SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Are Sturgis Motorcycle Rallygoers skipping the open road to the rally?
Some appear to be doing just that.
The 2022 rally report said 42% of last year’s attendees rode a motorcycle to Sturgis. That’s down from 64% who rode in 2015.
In 2015, 26.4% of attendees towed their bikes with a truck. That increased to 38.4% in 2022.
If the trend of the last eight years continues, there will be some individuals who don’t own a motorcycle.
The 2022 rally report said the percentage of attendees who did not own a motorcycle increased from 1% in 2015 to 12% in 2022. During that same time period, the number of non-Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The number of Polaris models at the rally increased from 2.2% in 2015 to 11.7% in 2022.
Non-motorcycle owners tend to be younger than motorcycle owners, Daniel Ainslie, who was the Sturgis city manager, said in 2022.
The report also said that 15.5% of attendees came by automobile with no bike. Another 4.3% flew. Motorcycle rentals are available in the Black Hills area.
Only 1.7% of the attendees flew to the rally in 2015 while 8.1% took an automobile with no bike.
Among the 2023 attendees, there will be loyal and returning attendees that were at the rally in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-seven percent of the attendees in 2020 were first-timers. That was a 14% increase over 2019 and nearly a 20% increase over 2018 when 19% were first-timers.
Only 15% were first-timers in 2022 and 27% were in 2021.
The music offerings have grown over the past several years. The music is a prominent feature on the official Sturgis Motorcycle Rally website as well as the venues that cater to rally attendees.
Ainslie said in 2022, “So much of our marketing is focused on music. This is one of the largest music festivals in the nation. We want to make sure people know there are hundreds of bands playing here each year.”
The official rally site this year invites people to “Feel The Music.” It lists links to eight venues offering music from Aug. 4 through Aug. 13.
Sturgis officials said bikers travel the area all summer. Some rally attendees were already arriving in late July. But most attendees (64.1%) arrived when the rally started, the 2022 report said.
The 2023 rally attendees likely won’t be staying after the rally ends. The report said 84.% of rally attendees did not stay longer than the official closing.
In 2017, more attendees came from outside the U.S. (11.7%) than from any other place. Rally and Sturgis officials said COVID-19 negatively impacted the number of international visitors starting in 2020.
More attendees came from South Dakota (13.1%) in 2022 than in 2017.
Generally, the rally draws attendees from Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska. Those states have ranked at least in the top 10 in attendance for several years. Colorado was second (9.3%) in attendance in 2022 followed by Minnesota, 7.3% and Wyoming 6%.