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  Covering bikers: don’t flirt, avoid underlings and never, ever touch the bikes These are just rules of thumb, so if anyone breaks your thumbs, don’t blame me:

  • Expect trouble if you’re interfering with ongoing business. These people take money seriously.
  • Also expect trouble if you make things personal. Try not to upset his wife or kids (Bikers are invariably male). Photographing a biker going in or out of a courthouse isn’t nearly as emotionally charged as photographing him going in or out of his family home. Try to keep things business-like.
  • If you feel the need to take surveillance photos, do it from a company car. You don’t need people checking your license plate and learning your home address.
  • Take your questions to the top. Try to avoid underlings. They don’t have any decision-making power and are far more likely to be violent than someone at a high level. With bikers, go to the top club – ie Hells Angels – and try to bypass more junior support clubs.
  • Don’t expect people to act the same towards you in a group as they do one-on-one. A chummy Ontario Hells Angel will likely become standoffish and even hostile when he’s around someone senior from an established chapter like the one from Sherbrooke, Quebec.
  • Don’t touch a biker’s club vest or his bike. Never, never, never.
  • Bring photo identification that quickly establishes you as a journalist. They don’t particularly like us, but we’re on firmer ground than police or members of rival clubs.
  • Don’t flirt. Female reporters have no trouble getting attention from bikers, but things can take an ugly turn quickly. Biker wives and girlfriends won’t appreciate the competition, while many bikers want more than eye-batting.
  • Don’t brag about who else you’ve talked to. Less is more in terms of gossip and nothing is best.
  • Don’t be tricky. Nothing angers a lot of people as much as feeling conned, and these folks are good at spotting cons. I was invited once to a Hells Angels party, but I said I would still be a reporter if I went. The invitation was quickly rescinded but we remained on polite, businesslike terms.


  1. Tim Kelly on March 16, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Words to stay alive by

  2. […] Back on Feb. 1, he posted a list of pointers on how best to cover bikers. Here’s the first three. Read the full post: […]

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