7 Best Motorcycle Rallies in the US
By Midwest Traction on August 10, 2018
What began as a bike gathering in 1938 has since morphed into one of the largest US bike rallies in history. Small town Sturgis, South Dakota now attracts hundreds of thousands of people each August to celebrate the love of bikes and the open road.
Thanks to Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, an Indian motorcycle franchise owner in Sturgis, the Jackpine Gypsies were formed, and would later be inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1997. In the beginning, Sturgis was focused more on the wow factor of motorcycling - stunts and racing. Over the years, it has morphed into a gathering for enthusiasts to enjoy each other’s company, featuring several different bikes, with Harley-Davidson models taking over in popularity.
For 10 days, Sturgis is packed with vendors, enthusiasts, and entertainment everywhere you look. Surrounded by miles of open roads, the location boasts easy access to landmarks like the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Custer State Park, Spearfish Canyon, Iron Mountain Road, and Crazy Horse Memorial.
For after-hours entertainment, check out the Old Style Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood. This Wild West-themed bar boasts the largest whiskey selection in the state of South Dakota, features historical reenactments, and houses a social club upstairs for a modern take on old classics.
For live entertainment in the outdoor arena, check out Buffalo Chip’s Bikini Beach at Night. Performers often come on stage after the headliners have gone. During the day, this spot is used primarily for cooling off in the water, but at night, it’s the perfect place to wind down.
Daytona Bike Week
This tradition began in 1937 but was canceled a few short years later in 1942. However, the bike enthusiasts persevered and showed up anyway, thus establishing the legacy of Daytona Bike Week and it’s dedicated fans. For 10 days in March, Daytona is home to bikers, beer, and a street festival full of live music and delicious food.
While you’re here, don’t miss The Loop, a 22-mile ride that exploits the beauty of Florida. For freedom, open road cruising, and plenty of curves, this ride is sure to satisfy the biker’s soul.
If you’re into vintage bikes, check out the Fastlanes Motorcycle Swap Meet Extravaganza. Hosted at the Volusia County Fairgrounds, vendors display rare vintage motorcycle items. You won’t want to miss it, especially when they do Burning Bike, where a giant wood motorcycle sculpture is lit aflame.
For food, check out the largest oyster bar in Daytona Beach: Oyster Pub Sports Bar and Grill for the freshest, tastiest oysters. If you like brewery tours, the Daytona Beach Ale Trail is touted as a fun way to explore the area while eating and drinking.
Myrtle Beach Bike Week
What better place to have a bike rally than one by the beach? Located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Myrtle Beach Bike Week began in 1940 and now features events like the Suck Bang Blow burnout pit, Myrtle Beach Speedway, Ocean Annie’s Beach Bar, and a delicious breakfast buffet at Beaver Bar.
This bike week provides two events, one in the fall and one in the spring. The fall event tends to be more laid back, with smaller crowds, so if you don’t like to wait in lines, this option may be better suited to you. Riding is the highlight of this session, as the lower numbers make cruising around on open roads easier to access. With 2 scenic 90-mile loop rides, riders can enjoy the best views that South Carolina has to offer.
Laconia Motorcycle Week
Taking place in Laconia, New Hampshire, this bike week began in 1924 and has grown into something much bigger. With scenic rides not far off, New Hampshire provides the perfect backdrop for mountains, beauty and entertainment.
Participate in Gypsy Tours, the scenic rides that highlight the area’s greatest features, attend Superbike races, often held the second weekend of the event, or watch the Shawn P. Farnsworth Memorial Pro Hill Climb. The rally boasts highlights such as Biggest Beer Belly contest, Biker Build-Off where participants create a bike from the ground up, and firework shows.
Looking to get some altitude? Mount Washington Auto Road excursion takes riders to the highest peak in the Northeast at 6288 feet above sea level.
What about places to eat and stay? Attendees recommend Naswa resort and the Laconia Roadhouse, where you can meet the Flaunt Girls.
This noble event began as a way to call attention to POW/MIAs that were abandoned in the Vietnam War. Ray Manzo, a former Marine, felt the need in 1988 to establish this memorial for Veterans of Vietnam. It has become a non-profit organization that holds its event every year in Washington D.C., aptly scheduled on Memorial Day weekend.
Events include a Blessing of the Bikes at the National Cathedral, a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a First Amendment Demonstration Run, a concert, wreath laying ceremonies, and plenty of entertainment, including music, vendors, and a parade.
Note that many streets will be closed for this event, parking is difficult to find, and if you’re an attendee not on a bike, public transportation is highly recommended. To have the best view of the Run, check out spots along Arlington Memorial Bridge and Constitution Avenue.
Republic of Texas (ROT)
Travel to Austin, Texas around the beginning of June and you may find yourself gridlocked in the midst of an epic biker rally known as the Republic of Texas or ROT Rally. What started in 1995 has now blossomed into an event that consumes the downtown area, with restaurants and bars welcoming riders with open arms.
This event brags about their Big Texas Chop-Off Biker Build-Off, a Biker’s Breakfast, a Biker Street Party on Congress Avenue and a motorcycle parade to the state capital.
Prepare for side streets to be closed off for the event, know that parking can be difficult to find, and your vehicle may get blocked in. Best to opt for parking elsewhere if you won’t be attending on a motorcycle.
Las Vegas Bikefest
Welcome to Fremont Street in Vegas, home of the four-day mania that is Las Vegas Bikefest. Love bikes, beer, and gambling? With several Poker Runs/Walks scheduled, bikers participate in as many or as little as they like.
Hogs & Heifers is an infamous bar known for throwing the craziest party during the festival. Other attractions include Daredevils in the Globe of Death, win a motorcycle raffle, Artistry in Iron, and the Baddest Bagger. Don’t forget to walk through the Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame!
With destinations like Lake Mead, Red Rock Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, and the Grand Canyon nearby, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that isn’t sure to please. Expect to pay quite a bit for parking as this prime location in Vegas means space is limited, though worth it to participate in an event located in the entertainment capital of the world.