Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2010 Recap

Rebound from the recession

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor

The 70th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is now history and by all accounts the 7-day official event that ended Sunday, August 15, is shaping up to be a record attendance year with early estimates around 600,000, up from the 442,000 in 2009. The increase was expected as milestone-rally years like the 70th always attract larger crowds.

The sign welcoming rally goers to Main Street.

An increase in consumer confidence as many bounce back from the recession is also contributing to the surge in attendance. The official count, still being calculated, is derived from Department of Transportation traffic numbers, Mount Rushmore visits, number of vendor licenses, tons of garbage collected, and sales receipts.

Having attended 14 of the last 15 Sturgis rallies (I missed 2002), I can attest that crowds were up judging by traffic delays around the two main drags in town, Main and Lazelle, as well as outside of town on the way to The Buffalo Chip and the Broken Spoke. Available vendor spaces appeared to be full; last year there were many empty parking lots usually occupied by vendors.

The Full Throttle Saloon bustling on a Tuesday afternoon.

The Full Throttle Saloon is a menagerie of old relics like this bridge used as an balcony.

There were hundreds of individual events from organized rides to motorcycle industry functions, as well as three venues showcasing major musical acts. Heres a recap of Sturgis as I saw it.

Waiting in line with my bike at Deluxe Harley-Davidson in Gillette, Wyoming, 130 miles west of Sturgis. Two-hour wait for motorcycle to be looked at by a technician. Not a good time break down if you want to to enjoy the rally. Who knew my throttle sensor would crap out?

My arrival to the rally was delayed by a day because the throttle sensor on my 2008 Harley-Davidson Street Glide went out leaving me putt-puttering into the dealership in Gillette, Wyoming, to get it fixed. Im told the electronic throttle sensor—new for 2008—was a “problem” part for that years touring models. Must be since I only have 5500 miles on my Street Glide. I had to spend the night in Gillette while my motorcycle was being fixed. WRN columnist Betsy Huelskamp attended the Legends Ride, a fundraising event on Monday, in my absence.

Celebrity guest Lorenzo Lamas led riders, who paid $150 to participate in the Legends Ride, on a scenic route through the Black Hills.

Pee-wee Herman was also a celebrity guest at the Legends Ride. He’s standing with the bicycle custom built for him to be auctioned off for Legends Ride charities.

The 2010 Legends Ride donated $52,500 to Sky Ranch for Boys and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. More than 300 motorcycles took part in the ride.

Tuesday night I attended a reception for Michael Lichters photography and motorcycle exhibition held at The Buffalo Chip. The custom bikes built especially for this exhibit were a feast for the eyes.

Laura Klock built Memphis, a motorcycle she says is a reflection of her personality and style. “When you get to put your own personal touch on something, get in there and put it together with your own two hands, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

Intricate engraving done by Heather New of New Line Engraving.

The most striking motorcycle in the exhibit to me was by far this custom bagger created by Paul Yaffe with a paint job done by Chicano pop artist El Moises.

Most of the metal on the bike is engraved. Its done by Tay Herrera.

Custom bike builder Ron Finch and his unique creation.
Renowned motorcycle photographer Michael Lichter, curator of the exhibit, making opening remarks.

The Limpnickie Lot, a collection of bike builders and vendors that cater to the “younger” Gen-Y biker crowd, was located at the Broken Spoke out by county line (as opposed to the Spoke in downtown Sturgis.) Two talented artists caught my eye.

Lock Baker of Eastern Fabrications built these three motorcycles. Visit

Jewelry and accessory designer Heyltje Rose shows off two handbag creations. Visit

Foot traffic was steady at the Harley-Davidson display of 2011 motorcycles and accessories located at the corner of Lazelle and 3rd Street in downtown Sturgis.

The Women Rider’s area at the Harley display included a demonstration on how to pick up a downed motorcycle.

There were big name bands at three venues, The Buffalo Chip, Full Throttle Saloon, and Rock N Rev. I attended the Bob Dylan and Kid Rock concerts at The Buffalo Chip Tuesday night, which consisted of standing up in a big field elbow to elbow with other bikers.

Kid Rock on stage at The Buffalo Chip. He sang all of his hit songs to a very large crowd that sang along with him.

Every Wednesday during the rally, I attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Museums Hall of Fame Induction breakfast where this year seven people were inducted into the 2010 Hall of Fame. Because Women Riders Now is a site that spotlights women rider achievements, below are the two women who received induction honors this year.

Inductee Betsy Lister, a motorcycle rights activist, got teary eyed upon accepting her honor. After viewing the video introduction of her accomplishments, she humbly remarked to the crowd, “Who was that woman?” She later said, “Because of you, I do this work.”

Inductee Nancy Davidson, wife of Willie G. Davidson, thanked her children and husband saying she shares the honor with them. Her acceptance speech included a short story of the early days when she and Willie rode together. They’ve been married for 53 years. Lorenzo Lamas, standing in the background, emceed the induction ceremony.

Nancy and Willie G.s children, Karen, Michael, and Bill, look on from the audience with pride as Nancy acknowledges them from the podium. Karen and Bill work for The Motor Company. Michael is an artist whose work can be viewed at

Kodak moment at induction breakfast: Three pioneering women riders, Gloria Struck, 85 years old and still riding; AMA Hall of Fame inductee and long-time rider Margaret Wilson, and Grace McKean, 75 years old and still riding.

Christine Paige Diers, executive director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame, making opening remarks. Christine works tirelessly, along with her board of directors, to put on the breakfast event.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Museums greatest need right now is securing donations and long term memberships to go towards expansion of the museum as it has outgrown its small space, currently located on Main Street in downtown Sturgis.

A motorcycle created for the 50th Sturgis Rally was donated to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum for a short term loan to be on display during this year’s rally. Built in 1990 by Custom Chromes John Reed, the bike is owned by Custom Chrome founder Nace Panzica.

Bike builder and mechanic Athena “Chickie” Ransom of Vagabond Choppers, had a creative idea for a bike build event. She invited high school girls interested in motorcycling to submit an essay with the winners taking part in a live bike build with Athena at the Broken Spoke in downtown Sturgis. The bike is being raffled off with proceeds going to benefit high school bike building programs.

On stage at the Broken Spoke mid-way through the day-long bike build are the three high school student winners, along with Athena second from left.

Showing up for the second year in a row to promote their burgeoning motorcycle company was Lorenzo Lamas and Chad Greulach of Lorenzo Cycles. The two made the rounds at Sturgis promoting Lorenzo Cycles, a company producing one-off custom motorcycles. Lorenzo Cycles is also formering partnerships with companies like Ariat and others to produce specific accessories. Ariat is creating a line of Lorenzo signature riding boots.

With Lorenzo Lamas, who was in Sturgis building his motorcycle branding company, Lorenzo Cycles. Visit

With Chad Greulach, CEO of Lorenzo Cycles, the man with the ideas.

For me, the Sturgis Rally is a time to connect with motorcycle industry friends, test new products, and cover events I think you, the WRN reader, want to know about. Here are a few more photos from my time at the rally.

Wesco Boots starting making motorcycle boots for women. Im getting fitted here for a custom pair that I will be wearing and testing, and then writing about on WRN. Check them out for yourself at

I also visited with the folks at Helibars, who make revolutionary handlebars allowing a rider to custom fit motorcycle handlebars to his or her body size and riding comfort. Here owner Harry Eddy is talking to me about the bars. I rode a motorcycle outfitted with a set and my review will be posted in the coming weeks on WRN. Visit for more info.

Posing with American Iron magazine (AIM) editor (and my good friend) Chris Maida. I am the “Womens POV Editor” for the mag, contributing a monthly column and feature articles the last five years. Chris threw a party for AIM readers at the Buffalo Chip.

One of the faces in the crowd, and guest at the AIM party was Rupert Boneham, a winner of TV’s Survivor show who parlayed his 15 minutes of fame into a career raising money for his non-profit group,
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith who made a big showing at last year’s Sturgis, was absent this year, but his motorcycle company, Dirico, had a display on Main Street.

This is a prototype bike from Dirico set to debut in 2012 that is a rubber mounted 7 speed engine.

Custom trikes on Main Street.

This guy kept riding up and down Main Street to show off his “tractor” bike.

The antler bike — here’s always one of these in Sturgis.
I’m posing with Alexa Jacobs, daughter of artist Scott Jacobs and the model for this 70th anniversary Sturgis commemorative painting done by her father. I purchased a smaller version of this Scott Jacobs painting. Scott only does one motorcycle painting a year because he’s so busy, and this year he painted a woman rider. I had to have it.
Parting shot: My last night in Sturgis. Taken near Lazelle Street where I was visiting a friend.


Other Sturgis News to Note:

-Hot Leathers was named the official licensee of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and will produce all officially licensed merchandise.

-Mikey Teutel of TV’s American Chopper fame spotted buzzing down Lazelle on a scooter.

-The 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150 was unveiled during the Sturgis Rally.

-The Hamsters raised $257,000 at the group’s annual Sturgis fundraising dinner for Children’s Care in Rapid City, South Dakota

-The late Bruce Rossmeyer, who died in a traffic accident last year on July 30th on his way to the Sturgis Rally, was honored with the 5th annual Chrome Heart Award. Children’s Care presents the Chrome Heart Award to “an individual in the motorcycle world whose philanthropic support and civic duty represents everything positive in the industry and sport of motorcycling

-Formost Insurance unveiled a custom chopper built by Darwin Motorcycles during the Sturgis Rally.


11 thoughts on Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2010 Recap

  1. Thank you so much for the write up in your eMagazine about the induction ceremony. I’m so honored! Wish we could have hung out and rode together!Hugs,Gypsy (Betsy)

  2. Sturgis will be an adventure for me some day. Thank you for all you do for women riders. I do make a point of making it to Laconia Motorcycle week. I feel blessed to have it in my state. Thanks again!

  3. I made it up solo to support fellow Motor Maid Chickie and her girls at the Broken Spoke. Great to see her working so hard to promote the next generation of women bike builders. I was impressed! Stayed at the beautiful Hog Heaven and had no traffic problems because of it. Really enjoyed the bike display downtown at the Civic Center as well. Did you catch it? Some really unique bikes — works of art for sure! Great recap of the 70th! Hope the 71st gives us a break in the heat.

  4. Thanks Genevieve for letting me live this year’s rally through you! I couldn’t make it and have been depressed for weeks till I read your article. Felt like I was there. How funny that Dylan and Pee-wee Herman were there at the same time! But that’s what makes Sturgis great. So many unusual and wonderful people converging on such a small town at once. Glad you had a great time. Hopefully next year I’ll be there asking you for an autograph!

  5. I always look forward to the WRN newsletters. This month’s was no exception. Genevieve always provides the interesting female perspective to a male dominated motorcycle world. Being a novice rider of three years I was able to enjoy my very first Sturgis Rally this year. Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway proved to be my biggest tests during the rally. I’m happy to say that I passed with flying colors, while gaining the compliments of the male riders that I went with. I am confident that this rally will be my first of many more to follow. Keep up the great work Genevieve!

  6. Excellent write up. We were there and knew it was packed. I was wondering what the attendance was. I had heard somebody say 800,000. Either way, IT WAS PACKED! Great shots of the different rides and fund raisers too. Always good stuff.

  7. It was my first year at Sturgis. I was blown away by the crowds and fun atmosphere but loved the riding around the area the most, Needles Highway, Mt. Rushmore, Spearfish Canyon, Crazy Horse. So much beauty and history! Loved our ride there and back to Cali. Wish I knew all the cool individual events to attend while I was there but will have to do my homework before the next Sturgis!

  8. Hi Genevieve,Great to see you in Sturgis. Lets make it a longer meet next time?

  9. Fantastic!! Even if I was able to be there, I wouldn’t have gotten to see all that you saw. I look forward to all your adventures!

  10. Hi Genevieve,Excellent report, great pictures, innovative people – fantastic rally! How lucky you have been, even weather was fine. Can even smell the good vibrations here. I remember Lorenzo Lamas very well. He was a famous TV star in Germany. Chasing bad guys on his big bike, he was always wearing a long black coat. Guess everyone had much fun. Including charity activities and social responsibility – important examples for every one of us. Thank you!

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