Sturgis, South Dakota, is one of the most famous cities in the motorcycle rally world. It hosts one of the biggest two-wheel rallies on the planet. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally recently celebrated its 77th year, and the 78th event is planned for August 2018. With roots dating back nearly a century and a consistently increasing attendee number, this event holds strong roots in American culture and serves as a historical platform in the motorcycling world.
The rally has been male-dominated since the beginning, but that has started to change over the last decade. More women than ever are strapping on their leathers and hitting the roads to experience this world-class event. This changing demographic has given rise to the Wild Gypsy Tour, a women-only motorcycle festival at the historical Buffalo Chip in Sturgis.
When we created the Wild Gypsy Tour, it served as a platform for women in motorcycle culture—specifically, those who wanted to experience the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. A majority of women who attended the festival in 2017 had never been before. Women of all ages rode in from all over the nation and many even flew in from out of the country just to be a part of this inaugural women’s festival. It was absolutely astonishing to personally meet all of these women and to hear the stories of their life on two wheels.
The feeling of kinship naturally blossomed with this group of women over the time we spent together under the South Dakota skies. The Wild Gypsy Tour has since become a home for women in the motorcycle culture and, thanks to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, has the opportunity to expand for many years to come.
From the genesis of the Wild Gypsy Tour across all other motorcycle events, the community of women riders is growing. The motorcycle industry is working to attract more women. In 2014, according to the American Motorcycle Association, the estimated number of motorcycles owned by females was 14 percent, a 50 percent increase over the 10 previous years. In 2018, it’s estimated that women will make up more than 15 percent of the motorcycle industry, the largest that number has been in history.
The industry has recognized the rise of women riders as a group worthy of attention and has implemented avenues designed to support growing female moto-culture. These include the sponsorship of groups, events and individuals, marketing platforms focused on bringing attention to women influencers in the rider’s seat, and media strategies working to broaden the perspectives of mainstream culture by challenging the stereotypical roles of women with motorcycles. In addition to those industry platforms, there has also been an extremely large growth of women-based companies focused on bringing women-specific gear and apparel to the spotlight, some of which include Roland Sands Design, Breaking Hearts & Burning Rubber, Stellar Moto Brand, MotoChic Gear, and many more.
The overall support of women riders on these platforms has fueled the increase of women riders. Women-based events like the Wild Gypsy Tour, providing women a space to explore and attend well-known events that may have been intimating in the past, has fueled the growth as well. Women are provided more options in fields like gear, motorcycles, apparel, lessons, racing, classes, groups, and much more. These increased options for women provide more opportunities for those interested in riding, and have helped women’s organizations carve out space in a male-dominated industry.
More historical venues, like the world-renowned Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground, have opened their gates to women riders. The campground venue is historically male-dominated. However, at the Wild Gypsy Tour in 2017, there was a record 38 percent of female attendees and riders. This increasing statistic is likely to keep rising, since women’s organizations like the Wild Gypsy Tour and Biker Belles will both be back at the Chip in 2018, making the rally even more women-friendly.
For 2018, the Wild Gypsy Tour plans to curate an event uniting women from all corners of the globe who share the common desire to ride, live, learn, and have fun. In addition to partnering with the Biker Belles decade celebration ride, symposium, and luncheon, the Wild Gypsy Tour will also be hosting a women’s festival and summer camp. The event includes a private camp compound, live entertainment, exclusive motorcycle classes taught by industry experts, women-led group rides, and more. All women are welcome to join in on this revolutionary twist to kicking off the world’s largest motorcycle rally at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip.