‘Nike Bikies’: Notorious new breed taking over gangs
Bikie gangs are recruiting younger, more violent members straight from prison yards who are pushing out the old guard as greed and the gangster image replace traditional club values, according to new research.
Two studies from the Australian Institute of Criminology based on unprecedented access to dozens of former bikies in Queensland have exposed sweeping changes inside Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCGs).
The research was based on transcripts of Queensland Police interviews with 39 bikies, providing startling insights as ex-bikies dished on the new breed of "Nike Bikies" and "plastic gangsters".
Former members noted some fresh recruits had no interest in riding motorcycles or traditional club activities.
"They're wannabes, think it's all about tough boy image, whole image man, thug life image, gangster, gold, gelled hair, steroids, drugs, hot p***y on their arms, that's the enticement," one ex-bikie told police.
Another said clubs were recruiting in prison recreation yards and "allowing just anyone to join" as normally strict entrance procedures were watered down or ignored.
"If you were in custody and you had a few tattoos and were willing to be mates with a club member that was it, you were in the club," another said.
Younger outlaw motorcycle gang identities such as the Gold Coast's Harley Barbaro and former Hells Angel Ben 'Notorious' Geppert fit the mould of the of so-called 'Nike bikies' more likely to flex their muscle in flashy jewellery and designer gear than old-school leathers.
The changing of the guard has been accelerated as the younger members have wrestled powerful positions with club hierarchies, changing the culture and disenfranchising older members.
"According to participants, their former clubs were now less collectives of like-minded individuals brought together by shared outlaw values and a love of motorcycles and more groups of self-interested individuals looking to use the club and each other for their own (often material) gain," the reports says.
It notes those motives had always been present in gangs but there were growing disputes over "money, power and revenge" driven by younger members as the gangs came to "mirror organised crime groups".
AIC deputy director Rick Brown said the research provided "never-before-seen insights" into the changing culture of OMCGs.
"There is a real culture change in some clubs with more conflict and less loyalty between members and this is having a real impact on the members who are leaving," said Dr Brown.
Other bikies who had walked away also bemoaned an increase in backstabbing and "treacherous shit".
Originally published as 'Nike Bikies': Notorious new breed taking over gangs