Sturgis Motorcycle Museum - Preserving our Motorcycle Hertiage

WELCOME TO THE STURGIS MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM'S HALL OF FAME

 

SUGAR BEAR


Hall of Fame Inductee - 2015


Sugar Bear was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1939.  His family moved to Los Angeles in late 1953.  He attended UCLA on an athletic scholarship and became a probation officer at a teen-aged juvenile forestry facility.   While you might think Sugar Bear is somehow a biker moniker, he actually got that nickname from those juvenile delinquents.  They thought he resembled a bear on a cereal box, especially in the way he handled himself.    

 

It was 1969 and Sugar Bear was driving in LA, when a guy on a chopper passed him.  The woman leaning on the sissy bar on the back of that bike smiled and flashed him the “peace” sign.  It was a pivotal moment for Sugar Bear who promptly went out, bought the newly-introduced Honda 750, and started to chop it.  He had never ridden a motorcycle. 

 


While today he’s recognized as a pioneer, his success didn’t come without difficulty.  Sugar Bear is no stranger to prejudice and racial marginalization.  When he first started building bikes, no black man had ever been pictured on the cover of a motorcycle magazine.  He first appeared on a magazine cover in 1972, but at that time most of the mainstream motorcycle media wouldn’t even show his photo.  He told magazines that if they wouldn’t show his picture, they couldn’t show his bikes.  It wasn’t until the late 1990s that Sugar Bear appeared with one of his bikes in Easy Riders Magazine.

 

Each year in Sturgis, the “Sugar Bear Ride” is held not only to honor the man and his legacy but also to celebrate the experience and fun of riding choppers.  The ride has served to bring together builders and riders for a fun event during the Rally. 

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