The 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Aug. 3-Aug. 9, 2015, will be a lot breezier under the arms. In February 2015, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed Senate Bill 85. This abolished South Dakota’s codified law 32-20-3, which mandated a petty offense if the grips on motorcycle handlebars were at or higher than the shoulders while operating on public roads or highways.
Currently, only one-third of the states have no restrictions on handlebar height. The Federal motorcycle vehicle safety standard 49 CFR 571.123 has no reference to handlebar height, which gives each state the right to control this type of law individually. The decision to repeal the bill was accomplished in a team effort by the A.B.A.T.E. of South Dakota and its chapters, as well as the citizens of the state.
For me, this comes down to our basic rights and the freedom to make our own choices. While you may or may not like ape hangers, you should still have the right to choose the handlebars on your motorcycle. As long as you can safely operate your machine and not endanger others on the road, you should be able to run whatever set of bars strikes your fancy.
I view this in the same light that I view helmet laws in – let those who ride decide. If you’re looking to slap a new set of bars on your rig (now that you can finally buy those 20″ ape hangers) and you’re in the neighborhood for the 75th Sturgis rally, make sure you stop by and see us! We’ll be in our newly remodeled and now permanent retail store downtown Sturgis. Until then, keep the rubber side down!