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Know Your Sturgis Motorcycle Laws

Mar 12, 2021

Every year the city of Sturgis and surrounding area hands out a few million dollars in fines to motorcyclists visiting the Black Hills for the Sturgis rally. We've put together a list of local Sturgis, South Dakota laws to to keep you safe and your hard-earned money in your wallet.

Helmets and Eye Protection

Helmets are always at the forefront of motorcycle laws discussions and no matter where you stand, the law in South Dakota states that if you are over 18 you are not obliged to wear one.

You are, however, obliged to wear eye protection, unless you have a windshield tall enough that it is "protecting your eyes." I personally wouldn't leave it up to law enforcement to determine if my windshield was protecting my eyes and would plan on wearing eye protection. If your eye protection happens to be sunglasses you should know that at dusk if you are wearing glasses with more than 35% tint you could be fined, so make sure you pack some clears.


As of 2015 there is no more laws determining handlebar height. So if you fancy tall bars feel free to hang 'em high.


Exhaust is always a point of concern to those packing straight pipes and the law is open to interpretation in my opinion. It states "You must have a muffler in good working order to prevent excessive noise." Again, this could be interpreted in a number of ways, so my advice is to not be a jerk. If you're not racking off your straight pipes in the middle of town, then you shouldn't have any problems.


During the day you actually do not need to have your headlight on. If you visit our neighboring state of Wyoming, however, you will need to have your light on during the day. When you should turn on your headlight is still a bit unclear, but basically at dusk you need to have your light on. Having said that it's probably a good idea to have your headlight on all the time. Headlight modulators are OK to use. Taillights must be red in color and visible from 500 feet. For you old-school folks, you can run the blue dot lenses but the dot can be no bigger than one inch.


A few other minor parts are mandatory while cruising through the great state of South Dakota. You need to have at least one mirror mounted. And for the chopper folks, if you have a passenger you need to have passenger pegs.

Operation of Your Motorcycle

At least a few of these should be common sense but lets hit a few high points that could keep you out of the local slammer. You need to have your legs on both sides of the motorcycle and at least one hand on the handlebar. Indian Larry style seat or tank stands are "frowned upon." If you are carrying something on your bike it needs to be strapped down. You can't be carrying it in your hands. Keep this in mind if you are heading out for a beer run. Don't drink and drive. Shouldn't have to lay that one out but there you go. If you are riding in a group it's OK to ride abreast. Come to complete stops at stop signs, extra points for both feet on the ground. Sorry, no lane splitting.

Parking Tips

If you are heading out for a hell raising time on Main Street just know they will tow your bike after 2 a.m. when the street sweeper comes through. Also, a good portion of the parking lots are privately owned and are subject to their rules. Ask the local lot attendants for clarification on overnight parking. Sturgis proper doesn't have the national ride sharing services you may be used to like Uber and Lyft, but there are bus services like "Da Bus" that runs to local campground. Taxis are available but they get busy so plan ahead.

The Black Hills of South Dakota is some of the best riding you can experience in these United States of America. Hopefully these helpful hints will not only keep cash in your wallet but allow you to live your best life while cruising western South Dakota during the Sturgis Rally.