Do riders want an open HOG Rally?

2015 HOG Rally Thunder Run

Harley riders, Tamworth residents, and even Jesus seem to love the 24th annual National HOG Rally.

2015 HOG Rally Thunder Run

The record rally winds up today with a massive Thunder Run through Tamworth and surrounds of more than 2000 riders and pillions under blue skies that turned to rain and left a cloud of mystery about the 2016 rally.

2015 HOG Rally Thunder Run
2015 HOG Rally Thunder Run

Organisers usually announce the venue for the next rally on the Saturday night, but are reserving the decision for about a month, says H-D marketing manager Adam Wright.

He says Harley-Davidson has to come to terms with the likely influx of younger riders from the sale of its popular Street 500 learner-approved motorcycle and how that will change the character of HOG chapters and future rallies.


That could mean different types of entertainment, venues closer to metropolitan areas, an event open to all riders of all bikes or even an annual event at the same venue.

While Harley searches for the right answer to their happy conundrum, borne of skyrocketing sales, they can pat themselves on the back for a resoundingly successful rally with a record 2320 attendance.

Tamworth has been a popular destination among rally goers with most declaring the event the best yet.

The HOG Rally has had a different complexion and character this year with a cowboy theme, a rodeo, country spectacular featuring horses and bikes, and, of course, some country music in the country music capital.

Rodeo action at HOG Rally - street 500
Rodeo action at HOG Rally

Riders particularly enjoyed the rodeo, calling it “incredible”, “fantastic” and “an adrenalin sport that we can relate to as riders”.

They also mentioned how welcoming Tamworth people have been to them and the superb quality of the equine centre venue.

But, as much as they like Tamworth, most riders we talked to say the rally is about the journey and they wouldn’t like to have a rally in the same venue each year.

"Silver", Jane and Leo say "best yet" HOG Rally
“Silver”, Leo and Jane say HOG Rally is “best yet”

“Most of the fun is in the travelling,” says Wide Bay Chapter member Jane Kooyman.

Peter Owens of Newcastle has been to 15 rallies and says it wouldn’t be fair to riders in states such as Western Australia, if the rally was held every year in Tamworth.

Some riders say a single venue would be “boring” unless the entertainment was changed each year.

The suggestion of a rally sponsored by Harley but open to all riders of all makes has been met with a mixed reaction.

Emma Kalie of Port Macquarie points out that other brands already have their own rallies.

Others can see the advantages of an open rally to expose the brand to newcomers.

“Not everyone can afford a Harley,” says Katrina Kelly of the Sydney Chapter.

Husband Andrew says an open event might “entice people to buy a Harley”.

Katrina chimes in: “It might also make people realise that we are not bad people.”

Of course you’re not bad people … as the sign on the edge of town says, “Jesus lovers Harley riders”.


  1. I have been to 15 hog Nationals riding now my 2nd Harley,softail Deluxe . It’s about the journey and see different places. I will not keep going back to Tamworth and hate the idea of an open rally. I look forward to traveling and meeting all my hog friends . But many of us have talked about how Harley are getting lazy with choosing the same destination and making this a money grabber now you want us to keep going to the same place Tamworth. Feeling like Harley don’t care about their long term members …

    1. Although they haven’t yet announced the 2016 rally, it is likely to have some open events as part of it, like the past few rallies, but will be mainly closed to HOG members and will be located at a different location each year as it always has. My guess is somewhere on the NSW coast!

  2. No to an open rally. After many years i have finally bought a Harley and joined HOG. What appealed to me was the rallys being a harley only affair.if it goes to an open event i wont be attending.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Looks like you’re out of luck. Seems Harley is in an inclusive and expansionist stage and open rallies are their weay of reaching out to a wider audience.
      I’m writing a story about this right now. Stay tuned for more info.

  3. I enjoyed the Tamworth rally very much, it was my eighth rally and by far the best. if it becomes an open rally and at the same venue, you can count my husband and I out!!!!!!!!!~

  4. Lots of vendors, entertainment and food seem to be the general request. Possibly the only way to get all this is to open it up to all bikes with no cover charge.
    No problem being at the same venue every year – just ride there a different road. We went to the Mt Isa state rally via Darwin, Tamworth via Bathurst and Lennox heads via Dubbo ( we live in NQ). There are alot of different roads to arrive at a destination.
    Like Sturgis I am sure these future rallys will be focusing on Harley Davidson riders. I hope they do it right and encourage a great range of vendors like Vance n Hines, burleigh bars, kuryaken, clothing, leatherworks, etc, etc…. And loads of entertainment. They also need to look at a different type of rider competion like mini Gymkhanas, burn out comp, womens events.
    Come on everyone its time to think outside the square and get this party started!

  5. Wife and I have been members since 1997 and enjoyed every year with HOG. Tamworth was by far the best rally we have attended here and overseas. However we must comment on these winds of change for the future. HOG is holding off in their announcement of the 25th rally venue for one month. We hope this time is spent getting member feedback before a decision is made on the future structure of these rally’s. We can live with having the venues dictated to us but not the structure, it’s our club and without the members there wouldn’t be a rally.

  6. I’m for leaving the HOG Rally as it is, the travel to and from makes up a big part of the event and seeing new places is part of the attraction. Maybe when people new to the HD experience need more education about HOG and perhaps more local actitivities , more often, might increase the number of participants?

    Sell the benefits of HOG – that’s my solution. Please don’t cheapen the brand by opening it up to riders of other bikes.

  7. Tamworth 2015 was a great rally, and have both organisers and attendees already said – “best ever”. If the numbers have grown I’m not sure why HD are thinking about an open invite to all makes. I attend plenty of events where all makes are in attendance but to have the HOG only event is something we do that others don’t (especially in the same scale). Appreciate from a marketing point you want to expand the brand, and bringing out the learner legal 500 is a good thing, but I think the buyers are still going to be those of mature age who are gaining their riders licence later in live as opposed to younger riders. What are your plans with those riders on other brands, do they have to be PAID UP registered HOG members to attend? If they don’t, why should the rest of us 2320 who attended have to pay? Others have said, you need more vendors and entertainment if you want more attendees. I have quite a few friends that ride HD but choose not to attend due to the lack of entertainment etc.
    Still, I enjoyed Tamworth and await what the plans are for 2016, but I hope for the 25th HD doesn’t kill it by introducing something as silly as opening it to all.

  8. Our first Harley (after 35 Jap bikes) which we are loving, and our first HOG Rally which we really enjoyed bar the fact that there were virtually no vendors there and after attending Sturgis last year and really enjoying checking out all the Harley merchandise this was very disappointing. As for having a open rally we say no way, being a part of the Harley Owners Group is what made the event special for us and we would not bother attending a open rally as we have attended plenty of them over the years already . Jeff & Alison

    1. Hi Boz,
      Not sure how you see it as a cash grab. In my conversations with the Harley organisers, they want to spend more money as well as attract more sponsorship to make it a much better event.
      As for your next ride, check out my reviews of all the Harley, Victory and Indian motorcycles. I thinbk I’ve reviewed every model! Go to the search field at the top right and type in a model name, or go to the motorbike tab and check under manufacturers.

  9. I have been attending HOG National rallies since 2006 and have not missed one, this year I lead the ride from Canberra on a 2 day ride, on this ride we had the Marshall from Moruya they bought along their 2 daughters aged 23 and 20, riding hertige and Super low repectively dad and mum on a CVO Ultra (rushmore), the young ladies first ride to a rally, we wanted leave the right impression on our futhure HOG members, with lots of breaks and things to see on the way, they enjoyed the whole HOG experience
    They loved the HOG experience.
    If we go to an open event we wont get like minded people that share the brand and life style that we enjoy, it is also about the journey it is up to us as HOG members to ensure that all rides from a Street 500 to CVO Ultra or Trike make it a true HOG experience, as only Harley can do.
    We aren’t Surgis nor Ulysses lets keep it that way, personal HOG.

  10. Totally against an open rally. Imagine the Thunder Run. There would be no reason to pay for International Membership either, as it would no longer be a HOG Rally. Imagine the logistics, there was very little available accommodation in Tamworth, with 2320 bikes. The shuttle bus service was unable to cover all caravan parks in the town. Keep our National Rally exclusive to HOG members, run something separate like Daytona Bike Week if you want to include everyone.

  11. Open rally, not for me. The whole idea of a HOG rally is for HOG members from all around the country (and the world) to meet, share stories and enjoy each others company. Most HOG owners invest a lot of money and time on their pride and joy. Owners of other manufactures bikes do the same but we must remember HOG stands for Harley Owners Group! and should that not remain? I went to Tamworth this year and had a blast, I’m all for change for the better but open rally I don’t think so.

  12. Count me out if it is an open rally. Hog IS HOG. If the new smaller bikes could not make the trip like an 883 would it will be there problem. The people that decide to buy these Street 500’s may not be interested in any case. Age is no barrier in HOG clubs. I hope you decide soon as I need to renew my International membership. which would be pointless if the national rally was open. It ain’t broke so don’t fiddle with it. If the MotorCo in Oz wants to run a separate run a mixed Sturgis style event great, I would most likely go. But Not an open HOG event.

  13. Well I have to say this whilst every rally is a good rally this tops the lot well done Tamworth . And the country spectacular was outstanding made me proud to be a country girl…. However I realise that this is not for everyone, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some proceeds to the drought or buy a bale of hay? Harley would go a long way with that. And I’ll have to say a big no to opening it up to public. Anyway this has been a big thing for me because I actually rode for the first time to a rally. Anyway that’s just my opinion. Has anyone thought of Wellington NSW?
    Cheers Doc

  14. I am against open rally I agree with mark and holding off for a month to make up their minds we still work and have to apply for our holidays the longer we have the better chances we have to get the rally dates off and then we have the whole year to plan our trip if they change it they will lose members. The rallies are great, don’t change a thing. If they want to cater for the younger riders, have a set urban rally for them, we love the distance rides.

  15. I disagree, what a way to kill HOG club chapters, why would we pay to be a international Memeber for no benefits. The local chapter would be decimated. I am dead set against open to other people ,from other areas of the bike community , this is not what HOG is about. Think before you do this as I believe you will lose those chapters that are dedicated to HOG

  16. Anybody remember when they were in their early twenties?
    Would your idea of a great weekend, been spending it with
    people old enough to be your grandparents listeniing
    to country and western music?
    Me Id’e just wait a few weeks and head to the nimbin mardi grass
    In fact i’m in my 60’s and i still will.

  17. I missed out on this year’s rally but I understand the need to gear future rallies towards a younger demographic .
    Once you have done the concessionaire tents and bought some booze its fairly quiet until the nightime entertainment , lets face it , HOG Bingo is past its use by date . Sure there are the scenic local rides etc , but , if you just want to relax and hang around the rally site it can get a bit quiet during the day ….

    1. Hog bingo? Try Nimbin, music, lots of different people to watch and some
      of the hippies wander around selling home cooked goodies, the cookies
      and popcorn are highly recommended .

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