- May 9, 2017
How to SUCCESSFULLY role-play a Biker
I have chosen to write this guide so that I may share my knowledge with others and to give all Motorcycle Club and potential Motorcycle Club role-players a full, head on guide on how to SUCCESSFULLY and most importantly, ACCURATELY role-play as a biker. In this guide, I will be addressing the stereotypes that most follow and avidly believe and educating players on things they probably were not aware of. For those of that don't know me, I have been role-playing as a biker since I joined SA-MP in 2010. In that time, I have purchased and owned a number of motorcycles in real life and witnessed the motorcycle club scene first hand. This guide is how life is in and around a motorcycle club in today's society. There are a lot of myths, a lot of beliefs and a heck of a lot of slander from the media. I will be addressing these and explaining how clubs work, what they're goals are and what a "biker" is.
What is a biker? Googles definition of a biker is "a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group." I'm here to tell you, that is not true! (Yes, I said it. Google is wrong) A biker is an individual that rides a motorcycle, it's as simple as that. A biker is just like you or me. Whilst each biker is different (Just like you or me) clubs will generally attract "like-minded individuals" each club generally has different views, much like every biker is different, every club is also different but we'll touch more on clubs as a topic in a moment.
A biker, just like you or me will have a day job. It's very rare that in today's society that they rely entirely on the club and don't have no day job to speak of. Sure, I know a couple of guys that are technically unemployed and they go around fixing folks bikes, cars, refrigerators or buy and sell shit on eBay. But, whatever it may be these guys have jobs. Running a motorcycle isn't cheap, yet alone the house they live in, feeding their family and buying a new flat screen for their front room. The point is, they are totally normal people, they have families and lives just like you and I. Of course, people from different backgrounds have different lives. There are some club members out there, whom by day are a Director of their own digital printing company, drive around in a flashy BMW and by night are at the club-house working the bar and bidding their time as a Prospect whilst others might work on the factory line, fabricating car parts by day and by night they are the chapter President. Your position in the club has nothing to do with the job you do in real life either.
A lot of bikers... You guessed it! Just like you or me, have families too. They might have a girlfriend, a wife even children, or grandchildren! Maybe they have a wife and a girlfriend? They're normal people. There's a lot of myth behind club members never harming women too, and sadly that's not always true. In some clubs it's frowned upon, others they have nothing to do with each others home-life. But, in most cases members families will often play a huge part in the club. They'll come along to the clubhouse and more often enough club members and their wives will know the other club members, their wives and their children by first name. Everybody usually knows everyone.
A biker isn't always part of a club either, as I mentioned above. Just because you ride a motorcycle does not mean you are in a club or even interested in being in one! You might also enjoy hanging around with a club and attending rides, but have no interest in joining... It's slightly rarer but it does happen. Most end up enjoying it so much that they join. Most that join end up wishing they never got involved in the first place, others would give their life for it.
Putting some stereotypes to bed on the biker topic and what you should consider when making your character, not all bikers are ex-military. This is a huge stereotype. Yes, a lot of ex-military folk are attracted to a club because of the comradery and brotherhood that a club offers but there are other ex-military guys who couldn't think of anything worse. They may have left the military because they don't take orders... Well then, trust me they aren't going to fall in with a motorcycle club. You don't need to have a huge beard, listen to Metallica, stink of cigarettes and cheap cologne. As I have said before, clubs will often attract the same type of person so it would be a little weird for a club full of trailer trash junkies and wife beaters to attract a guy who's a heavy family man with a solid job and a lot of money.
The Motorcycles: Whilst the most stereotypical bike for a "biker" or motorcycle club member to ride is a Harley-Davidson, not all clubs or bikers ride them. Most, but not all. All clubs will have some form of bylaws and in those bylaws they will determine the style, make or engine size of bike that members must ride and yes, in most clubs it is a Harley-Davidson but not all! There are even a couple of clubs where members ride sports bikes. There a few motorcycle clubs which are more commonly referred too as "chopper clubs" and they are extremely strict on what you must ride, basically your frame has to be modified in some way. A chopper is a bike that is made up of lots of different bikes parts, hence the term "chopper".
Your bike is your life-line in the club, without your love of motorcycles your club wouldn't exist. It's what brings you together. Likewise with bikers from similar backgrounds and with similar views, their interest in bikes will likely be similar too. If you join a club where the members are predominately black and ride Japanese sports bike, it's highly unlikely that you're a Latino and ride a Softail with fish-tail exhausts and huge ape hanger handle bars. Generally, as I've said before... And as you're probably learning from this guide so far, it's very repetitive. Clubs attract like-minded individuals, members will have similar life goals and similar interests in music, bikes and views on family, jobs and authority.
It's always a pretty neat idea to research the kind of bike you're role-playing, I see a lot of people poorly role-playing their bike. I've watched a guy role-play removing a radiator from a bike that I know to be air-cooled. Sure, I get that we can't expect everybody to be experts, but knowing some detail on the bike you're actually trying to role-play as a good way to be realistic and detailed with your role-play. So, let me run through some key facts on Harley's as this is most likely what you're going to be role-playing riding. Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle company from Milwaukee. Clubs typically ride these because it's where they began, during WWII Harley-Davidson was producing and supplying the US Army with it's motorcycles. Soldiers would ride to and from the front line delivering supplies and most importantly intelligence and orders in regions where radio communication with either unreliable or unsafe to transmit sensitive information. When the war ended, these soldiers turned to the motorcycle they'd been using all those years during the war, it's what they knew and trusted. Harley-Davidson back then also designed their bikes to be repairable, very quickly and very easily. Soldiers had been trained to do this and so, back home they chose to ride the bike they knew how to ride and repair.
Most modern day Harley's are all air-cooled, there is one model range that isn't and those are called the V-Rod range which were a liquid cooled (with radiator) range of bikes that were introduced in 2001 and later discontinued in 2017 for lack of interest from the regular Harley consumer. Harley-Davidson produce a smaller engine sized line of motorcycles called Sportsters, modern day Sportster engines range from 883cc to 1200cc. "cc" stands for cubic inches. One thousand cubic inches is the equivalent of a 1L car engine. Remember, motorcycles are far lighter than a car so the power is generally much more efficient. Harley-Davidson's however are not built for speed, they're sort of the motorcycle equivalent of an American muscle car. They're all about low end torque and "pulling power". A Harley probably won't go much faster than 150MPH but generally that's only on the larger "big-twin" models as their referred too. All Harleys use V-Twin engines where the motor is shaped like a "V" and have the "twin" part coming from the two pistons that the engine uses. Modern day big-twin models have engine sizes which range from 1450cc in their old "Evolution" or "Evo" engine to the current "Milwaukee-8" engine as it's called which is now at 1750cc. Harley-Davidson usually update and increase their engine sizing every couple of years. They also all have weird names, one you may have heard of is "Shovel head" I won't go too far into detail on the older Harley models as I'm sure you can find it yourself online.
I suppose the best advise I can give you when choosing to role-play a bike is either role-play it's a "Freeway" or a "Wayfarer" which to be honest is becoming less and less common or just Google some Harley-Davidson's and find one you like the look of, then research into that particular model. Just remember however that a brand new Harley is quite expensive. It's rare that guys will the current model year bike. In fact, as a motorcycle owner myself I've started looking for bikes that are a couple of years old where some schmuck has already spent a few grand on upgrades and the "showroom price" has been paid and it's depreciated by a few thousand from simply rolling out of the dealership. Also, don't be afraid to use the Wayfarer. There's plenty of mods out there that you can use if you're not a fan of the looks. Personally, I hate the sound so I've put the standard Freeway sound onto the Wayfarer also so it sounds more like a Harley. The Wayfarer is actually supposed to be a Honda Goldwing but it's a similar style to some of the Harley-Davidson Touring range which is actually the most popular Harley line these days. There are more Harley-Davidson Streetglide's sold than any other model in the USA.
What is a Motorcycle Club?: In it's simplest form, a group of individuals whose primary interest and activities involve motorcycles. They are NOT all outlaws or 1%ers. There are actually quite a few law enforcement, emergency services and military motorcycle clubs who grant exclusive membership to those in active service or former service within a law enforcement, emergency services or military force. The term you may have heard of is 99%er but it's not very common to use anymore. There are tons of clubs that are completely and utterly law abiding citizens. I would highly imagine, if you're reading this guide it's because you've A) not got bored yet and B) you want to role-play as a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. So, outlaw motorcycle clubs are as law enforcement would define them, a "gang" well that's sort of true, but also not true. All clubs are different. There are a lot of clubs who operate exactly like a gang. There a huge problem with the portrayal of motorcycle clubs in pop-culture and how the media portrays them. When I tell folk I ride a Harley in-real life they'll more often enough say "Oh my god, are you a Hells Angel?" and that's precisely my point.
Pretty much all motorcycle clubs will follow some form of bylaws. Bylaws are a set of rules made by a company or society to control the actions of its members. There's also something called a constitution which basically outlays what the clubs views and beliefs are but they will typically fall into the same document as the bylaws. I made a guide some time ago where I took a set of bylaws from a club in-real life and adjusted them to suit SA-MP. I would highly encourage you to read it and to adopt it into your faction if you have or are considering making one. I have attached the file to this post also.
Most motorcycle clubs will require you to Prospect or have a Probationary period. In fact, all outlaw motorcycle clubs will demand this. Being a Prospect is not about mopping the floor, cleaning bikes, kissing boots and working the bar. It's about earning respect and showing the members of the club you're trying to join how committed you are and determined to battle on in order to earn your place as a full club member. I see a lot of motorcycle club factions treating their Prospects like slaves, and this is totally wrong. Prospects are regular people... Would you be interested in joining a club if you're made to crawl around on your hands and knees making dog noises and sniffing another Prospects butt? No. It's humiliating and that's not what clubs are about. Respect is paramount in a motorcycle club, but you need to earn it first. You need to prove that you're worthy of it.
Being a member of a motorcycle club is a big deal. It's not just a set of patches and a leather cut-off, it's the comradery, the life-long friendships you will make and most importantly the respect you will gain. The moment you put on a cut-off in the club scene you instantly gain the respect from folk you've probably never spoken too. There will be other clubs who know you, your name and the club you ride with. They'll come over and shake your hand whenever they see you because they respect you and the club you're in. Respect is massive in the club scene. Generally, when you arrive somewhere you'll go around and shake everybody's hand and say hello. If you don't know them, you'll tell them your name and ask theirs. You won't go saying "I'm Hound from the Hells Underbelly MC" they'll know what club you're in because you'll probably be wearing your patches. Round names are also becoming less and less popular, nick names like "Jay" if your name is James, but names like "Spider" and "Uzi" aren't particularly popular anymore. Unless there's reason of course? You might be an arachnid freak, keep shit tons of tarantulas at home and have tons of tattoos but generally you'll pick up a nickname because it makes sense, not because you chose to be called "Steel" because it sounds hard.
I trust if you're interested in role-playing a biker and joining a motorcycle club, you will already know some basics so I'm not going to go into the details of what each patch is and what they mean. I'm sure you can Google that for yourself as every guide I've seen focuses heavily on what the patches are. That's not what I'm doing here. Patches don't have to be the typical three piece, top rocker, bottom rocker and centre patch. Some clubs have a single-piece patch. Some clubs don't claim territory at all and therefore they'll only have the top rocker and the bottom rocker. Some clubs, particularly in European countries don't have back patches at all and instead wear them on the front of their cut-off somewhere. A lot of clubs in modern day society actually don't wear ranking patches at all. Think about it logically, by wearing a [PRESIDENT] patch, you're just advertising to outsiders who your leader is making it easier to target them. Vice versa for the 1%er patch, a lot of clubs have done away with wearing it. The Vagos Motorcycle Club don't even wear territory patches anymore, e.g bottom rockers so that any single member can't be tied to one chapter however they do still claim territory, it's just not displayed on their patches.
Everybody in a motorcycle club should be equal, some clubs can be different but generally all members are equal. Even the President! The Presidents word is not final. If a vote is made where the President says no and everybody else says yes, then it's tough shit. It's a majority vote. A club is a democracy and that's where the bylaws come in. The bylaws govern and protect the members. The President, or another member can't just throw a guy out because he doesn't like him. Sure, he can "make him disappear" by carrying out business under the table to get rid of somebody, paying them off to leave or well... making them disappear but that's generally very far fetched. Don't vote in a guy you don't like, don't be a yes man in a club. Once somebody is a member, they have the same entitlement as you.
Do's and Don'ts: So, when joining a motorcycle club or when running a motorcycle club there are some do's and don'ts. First off, respect is absolutely critical. You need to show respect to everybody whether you're a fresh Prospect or a veteran member, even the President. If you're joining a faction, don't role-play like you know the ropes and you can handle yourself. It's always a good idea to role-play a really nervous or a guy who understands the need for respect but doesn't necessarily understand club culture. I often make a character who is street savy but new to the club scene. If I know there's a conversation going on that is a club thing and not really for my ears, I'll role-play walking away and standing some distance away to give the members in the conversation some privacy. That's a very good way to gain respect. Respecting their club and their lifestyle. It's not your business, yet and therefore you shouldn't go getting involved. If you're new to a club, don't go bringing your problems to them... You haven't earned the right to call on the club for back-up. If you get into a shuffle with some guy at the gas station because he bumped into the back of your bike, don't go saying "Do you know who I am? I'm a member of such and such club" because well, no you are not. Don't use the club as a threat. Remember all decisions that impact the club should be voted upon at church! It's a democracy and you can't agree to something without bringing it to the table for discussion. Sure, you can run something alone but anything that directly involves or impacts the club should be voted upon.
When you're running a club, as I've said don't treat prospects like slaves. They're not. They're guys that you want to commit themselves to you and your club out of respect. If you treat them like ass holes, they're going to resent you. Your club is an exclusive members club, just because you met a guy ten minutes ago that rides a Harley doesn't mean you should throw him a support hoodie yet alone a Prospect patch. It takes a long time for a club to trust you enough to offer you to Prospect... Note, "offer" never ask if you can Prospect! Prospecting takes even longer, personally I never set a time on it and it's rare to bring a Prospect in on any illegal activities until they're reaching the end of their Prospecting period and you want to see how they'll handle a tight situation or running from the cops.
Try to avoid role-playing riding a Shovel head, the amount of guys I see role-playing a Shovel is ridiculous. It's a Harley-Davidson model with a shovel-head engine for those of you that don't know. Given it's name for the shape of it's rocker boxes... Shaped like a shovel head. They were produced from about 1960 to the late 1980s. They are extremely unreliable. Pretty much all of the Harleys before the 1990's are. Sure some people ride them because they enjoy the nostalgia and the old school styling but it's not a bike you necessarily pick for long runs or riding every day. If I got a dollar for every person I saw role-playing an ex-military character that rides his Dads shovel-head who's ex-club and got murdered I would be an extremely rich man. My biggest advice when making a character, is just be a regular guy with a regular job, regular problems and an interest in motorcycles... Let time and IC events dictate who you become. You will be a totally different person going from Hangaround to fully-patched member. You'll learn so much and events will have an impact on who you are and your attitude.
Providing you are respectful as a Prospect, there is no real issue with being hot-headed. In fact, most of the clubs I've had running's with in-real life it's usually the Prospects that are the ones wanting a scrap. They've got something to prove and they're hot headed. A member that's been in the club for a few years, earned his place, got the respect and has had plenty of scraps that he knows it's not worth getting hurt for is usually the guy sat at the back smirking, watching the Prospect be an idiot. Of course, Prospect do need to be reined in a lot and it's okay to need it, but as a Prospect just be careful you're not too disrespectful. One wrong move could result in you being thrown out of the club with no scope of you ever returning. If this happens, don't be afraid to make a new character and start over. It happens a lot. I'd probably say 1 in five guys ever actually make it all the way and receive full patches. Some realise that they've taken on too much and the club is a lot deeper than they realise and others get thrown out. In fact, most guys leave clubs because of pressure from their wives. The demands of a club can be quite high, even as a member. As a Prospect however, it's more important. If you're asked to be somewhere, you better be there. It's all about proving your commitment.
When running a club, pick your cabinet wisely. It's vital to the success of your club. You need officers that are able to fulfil their duty, not officers that are appointed simply because they are your friend. It's your Treasurers job to keep track of your clubs funds, this isn't just for purchasing guns. This could be for charitable events, how much can your club afford to donate to a charity and your Treasurer is responsible for keeping track of it all. If he isn't doing that, he shouldn't be your Treasurer. Your Vice President should support you heavily, when one of your officers is away, not fulfilling their role or you don't have one anymore it's the Vice Presidents job to fill in for those vacant positions. Your Sgt at Arms, he's not responsible for training your guys to fight or for marking sure your club is armed. His job is to enforce protocol, to make sure the members are doing what they're expected to do and representing the club in a positive way. Disrespect is an offence, you can be fined for doing this and you will be required to pay the club a sum of money. It's a way to keep everybody in line. Whilst there are rules, jobs and regulations a motorcycle club is a social club, you joined up to drink, party, ride your bike and make life long friends. The rules are just something that are required to settle disputes or any issues whenever they arise. It protects the club as an entity.
The most valuable advice I can give you here is, DO NOT BASE YOUR FACTION ON SONS OF ANARCHY. It's a TV show, it's very far fetched and very unrealistic. Whilst there are some teachings you can gain from it, such as the protocol and how the club runs church and makes votes, all of the "murder" and "secrets" going on in the background and influence and involvement that Jemma Teller have with the club are unrealistic. I can't stress enough how important it is to steer well away from Sons of Anarchy. Gang land is also extremely out-dated. After all, these are the pop-culture references I was talking about. Clubs aren't all about murder, drugs and firearms. Yes, in some clubs (not all) drugs and illegal firearms are present but not something that runs their club. A lot of clubs these days will run legal businesses, and they don't have to be the stereotypical tattoo shops or motorcycle garages, but they do still exist. It's a common interest that bikers share. One member of the club might run an online store that sells seeds and nuts on Amazon and eBay, one member might work in an office of a marketing company, another might be a bus driver.
There is one show I can recommend which is a Lisa Ling series in the USA called "Lisa Ling:Inside the Mongols" it was created only a year or two ago and it's quite an eye-opener. Lisa Ling is given "full access" to the Mongols Motorcycle Club but as the episode goes on it makes you realise how little access she actually has, even though that is the most access an outsider has ever been given. You'll also realise how timid and fearful a Prospect is of saying the wrong thing to the camera, and how members out-right refuse to speak to the camera.