The Real Reason The Hells Angels Usually Ride Harley-Davidsons

Harley-Davidson motorcycles have long been associated with motorcycle gangs — particularly the Hells Angels. The group was formed on March 17, 1948, in Fontana, California, and is now considered one of the most popular biker gangs in the world. When Hells Angels was first established after World War II, motorcycle parts were abundant and sold at an affordable price, allowing motorcycle club members to build their own custom rides. Per Time, most of the initial members of Hells Angels were war veterans who didn't have anything to do and wanted the sense of adventure that they can get from riding on open roads with their comrades.

There are a few rules that Hells Angels members have to follow. According to One Percent Bikers, one of the requirements of being part of the gang is owning a Harley-Davidson. There may be rare exceptions to the rule, but generally, members are encouraged to use the American brand. Buell, which is also owned by Harley-Davidson, is also an acceptable motorcycle. Per Hot Cars, members are also expected to have a Harley-Davidson that's at least 1,000 ccs, although the model is entirely up to the member's budget and preference.

History of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and military use

Harley-Davidson was established by friends William Harley and Arthur Davidson in 1903, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to Insider, the very first motorcycles produced by the company looked like bicycles fitted with engines. The company steadily grew throughout the years, and in 1918, about half of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles manufactured were purchased by the military to be used in World War I. The motorcycles were used on the frontlines of war and came equipped with mounts for machine guns, per Riding Vintage. The brand's popularity soared and by 1920, Harley-Davidson had more than 2,000 dealerships in 67 countries.

When World War II began, the motorcycle company manufactured the Harley-Davidson WLA, which was built according to the U.S. Army's needs. Between 1941 to 1945, approximately 90,000 units of Harley-Davidson WLA models were built for the explicit use of military personnel (via Motorcycle). Units were also sent to Allied countries, such as Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. The brand became a symbol of freedom after manufacturing motorcycles for use during World War I and World War II.

Why the Hells Angels choose Harley-Davidson

The first members of the Hells Angels were former military personnel who fought in the war, and they were extremely patriotic. For that reason, they were strongly supportive of American-made products. Unlike today, Harley-Davidson motorcycles were cheap in the post-war years. Considering they were also made in America, it was the obvious best choice for the Hells Angels (via Hot Cars). And because the Hells Angels — and other motorcycle gangs — use Harleys as their ride of choice, the relationship between the company and group has grown over the years.

Hells Angels members keep with the tradition and are loyal to Harley-Davidson to this day, as the motorcycles represent freedom and rebellion. A former member of the Hells Angels, Lorne Campbell, told the Toronto Star, "I've been riding them all of my life, even when they were s**t bikes in the '60s and '70s. Harley riders are loyal — even when they leaked oil." Of course, modern Harley-Davidson motorcycles are superior to the older models, but they come at a steep price as well. Nevertheless, Hells Angels still favor the brand.

Customization options

Apart from supporting the American motorcycle brand, Hells Angels members also love riding the bigger Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the loud, rumbling sound that the engines produce, per Motor and Wheels. This makes them stand out while riding in groups on open roads. The bikes have a distinct sound that is recognizable to motorcycle enthusiasts, and according to How Stuff Works, the sound can be attributed to the unique design and arrangement of the cylinders. Moreover, Harley-Davidson bikes were comfortable to ride, even over long-distance travels that the Hells Angels usually go on.

Most Hells Angels also prefer Harley-Davidson bikes that have simple paint jobs, as this allows them the freedom to customize the motorcycle according to their liking. Apart from the paint job, the motorcycle company also offers customization options for motorcycle parts. Some of the most popular models among Hells Angels members include the Road King, Road Glide, and Street Glide models. Bikers personalized their rides by changing handlebars to ape hangers, lowering the seat, having longer fork ends, and installing louder exhausts. To this day, Harley-Davidson remains one of the most popular motorcycle brands and has a large following that consists of not only motorcycle gang members but motorcycle enthusiasts as well.