2011 Sturgis Rally Postcards

Weather was typical South Dakota. Locals have a saying: “If you don’t like our weather today, wait for 15 minutes…” This year again, everything from high temperatures under blue skies, to tornado watches to sudden pouring rain and hail from hell. Then repeat 2 or 3 times a day depending of where you are and are heading too. But as far as I know, no damage by winds and hail like some former years. If you ride, just be always ready with alternate clothing gear.

Regarding attendance it’s still too early to give numbers. But all those who participated already know that the 2011 edition was not as big a hit as it was in 2010. The week before the motorcycle event got started, number of visitors at Mount Rushmore was already down. From downtown Sturgis to the top of the Black Hills vendors evaluated attendance down in a range rom 10% to 25%. Vendor permits are also probably down (as I post this I hear minus 7%) and I observed myself that small size vendors usually installed beyond 12th street and Lazelle have mostly disappeared. In a recent national study published last week 8 out of 10 people surveyed say they now exercise more caution with their finances and learned important lessons regarding savings, investing, and preparing for retirement. Does it mean that those who accepted to pay a fee to display their ware had a bad rally? For some, yes, in particular the “non-necessary items” that I will qualify of tourist tees, mementos and gadgets. At the opposite, Bert Baker was all smile telling me that he started the week overbooked for installation of his transmissions and Holger Mohr President from Custom Chrome (not selling retail) telling me the overwhelming interest for his new “Lucky F*cker” body kit for Softail bikes. Big quality items that you judge necessary for your ride still sell well…

The Great Recession had many lasting negative effects — high unemployment, falling home prices, stunted growth — just to name a few. But the news isn’t all bad for everybody. For example, thanks to the depreciated US dollar, huge influx of foreigners to the Black Hills. If I was talented, during breakfast at my Rapid City hotel, I could have learned around 10 different languages. I had confirmation that a group of merchandise vendors who for years produced and sold rally merchandise were absent in Sturgis. The reason seems to be the trademark registrations made by Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. (SMRI) for marks – Sturgis Rally & Races, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and others that the group claims to own. If these vendors didn’t show up by fear of SMRI, it would imply less tax revenue for the City of Sturgis. It would also mean depreciated property values for landlords since some seemed to have difficulties renting their vendor spots and were obliged to discount their rental fees. Calling themselves Concerned Citizens for Sturgis, a group of opponents intends to fight these trademarks and is collecting money for a big court fight. A couple of reliable sources told me that they saw a few “non-official Sturgis merchandise” vendors being asked to leave the rally, but none of them saw any merchandise being confiscated. If you saw otherwise, please report in “comments.” Most official Sturgis motorcycle rally merchandise was labeled with sticker that has a hologram on it. Saw a few “protesters” wearing felt pen written “Non Official Sturgis” tee-shirts…

In the Black Hills where people come to ride, the number of Harley Baggers is larger in percentage than in any other rallies. Although it has no pure statistic value, walking the parking lot of my hotel at mid-week at 7 am , gave me the following numbers. Total 67 bikes. 48 Harley Baggers, 8 Softails, 3 Sportsters, 3 Dynas, 3 Japs, 2 Production Custom, 1 Ground Up Custom. Well, on Lazelle Street vendors of bags, seats, floorboards, electronics and LED lights are busy.

Regarding Custom Builders, many newcomers to the bike building business whom had lucked into a full time career out of a hobby of passion are gone from the scene since a long time. But a few have emerged and find comfort in grouping in the Limpnickie Lot, this year setup for the 1st time at the Buffalo Chip, epicenter of all Sturgis entertainment with parties and big rock concerts. Established pro-builders no more exhibit individually (often too expensive), like in the past, but use bike competitions like the AMD World Championship or the Rat’s Hole Show to meet with their fans, and as important for their promotion with motorcycle journalists. It was nice to see the new Easyriders Bar & Restaurant being full and the legendary downtown Broken Spoke Saloon packed again for entertainment like in the old good days provided by its founder Jay Allen, with sweet Sasha Mullins being to the “go to girl” for managing all entertainment going on at the Spoke. Jay continues to document on film years of rallies and interviewed me front of the camera about the success of this Blog. I could not stop talking about it… I need a rest.

1- Bear Butte. 2- Tornado forming above Deadwood? It turned out into a short hail storm. 3- Sturgis Police custom paint job. 4- Custom Old School bike by Perewitz for AllState Insurance. 5- Jay Allen with sash Mullind & Cyril Huze. 6- Jim Giuffra with his AFT Customs Girls. 7- Close up chopper by Mad Jap. 8- Buffalo Sculpture at entrance Buffalo Chip. 9- Holger Mohr (Custom Chrome), Cyril Huze, John Reed. 10- No names. 11- Mad Jap custom copper gas tank. 12- Mike Corbin. 13. For All Vets at the Buffalo Chip entrance. 14- Rollin’ Karoll from Spectro Oils at Lichter;s exhibition. 15- Ken Tabata, 2011 AMD World Champion with wife. 14- Custom from Mad Jap. 15- Mrs (not Miss, she has to be a mother) South Dakota. 16- Bike wash interrupted. 17- This man at the Broken Spoke rolled me a cigar. 18- Indian/Polaris semi truck. 19. Mad gap custom seat. 20- New Easyriders Bar & Restaurant in downtown Sturgis. 21-John Reed’s Gold Yamaha. 22- I promise: they asked me for this picture… (all photography copyright Cyril Huze)

15 Responses to “2011 Sturgis Rally Postcards”

  1. 1 Jason Aug 14th, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Kudos for your reports all week on Sturgis. Great work.

  2. 2 Shifter Aug 14th, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Love these little postcards. Feeling the atmosphere.

  3. 3 Brad Aug 14th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    On my way back from Sturgis. Saw you several times, Cyril. But you’re always busy, talking or surrounded by some good looking company! Thanks for the report.

  4. 4 bigalyts Aug 14th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    NICE PHOTO’S great Theme and just what the Event is all about. Plus the beautiful Chic’s .

  5. 5 Joe Asher Aug 14th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Yep, these pics illustrate well Sturgis. Are missing riding pictures in the Black Hills. I agree excellent reports all week. Thanks Cyril.

  6. 6 Seymour Aug 14th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks Cyril

  7. 7 Woody Aug 14th, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Great reporting, always appreciated. Haven’t been there since ’99 so I’m livin’ through others right now 🙂

  8. 8 Heyltje Rose Aug 15th, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Love Mad Jap’s knuckle pics!!!!! It is even more impressive in person.

  9. 9 Kickstand Aug 15th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I have been to Sturgis many times, starting in 1982. I am getting old and grouchy I suppose but the high prices, the crowds, the over-commercialization and the traffic have gotten to be too much for me. I will still go now and then but I see no need to go every year and I think many agree. It is pretty much the same thing every year so no need to attend every year. I live near I90 in western WI so I see much of the traffic heading west. More and more people are hauling their bikes every year. I would not pretend to know the percentage that haul but it appears to be on the order of 50% or so. You don’t see broken motorcycles any more, you see broken trailers now. You used to see all forms of motorcycling including long fork choppers and penniless riders with no luggage but a jeans jacket. The attendees used to be much younger and some obviously took off with no planning whatsoever. Now the norm is the middle aged Ultra Classic rider with everything but a kitchen sink tied on the back. There are still some hard cores in Sturgis but almost everyone there was hard core at one time. No going back, time moves on.

  10. 10 1550tc Aug 15th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Cyril good to have run into you and had a few laughs with you……..did you buy your
    “NO BAMA 2012” sticker yet?? LOL

    Regarding attendance it’s still too early to give numbers…..dont waste your time they all lie like the sidewalk on lazzalle street…..

    The guys from maverick puplishing actually had 3 real good rides featured in their sturgis magazine…….Alzada Mt on tuesday and sundance & Huett are the 2 places to ride to on tuesday and wednesday…and throw in Vale on wednesday 🙂

    With a ride up to Alzada MT thru Sundance and down to Chadron NE, then back to stugis a guy can ride 400-500 miles in a day and ride in 4 states 🙂

  11. 11 Kustoms and Choppers Aug 15th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for the coverage man

  12. 12 Steve Kelly Aug 16th, 2011 at 3:38 am

    Good and balanced thoughtful coverage of this years rally. Looks like we photographed many of the same things during our stay in the Black Hills. I struggled to find high quality one-off custom bikes to shoot for features this year, I have no idea where all of the choppers have gone! So, I agree that everyone is riding a bagger these days, not that there is anything wrong with that, hey they are riding at least, it just makes my job that little bit harder. I busted my hump getting to as many places as possible during the rally, and would agree that turnout was down from last year as the roads were never too busy, but that said, last year was the 70th, so one should expect that to be the case. I was surprised but pleased to find campgrounds bustling, The Broken Spoke Campground and the Buffalo Chip had great turnouts, but so did many of the smaller ones, even ones far from Sturgis. Tent camping seems to be making a comeback, which to my mind is great, as it gives all camping bikers a better chance to meet and talk. I really enjoyed this years rally and would like to thank the custom bike builders who found the time to let me shoot their inspired creations. As for Main Street, I don’t think it will ever look the same again. In the past, it was jammed with bikes and bikers, now it might well be jammed with bikes, but at times it can look like a ghost town. Why? Well, that is simple, the huge bars that have been built suck all of the foot traffic off the street, if think that we have lost something here that we will never get back and I miss it dearly.

  13. 13 tut Aug 16th, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Looks like good times one of these years I’m going to skip Bikeweek in Daytona and make the trip out to Sturgis instead.

  14. 14 Jeff Nicklus Aug 17th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I was there ….. the girls really did ask Cyril for the picture! Of course the $50’s he was handing out did not influence them at all ….. just kidding!

    Over & Out,


  15. 15 Wiz Aug 19th, 2011 at 5:02 am

    I usually ride one of my ponies across the prairie [solo, being in a group takes away from the “Zen” of being alone on your machine, that you built/ created/gave life to, on a deserted 2-lane back road, that streches as far as the eye can see into the distance, where the sky blends with the seemingly endless expanse of sweetgrass, being gratefull for the expierience {it ain’t about where yer goin’ but rather enjoying where yer at}, and getting in a mental state of seeing without looking {if ya know what I mean}, that’s My Church, Baby! A place where you shut up ‘an let GOD do the talkin’] ‘an hand out a few buisness cards fer the write-off aspect [buisness trip/expence ya know]. This year Jeff Nicklus [did I get it right this time Jeffy?] Gave me a spot in his Desperado Junction [which I greatly appreciated] so I could corral a whole stable of my iron horses to chose a different one every day. I was there for display purposes only, not to make money. WHAT!! NOT MONEY BASED IDEALS,’ YOU COMMIE BASTARD, YOU MUST DIE, YER GOIN’ AGAINST THE FLOW OF OUR CURRENT SUPERFICIAL, SYNTHETIC, MORALS SYSTEM THAT WE HAVE WORKED SOOO HARD TO PROP UP!!!” Yup, I’m there fer the Black Hills, the fellowship, the comeradery of like-minded individuals who share my gut feelings about life. What a concept! I stay at a campsite that provides you with a tent, sleeping bag, air-matteress, even a pillow if ya need it, showers, washing machine/dryer, coffee, munchies, ice cream, food 24/7, tools, nuts, bolts, etc., but most importantly good people from all over the world. ‘An all this fer about $20. bucks a day [if ya can afford it, just got a donation can, if ya can’t that’s cool too, they won’t throw ya out, I usually give ’em extra, ’cause it’s soooo Groovy!]. The numbers being down is OK by me [at least it didn’t take 3 hours of idling in traffic to get anywhere], too damn many idiots anyway! So Shucks, I had a GREAT time this year! BUMMER, HUH? Wiz

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Cyril Huze