How Old Are Motorcycle Gang Members, On Average? The Waco Shooting Thrust Them In The Spotlight

As the investigation into Sunday's deadly biker gang shooting in Waco continues, a closer look at the history of the gangs involved shows roots that date back several decades, and bitter, international rivalries that have gone on for years, which law enforcement officers say are likely to continue. The two gangs that police say were involved in Sunday's shootout in Waco, the Bandidos and the Cossacks, both started in Texas in the 1960s, according to The Washington Post. And, like the more widely-known Hells Angels, these gangs are fairly protective about giving information out about their membership. According to NBC News, the Department of Justice estimates the Bandidos has about 2,500 members in about a dozen countries, with a concentration in the southern and western U.S.

Looking at the mug shots of the 170 people arrested after the Waco brawl, it's hard not to notice some striking similarities among the accused: All are male and mostly Caucasian, and there are none who look like they're under the age of 20. It's hard to pinpoint what the average age of a biker gang member is, but according to The Dallas Morning News, the nine men who died in the attack — all gang members and all killed in the gunfire — ranged in age from 27 to 65.

That age range skews a little older than the estimate in a 1983 article on biker gangs "Hell on Wheels: The Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs", published in the Journal of American Culture. The authors describes various biker gangs who engage in criminal activity, and are between 21 and 45 years old. That description seems closer to the famous 1967 book by Hunter S. Thompson, Hells Angels which describes the gang members of that notorious group as ranging in age from the early 20s to mid-40s.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

But with many motorcycle gangs having histories going back close to 50 years, it's not surprising that some of their members would be nearing retirement age at this point. It seems unlikely, however, given the strong familial culture and sense of loyalty to one another within the gangs, that many of the members are turning in their motorcycles for a 401(k) or a beach house in Florida once they reach age 65.

Images: Getty Images (1)