certainly no time for other clubs… particularly if those other clubs happen to be biker gangs. As a member of the Hells Angels, you’re expected to be loyal, and that means getting friendly with rival gangs is strictly forbidden. Even joining the American Motorcycle Association is frowned on.
19. Don’t question their puncutation
If you’ve ever wondered why there’s no apostrophe in Hells Angels, keep it to yourself. Dare question their punctuation, and you’re unlikely to receive a very pleasant response. According to the site’s website, the original founders didn’t want an apostrophe in their name so they simply didn’t add one: “Missing apostrophe in Hells Angels?” the site reads. “Yes, we know that there is an apostrophe missing but it is you who miss it. We don’t.”
20. Rule-breaking carries consequences
The last big rule of the Hells Angels? Don’t break the other rules. If you do, expect there to be consequences. Anyone who plays free and easy with the club’s rule book can accept to get into trouble, the severity of which will depend on which rule they broke and just how badly they broke it. It’s not been unknown for rule breakers to get their tattoos burned off or to be kicked out of the club, in which case, they can forget all about trying to keep in touch with any other members.