Does Sturgis Have to Suck?


There are dozens of good reasons for avoiding Sturgis. Nobody wants to ride with a bunch of geriatric, amateur alcoholics on Credit Glides who prance around in Official Apparel and drag their feet for blocks on the Main Street crawl. There are many ways to do Sturgis, and one great way to do it right. Here's how.

We asked Caleb Owens of Cro Customs to tell us about his Sturgis experience, and he shared these tips for first-time visitors. "I avoided Sturgis for years for all the reasons most of us have heard. A good friend talked me in to going one year and I realized that if you know what to avoid, the positives outweigh the negatives. It's pretty easy to skip the traffic and search out really nice, less traveled roads once you figure it out. For the first couple years, I only went into downtown Sturgis once. Besides watching the AMA races, I rode most of time and stayed away from the crowds. The Black Hills are big enough that if you learn the roads and where all the tourists go, you can avoid the mayhem and have some amazing rides. The last weekend of the event is generally the best time to ride the more popular roads, because most people are heading out of town by then."

And what does Caleb think of famous Sturgis destinations like the Broken Spoke? "The thing that makes the Broken Spoke good is the people. The location is good and bad—good because it is close to everything, but bad because it is literally in the middle of a field with zero shade. That being said, all the folks I know and like congregate at that place, which makes it a solid base for meeting up and hanging out most of the time."

Jay Allen, the owner of the Broken Spoke, appears to get it. His compound is the center of the Sturgis universe for funseekers who want to avoid the downtown scene. Every August, Jay turns his 600 acres into a biker's paradise, complete with every diversion you can imagine:

• hill climb

• 1/4-mile dirt track

• huge pool

• hot tubs

• enormous multi-level bar

• mini ramp

• bike show

• minibike races

• wall of death

• art gallery

• live music

Of course, there's camping for riders who like to rough it, and air-conditioned cabins for softer outlaws. Free beer happens 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. every day, and biker movies are screened nightly. With the Limpnickie Lot using the Broken Spoke Saloon as a base camp, you can have a good time without being smothered by the chaps and 'do rag crowd. Also, Cycle Source magazine is hosting a ride August 12 this year that is likely to attract a good number of regular guys who ride more and pose less.


All-around good guy Kevin "Teach" Baas is a regular at both the Limpnickie Lot and the Broken Spoke Saloon, and he gives both experiences the thumbs up. "Sturigis is and always will be the holy grail among American V-twin bike gatherings. Although the scene has been flooded with weekend warriors, Sturgis still offers areas that we can call home. The Broken Spoke county line is one of those places. This is my oasis for daily mayhem, crazy parties, hard riding and good times. The Broken Spoke campground has all you need on-site and is outside of town, away from the t-shirt vendors and other stuff. We have nightly races at the dirt track, hill climbs, and also race minibikes through the bar and around the parking lot. There's always good music blasting from the Limpnickie Lot, and the booze and fun never ends. I only go into downtown Sturgis maybe once all week; I spend the majority of my time at the Spoke or just riding around. If you hate crowds, traffic, and all the other bad stuff that comes with it, stay at The Spoke. You'll meet guys with plenty of good stories to tell, and these guys aren't afraid to get dirty and work on their bikes." Coming from a man who makes a living teaching kids how to build and work on motorcycles, that's some very high praise.

ChopCult member and fellow long-time Sturgis hellraiser Warren Jr. concurs. "The Broken Spoke is as close to lawlessness as you can get in this world. Jay Allen is a ruler. Every next generation biker who wants to enjoy himself in Sturgis should camp at the Spoke, or don’t bother coming. We are so isolated from everything out there that all the baggage that comes with going to Sturgis is drastically reduced. And there's a dirt track, for Christ’s sake! If you want to use it, it's yours."

As close to lawlessness as one can get in this world.  Jay Allen is a ruler.  Every next generation biker that wants to enjoy themselves in Sturgis should camp at the spoke of don’t bother coming.  We are so isolated from everything out there that all the baggage that comes with going to Sturgis is drastically reduced.  And we have a dirt track for Christ’s sake!
If you want to use it, it's yours.

Maybe it's time to quit hating and check it out. Enough people have told me how epic riding in the Black Hills is, I'm planning a trip for 2011. Looks like I'll be staying at the Broken Spoke.

photo Credit: Keith Deninno, Rick Hustead & Steve Kelly

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Comment with Chopcult (36)

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 05:21 am

Ha...damn, somebody caught me sleepin next to the little yellow tent!

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 06:51 am

Yep my first trip to Sturgis and I stayed at the Spoke, the best time ever, even got to meet Josh Kurpius, JR, Sugar Bear, and many other greats. I would suggest staying and partying with these guys.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 07:50 am

Sturgis is like... Mecca. But we're not crazy religious murderers. We're crazy, and our religion is on two wheels...
I gotta go!! It keeps calling me!

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 08:51 am

Haha I love the intro paragraph and title, what a lead in.. That is what my conception of Sturgis is/was, Broken Spoke sounds bitchin

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 09:19 am

Cool, we can drink free beer and watch "Wild Hogs" and "Above the Law" on the big screen. Count me IN!


Commented on 7-14-2010 At 09:26 am

I took this trip from so. cal with my Pop & brother last year. We are all poker players so we stayed in Deadwood. I won the tournament and paid for my trip. Can't ask for bettter than that. Very mellow trip this time. The ride out was the best part. Riding through Wyoming with my old man & bro was just unbelieveable.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 09:51 am

I grew up in the Hills and still have a place outside of hot springs about and hour and a half from sturgis. Without a doubt the best place to ride a motorcycle that I have ever been. start in the southern hills and take the backroads all the way to is amazing!!

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 09:58 am

thank you for the info. Knowledge is Power, so many people talk about shit they have no real knowledge of and F' things up for everybody. I think this will help. Peace & Repect

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 10:43 am

The Spoke is the best place to stay in sturgis....Last year was a blast and this year will be even better. Jay is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and your right he gets it and makes each year even better.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 11:06 am

It doesn't matter where you go, you are gonna run into enough leather doo rags to cover Asia. If you're in it for a good time it will be a good time. I just did Harley Rendezvous in upstate NY. Thought I would hate it but it was awesome.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 11:27 am

Agreed on the backspace. I ride dirt more than I ride pavement. Just pick a road and turn. Never know where u will end up. On top of a bluff or in a deep canyon. The riding Is amazing. Shade could be an issues. Agreed but there are ways around that. Ban has a nice tent set up the lot has many trailers and tents. Come hang out. Might even be lucky enough to catch an impromptu min bike race through the bar or dirt track riding out back. That hillclimb s pretty awsome as well.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 11:29 am

I meant back roads not back space. Damn iPhone!

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 12:33 pm

im still not going

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 01:24 pm

I went last year for the first time and thought the whole rally thing was kinda gay. Everyone's gotta check it out at least once though, so I'll probably get dragged to it again. The best would be to hit it up when all the crowds aren't there. The roads are like disneyland on a motorcycle. A whole lotta corkscrew bridges and tunnels.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 03:08 pm


Commented on 7-14-2010 At 04:39 pm

Hit the hills the week before the rally, vendors are setting up, but there's only a small fraction of the amount of people out on the roads. Stay anywhere, there are campgrounds everywhere(and they usually open a week before the rally), meet some good people, and you'll want to go back year after year to meet up with them and meet more. Events, music, races, riding, and parties everywhere - there's a reason it's so big.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 04:42 pm

I went to the Hot rod Institute in Rapid City through 2008 to get a basis on fabrication and such. I fuckin' hate crowds like fat kids hate treadmills, so I was skeptical, but always thought I needed to make the trip. I was lucky enough to rep the school at the rally and had a homebase to work out of. I hit up a few of the different campgrounds, downtown, Full Throttle Saloon, etc. It was pretty much like I expected. Surrounded by too many people and too many T-shirt vendors. The real good times came before and after the Rally. Since I was staying there, I was able to explore the Black Hills for months.

The Black Hills are absolutely the best fucking country I have ever had the pleasure of riding. Hill City, Keystone, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Deadwood, Sturgis, Bear Mountain, hitting up the Badlands, Riding into Montana and checking out Devil's Tower. The Sturgis Rally is like any other Rally. If you want to link up with friends from around the country to get together and party, fuggin A. You can do as described above in thew article and have a great time.

But if you want to find what the heart of it is, don't go during the Rally. A month or so before the rally. You could easily fill up 2 weeks of riding, not to mention find some of the most pristine campgrounds, cabins and eateries nestled in some of the most scenic places you can lay eyes on. And the prices are always cheaper when its not Rally time. For me, its about riding the Black Hills. I think it would apply to almost everyone on this site.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 07:19 pm

The Broken Spoke is unreal, what a good time, can't wait for this year. The riding is second to none. Good times, great people.

Commented on 7-14-2010 At 09:24 pm

If you can't have fun at Sturgis, there's something wrong with you. I agree that you should avoid downtown. Get there the week before the rally and leave the first Monday of the official rally. The week before, most vendors and things you'd want to see are already open, but the crowds are very minimal. You can ride everywhere without waiting in lines. Stay outside of town, too. I've stayed in Deadwood, Lead, and at the Bulldog campground. All three were cool and far away enough from the crowds.

Commented on 7-15-2010 At 12:30 am

Just get on your chopper and f#$cking go you kno you want to!! Sturgis is a blast if you do it right. The roads are amazing and the partying is great! I stayed at the spoke last year and had a great time besides tenting in the middle of feild and waking up in the middle of the night to the roof of my tent hitting me in the face becased it rained so damn much! Ive went the last 7 years and i dont plan on missing one! Im normally one of the few choppers i see on the road on the way there so get on those choppers and point them towards the F#$king hills this year i wanna see more chops then rubber glides on the road!

Commented on 7-15-2010 At 08:19 am

Whipped Creeeeeam...

Commented on 7-15-2010 At 01:54 pm

last yr was the first yr i attended strugis .it was by far the best trip i have made the ride was unbelievable 1800 miles one way . you find your self on the road. like warren from jr cycle products said we never stayed on pavment much . i went down a dirt road for twenty miles to a four way and stop all four directions far as you could see dirt roads no cars just grass and gravel.and the brokenspoke is the place to be nothing but fun 24/7

Commented on 7-15-2010 At 02:17 pm

This will be the first time in 4 years I have not made it up. I will miss it for sure!

Commented on 7-15-2010 At 03:29 pm

Nobody wants to ride with a bunch of geriatric, amateur alcoholics on Credit Glides who prance around in Official Apparel and drag their feet for blocks on the Main Street crawl.

thats the best line ive heard all year!

Commented on 7-15-2010 At 06:53 pm

FUCK, now everyone knows about it, what the hell

Commented on 7-16-2010 At 12:10 am

the black hills = the best riding ever... plus, the trip there n' back with some of your friends is the reason i ride. i'm going again this year & i can't wait. u can avoid the shitty part if u want. it seems the complainers complain wherever they are, so why should sturgis be any different.

Commented on 7-18-2010 At 11:52 am

I'm gonna be tattooing at The Broken Spoke the whole time. Should be a blast.

Commented on 7-31-2010 At 10:12 pm

debating on some new ink. Never been a fan of inkin' in the summer, but I might break down and get one.

Commented on 7-20-2010 At 12:16 pm

the spoke is for sure where it's at in Sturgis....... period...... me and my old knucklehead will be planted securely on the grounds of the b spoke. I also have a policy that if it is "Teach" approved, you are guaranteed nothing but fun. If you head up, visit us at the Sacred Skin Roadshow while there and get some ink....


Commented on 7-31-2010 At 10:11 pm

Lookin' forward to checking out one of your shows Jack Shit!

Commented on 7-20-2010 At 12:18 pm

living back east, rendezvous was my favorite party of the year

Commented on 7-20-2010 At 06:10 pm

I'm in for the blast.... I'll be there........

Commented on 7-22-2010 At 08:55 am

I love the Black Hills; but I prefer to go in the fall. Less people, the trees are changing color. I'm thinking about going in 2011, just for the experience. I know me though and I'll be alright for a couple days and then have to just get the funk out of there.

Commented on 7-31-2010 At 10:04 pm

Been to Sturgis once back in 05. This will be my maiden voyage to Broken Spoke campground. Planning on a damn good time. Like another guy said, riding out is a big part of the fun. I'm riding with family too, and it's a blast! See ya'll in a week!!

Commented on 12-19-2011 At 02:11 pm

if ya ever out east at the end of june rendezvou is the beast of the east its what ridein partyin shuold be every weekend

Commented on 5-15-2013 At 12:01 am

Man you guys are almost, almost, making me wish I didn't live and ride in Hawaii. Aloha!

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