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Bike Gangs of America – Week 1: Hells Angels

Biker gangs have always held a unique position in our minds – both scary and glamorous, people to be afraid of, but people too cool to ignore.

News reports tell us about grizzled old bikers, throttle in one hand, gun in the other. Films depict idealistic romantics, men seeking a life beyond the constraints of society, a brotherhood of outlaws. But somewhere between the two, is the truth.

For the next four weeks, Bikesure is taking a look through some of the biggest American bike gangs out there, bringing you the story of how they came about, what they’re doing today and finding out where the facts end and the fiction begins.

Week one – Hells Angels.




They weren’t the first, not by a long shot, but the Hells Angels have become, for many, the archetypical motorcycle club. With a legend bolstered by countless films, television shows and books, the Hells Angels occupy a central position in biker culture whether they want to or not.

Formed in 1948 with members who’d broken away from other clubs, like the magnificently named Boozefighters and the Pissed-Off Bastards of Bloomington, the name was taken from one of the early member’s former USAF squadron. The original source of the name was Hell’s Angels, a film about the Royal Flying Corps directed by future obsessive-compulsive crazy billionaire Howard Hughes.

Throughout the 1950s chapters of Hells Angels popped up across California, as well as inspiring the creation of other motorcycle clubs tapping into various American narratives: that of the romanticised outlaw, the tension between individual freedom and military camaraderie, and a fascination with speed.

The possibly apocryphal statement about the 1% of troublemakers making the 99% of law-abiding bikers look bad was the perfect advertising slogan, and the Angels began to develop a notorious reputation as stories of their antics were passed around.

The next big event that pushed the Angels into the public consciousness was the publication of Hunter S. Thompson’s book on the club in 1966. After initially writing a magazine article about them, Thompson spent a year hanging out with the San Francisco chapter and their president Sonny Barger. He finally cut his connection with the Angels after being attacked for chastising a member – known as Junkie George – for beating his wife. Junkie George sounds like a charmer!



While the Angels had been developing a reputation stateside it was Thompson’s book that propelled them to international infamy. Their outlaw mystique (and their drug connections!) meant that people in the music scene and the counterculture wanted to hang out with them. This mutual fascination between musicians and bikers did not end well, with four people dying and many others injured after the Angels were hired to act as security to the Rolling Stones for the gig at the Altamont Speedway in December 1969, an event often seen as the end of the hippy dream of peace and love.

The Angels were also the first motorcycle club to go international. The first overseas chapter had been set up in 1961 in New Zealand. Existing local motorcycle clubs, if they were a good match for the Angels, would be “patched over” and incorporated as Hells Angels.

Two chapters were set up in London in 1969. Since then the Hells Angels have established a presence on six continents. It’s estimated that there are around 230 chapters in 27 countries. In recent years they have attempted to downplay the actions of their members and associates while moving to protect their trademark winged skull symbol through legal action, a somewhat ironic situation for a group the US Department of Justice classifies as an organised crime syndicate.


Next week we’ll be looking at the Bandidos and the Cossacks, two rival gangs who made headlines around the globe last year in their fatal shootout in Texas.


King of the Jungle Foggy on “rude” Lady C, why Vicky should win and why Chris and Kieron make him cringe.

This time last year, superbike legend Carl “Foggy” Fogarty was busy munching through ostrich anus and camel penis on his way to being crowned King of the Jungle.

The reigning I’m a Celebrity… champ will touch down in Australia this weekend to join the ITV team in the jungle and hand over his coveted crown to this year’s winner.

We caught up with Bikesure’s ambassador pre-flight to get his views on Lady C, his tip for the winner and his memories of his time in the jungle:


Bikesure: What is your abiding memory from last year’s I’m a Celeb?

Foggy: Winning it. The most memorable thing was in the last hour of the last day, thinking you are going to come third, then Mel goes, OK I’ll come second, and then to be announced the winner of the biggest celebrity TV show in the UK was just mental. I dropped to my knees and the rest of the day was just a blur. It was the most amazing experience and you forget how hard it was.

Foggy I'm a Celebrity

That first 12 to 24 hours in there I thought “what the hell have I done?” I couldn’t sleep, I was up and down and in and out of the diary shed – I couldn’t stop feeling nervous and shaking. I thought it might take a few days to detox but I was detoxing in the first hour!

My favourite bits were completing the challenges – they were the most physical things I’ve ever done in my life. The boulderdash challenge, having had little food for two weeks, my fitness had gone and it was one of the hottest days in there, and I had to do this ridiculous challenge with all sorts of stuff being thrown at me – it was so hard and I could not believe I did it.

For two days after that I was flat and exhausted. To win all the stars for everybody felt really good because after two stars I thought I couldn’t physically do it.

Bikesure: You said at the time: “If I was to be crowned King of the Jungle it would just be one of the most incredible, if not the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my whole life.” How do you feel about it all now?

Foggy: It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. You get a bit carried away with the emotion of it at the time. The best thing is racing motorcycle and winning world titles – you can’t beat that. But 15 years after finishing racing, it was incredible.

Bikesure: Last year you formed a strong bond with former footballer Jimmy Bullard. Do you keep in touch and who do you think you’d get on best with with from this group?

Foggy: We do keep in touch by text and phone and I hope to catch up with him before Christmas.

I’d have got on well with pretty much everybody – I like Duncan, and I’d have had some banter and a laugh with the girls Vicky and Ferne.

Foggy Jimmy Bullard

Bikesure: Who would annoy you the most?

Foggy: Brian whinges quite a lot, and Chris and Kieron suck up to each other a lot which is a bit cringey to watch, but I’d struggle with Lady C – she’s anything but a lady and she’s rude. She had a tough start in life but there’s no excuse to not be polite to people and thinking you are above everybody. You’re not, we’re all the same.

Lady C I'm a Celebrity

Bikesure: Who have you found the most entertaining campmate and why?

Foggy: Vicky. You can have a laugh with her.

Bikesure: Who would be in your final three and who do you think will win?

Foggy: I’d like to see the girls do well this year, and I think the final three will be Vicky, Ferne, and Jorgie, though George could be in there too.

I’m tipping Vicky to win. She’s transformed herself from coming from the worst TV show in history (Geordie Shore) to coming across as funny, helpful and a future Queen of the Jungle.

Vicky Pattison I'm a Celebrity

Bikesure: If you could give one piece of advice to this year’s contestants, what would it be?

Foggy: Just embrace it and throw yourself into it. It’s an amazing experience and you’ll never do anything like it again.

Bikesure: You named “people” as one of the three things you hate most ahead of last year – how has your experience in the jungle changed you?

Foggy: I found out quite a lot about myself, that I’m more of a people person than I thought I was. I didn’t like the idea of being around strangers, people I didn’t know,  but I probably helped out more than anyone and enjoyed it.

Bikesure: What are you looking forward to the most about returning to the jungle?

Foggy: This will be probably be the only time I will go back and it will be good to stand back and look at it from a different perspective. I’m sure I’ll be reminiscing about last year and it will be a bit strange not being involved but I’m really looking forward it.

Bikesure: Who would you most like to see go into the jungle in a future series?

Foggy: Liam Gallagher. Though he may only last a couple of days.


Bikesure’s Top 10 Motorcycle Songs

Rock and roll and the internal combustion engine have a long history together; indeed the song often pegged as the “first rock and roll song” – Rocket 88 – was about a car.

Going back even further, one of the first ragtime songs was called “You’ve been a good old wagon but you done broke down” – the relationship between popular music and vehicles goes way, way back.

While the first song to mention motorcycles is lost to history, bikes and music quickly became intertwined in the post-war years as a younger generation grew to love the freedom that two wheels and an open road granted them.

In researching this list we have decided to stick with songs that make significant mention of motorcycles in the lyrics, avoiding some of the typical biking clichés. Take the titanic Highway to Hell by AC/DC, for example; without doubt a timeless slice of rock, one of the great riffs of all time, but no reference to motorcycles there, and no place on our list.

So without further ado, join Bikesure, the freethinking insurance broker, as we take a trip down memory lane to the highs and the lows of motorcycles in rock. | Specialist Motorcycle Insurance

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