Like the whole biker movement, biker rallies originate from the United States, with the oldest one being “The Daytona Beach’s Bike Week,” held since March 1937 in Daytona Beach, Florida. However, the title of the oldest biker fest is challenged by the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held in the city of Sturgis, South Dakota. Currently, particularly Sturgis rally is the most famous and visited biker festival in the world. The reason for the oldest fest claim is that the first Sturgis rally was held just a year later than in Daytona Beach, in 1938.
There are two types of biker fests:
- Open where everyone can participate, not just bikers. All you have to do is pay for the ticket. You don’t even have to ride a bike. Open rallies make up the vast majority of biker events.
- Closed, which can be accessed only with an invitation. In other words, such a rally is organized exclusively for the close circle.
Bike festivals are usually held by biker communities or by motorcycle manufacturers. One of the most prominent manufacturers who have been actively promoting its motorcycles through rallies and fests is Harley-Davidson.
The largest motorcycle festivals in the world
I think it’s reasonable to start with the August rally in Sturgis. For seven days, this quiet town is flocked with around 500,000 bikers. Walking down the town streets, you won’t hear anything except motorcycle engines’ roar. The waitresses wearing signature ripped tights are constantly fetching beer to stern men in leather jackets. The influx of people at Sturgis is as massive as in Mecca during the Muslim holidays. So, the fest’s nickname “biker Mecca” is pretty justified.
When it comes to entertainment, Sturgis has something to offer for every taste. For instance, you can get drunk at the Big daddy rat, the iconic bar in the town. Or, you can enrich culturally by visiting the motorcycle museum and admiring paintings and drawings of bikes or old motorcycles. And, of course, as at any significant biker rally, you will have the chance to enjoy the concert by world rock stars and witness spectacular motorcycle competitions.
If you don’t feel like going to the States, there is still an excellent opportunity to hang out and relax in good old Europe. Harley-Davidson holds a massive European Bike Week every year on the shores of Lake Faaker in Austria. Technically, in terms of entertainment, you won’t find anything special here – the same old rivers of beer, loud rock music, and roaring engines as at other bike festivals.
Although there are three small “buts”:
- For Harley fans, a unique “Harley Village” is set up where you can find literally anything with the Harley-Davidson logo.
- Right during the rally, you can update your biker wardrobe with custom-made leather garments. The masters will take your measurements and sew a vest or leather jacket on the spot without leaving their market stall.
- If you are lucky, you can return home riding a new Harley. To win, you have to buy something with the Harley logo and participate in a draw.
Worth noting that most biker rallies occur in the summer when bikers can easily live outdoors for several days. However, there are exceptions. Every January in the Russian city of Samara, a one-of-a-kind winter extreme biker fest, “Snow Dogs X,” is held. People come here mainly to watch or participate in unimoto races since the Samara rally is the only place in the CIS where such races are held.
Citing the creator, biker William Nassau, unimoto it is a one-wheeled motorbike (for winter version – plus skids), assembled from what is lying around in the garage and a landfill. In fact, the unimoto is the embodiment of biker ingenuity.
Sometimes at bike festivals, besides unimoto races, competitions for the most creative and unique designs are held. So, suppose you are a biker interested in designing an original bike and demonstrating it in public. In that case, you’re more than welcome to present your bike and to meet like-minded people!