Rick’s Gentleman’s Express Blog

Motorcycle news and opinion

Are bike magazines dead?

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It seems like a dumb title for a blog post, especially since it was the purchase of a bike magazine — the November issue of the US mag Cycle World — that prompted me to write this.

I used to subscribe to a bunch of bike mags. I couldn’t afford the expensive British or European ones, but subscribed to Cycle Canada, Cycle World, Rider, Motorcyclist and Sport Rider — even long-defunct Cycle and Cycle Guide. For brief stretches I bought or subscribed to all of these simultaneously. No more. The old mags sit in boxes and I let all my subscriptions run out years ago. I have purchased a grand total of four bike magazines in the past year.

I am not less interested in motorcycles. On the contrary, I attend events, join clubs, read and write about bikes on the web — I even started this website. Nevertheless, buying bike magazines is no longer a big part of my enthusiasm for motorcycles.

Ironically, not long after reading the editorial in the aforementioned issue of Cycle World, an editorial in which the editor discussed the changes to the magazine’s format and content and its relationship to the mag’s website, I learned that the magazine’s longtime editor Dave Edwards had been sacked by the magazine’s French-owned “media company” publisher. Sound familiar?

The magazine itself had an interesting story about a project bike sourced mainly on eBay and a feature about electric roadracers, but then descended into the all too familiar series of road tests of new motorcycles. Boring…

Maybe social networking on the Internet and a joiner mentality have conspired to kill magazines and their 3 month leadtimes. I suspect that the real problem is the descent of motorcycle magazines into a sales brochure format with written copy that could have been cut and pasted from the company handouts at the press launch.

Bike mags are not alone. All print media companies are in trouble, with century-old newspapers shutting down and other papers being blamed for dragging down the earnings of diversified firms or even forcing them into bankruptcy as in the case of CanWest Global and the floundering National Post.

The death of bike magazines does not mean the death of motorcycling. In many ways, despite the plunge in new bike sales recently, motorcycling is stronger than ever.

Written by admin

October 15th, 2009 at 8:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized