The Dennis Kirk Blog
Legendary Service... Ask Your Friends - Since 1969
For all of you riders who have put thousands of miles on your bike with your arms up behind a set of ape hanger bars there’s some good news. You will now be able to legally ride through South Dakota on your way to Sturgis without swapping or modifying your bars.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a state senate bill earlier this year that will effectively abolish the law that prohibits any motorcycles from having handlebars that are at or above shoulder height. The new law will go into effect July 1st, just in time for riders to gear up for the historic 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which begins the first week of August.
This is great news for the many riders who have ridden to the rally from out of state who were not aware of the height restriction that was in effect in South Dakota. While the law was considered a “petty” law with a fine of $20 (which when all fees are totaled could reach up to $120), it was certainly an annoyance especially if you were not aware of it. Those who were aware of the law either had to swap out their bars or tilt them so that the grips would be below the rider’s shoulder height. Or just completely ignore it and hope not to encounter the law enforcement.
The law also led to some risky maneuvers by riders to get around it. One practice was to leave the bars loose in the riser clamps so the rider could keep the bars in the desired position until they saw an officer at which point they would then drop the bars down to a legal height. As you can imagine, that’s probably not the safest practice.
The bar height restriction, however, was not unique to South Dakota. There are a few other states that restrict how high your grips can be. The South Dakota law has been highlighted and moaned about the most because of the huge amount of bikes that come together in one area for the Sturgis Rally, where many visitors are unaware of the law. If you are looking to install apes on your bike, you should check to see if your state has the height restriction to avoid a ticket.
With the height restriction now being removed in time for Sturgis, be prepared to see a lot more hands hanging high in the breeze. With so many custom bikes at the rally, many riders are sure to take advantage and finish their bike with the bars that they really want.
Another recent law change may help you get to the rally faster. The two major interstates that many people travel on to get to Sturgis now have higher speed limits. I-90 and I-29 both have been bumped up to 80 mph in the state of South Dakota. Of course, you don’t have to ride that fast, but it should help some riders who feel confident enough to ride at that speed to shave some time off of their travel to spend more time in the Sturgis area.
Whether you’re planning on heading out to the rally this summer or are just planning a trip through South Dakota, these laws should come as good news for many riders. There’s a lot of great roads just waiting to be ridden and now more than in years past, you can do it your way.
Mon-Fri: 7am - 8pm Sat & Sun: 7am - 6pm CT