“If you weren’t living here thirty or forty years ago, you might not have any idea who the Bandidos are,” he reported in a 2007 Texas Monthly article. “You probably have no inkling that they were once the terrors of Texas, so fearsome that when a rumor spread through a town that they were coming, people literally headed inside their homes and locked their doors. And even if you do know who they are, you could very well have trouble believing they still exist. The Bandidos? The renegade motorcycle gang? Aren’t they long gone, artifacts of the Easy Rider era? Hasn’t the motorcycle world been taken over by lawyers, doctors, and advertising executives, all those self-proclaimed ‘chromosexuals’ who pull back their hair in neat ponytails and don designer sunglasses and expensive black leather jackets so that they can take leisurely rides through the countryside on sunny weekend afternoons?”
The Bandidos were, in fact, thriving, with as many as 1,000 members in 16 states and 400 in Texas alone. Founded in 1966, “they are now as large as the fabled Hells Angels,” Hollandsworth wrote, “and according to law enforcement officials who investigate the club, the new Bandidos—or at least some of them—are just as ribald and rebellious as the originals, whom the cops used to chase day and night.” The Department of Justice says they now have 2,000 to 2,500 members.
They have rivals, too.
“There are more than 300 active outlaw motorcycle gangs within the United States, ranging in size from single chapters with five or six members to hundreds of chapters with thousands of members worldwide,” DOJ adds. “The Hells Angels, Mongols, Bandidos, Outlaws, and Sons of Silence pose a serious national domestic threat.”
Members call these organizations “one-percent motorcycle clubs.”
The State of California explained the term in a 1991 report that traces the rise of these biker organizations beginning in the 1940s and peaking a few decades later. “In the late 1960s, a former American Motorcycle Association president was irritated over the raucous behavior of the outlaw motorcycle gangs and declared that 99 percent of the motorcyclists in the United States were law-abiding citizens,” the report explained. “This statement was a public relation's effort to demonstrate that only one percent of the motorcycling public was involved in criminal activity. Thus, denoting ‘one percenter’; those who chose to be a part of the outlaw motorcycle gang subculture. The outlaw motorcycle gang members coined this phrase—using it to differentiate themselves from the law-abiding social motorcycling clubs.”
Comparatively little has been published about the Cossacks, but according to Bill Hayes, who wrote the book on outlaw motorcycle clubs, they were founded around 1969 in Texas. There is a press report of a 2013 stabbing involving Cossacks and Bandidos.