The 2022 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Pictures

Coors in hand, a referee brings order to the Buffalo Chip rodeo games.

Coors in hand, a referee brings order to the Buffalo Chip rodeo games. (Bad Beard Productions/)

Sturgis has always been about fellowship between riders. Biker, motorcyclist, miscreant—it hardly matters how you identify. It’s a celebration of freedom, often in ways unprintable in Motorcyclist.

Opinions will vary as to the wisdom of holding the event these last few years. But two and half years after the pandemic began, risk resumed its rightful place on the surrounding roads and in the dozens of bars that make up this bucolic South Dakota hamlet.

By all accounts, the 2022 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally resumed its assault on tasteful behavior, restraint, and sobriety. That’s a compliment, thank you very much. Sometimes good taste just gets in the way of a good time.

The event was started by the Indian-riding enthusiasts of the Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club in 1938. That first three-day Black Hills Motor Classic featured stunts and races, eventually including (reportedly) head-on collisions with cars and ramp jumps. Traditional hill climbs and motocross races were early staples of competition, as was the Gypsy Tour, a guided ride through the Black Hills’ breathtaking canyons.

1970 saw 3,000 riders attend Sturgis. By 1980, it was 40,000. In 1990, the official attendance figure hit 400,000. This year’s closely watched total is the subject of some debate, but most agree it was slightly smaller than last year’s. For example, total trash collection tonnage was down by 50 tons, despite Sunday’s rain.

Another interesting wrinkle? The average Sturgis attendee was 54 years old in 2019, but 46.5 in 2021. No word yet on 2022 figures, but it stands to reason the keys are getting passed to a younger generation. Younger limbs, reflexes, and appetites for risk are perfect for carving canyons and hills on Highway 14A, Camp 5 Road, or Vanocker Canyon Road. The lure of partying may be strong in Sturgis, but beer tastes better after riding through danger and sanding the squares off your tires.

Speaking of younger, Bad Beard creative director and photographer Sam Schneider went to Sturgis this year. Judging by his shots, he didn’t choose between partying and riding; he just did it all. Forget the FOMO. Just start making your own plans for Sturgis, 2023.

It can’t be all Harleys: A BMW R 18 B invades the Black Hills.

It can’t be all Harleys: A BMW R 18 B invades the Black Hills. (Bad Beard Productions/)

The power of Holi color powder comes to South Dakota.

The power of Holi color powder comes to South Dakota. (Bad Beard Productions/)

Is there anywhere bikes can’t park at Sturgis? Poolside parking.

Is there anywhere bikes can’t park at Sturgis? Poolside parking. (Bad Beard Productions/)

Roll out the barrels, easy on the clutch: more rodeo games at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip.

Roll out the barrels, easy on the clutch: more rodeo games at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. (Bad Beard Productions/)

Hardtail, hard-ass: A dirt track entrant lines up.

Hardtail, hard-ass: A dirt track entrant lines up. (Bad Beard Productions/)

No front brake necessary, apehangers optional: dirt track contest at Sturgis.

No front brake necessary, apehangers optional: dirt track contest at Sturgis. (Bad Beard Productions/)

Hang on to that sissy bar: Catching air at the dirt track.

Hang on to that sissy bar: Catching air at the dirt track. (Bad Beard Productions/)

A band plays at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip stage.

A band plays at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip stage. (Bad Beard Productions/)

Catching a Tiger by the tail, Triumph-style.

Catching a Tiger by the tail, Triumph-style. (Bad Beard Productions/)
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