It might be easier to list what Harley-Davidson isn't doing at the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which begins Aug. 3. The company, which, as of this year became official motorcycle of the rally for the next 75 years (that’s optimism), is pulling out the stops for 2015.
Besides the Milwaukee brand having built a permanent installation there made with bricks from the original factory, there are numerous programs the company will have on the ground in the South Dakota town. The biggest Sturgis rally was in 2000, when 604,441 riders came. Last year, 390,693 showed up, per the organizers.
Harley’s program starts with a chain-cutting at the new permanent installation, Harley-Davidson Rally Point. There are also events at Sturgis Community Center and the new Sturgis City Park.
Said Kris Schoonover, manager of event strategy and execution for Harley-Davidson, in a statement, “We are expanding our presence in Sturgis by creating multiple locations for customers to experience the variety of activities Harley-Davidson has to offer.”
The company, which has been doing a global road show of its electric motorcycle concept, Project LiveWire, taking fleets to different markets and offering test rides, will have the bike at Sturgis, but will only offer non-moving test rides on a stationary LiveWire, part of H-D's Jumpstart program to get people who have never ridden a bike to sit astride one and twist the throttle.
Harley says it will sponsor a daily roster of concerts and shows, a bike raffle for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and an official photo area for riders. The company, which has put a big focus on boosting the ranks of women who own the brand, will have H-D general merchandise creative director Karen Davidson and photographer Lana MacNaughton in a discussion about women in motorcycling, and show women's riding accessories.
A sponsor of UFC since 2008 , H-D will bring UFC fighters Mike Chiesa and Ricardo Lamas to Sturgis for promotional appearances. At the Sturgis City Park, Harley-Davidson will display custom bikes including the Harleys from the movies “Captain America” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and from FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” TV show.
The main indoor venue, the Sturgis Community Center, will host most of what Harley-Davidson will be doing around motorcycle customizations, demonstrations, showing the 2015 line-up, demo rides and sales of merchandise and apparel.
A mobile H-D museum will show archived movies under the "Untold Stories" banner, and demonstrations with the company's chief stylist, Ray Drea, and Vehicle Collections Specialist, Bill Rodencal.
A Harley-Davidson social media program will begin with a 75-hour blitz starting July 28 with images and stories from people riding to the Rally, at #Sturgis and @HarleyDavidson on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Harley has also created a miscrosite, www.h-d.com/sturgis and a Sturgis app for the event.