For the 77th straight year the city of Sturgis, South Dakota, will vibrate to the sound of rumbling engines and live music as it plays host to what many consider the ultimate biker experience: the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. —
For many, the name Sturgis conjures up images of outlaw bikers in drunken brawls on Main Street and topless woman flaunting their wares for all the world to see. That may have been the story many years ago, but today’s Sturgis is a very different experience than it was in years past.
According to city manager Daniel Ainsley, the three best-represented professions, making up in excess of 20 percent of the 500,000 people expected to visit the rally this year, are doctors, lawyers and accountants in that order.
A more professional makeup of the biking community probably shouldn’t come as a great surprise considering the base price for a stripped Harley Davidson is now just over $20,000, and there really is no limit to what can be spent on upgrades and customization work.
It also must be considered that attending the Sturgis Rally requires a rather large investment of resources. Besides time spent at the rally itself, attendees must ride in from wherever they live. This could be a trip of over 3,400 miles from some points in the United States. Then there is the funding for the trip.
This more stable group of riders helps account for the improved behavior of the visitors. These are people in respectable fields where an arrest could have far reaching effects on their careers, and an arrest is now very likely if things get out of hand.
While Sturgis itself maintains a relatively small police force, Polo clad police officers are more than slightly evident in the crowded streets. This is made possible by a rather ingenious arrangement the city has developed. They pay, house and feed policemen from all over the country to come and work the event. It is not unusual to find high-ranking officers who have taken their own leave time to come work and be a part of the Sturgis experience.
Perhaps the rally, as it now exists, was best summed up by Mr. Ainsley who said, “The shifting demographics of bikers means they really needed to change. Older folks want an experience that feels edgy without ever truly being dangerous, and sponsors want them to feel comfortable enough to test-drive $40,000 motorcycles.”
He went on to say, “It definitely has a history and a legacy of being quite rambunctious. It is not by any means now. It is a very tame group. It’s people who have the disposable income to afford motorcycles and all the toys that go along with that. They are incredibly polite people.”
As long-time attendee Brad Sinclair, a personal injury attorney from Melbourne, Florida expressed, “There are still the pop-up tattoo parlors doing a brisk business and no less than a dozen live bands playing each day. There are still people camping on lawns and bikini contests, but gone are the days of rough and tumble fights in the local bars and near nude ladies walking the street. The raciest things to be seen here now are painted bodies and mini skirts, and the biggest thing to fear is the hangover when it is all finished.”
Name: Scot Small
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Organization: Sinclair Law
Address: 5465 N. Highway 1Melbourne, FL 32940
Release ID: 228962