Dear Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs,

I was watching Jurassic World a little while ago, enjoying Chris Pratt's improbable transformation from the pudgy village idiot in Parks and Rec to the ripped, rebellious protagonist of a film in which he leads a pack of dinosaurs as the alpha velociraptor. I also noticed something else. Jurassic World made patently obvious a simple Hollywood formula that I should have picked up on long ago, but somehow hadn't until that moment in the theater.

The formula couldn't be simpler, really. Motorcycles are for people who kick ass. Trucks and SUVs are for pussies, politicians, police, or those criminal masterminds who let their henchmen do all the dirty work.

Now I know some of the contrarians out there will come up with counter-examples, and I'm sure there are many. Mad Max: Fury Road came to my mind immediately, since it's the best movie of 2015 and the protagonists spent most of it in a tanker truck. But let's not forget that all of the heroes abandoned the big rig and took off on motorcycles after finding Furiosa's old tribe. Did you ever see Immortan Joe, The People Eater, or The Bullet Farmer in anything other than an over-sized vehicle? No, of course not. They just ordered people around the entire time from the interior of a monster truck while lacking the moral fortitude and courage of conviction to step outside their steel fortresses solo & kick ass mano a mano.

Taken as a whole, I think the stats will speak for themselves. Badasses, whether heroes or villains, tend to drive smaller vehicles in movies and TV. The obvious caveat here is that the tiny vehicle must still be able to go fast. Otherwise, you'd see Vin Diesel and Daniel Craig puttering around on mopeds and unicycles.

And this collage could continue forever- Trinity from The Matrix, Marlon Brando in The Wild One, RoboCop & Judge Dredd, Country Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia...

It's easy to see why. Badasses are risk-takers who go it alone in the face of danger. They don't need seat belts or airbags or pillars A through C. As a movie director, why waste twenty minutes on annoying backstory, dialogue, and character development when you can just put your reckless action star on a motorcycle for 30 seconds and show us how little of a fuck they give. I completely get the motorcycle movie trope. What I don't get are the badasses who do it in real life.

I wouldn't want to tangle with any of these guys: Outlaws & Hell's Angels for obvious reasons,
East Coast White Trash because they ride fixies and I refuse to cycle with 19th century tech.

Let me reiterate that: I don't understand the badasses who ride motorcycles. 

I do understand the non-badasses who ride motorcycles. You really enjoy the sport of motorcycling, you accept the inherent risks that come with that hobby, and you putter away into the dawn's early light with some friends from the local motorcycle club. Sounds like a fun time.

But badass outlaw motorcycle gangs have a different goal in mind when they putter away on their Harleys. They're looking for mischief and mayhem. They're out there to break laws and crack skulls. They're constantly starting beefs and initiating turf wars. They're firebombing rival biker bars and packing heat everywhere they go. The motorcycle is their modern-day Destrier, carrying them into battle like the cavalry of old. And for this task, the motorcycle is exceptionally ill-suited.

One small problem with the modern outlaw's vehicle of choice... it's got a bit of a stability issue.

Badasses in movies can fearlessly exercise their badassedness on motorcycles in a consequence-free environment because they have an ace up their sleeve- it's a fucking movie. 

In a real-life version of Mission Impossible, Tom Cruise jumps on the bike, takes the turn too fast, hits a patch of gravel and flies to his death down a ravine. Try it again and he'd run over a squirrel, lose control of the bike and get mauled down by a tractor trailer and die. Run the scene again and he'd get picked off by an oncoming car while trying to pass. Do it again and a Nissan Sentra would back out of a driveway and catch him on the rear quarter panel. Tom Cruise flies fifty feet into a tree at 100 mph. Dead again. A realistic Mission Impossible movie would look more like Edge of Tomorrow: Live. Die. Repeat.

There's a good reason why militaries of the world generally don't send their troops into battle on motorcycles.

As intimidating as outlaw bikers may be in the bar, they're pretty much fish in a barrel as soon as they get on those bikes. One texting teen in an old Civic could take out an entire troop of Hell's Angels without even meaning to. I assume the 1%er patch on their leather jackets references the fact that they're part of the 1% of the population who will be killed by distracted soccer moms in minivans every year. I don't know how many of their rivals outlaw bikers murder every year, but I'm willing to bet that at least 10 times that number get mowed down by people who are yelling at their children in the backseat while driving.

I think we know who the real scourge of the road is...

I hear about violence between biker gangs. There was a big shootout in Texas this year, and there are even shootings and bombings in Europe between rival biker gangs. Explosions and gunfire and baseball bats are all very manly, but it's overkill. They're overthinking it. I mean, these guys drive down the highway in packs at 70 mph while balancing on two wheels. A garden hose and a bag of gravel is all you need. Beef squashed. Turf war won. One determined redneck in an old F-150 could take down the entire California chapter of the Hell's Angels in about a week and have the meth business all to himself, if he were just to set his jittery little mind to it.

There is one gang out there I know of who's doing it right. Ahead of the curve as usual, New Zealand is home to the Mighty Mongrel Mob, a group of outlaws similar in tone to the Hell's Angels, who have spurned the motorcycle as silly and impractical from the very beginning.

Drives a classic V8 Ford instead of a Harley. Has enough room to take four friends with him when he goes picnicking on Sundays.

Julian Morgans of VICE writes, "They didn't ride bikes, but they quickly developed all the trimmings of an outlaw motorcycle club: patches, club colors, and a fiercely violent process of initiation. They came to be known as the Mighty Mongrel Mob and today they're the largest gang in the country, with around 30 chapters across both islands."

According to Jono Rotman's interview with Julian, "They drive classic V8 Fords, which they call 'Henries,' and we were 30-cars deep going through a town that was Black Power territory. That's their rival gang. The Black Power guys must have seen the first handful of patched cars enter the town and sent word to the guys at the other end. When we got there half a dozen guys with bricks and baseball bats came out of their lairs and started laying into the cars. And then more and more Mob cars turned up. It turned into this big brawl in the middle of the main street."

The Hell's Angels or any other biker gang would have been toast in that situation. A Harley isn't going to shield you from a baseball bat. If anything the motorcycle will just pin you down after you get knocked to the ground by a brick.

Now the Mongrel Mob, that's a gang I'm scared of. They can beat your ass in the bar, they drive big, heavy, brick-and-baseball-bat-proof tanks for cars while they're out and about, and they probably take home all the trophies at classic car shows on the weekends. There's just no beating that extra set of wheels.

And outlaw motorcycle gangs, you guys should probably chill out a little bit. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and people precariously balanced on two wheels while traveling at high speeds shouldn't start shit. You never know when some redneck in a truck is going to get ambitious.

Sebastian Braff

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