The Outlaws Motorcycle Club, incorporated as the American Outlaws Association or its acronym, A.O.A., is a one-percenter motorcycle club and alleged organized crime syndicate that was formed in McCook, Illinois in 1935.
Membership in the Outlaws is limited to men who own American-made motorcycles of a particular size, although in Europe motorcycles from any country are allowed so long as they are in the chopper style. Their main rivals are the Hells Angels, giving rise to a phrase used by Outlaws members, “ADIOS” (the Spanish word for “goodbye”, but in this case doubling as an acronym for “Angels Die In Outlaw States”). The Outlaws Motorcycle Club was established out of Matilda’s Bar on old Route 66 in McCook, Illinois, a southwestern suburb of Chicago, in 1935.
The club stayed together during World War II, but like most organizations at that time, their activities were limited.
In the 1950s, the club’s logo was changed; a small skull replaced a winged motorcycle, and Old English-style letters were adopted. This design was embroidered on a black shirt and hand painted on leather jackets. In 1954, the Crossed Pistons were added to the original small skull. This design was embroidered on a black western-style shirt with white piping. The movie The Wild One with Marlon Brando influenced this backpatch. The Skull and Crossed Pistons were redesigned in 1959, making them much larger with more detail. The A.O.A. logo was adopted as an answer to the A.M.A. logo.
The Outlaws became an official member of the 1%er Brotherhood of Clubs in 1963.
The club featured in a work of photojournalism called The Bikeriders produced in 2004 by Danny Lyon, a collection of photographs and interviews documenting the club and its lifestyle glorifying the life of the American bikerider.
In England and Wales the group has around 30 different chapters. A number of one percenter motorcycle clubs are called the “Outlaws”, e.g. New Zealand. These are not part of the AOA and share only the name, having a different patch design and colors. In some countries, independent Outlaw MCs have joined, or been “patched over” to the now worldwide club