This is part 2 in a series of “uncut” impressions from our associate editor Paul Dail, who attended the Sturgis rally for his first time. You can read part 1 here.

Watch for the final installment next week, which will include “Up in Smoke: Other Misconceptions Blown” and “On the Road Again.” The final abridged version of the article will appear in our October issue, which will include several Sturgis sidebars and other content exclusive to the print edition, as well as a massive selection of photos from the world-famous event.

But for now, sit back and enjoy a Sturgis rally first-timer’s perspective. Remember your first time?

Sturgis Rally 2022
This is pretty standard apparel for Sturgis.

Sturgis Rally 2022: What to Wear, What NOT to Wear, and What People Weren’t Wearing

Packing for Sturgis wasn’t simple. Maybe if I’d been riding to South Dakota, I would’ve been more spartan, but as I mentioned in Part 1, I was flying by necessity, which gave me more options than I probably needed.

Sturgis Rally 2022
If you didn’t bring the right shirt, someone will gladly help you tailor it to suit the occasion.

I packed my helmet, jeans, jacket, gloves, and boots. A whole other small suitcase basically.

Speaking of riding gear, even though riders in South Dakota age 18 and older aren’t required to wear a helmet, I was surprised how few people were wearing them – and I’m not just talking about the riders cruising Main or Lazelle. Even on the interstate, I counted probably less than 1 in 10 riders with helmets. In my home state of Utah, where they wait a little longer to waive the helmet requirement (age 21), I would still say at least half the riders I see are protected even though they don’t have to be.

Sturgis Rally 2022
A cowboy hat works for lounging, like this guy at the Lita Ford and Rob Zombie concert at the Buffalo Chip.

In my former years as a news editor, whenever one of my reporters responded to a motorcycle crash, I had them ask police if the rider was wearing a helmet. The results were pretty telling. And for the record, two of the three fatalities at Sturgis this year were riders without them.

Sturgis Rally 2022
I’m not sure if he was God or Gandalf, but here we see another option for something to put on your head.

My compromise between freedom, safety, and some stifling claustrophobia is a three-quarter helmet. I’m willing to take the chance on possibly ruining my stunning good looks (although my wife might request otherwise…and bite her tongue at “stunning”), but I’m not willing to risk my big brain – or my life.

Sturgis Rally 2022
Make your own assumptions.

On a lighter note in the packing department, shirts were probably the easiest thing to decide on. Black T-shirts? Check. However, similar to helmets, there was something else I was surprised not to see worn by many attendees at Sturgis.

Before we embarked from our respective corners of the country, American Rider Editor-in-Chief Kevin Duke gave us something of a “Sturgis Bingo” list to be watching for, with items ranging from “grizzled old bikers and grannies in bikinis” to top-notch tattoos and Trump T-shirts. I expected a lot of attendees wearing the latter, but I was surprised when I saw less than a dozen.

Numerous vendors had T-shirts of the former president hanging in their doorways, either with the standard “Trump 2024” logo or the “Miss Me Yet?” text with a picture of Trump, but I counted very few of these shirts actually being worn by the hundreds of people I saw over four days.

Sturgis Rally 2022
Here’s a Trump fan. And a pretty funny one at that.

I dare say I saw as many “Let’s Go, Brandon” shirts and stickers as I did pro-Trump tees. Maybe more. While one might say it’s different sides of the same coin, I would venture that disliking Joe Biden is not necessarily the same as missing Donald Trump.

There was certainly no shortage of Americana apparel, so maybe Sturgis attendees are just not a very political group.

Sturgis Rally 2022

Or maybe your average older biker is more aligned with the Libertarian party, and your average younger rider doesn’t trust any of them.

End of Part 2. Read the conclusion (Part 3) here.


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