Sturgis Motorcycle Rally & Harley Baggers

Where did the year go? Amazing as it might seem we now have more of the summer riding season behind us than still to come. So let’s make the most of it, no matter where we live or ride.

For many Americans and Canadians, one of the biggest and best riding events is coming up fast. The Black Hills Motorcycle Classic, otherwise known as Sturgis, started out in 1938 as a small gathering of friends invited by Pappy Hoel, the local Indian motorcycle dealer. Pappy thought it might be fun to sponsor a motorcycle race and rally in the tiny town of Sturgis, South Dakota. Nine members of the local motorcycle club, the Jack Pine Gypsies, raced their Harley and Indian motorcycles that year and many of the riders who showed up to enjoy riding in and around the wonderful Black Hills camped in Pappy’s back yard or in the local Sturgis City Park.

The Sturgis rally still draws motorcycle riders from all over the world. If you would like to be part of this amazing annual event, mark your calendar for August 7 through 15 and you better make your hotel or camping reservations as you can no longer pitch a tent in the Hoels’ yard or any public land. Having ridden to and enjoyed dozens of Sturgis rallies, I can tell you first hand there is some world class riding just outside town and a lot of wild and fun things to do in Sturgis, Spearfish, Rapid City and vicinity.


Part of our job at this magazine is to identify and share what’s hot in the motorcycle scene. Sometimes we sense it and dig in for a better understanding, and sometimes our readers and/or advertisers let us know. We recognize some as trends and others as fads. The fads, for the most part, come and go – like long fork choppers, extreme fat tire bikes and over the top customized motorcycles. Trends are much longer lasting.

Motorcycle baggers are literally motorcycles with saddlebags, but most enthusiasts view a bagger as a big comfortable and usually customized motorcycle with bags. Many of them also sport custom paint and chrome, power hop ups and often perhaps custom wheels and body work. The first time I recall any discussion of baggers was many years ago when the Hamsters, a high profile social club of motorcycle customizers, had an issue allowing them on their runs or something along those lines. If I have the specific details incorrect I apologize as this was more than a decade ago.

In the last several years it has become apparent to us that baggers are now well accepted and not going away. Quite the opposite – customized motorcycle baggers are now so popular that there are a few magazines dedicated to them. In the early part of this summer we published the first issue of our new American Iron Motorcycle Bagger on the newsstand. We used most of the regular American Iron Magazine team to plan and produce this test issue and we are all quite proud of it.

Distributed on the newsstand only, our first issue of American Iron Motorcycle Bagger outsold almost every other Harley-oriented magazine except our own monthly. Following this vote of confidence from our readers and advertisers that our special issue is popular we are finishing up a second issue of American Iron Motorcycle Bagger that will go on sale August 17th in all stores that sell the regular monthly American Iron Magazine. If this second issue is as popular as the first we would seriously consider increasing the frequency in 2011 and offering subscriptions to it. If you missed the first issue of American Iron Motorcycle Bagger we should still have some back issues available for sale on


Can you imagine what it must be like to ride a motorcycle a couple hundred miles a day for 17 days across the entire United States of America? How about if you have to pedal start it like a bicycle several times a day and monitor the oil consumption in the engine that does not have a recirculating lubrication system? Oh, and I forget to mention the motorcycle is at least 95 years old?

Welcome to the Motorcycle Cannonball Run, where we expect about 70 riders on 1915 and older motorcycles to depart from Kitty Hawk, NC on September 10 with the goal of arriving in Santa Monica, CA on September 26. I am curious how many of these brave souls make it all the way across without a lift in one of the chase trucks. But I won’t have to wait for others’ accounts as I plan on being in the thick of it on my 1915 Harley twin. For more info on this, read the second installation of my series on the Cannonball and check out on line. While some media will be reporting on this amazing event, we will be part of it. Sure hope you enjoy riding back through history with me. It won’t be boring.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz Kanter.   Publisher/Editor-In-Chief