The Sturgis Rally is all about Harley-Davidson motorcycles – and the men who ride them.
It’s a testosterone-fueled week of horsepower, beer and display women.
But this year, Harley has a large presence at the rally aimed at changing the demographic of the hundreds of thousands of biker who come to party and ride through the Black Hills of South Dakota. A prime directive this year for the Motor Company is to connect with, and essentially recruit, women bikers.
It’s hardly a surprise that more than a few women bikers might be appalled at the sight of a horde of eye-candy-only women who trot themselves out to pose for the standard “babe with a biker” pix on demand. The “bike rally babe” is firmly entrenched in the Sturgis Rally culture.
And the stakes are high…
Women riders make up the final demographic frontier for Harley, and the push to convert them to the Harley Dogma might be working as nearly a third of the women signed up for Harley’s rider training classes are women.
Harley-Davidson, through social media and ad campaigns, is cranking up the image-making machinery to smash the “biker stereotype” that has, at lease until now, kept women off their iconic rides.
“It’s as much about technique and confidence as it is the physical nature of the sport,” said Claudia Garber, the Harley-Davidson Director of Women’s Marketing Outreach. “It’s hard to explain the exhilaration you get until you try it. I think (riding is) an escape for a lot of people, women and men. It’s not an escape from their lives. But for those moments or hours or days, it’s just you and the bike and the world.”
So what’s the plan?
Harley offers a range of free events for women through dealerships and at the Sturgis Rally shilling motorcycle clothing and even teaching engine maintenance tips. One popular seminar features techniques to teach women how to lift a downed motorcycle using lower body strength.