Sugar Bear Chopper Museum to Open Outside Sturgis

Sugar Bear is preparing to open his Chopper Museum outside Sturgis.

The Sugar Bear Chopper Museum will celebrate and preserve chopper culture and its vital role in the American custom motorcycle scene. (Photo Courtesy of Sugar Bear Chopper Museum)

If anyone knows choppers, it’s Sugar Bear. His stretched Springers have been highly prized for nigh-on 50 years now. Sugar Bear’s forks are famous for having no flop, no pogoing, and for providing a ride quality comparable to motorcycles with much tighter rake angles. Sugar Bear’s been an icon in the SoCal chopper scene since he opened his first commercial shop in 1971 and has helped write the history of chopper culture with his handiwork.

Preserving that culture for posterity’s sake and sharing its impact on the American custom motorcycling scene is part of the reason he wants to open the “Sugar Bear Chopper Museum – A Place for Chops.” The museum will be located outside Sturgis on Hwy. 79, four miles north of the new Full Throttle Saloon (Pappy Hoel Campground). Its mission statement states “The Sugar Bear Chopper Museum was founded in order to preserve the legacy of the custom chopper motorcycle. Our goal is to gather, educate, and celebrate those machines and those who have dedicated their lives to creating them.”

It will accomplish this by collecting and exhibiting custom motorcycles and “other artifacts pertaining to the chopper culture.” The museum will serve to educate as well by not only “preserving these glorious machines, but also their creator’s legacy.” Museum showcases will include an artist’s custom motorcycle, accessories, a photo gallery and verbal presentations by the builders. The museum intends on having the builders make guest appearances so they can participate in seminars and presentations. The museum aims to “Celebrate this diverse art form and preserve it for future generations to discover and enjoy.”

The Sugar Bear Chopper Museum will have a place for other builders to display their bikes as well called “The Gathering at Choppertown.” This area will give independent or private builders a chance to ride in daily and show off their work. “The Gathering” area will be divided into sections depending on make and model for ease of viewing. The first “Gathering at Choppertown” is slated for the 2018 Sturgis Rally from 8/3/2018 to 8/12/2018, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. A retail store is set to be launched on October 1, 2017.

They’re also envisioning The Sugar Bear Chopper Museum as a destination during the annual Sturgis Rally where vendors who directly serve the custom motorcycle industry can set up, swap meets can take place, and outdoor custom motorcycle shows will be held.

Here’s more information about the new venture from the “About Us” section on the Sugar Bear Chopper Museum website.

The concept of The Sugar Bear Chopper Museum came about when Sugar Bear became concerned that the history he had been compiling was not known throughout the motorcycle industry and could be lost or forgotten over time. There were surely many chopper enthusiasts and others in the motorcycle industry who would want to be exposed to and learn about the development of the customization of motorcycles from previous generations.

There are indeed motorcycle museums throughout the United States, however, normally they may have a chopper or two, and those are usually displayed with very little information about the motorcycles and the creators of those motorcycles, if any at all. Most museums are mainly concerned with the preservation of motorcycles as they were originally produced by the various manufacturers. However, customization has had an enormous impact on factory and industry styles ( i.e., 21 inch tires on front wheels, wider tires on rear wheels, high handlebars on touring motorcycles, etc. ), and many motorcycle enthusiasts are not aware of or forget the effect of this genre on the industry.

Choppers are an art form. They are an expression of the builder’s/rider’s personal conception of his motorcycle. The SBCM (Sugar Bear Chopper Museum) is a “place” where this history will be shown, by previous and current works of art, as well as told by the artists themselves. Many enthusiasts when obtaining a motorcycle start to personalize or have a vision of how they want their motorcycle to look. This is the first step in our art form! From this initial point, the motorcyclist is then driven by his vision to construct “his or her motorcycle.“ By recognizing the artistic drive in owners, the SBCM provides an environment and venue to show, interact, and learn with other like-minded individuals.

The SBCM will be endowed by the enthusiasts and donors. By donating to the SBCM, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, you are supporting our programs and our building expansion to provide a venue for all riders.