2011 Sturgis Rally. First Numbers.

From Associated Press.

1- Traffic counts into and out of Sturgis by the State Department of Transportation were down nearly 12 percent through Thursday. Attendance at last year’s rally was estimated at 466,769, up from 442,163 in 2009. The 60th rally in 2000 drew the biggest crowd so far, an estimated 633,0002

2- Young adults are the holy grail for everyone in motorcycling. But rallies continue to attract mainly aging crowds. A recent survey shows that 61 percent of Sturgis Rally attendees are between the ages of 41-65, and 38 percent are ages 41 to 53.

3- Reservations for campgrounds and hotel and motel rooms booked by Black Hills Central Reservations were down about 6 percent for this year’s rally..

4- The city of Sturgis issued 719 vendor licenses in 2011, down 5.5 percent from the 761 issued last year.

23 Responses to “2011 Sturgis Rally. First Numbers.”

  1. 1 Shifter Aug 16th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I thought numbers would be worse. But how reliable are all these sources?

  2. 2 Richard Aug 16th, 2011 at 10:14 am

    We elected to go elsewhere this year. Motels have been raping us over the last years. Other costs have increased dramatically also. They have gotten very greedy.

  3. 3 Mr. Potts Aug 16th, 2011 at 10:52 am

    It’s gotten too commercial for me. Everything has to be a big production! The days of relaxing and not spending half a yearly income are long gone!

  4. 4 Doc Aug 16th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    whole damn thing is far too expensive to attract many young adults.

  5. 5 Brother T Aug 16th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I’m 35. Part of me really wants to do more rally’s. And part of me thinks that if I want to spend time at an event with peoeple that tend to be closer in age to my parents, then I should just go see my parents.

  6. 6 harley 49 Aug 16th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    full throttle, broken spoke and buffalo chip should all have free camping, watch the youngsters come then. make it up somewhere else.

  7. 7 A 1 CYCLES Aug 16th, 2011 at 4:41 pm


  8. 8 Boss Hawg Aug 16th, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Time for another venue to take precedence.

    Smaller rallies….more fun and better times without the hassles.

    See ya there!

    Boss Hawg

  9. 9 rich Aug 17th, 2011 at 4:38 am

    brother T’s comment made me LOL.. haha. goog work guys

  10. 10 Seymour Aug 17th, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I went one year mid-June to the area. Perfect weather (ok, one humongous hail storm) and had the WHOLE place to myself..

  11. 11 Yale Aug 17th, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I have been going since 1978. I remember the good old days when the bikers were the ones who would take advantage of the situation, now it is the hotels, restaraunts, gas stations, bars, vendours, City of Sturgis, etc. I noticed that there was a lot more control on the Sturgis logo and t-shirts and the price went way up .
    Maybe it is time that some of these venues gave us a break and some incentives to come back. My group has been staying at the Holiday Inn in Spearfish for years, I have noticed that many of our guys are now grouping up and renting houses and saving a lot of money. Why should we pay $250 a night for an $79 room

    It scares me that the Harley world itself is not attracting younger people, I am sure the average age of Harley rider is now between 55 and 65. Wake up Harley

  12. 12 Jeff Nicklus Aug 17th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I just returned from 18 days in the Black Hills and I can tell you that the Rally numbers were WAY, WAY down over last year. I heard many people estimate 35-40% down from last year and I must concur with that estimate. Every camp ground and hotel in the area had vacancies, little if any trouble getting into any restaurant in the area or moving around the streets. Those that did attend didn’t seem to be carrying many “bags” around where they bought any merch from vendors etc. Other than alcohol and some concert tickets not much money seemed to be changing hands. Face it, the economy sucks!

    In talking to one hotel owner he told me point blank that the area hotel owners are already looking forward to $400 a night room rate for the 75th Anniversary ….. personally I think these people have their heads in their ass, but then again what do I know?

    Over & Out,


  13. 13 1550tc Aug 17th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Cyril for numbers, the only two guys i have ever met that had realistic numbers on the rally and the industry are Lon from the chip and Jeff N.

    Yale i hear yah on the room rate, try one of HD’s events in Milwaukee……$189 in 08 at Motel 6. during the 105th, bed bugs come free with your room!!

    The rates are common in the hotel industry when you have special events in a city……that is why u see $500-1000 nitely max rate on the back of a door
    of some $79-150 a nite hotels…….lots of nice cabins up at Terry Peak for 1200-2000 a week

    Sturgis is still one of the best deals on a bike trip especially if your into the friends, people, shows riding and overall fun you can have if your into this industry or lifetstyle.

    The 40$ ticket for that Hamster dinner has to be the best feel good dinner and event i have been to!! Great to see the Hamsters year in year out raise so much money for a great cause…..the deals you could bid on, were worth the 40$ alone 🙂

  14. 14 AFT Customs Aug 17th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    They figure out the attendance by the amount of garbage collected.Sounds crazy but a local commercial property owner told me that. We go because that’s where the Woreld Championships are at. I wish they would take it back to Vegas.At least there when you pay $250.00 for a room you get your moneys worth. There’s usually 5 or six of us & the food & drinks add up. A steak dinner at One Eyed Jacks is $28.00 & a beer is $5.00. Fuel, Hotel, Food cost me about 5K for a week. I could go to the Carribean for two weeks & spend less. As long as the crowds keep coming the prices will be high. Young people can’t afford to make a trip like that. They want to come – the girls that work for us have the time of thier lives & in many cases was something on their bucket list. The desire for young people to go is there – Sturgis needs to figure out a way to make it a reality.

  15. 15 The Supreme Team Aug 17th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Agreed on a lot of things here guys, however, up in Lead at Desperado Junction, we had a hell of a good time, no craziness, no over priced BS. We got $159/night room rate at Golden Hills Resort. No inflated prices on their booze or food. We met a lot of great folks in Lead, friendly as can be, and glad to have us. Down 3 miles you’ve got Deadwood, and 8 miles the other way, you start into Spearfish Canyon. Tons of rides in every direction, only 1 stop light, and you are out of the mayhem.
    The Rally can still be fun without all the idiots, mayhem, and raping going on downtown.
    Am I a little biased? Yep…Jeff did a great job out there putting this together, and good things are gonna continue happening, all in an effort to put Sturgis and it’s overpricing into its place.

    I stayed at the Chip last year, had a great time and saw great bands, but this year, I enjoyed NOT eating dirt for breakfast, washing a bike down 10 times, nor watching all the derelicts with a new set of pipes trying to impress the campers, only to embarass themselves dropping the bike after the ass end locked in.

    See you in Lead kids!

  16. 16 Olive Oil Aug 17th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    1550tc has it right about Motel 6 bedbugs. Got covered in one night and called customer service to no avail. No call back or concern. They just didn’t give a shit. Long as they leave the light on that’s all their concerned about.

  17. 17 SDktan Aug 17th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    The days of the big Sturgis rallies are, thankfully, just about over. It’s simply a matter of demographics and incomes. It is a grey haired event, representative of a different era, a beer party with rock bands for the 50+ crowd looking to retain an identity with a rebel youth that very few of them actually ever had. There with be one last hurrah, the 75th in 2015, and then the numbers will quickly dwindle to pre-1990. I look forward to that day, though not necessarily the age that comes with it! Best to all…..

  18. 18 1550tc Aug 17th, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Hey Olive oil i dint stay there, stayed in Peewakki?? for 275 a nite some corporate HD rate LOL…….dont bring em home like a buddy did its 500 plus a to clean a room in your house

    I dont give a f–k where you stay weather its the Waldorf Astoria or some W hotel…….check out where your staying on the bedbugregistery.com and save yourself lots of aggrevation and money!!

    SD…so true….its Geezeerville

  19. 19 nicker Aug 17th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    The “greying” of the event seems to coincide with the overwhelming number of trikes & Servi-cars running around.

    Prices were certainly up and attendance & vendor @s appeared to be down.

    Paid $22 a night to camp until the 6th when the rates went up to the $700 a week with a 7 day minimum.

    Left town next mourning.


  20. 20 Wiz Aug 18th, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Yup, Jeffy’s Desperado Junction was GROOVY!! Maybe I’m pregidiced ’cause I had a spot there, even though I wasn’t hangin’ in my tent much [bizy ridin’ one of my 5 ponies in the Hills most of the time]. Damn near all of the other vendors were cool. Some were FANTASTIC [Huh, Smudge the pinstriper from California {GREAT JOB ya did on a ‘coupla of my scooters!}, Sammy ‘n Kieth the photografers from Washington, DC {COOL Shots of the Bikini Bike Wash Girls on my Goodtime Charlie chopper!}, ‘an Jerry at Purple Slice { I just so happen to now be his dealer for his GREAT POLISH coverin’ the state of South Dakota… BLING!!}]!! So ya see we had the length ‘an breadth of America covered, what with Jeff ‘an Conrad from Texas ‘an me from Dakota! To me Sturgis ain’t about the cluster f*ck in the city of Sturgis [everytime I’d go there I’d get pissed off, it was like pickin’ a scab]. It’s about puttin’ in the BEAUTIFUL Black Hills, the folks ya meet from ALL OVER the WORLD at the out of the way places, and the enjoyment of being part of the BIGGEST Rally on the PLANET!! Lookin’ up at the mountains that constantly surround you don’t cost nuthin’! That’s what it’s all about Baby!! Wiz

  21. 21 Petit Aug 18th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    It has very little to do with cost, little to do with camping or hotels. It has everything to do with two issues.

    1. The aging demographic is NOT the spending demographic…never has been, never will be. They have other priorities and other major financial concerns. They may go, but go for a few days. They may drink, but not party….or pack their party in a cooler. AGE is a huge issue.

    Which leads me to point 2.

    2. Bar, Campground, Club and venue owners are doing little to nothing to entice a younger crowd to Sturgis…or any other rally for that matter. Poison? Def Leppard? Skynard? Molly Hatchet? Aerosmith? Alice Cooper? Christ just look at the entertainment they are providing! Catering to the 50+ers at a scale of 95+%…..No wonder the younger generation is not showing up. There is nothing for them there.

    The economy is hurting things…but not killing it. THE VENUE OWNERS ARE and have been for slowly for the last 10 years…..look at the numbers…they don’t lie.

  22. 22 WSA Aug 18th, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Just go once. It will be all you need. But go. Age does not matter.

  23. 23 Jim Gianatsis / FastDates.com Aug 22nd, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Its not the econmony, its not the prices…

    These current Sturgis Rider Age Demographics confirm out that, age wise, the sport of motorcycling in America is dying off with our aging population –

    The attendance age numbers at Sturgis confirm:  with 99% attendees aged 41-65 years old, means NO new riders are coming into the Harley market at all. And that other 1% is probably over 65 years old..

    Still, you’ld need to attend a major bike sportbike or motocross event in the USA like the Laguna Seca MotoGP last month, or the Indianapolis MotoGP this weekend to see if there is also a younger demographic motorcycle market out there, but how young?
    These major race weekends pull about 30,000 spectators. And I’d guestimate their age range is only slightly younger at 35 – 60 years old.

    So the remaining motorcycle market in the USA is only about 15% as large as the Harley Market.
    But either way, the grim future is, that because of the median aging of the American motorccyle rider continues to growg older by 1 age year per calendar year, the USA motorcyce market will continue to shrink at an overall rate of 3-5% per year.

    And I would not expect new “Green Technologies” like electric motorcyles to change that in the near future. People do not ant to ride any type of motorccyle. We are very lucky to be able to enjoy motorcycling now, at our age and demographics, as it will all be gone in 20 years and the next generation won’t care or miss it.

    We are the last of the motorcycle generation.

    And in regards to the cost to attend Sturgis, as my buddy Jim from AFT Customs points out. – Expand your enjoyment of the world and vacation somewhere else you’ve never been. For the same $3-5,000 you can take an Edelweiss Motorcycle Tour across Europe, Australia, Asia. I try to do one every other year and they are the best experiences in my life. Go to the Edelweiss website and check it out.

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Cyril Huze