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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.