When: Annually, every August
Where: Sturgis, South Dakota, USA
What happens: 600,000 bikers rev it up and compete in races and stunts
Remember to bring: your harley, make sure its well oiled.
If you want to try your hand at a different kind of beast, one with a mechanical scream that flies at full throttle, you’ll discover an international biker’s paradise care of the Sturgis Bike Rally. The Rockies, USA is big biking country – every summer nearly 300,000 bikers get together for the annual Sturgis Bike Rally, the biggest rally in the world.
American Legend Tours, based in Gilette, operate guided bike tours in the Rockies. The tours cost $200 a day including meals and lodging and you do have to do a bike test before they’ll trust you with one of their precious beasts, namely the mother of all bikes, a Harley Davidson.
The legendary event began in 1938 when Pappy Hoel, local motorbike shop owner, came up with the idea of having a race and stunt competition. The first event featured 19 cyclists and dare devil stunts like ramp jumps and head on collisions with cars! The event has grown successively larger every year, apart from two years during World War II when the rally was cancelled. Post war, biking became a popular recreation fashion and over 1,000 attended the 1965 rally, and 600,000 attended the 60 year celebration in 2000. That’s a lot of beards, grease, leather and gasoline!
Sturgis is a celebration of motorbikes as a lifestyle, not just a hobby for weekenders. For the millions of bikers around the world, motorcycling is an icon for freedom and individuality, and far more than a mode of transport. The Sturgis festival goers come from all walks of life; doctors, teachers and other professionals are represented, transcending boundaries of race, gender and economy.
The Sturgis rally takes places on land where bison once thundered over the prairie in the time before. The Sturgis bikers are the equivalent of modern day cowboys, roaming free over the land. Sturgis is the perfect location for cyclists, offering unlimited panoramas of the Black Hillsand the camaraderie of the open road as the bikers ride out to Devil’s Tower past Sylvan Lake. Part of Sturgis Town is dedicated to motorcyclists only in tribute to the biking history.
Many participants dress up their bikes in a carnivalesque array of colours, flags and painted emblems. The usual bikers paraphernalia of leather wares, tattoos, food and bike parts make an intriguing off-the-road festival. If you need energy food for the adrenaline rush of the ride, check out the roadside speciality burgers like alligator and jambalaya!
The racing side of the event still includes the traditional half mile drag, as it was in 1938, and hill climbs at Bessie’s Knob Hill.
Sturgis is not just a typical festival, it is a pilgrimage to the mecca of motorcycling, and for the un-initiated, the ride of a lifetime.
All the latest on the Sturgis Rally
Sturgis Rally Top 10
Thousands of photos and reviews of the Sturgis Rally.