What is the future for the HOG Rally?

Cowboy fun at HOG Rally

The Australian HOG Rally is set for a new era with an, as yet, unknown future format.

Cowboy fun at HOG Rally
Cowboy fun

The 24th annual National HOG Rally in Tamworth could be the last one of its kind as Harley-Davidson enters a new era.

Faced with a changing demographic from the introduction of the new Street 500, the coming LiveWire electric and a new corporate mantra of “inclusion rather than exclusion”, future HOG rallies could become “open” events.

Custom bikes at HOG Rally
Custom bikes on show

That’s just one of several options open to Harley as it transforms HOG to accommodate the influx of younger riders, more females and as host of returned riders.

Harley-Davidson Australia marketing guru Adam Wright says there are a lot of options on the table and they will begin the task of determining a future direction for rallies after the Tamworth rally.

The rally has already broken attendance records because of its unique cowboy flavour, central location and excellent facilities.


Adam says one option is to turn Tamworth into the southern hemisphere version of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which is an open rally and the world’s largest.

He says an annual event in Tamworth would return millions to the local community and would attract a lot of sponsorship to make it a premier event.

The state rallies will remain, he says, but he is unsure whether closed, members-only national rallies will survive.

The mantra of “inclusion rather than exclusion” was first mentioned to us by new Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand customer experience manager Gaz Luxmoore who looks after 50 HOG Chapters in the two countries.

Martin Engelbrecht at the HOG Rally
Martin Engelbrecht at the HOG Rally

It has now been repeated to us by Adam and Asia Pacific regional customer experience manager Martin Engelbrecht.

Martin says closed events have their place, but they are “preaching to the converted”.

He says open events allow non-m,embers who own Harleys or aspire to own a Hartley to be involved. He says that as more people buy the new Street 500, there will be a change in the character of HOG.

“It will open up HOG for more families. It’s a bike your children can ride and it will change the character of HOG. That’s a big plus point for us.”

At the official opening last night H-D Australia/NZ boss Harley boss Nigel Keough challenged HOG chapters to welcome these new members.

“This is the last rally where we won’t see these young Street 500 riders,” he says. “I implore you guys to monitor them and bring them into the fold.”

Barn dancing at HOG Rally
Barn dancing

Meanwhile, the Tamworth rally, dubbed the Iron Horse Muster is proving a hit with its cowboy flavour including sheep dog demonstrations, a rodeo and barn dancing. And the Hoggies are really getting into the spirit with cowboy hats, big belt buckles and cowboy boots.

Slow riding in the equine centre at HOG rally
Slow riding in the equine centre

The biggest hit is the massive Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre which to provided an excellent and cool arena for the bike games.

Although riders were skeptical of the rolled dirt floor, winner of the slow-riding race, Paul Neilson of the Broadmeadow Chapter in Newcastle, says it actually makes highly skilled slow riding a little easier.

Slow riding Paul Neilson at HOG Rally
Slow riding Paul Neilson


  1. i heard many comments regarding the whispers and I thought of “Bike week”.
    I agree a permanent area as Tamworth proved it can cope with all aspects and was s huge success and many many positive comments but, the biggest complaint seemed to be around the cost as it is far too dear, so will the price reduce, will more vendors be allowed, will there be a members only set area for those that buy membership to their HOG chapters, and International Hog membership, or will this be eroded as well just to allow for increased Bike Sales!!! And profiteering with less input.

  2. As Linda pointed out, it’s the atmosphere of the whole event that makes it memorable. I think that Sturgis actually started off as an Indian event with involvement by Harley a little bit later.

    Have a look at it now! A world event.

    Keep the state rallies closed, but open up the National event so it can evolve into an event for all bike manufacturers, associated accessories plus good accommodation and entertainment. Do that and you have a huge boost to motorcycling in Australia.

    For example, keep Tamworth for the east coast and then set up a second open rally for the west. The States have Daytona and Sturgis, plus others I can’t recall. Two open rallies give choice for time and location.

    Yes, the larger the event the more issues you can have, but properly organized the risk is minimised and the atmosphere increases.

    There is a huge opportunity for the motorcycle industry to band together to make this happen.

    1. Erik,
      They are damn fine suggestions. I’d loved to see something like Sturgis or Daytona in Australia. it would have international pulling power.
      Imagine what sort of sponsorship it could attract and how good the entertainment could be. Not that there was anything wrong with Dundo’s Screamin’ Eagles as entertainment in Tamworth or the rodeo, or Country Spectacular. But it doesn’t really compare to the international-standard gigs at Sturgis.
      No doubt Harley is reading these comments and taking this on board.

  3. Riff Raff! That is the obnoxious superior elitist attitude of some Harley owners that puts me off joining a chapter.It doesn’t matter what you ride,it’s all for the love of bikes.I think it would be great to have a fixed open event that could include everyone and promote Harley Davidson to a broader section of people,such a event would be able to draw a lot more sponsors and create a even bigger and better event.It would most likely have a flow on effect for the state events aswell.People need to remember Harley is a business,while looking after current customers they are also need to expand their customer base.

  4. Fantastic idea! Nothing wrong with having it at the same venue each year, you just ride there a different route. Hopefully we will see a large range of vendor stalls selling after market items other than just HD. The rallys have been in a bit of a stalemate for years and it’s time for change if they are to grow. I love going to Sturgis just to suck in that amazing electric atmosphere with people and bikes from all over the world. As far as bikes getting stolen by possible riff raff that may attend, I had two stolen at HOG rallies and never got them back!!!
    This should hopefully encourage the growth in State rallies as each State will want to be hosting the greatest and most memorable HOG rally. Loved the Tamworth Rally but it is time for change.

  5. I agree with Erik. I’ve been to many HOG events, here and the US, and I think a permanent venue, with excellent facilities such as Tamworth has, will grow the event even more. At the same time I would like to see H-D tip in more support for State rallies, which are grass root HOG events.
    Be interested in what Gaz Luxmore has to say on this…

  6. I think its a complete insult to harley riders and HOG members. Harleys only interested in the money now. And are goin to use us ” already harley owners” as advertising. I think theyl loose alot of members (real members)
    And HOG chapters will band together and organise bigger state rallies or even national rallies them selves without HD.
    Opening the National HOG rally open to anybody will attract all sorts of riff raff that is unwanted. Theft. Damage and violence just to name a few.
    And hold a rallie in the same venue each year is crazy and unfair on the western parts of Aus.
    A rally of this nature and size need to move around the country. Boring riding to the same venue each year. Not that I would go again if it open. I hope HD come to their sences

    1. I understand your concerns, but the 100th and 110th rallies had large components that were “open” and the events went off without a hitch. In fact, they were massive and a great opportunity for Hoggies to highlight their clubs to others.

  7. I travel to HOG events but I wont travel to the same place every year. There is no adventure in that just commercialism.

  8. It’s about time HD realised that the rallies were really a closed event, and costly at that. First, at least, you had be an international member and then pay out more money for your local chapter if you were doing local stuff. It was a real ‘look at me’ situation at the ones I have attended after buying a new bike.

    The idea of an open national rally in the style of Sturgis sounds fantastic. Open rallies tend to bring in more characters to make it interesting plus the variety of bikes, stalls and attractions.

    Looking forward to seeing what happens.

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