Sturgis Rally
Sturgis Rally
  1. What is the biggest bike rally in the USA?
  2. When was the first rally?
  3. How many bikers go to Sturgis?
  4. How did Sturgis get its name?
  5. When are the future Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally dates?
  6. Is the Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally near Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain?
  7. What do the bikers do at the Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally?
  8. Where should we stay?
  9. Where can I get concert info and buy tickets during the Sturgis Rally?
  10. What are the helmet and other motorcycle laws in South Dakota?
  11. I have heard the Sturgis Rally is very crazy, is that true?
  12. What is the Police enforcement like?

1. What is the biggest bike rally in the USA?

The Sturgis Rally held every year at the beginning of August is the largest in the USA. It brings in 500,000 riders on average, with the highest around 740,000 in 2015 for the 75th anniversary rally.

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2. When was the first rally?

The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club started in 1936, with an official American Motorcycle Association (AMA) charter in 1937. 1937 was the first year races were held, but there was not a lot of publicity. It was called the Black Hills Motorcycle Classic. AMA began promoting the racing events; which started the now famous Rally in Sturgis on August 14, 1938. That weekend celebration in 1938 had a lineup of only nine racers and a small audience watching the races. The Rally has been held every year since 1938, with the exception of two years during World War II and celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2015.  Find out more on our History of Rally page.

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3. How many bikers go to Sturgis?

This small town of around 7,000 grows to more than 500,000; but it is not just contained in Sturgis. The whole Black Hills area and anywhere in 100mi+ radius has an increase in riders.

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4. How did Sturgis get its name?

Sturgis is in honor of the Civil War Union General Samuel D. Sturgis.

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5. When are the future Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally dates?

Check out the Rally Dates page.  The Rally officially starts on the first Friday in August and runs for 10 days.  Many riders attend the week before or after the official rally week.

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6. Is the Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally near Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain?

Yes.  There are many great area attractions and events with scenic rides between including Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devils Tower, Badlands, Custer State Park, National Forest, lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and numerous caves.  For more information please check out the National & State Parks and Monuments page and these other links.
http://www.blackhills.com/events
https://www.travelsouthdakota.com/west-region

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7. What do the bikers do at the Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally?

Besides the great attractions including Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devils Tower, Badlands, Custer State Park, National Forest, lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and numerous caves.  There are races, rides, runs, concerts, contests and vendors of all kinds.  For more information please check out these links.

Popular Sturgis Activities page
Events page
Rides page
BlackHills.com/Events

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8. Where should we stay?

First you need to decide if you want a tent campground, RV resort, cabin, motel, hotel, vacation rental or a local’s house.  All of these are available in Sturgis and the whole Black Hills area.  Camping is probably the most popular.  Whatever you decide you will want to make sure you plan ahead and make reservations months to a year in advance.  Find a place to stay on our Sleep page.

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9. Where can I get concert info and buy tickets during the Sturgis Rally?

Concerts during the Sturgis Rally are hosted by several different venues and many are free.  See the Concert page for more information or contact the venues listed below.

Buffalo Chip-  www.buffalochip.com
Iron Horse Saloon-  www.ihsturgis.com
Glencoe CampResort-  www.glencoecamp.com
Full Throttle-  www.fullthrottlesaloon.com
The Knuckle-  www.theknuckle.com
Loud American Road House-  www.loudamericanroadhouse.com
One Eyed Jacks-  www.oneeyedjackssaloon.com
Pappy Hoel Campground & Resort-  www.pappyhoelcampground.com

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10. What are the helmet and other motorcycle laws in South Dakota?

You can find the full Motor Vehicles Codified Laws and the Motorcycle Regulation Section on the South Dakota's Legislature website.

Some of the basics are below.

  • Helmets: not required if 18 years or older, minors are required to have a DOT approved helmet. A person riding in an enclosed cab attached to a motorcycle does not have to wear a safety helmet.
  • Eye protection: all operators of all motorcycles, including mopeds, must have either a windshield, glasses, goggles or face shield of safety glass or plastic which meets the minimum standards as required by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. Can not be tinted to reduce the light below 35% when the headlight is in use.
  • Headlamp: must have one but no more than two headlamps.
  • Tail Lamp: must have at least one which, when lighted, emits a red light visible for a distance of 500 feet.
  • Handlebars: must be below the shoulder height of the person operating the motorcycle while astride the seat.
  • Muffler: must at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.
  • Passenger: must have a passenger seat, and there are no age restrictions.
  • Lane Splitting: is not permitted.
  • Riding Abreast: motorcycles may ride two abreast in a single lane, but no more. They may not pass other vehicles in the same lane except motorcycles and bicycles.

Check out the Rally-Laws page for list of citations and fees.

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11.  I have heard the Sturgis Rally is very crazy, is that true?

Such a large amount of people descending on a small geographical area creates very large crowds, which can seem pretty crazy and can definitely be overwhelming.  Bikes line both sides of the streets and down the middle, and not just in Sturgis.  There are people in strange outfits, women walking around with VERY LITTLE on, and hundreds of industry, retail and food vendors packed in every space.  Lodging, restaurants, gas stations and stores are overflowing throughout the Black Hills.  Be prepared for lines and higher prices than normal.  The number of riders and accidents on the roads is also crazy, so drive defensively, sober and with a helmet.  The police are present and keep the Rally well under control and do give tickets for a variety of infractions.  Some places and events have more of a party atmosphere than others, so do your research.  The Sturgis Rally can be as crazy or relaxing as you want depending on what you do and where.

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12.  What is the Police enforcement like?

Yes, the police are present and enforcing the law, but they do not harass the bikers.  Tickets are commonly given for public intoxication, open containers, illegal parking, speeding and other traffic violations, possession of illegal substances (FYI: Cannabis is not legal in any form in SD).  Use common sense, read signs, be courteous, follow the laws or you will get a ticket.  Check out the Rally-Laws page for a list of citations and fees.

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Motorcycle Tours and Sponsored Rides during the 78th Annual Sturgis Rally

The Buffalo Chip Legends Ride

The Biker Belles Ride

The Rusty Wallace Charity Ride

Carey Hart - Good Ride

Western Frontier Motorcycle Ride

The Veteran's Charity Ride

Sturgis Mayor's Ride

The Pappy Hoel Ride

Vicki Ballard Memorial Ride

Director’s Ride

Fast Ride

Angel's Ride

The Legendary Sturgis Adventure Ride

Aidan's Ride Sturgis

 

*Know of other tours and rides, let us know and we'll post the information here.

 Jackpine Gypsies at Mt Rushmore - 1940'sAbout the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Sturgis.com – A History of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is the largest motorcycle rally in the world. It is held annually in the Black Hills and in Sturgis, South Dakota for 10 days during the first week of August. You can register for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to get your ride pin, souvenirs and free welcome packet at Sturgis.com. It is also where you will find answers to all things Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It is the original online “Official Home of the Sturgis Rally” and remains the most up to date comprehensive guide for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Find the best places to visit and events you do not want to miss. Follow our Sturgis blog and sign up for the newsletter for Sturgis Rally opportunities, updates and support during your Sturgis Rally planning journey.

 What is the Sturgis Rally About?

Motorcycles, Friends, Entertainment.

Ride. You will experience the best riding in the world. We’re a true riders’ rally.

Rally. You will meet and connect with people from all areas of the globe and all walks of life who share a common love for motorcycles.

Rock. You will live your life to the fullest through powerful live experiences such as concerts and other entertainment.

 #RideRallyRock

What is different about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally from other rallies:

We are the largest motorcycle rally in the world

We have the best riding roads in the world

We are the first rally to pair motorcycles with world-class concerts and entertainment

How did the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally begin?

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was started by local Indian dealer Pappy Hoel in 1938. Since its beginning, private area businesses throwing events such as races, concerts, and rides have made, and continue to make, the Sturgis Rally what it is today. 2021 will mark the 81st annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It continues to be organized and promoted by many private businesses and municipalities across the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

What was the original name of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?

The first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was named the “Black Hills Classic.” Over the years it has also been promoted as the “Black Hills Motorcycle Rally”, “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally“, “Sturgis Bike Rally”, “Sturgis Rally”, and simply “Sturgis”.

What is the History of the Sturgis Rally?

See the historic timeline of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally below.

What was the first year of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
(August 12-14, 1938) The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally started in 1938. It was originally called the Black Hills Classic. It had organizational help from the local Sturgis businessmen. There were 9 racers for that Saturday. 8 Indian bikes and 1 Harley. The overall named champion was Johnny Spiegelhoff.

Pappy Hoel crashed through a 'burning wall' which became a common practice for many future Sturgis Rallies.

Did anyone die at the 1st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
One person died at the first Sturgis Rally. Edward Borron slid into a guard rail in Boulder Canyon and died the next morning after riding home to Rapid City after the accident.

The 3rd Annual Black Hills Classic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 11-13, 1939) The third Sturgis Rally had 55 riders participate in the Black Hills Tour from Sturgis to Mt Rushmore (followed by a Dutch Lunch), The Needles Highway, the State Game Lodge, sylvan lake. Johnny Spieglehoff was again named Black Hills Speed Champion.

1942 - 1945
Pappy Hoel cancelled the Sturgis Rally due to WWII and related gas rationing.

The 4th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 16-18, 1940) This was the first year printed T-shirts (all maroon colored) advertising the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally were sold.

The 5th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 1-3, 1941) Pearl Hoel spoke at the gathering about driving the Sturgis Rally Ride chase vehicle to pick up stranded riders, and one time giving their leftover tea to a tourist who needed water for his radiator to cool down his over-heated Ford along Needles Highway.

The 6th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 9-11, 1946) Johnny Spiegelhoff was once again named the Sturgis Champion.

The 7th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 8-10, 1947) The 7th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally had over 400 riders register for the Gypsy Tour. Saturday's races were successful (Bill Tuman was named the Sturgis Champion), but Sunday's races were cancelled due to heavy rain.

 The 9th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 12-14, 1949) This was the first year that Main St. in Sturgis, SD was partially closed off to Motorcycles, but only for 2 hours on a Friday night.

The 12th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 8-10, 1952) The 12th Sturgis Rally was the first year of the AMA 5 Mile National Championship Race (to a crowd of 7500!)  

Motor Maids
The Motor Maids of America held their 5-state convention in Sturgis, during the Rally.

 The 13th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 6-9, 1953) The 13th Sturgis Rally was the first rally to run for 4 days.

The 17th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 8-11, 1957) The 17th Sturgis Rally was the first year of the Hill Climbs at the Jackpine Gypsies property.

The 25th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 11-15, 1965) The 25th Sturgis Rally was the first year it was expanded to a 5-day event. This was also one of the first years where housing the visitors became a real problem.

 The 32nd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 8-13, 1972) Some of the Gypsy Tours were 8 miles long! The tour was organized into groups over 2 days the following year.

 The 35th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 4-10, 1975) The Sturgis Rally was expanded to a 7-day format.

The 36th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 9-15, 1976) Over 18000 visitors attend the 1976 “Classic,”. A few 'undesirables' staged sex shows behind back-lit canvases while others poured and lit gasoline across the highway in front of the City Park. The Economic impact that benefitted the city of Sturgis was over $1.8 million.

The 38th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 7-13, 1978) Was the first time the National ABATE convention was held.

The 0th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August -1, 190) An estimated 40,000 people attend the Classic, generating rave reviews from local merchants.  More than 3,900 register to camp in the City Park causing some local concern. 

The 41st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 3-9, 1981) Locals proposing to abolish the City’s participation in the Sturgis Rally bring the issue to a referendum. The City’s participation in the rally survives by a slim vote margin, but Sturgis kicks bikers out of City Park and the Mayor states he would like to “get the riff-raff out of Town.” A welcoming place was needed if the rally were to survive. The Buffalo Chip Campground opened its Welcome Home Bikers gates 4 miles outside of town and became the main promoter of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

 The 42nd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 2-8, 1982) The Buffalo Chip promotes the Sturgis Rally! That first year the campground was called the Buffalo Chip Picnic, and the grounds consisted of an open field with a few porta potties and a makeshift stage where campers enjoyed three nights of performances by entertainers Johnny Paycheck, Susan Nelson and Foggy Notion.

 The 47th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(July 31-August 8, 1987) The Sturgis Buffalo Chip expands the Sturgis Rally entertainment to ten days and nine nights of concerts - Black Oak Arkansas and Canned Heat headline.

 The 76th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 5-14, 2016) Although it had been promoted by other businesses as a nine-night/ten-day event for nearly 30, the City of Sturgis council votes to also acknowledge the rally as a ten-day event within the city limits.

 The 78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(July 31-August 8, 2018) The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the US District Court ruled the Sturgis Rally is not owned or organized by the City of Sturgis or any single entity.

They stated the Sturgis Rally is “a pluralistic endeavor promoted by multiple organizations.”

These court cases began as a trademark dispute about who owns the title "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally." They additionally brought to light answers to the question of who is the official organizer of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The court stated: "We agree and hold that the jury could not infer from the onerous planning that the City undertakes to provide infrastructure for the rally that the City was the organizer or sponsor of the rally. To allow such an inference would be tantamount to saying that it would be reasonable to infer that the City of New York organizes the sessions of the United Nations General Assembly because of everything it does to assist their occurrence."  

The 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
(August 7-16, 2020) The 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally anniversary was set to break records, then Covid-19 virus hit. The City of Sturgis considered opting out of participating. Local area destinations including Sturgis Buffalo Chip, Full Throttle Saloon and 50 other local businesses said they would be open and hosting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The City Council Members eventually voted to join the other venues and support the rally. Pollstar magazine writes an article about the Sturgis Buffalo Chip being the “Beacon of Freedom.”

Sturgis Landmark:
The White Plate Flat Trackers Association - (Pappy Hoel & Al Burke, 1979) was organized to remember the early racers who successfully competed and earned points for top finishing within specific time periods. See it at, Junction Ave. & Harmon St., Sturgis SD For additional info, see: https://www.facebook.com/WPFTA/

Who are the Jackpine Gypsies

The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club started in 1936, with an official American Motorcycle Association (AMA) charter in 1937. AMA began promoting the racing events; which started the now famous Rally in Sturgis on August 14, 1938. That weekend celebration in 1938 had a lineup of only nine racers and a small audience watching the races.

The average age for a motorcycle club is three years, and after 78 years, the Black Hills club is still running strong. The club owns all the property on which most club activities take place. A lighted short track, motocross track, field meet area, hillclimb area, clubhouse, office and state approved concession business are located on the grounds.

The Jackpine Gypsies are a non-profit organization. They donate to area charities, including: the local food bank, Sturgis High School, Zonta Club of Sturgis, and Christian Motorcycle Association. Go to their site if you are interested in becoming a member. www.JackpineGypsies.com

The Jackpine Gypsies have over 150 members living all over the United States and abroad. The average age of club members is 40. The average age of spectators is 42, while the average age of the riders is 23.

The short track at the Jackpine Gypsies club grounds was first used in 1963. Since that debut race, many improvements have been made. The club holds races every other weekend and a full week of races during the rally. A motocross track was added on in the 1980's and then in 1996 a new track was built. The sport of motocross is beginning to grow again, in fact, in 1998; the Gypsies held five motocross races, which attracted over 500 racers.

During the Sturgis Rally, they hold 12 events, including: motocross racing, a 1/2 mile race, hill climbs, road tours and short track racing. There were over 6000 spectators and hundreds of racers during the week of the Rally. As you can see, the Sturgis Rally has grown quite a bit since the first rally in 1937!

Why should I go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?

Your life experiences and vacations are often not as extraordinary as you would like. You want real, unique and memorable moments and bucket list experiences.

Where can I find a good Sturgis Rally guide

Consider us your guide.

You want to know what to do at the Sturgis Rally, who to do it with and how to make your Sturgis Motorcycle Rally the best time of your life.

We are here to provide the most valuable and helpful Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Information.

We are here to be the friendly Sturgis Rally guide that helps make the process of discovery, planning and execution of a Sturgis Motorcycle Rally vacation as easy as possible.

We are here to provide you souvenirs to help you cherish and commemorate the time you spent at the Sturgis Rally.

Welcome to Sturgis.

We can’t wait to see you this August.

 

A quick note from Sturgis Police:  Because of certain liabilities, handicap parking on Sturgis Main St is NOT ALLOWED unless you have a Handicap Permit.  It's a $100 fine. 

Section 5 – Violations and Bonds

(Revised 2016)

Most Common City Violations

Violation

Bond Amount

Panhandling/Soliciting

$130.00

Camping in the Street/City Trespassing

$130.00

Careless Driving

$110.00

City Parking Violations (City Parking Ticket)

$10.00

Curfew Violation (Juvenile Offense – Do not bond)

N/A

Deposit of Filth in Public Place (Littering)

$105.00

Disorderly Conduct

$130.00

Dog Running at Large (1st offense)

$75.00

Driving on Bike Path / Sidewalk

$130.00

Exhibition Driving

$85.00

Indecent Exposure

$130.00

Open Container in Public

$80.00

Parking in Handicap Zone (Use City Parking Ticket)

$100.00

Selling on the Street (Same as Unlawful Obstruct Streets etc.)

$105.00

Speeding in City Limits

Same as State

Stop Light/Stop Sign Violation

$110.00

Truck Routes & Use of Streets by Trucks

$110.00

U-Turn Prohibited

$85.00

Wrong Way on One Way Street

$110.00

 

Speeding – State or City on other than Interstate Highways

MPH Over Limit

Fine Total

1 to 5

$85.00

6 to 10

$105.00

11 to 15

$125.00

16 to 20

$145.00

21 to 25

$166.00

26 & Over

$220.00

Most Common State Violations

 Drug/Alcohol Violations 

Violation

Bond Amount

Furnishing Alcohol to Minor 18-21

Court A/R

Open Container in Motor Vehicle

$120.00

Possession of Controlled Substance

Custody Arrest

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

$270.00

Possession of Marijuana

Custody Arrest

Possession of Substances for High Abuse (Distribution)

Custody Arrest

Underage Alcohol Purchase/Possession/Consumption

Court A/R

Underage Purchase/Possession/Consumption of Cigarettes

$95.00

 

Motorcycle Violations

Violation

Bond Amount

Cyclist Overtaking and Passing M/V in same lame

$120.00

Eye Protection Required

$25.00

Helmet Required under Age 18

$120.00

Illegal Handlebar Height

$25.00

Illegal Motorcycle Exhaust

$25.00

Operation Without Motorcycle Endorsement

$120.00

 

Driver's License Violation

Violation

Bond Amount

Canceled License

$170.00

No Driver's License

$120.00

Revoked License

Custody Arrest

Suspended License

$270.00

Violation of License Restrictions

$120.00

 

 

Vehicle Registration Offenses

Violation

Bond Amount

Expired Validation Sticker

$120.00

No Proper Vehicle Registration

$120.00

Operations Without License Plates

$120.00

Substitution of License Plates

$120.00

 

Weapons Violations 

Violation

Bond Amount

Carrying pistol or revolver without a permit

Info from Sturgis Chief of Police Geody Vandewater 
and  WikiPedia
South Dakota is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry. 
Permitless carry legal as of July 1, 2019. 
The local county sheriff shall issue a permit to carry a concealed pistol to qualified applicants. A temporary permit shall be issued within five days of the application. Concealed carry is not permitted at any public elementary or secondary school or in a school vehicle, in any courthouse, or in any establishment that derives over half of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages which are ingested on site. For non-residents, South Dakota recognizes valid concealed carry permits from any other state.

Open carry is legal in South Dakota and does not require a concealed pistol permit. Firearms may be transported in vehicles if they are clearly visible.

When buying a handgun from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder, an application to purchase a handgun must be filled out by the buyer and submitted to the FBI NICS by the seller. Beginning June 1, 2009, anyone who passes the federal background check will be able to take possession of any firearm immediately, per SB0070.

South Dakota has state preemption of firearms laws. Units of local government may not restrict the possession, transportation, sale, transfer, ownership, manufacture, or repair of firearms or ammunition or their components. Preemption was further strengthened in 2019 by preventing local governments from restricting, prohibiting, imposing a tax, license requirement, or license fee on any of the above actions, plus the storage and purchase of firearm, ammunition, or components. It also mandates the attorney general to seek injunctive relief from any locality that violates preemption.

Firearms manufacturers, distributors, and sellers are not liable for injury caused by the use of firearms.

Custody Arrest

AS of July 1st, 2019, SD will no longer require a permit for Conceal Carry

 

Traffic Violations

Violation

Bond Amount

Careless Driving

$120.00

Exhibition Driving

$120.00

Fail to Immediately report Accident with Minor Damage

$120.00

Failure to Dim Headlights

$120.00

Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle (Move Over Law)

$120.00

Following Too Closely

$120.00

Illegal Barrier or Median Crossing

$120.00

Illegal U-turn

$120.00

Littering from Motor Vehicle

$170.00

Parking in Handicap Zone

(Use City Ticket) $100.00

Pass in No Passing Zone

$120.00

Reckless Driving

Custody Arrest

Stop Sign/Light Violation

$120.00

Throwing Match or Burning Object from Vehicle

$120.00

Violation of Right of Way

$120.00