”Dream it… Define it… Plan it… Do it.” Dave Iversen – Founder Of The Original Broken Spoke Saloon
In the 1980’s Gram’s Lumberyard and Hardware store, on the corner of Lazelle and Middle street, was going out of business and came up for sale. Dave Iversen, a long time rally vendor and South Dakota resident, decided to stop wasting his money on renting space for the rally and went ahead and grabbed up the little plot of land. It was a little daunting at first, moving from a 20×20 both to a huge space, Dave decided to try renting space in his new building to other vendors. That was more problematic than he’d like so he continued to just use the space during off rally times to fabricate his personal cars and bikes. The bills were always a concern though and dave knew he needed to find a way to make this property pay for itself.
Sometime in the mid-eighties Dave Iveresn came up with the plan, he would make a destination for bikers from all over the country. It would be an “Off Main Street” rally bar with a larger footprint than any other establishment of the time. Bikers would be able to pull right into the inside courtyard where lumber used to be stored. Riders from all over the world could park and party with their personal ride in plain view. The theme of the bar/museum would be vintage motorcycles. Dave had always been an avid collector and it would give him the opportunity to put it all on display… and enough space he could keep on collecting. With vintage bikes, gas pumps, motorcycle memorabilia and vintage theater seats, it would be different than any other bar in Sturgis at that time.
In 1988, there on that same spot the old lumberyard sat, Dave Iversen opened the soon to be World Famous Broken Spoke Saloon. Other than the Buffalo Chip, it was the first of the big, open air entertainment spots that fill Sturgis today. It quickly grew in size and popularity. Dave’s degree in art nailed the design of the first Broken Spoke T-shirts and they sold out. It grew so fast, that what Dave had once seen as a vast, empty building, was now overcrowded, so he purchased two adjacent properties and expanded. Improvements after each yearly rally took all of his energy. It outgrew Dave’s ability to manage on his own and left him little time to do what he loved… and dealing with people wasn’t even close. With a desire to get back to his art of crafting and designing vintage bikes and hotrods, Dave decided to sell the Broken Spoke Saloon to a Couple from Bisebee Arizona, Jay and Claudia Allen.
The deal went through and in 1994 Jay Allen began to change to face of the motorcycle rally world as it was known. From that original spot not only did Jay quickly build a reputation for throwing a hell of a party with a cast of celebrities and the like, he also became the first owner to successfully make a brand like the Broken Spoke mobile. Jay would take the Broken Spoke to Laconia, Myrtle Beach and Daytona, carrying with him the idea that he and the Broken Spoke staff were in charge of creating a lifetime of memories for the rally patrons that visited it. The crowds agreed to his methodology and attendance numbers grew to the point that everyone wanted to be like the Spoke. They had several Biker Build Offs on properties, historic shows and happenings and most importantly the Iversen design concept from the original location as part Saloon and part Motorcycle Museum was duplicated at the rest. Jay ran the business of the Spoke, while gathering members of the family for nearly twenty years. After irreconcilable differences between he and partners added during the construction of the Broken Spoke Campground at Sturgis County Line, Jay decided to leave for greener pastures and sell his interest in the company. The entire Business was then sold some time later to Melissa Penland and several of the locations still carry the famous Red Knucklehead and Broken Spoke Saloon sign.
Although the Easyrider Saloon was shadowing the Original Spoke on that now famous corner, It was still the same building all those years later. Unfortunately during the winter of 2013 a freak snow storm blew into South Dakota and completely collapsed the building and with it erased the original Broken Spoke Saloon.
Of course the news is out that the Easyrider Saloon has now been rebranded as the Iron Horse Saloon Sturgis but what is happening right now is a true testament to their desire to make this more than a simple sign change. In addition to constructing a cowboy town just like the Iron Horse in Daytona has with vendors in store fronts along a wooden walkway, they are also building a memorial structure to the original Broken Spoke on the very spot it all started some 30 years ago. On that spot they have created a proper open air facility that has all the Broken Spoke signage and it will have its own staff and contests through out the week of the Sturgis Rally.
It will continue to be a beacon for the gypsy travelers that make the motorcycle way of life their own and a spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the modern motorcycle rally. For motorcycle historians however, there will be a monument at the spot that launched three decades of the worlds most famous Biker Bar and tells the story of a few men and women with a dream that became and international brand.