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Where It Started

On this page we attempt to sum up some history on how biking evolved. There are some very useful embedded links that can take you on a basically never ending journey from site to site to study and research real biking history. The happenings at Hollister, and a press that was out to create sensation, got mileage and bucks out of their corrupt coverage of that event. No single event or happening has ever influenced the course of biking more than Hollister. Two very important things resulted:
  • The public were led to believe that bikers were a bunch of drunken unruly hooligans and thugs. Up to this very day, that perception still sticks.
  • The after event declaration by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) that 99% of bikers were good law abiding citizens led directly to the formation of the 1%'er culture. Look out for the links below.

There is speculation of a club formed in 1901 in London UK, but the number one oldest official MC in the world, the Yonkers Motorcycle Club of New York, was founded in 1903. The first motorbikes were much like bicycles with engines, but they evolved quickly. Most of this happened in the USA. Much of this early history can be found on the Internet. The first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, currently the biggest rally in the world, was held back in 1938. However, the lifestyle had not yet been defined.

In America, after World War II, young men returned from combat in droves. Many found the transition back to a peaceful civilian life a more monotonous chore than they could handle. Many WW II veterans formed strong bonds with one another, relationships that transcended wartime. During actual combat, men became brothers-in-arms through the horrific experiences of witnessing members of their unit being killed and wounded, they themselves being wounded, killing enemy soldiers, and other atrocities of war.

It should come as no surprise that when these men returned and resumed their jobs that very soon they started searching for leisure activities that could get their blood pumping once again. They started seeking out one another just to be around kindred spirits and perhaps relive some of the better, wilder social aspects of their times during the war. Soon enough motorcycles became part of the equation, largely due to the high level of performance and excitement the cycles offered a rider, as well as for the relatively antisocial characteristic of loud exhaust pipes and the large, imposing size of the bikes.

On 4th July 1947 at Hollister in California, an incident was reported by Life magazine (see picture). The publicity this incident received was enormous. Bikers were portrayed as hooligans and thugs. The media planted this image of bikers and the public fell for it. It suited the clubs and gangs of the time perfectly. They loved it and thrived on it - even bragged about it. It further cemented them together as a Brotherhood. Out of this situation emerged the 1%'er outlaw clubs, but other law abiding clubs (clubs not involved in illegal activities) were seen under the same comb. All the clubs wore distinctive patches and rockers on their leathers and followed stringent internal rules and protocol based on the military model. When they appeared in public they were usually in force, and their intimidating appearance and the combined roar of their motorbikes made them feared and awed. And so, the traditions and protocols of biking evolved. Should you wish to know about this, click here.

On the right is the actual picture that appeared in Life magazine and started the perception that bikers were hooligans and thugs. That's the real thing folks! Pretty historic.

Southern Africa

As early as 1913 there were bikes and organized biking events. The DJ Run is a good example and makes for good reading. However, the biking lifestyle and culture spilled over from the USA and found its way to Southern Africa in the early 60's. Back then the bikers associated themselves with the strict, rebellious and free spirited lifestyle of their overseas counterparts, but mainly without the outlaw element, although some did exist. The commercial explosion of the 80's and 90's caused motorbike sales to rocket. Many new uninformed riders clamored to become a part of the organized biking community without having sufficient knowledge about it, or following the accepted protocols of the time. Many new clubs were thus established without the knowledge or approval of the older and well established clubs. Due to the lack of infrastructure there was not much the older clubs could do. They were simply outnumbered.

The government has never funded organized biking, or become involved. It was thus left to the serious bikers of the organized biking community to make their own plans. In an attempt to bring order, they established councils and federations. Various attempts were made to establish a central national body to unite the councils and federations, but all failed due to the distances and costs involved - and other factors. So, even today, these councils and federations remain very much area based.

Through the years the councils and federations of the organized biking community have been persevering with good intent, bringing much needed order and direction. OSBM acknowledges and applauds their efforts. They are doing the best they can under extremely difficult conditions. We are determined to help in any way we can, this web site being our prime contribution.

Recource And Media Links : Hollister
The town of Hollister became world famous on 4th July 1947. Historic things happened there which had a direct bearing on how our current day bikers are perceived by the public, and how many of the traditions of biking were born.

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