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Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust #777647 06/30/19 10:21 pm
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The latest/last issue of Motorcyclist arrived yesterday and now it is to be added to the list that includes Cycle Guide, Cycle News, Motorcycle Sport Quarterly, Sport Rider and others of U.S. magazines that ceased publication.

Mergers in the late 1980s resulted in Cycle and Cycle World ending up under one roof, and not much later the new owners killed off Cycle. The same merger process happened with Motorcyclist and Cycle World a few years ago, shortly later both went semi-monthly, then quarterly, and now Motorcyclist has been killed. A year or so ago they announced their new terms of subscription that said you would get one year's worth of magazines for your money, but there was no guarantee how many issues would be published in a year. That must have cost them more than a few subscribers who read the fine print. However, I admit to mixed emotions about this because, as an obsessive collector, the constantly-growing shelf space required to house complete sets of multiple magazines is a problem.

What this latest euthanasia means for and about motorcycling is hard to tell since the entire publishing industry has been hard-hit by the internet. It would be nice to know how motorcycle sales trended over the past decade. Don Brown used to publish the U.S. data monthly in Dealer News but he seemed to have unique access because after he passed away in 2010 the data stopped. It might be available to some industry trade group but is not widely circulated.

For someone with complete sets of magazines, for years prior to the mid-'00s it doesn't take any effort to see the ups and downs of the motorcycle business by simply looking at the thickness of each set of twelve. In good years the advertisers bought lots of pages and the issues grew, and in bad years they shrunk. Not just the thickness, but also the length and width. The internet changed all that.

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Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #777651 06/30/19 10:58 pm
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Before the Internet I used to ride or drive 20 miles into the city to get Classic Bike....It was a large magazine/news store and you had to walk past the isles of porn to get to the bike or car books.......or waiting for a new issue of a US magazine to see what Neilson, Girlder, Cameron etc had to say....Waiting for word to see if Triumph was going to survive...


79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,2001 Sportster....On a bike you can out run the demons..
Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #777676 07/01/19 11:44 am
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MOTORCYCLIST, and Floyd Clymer's CYCLE, were the two top magazines when I began riding in 1966.
CYCLE GUIDE was another great one, especially with Don Gately's entertaining "Over the Handlebars" columns.

After other publishers took over CYCLE, it's long, steady decline began. An increasing number of "cycle squirrel" articles began appearing in it, apparently intended to appeal to the more reckless riders - wheel standers, "stoppies," abuse of road test motorcycles and generally dangerous riding practices.

Predictably, readership declined, especially subscription readership. I quit subscribing, but one day I was surprised to receive a phone call from CYCLE'S circulation department offering to renew my subscription for only $5.00 per year.
My reply; "It's not even worth THAT to me, CYCLE isn't 'my' magazine any more."

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #777747 07/02/19 6:27 am
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Another shovel of dirt on the grave of the printed word?
Virtually all of my pro-audio magazines are free as long as I provide information that I buy a certain amount of gear. They can't get enough people to pay for subscriptions. I can't get the local paper delivered any more. My political news magazines cost a fortune, and they still beg for more to cover the real cost of publication.
How can we hope to continue as an informed society when everyone demands free information from biased sources?


Stepping on others doesn't make you stand tall.

71 A65L "Zelda"
92 BMW K100rs "Gustav"
72 T120V cafe project "Mr. Jim"
72 T150V "Wotan"
Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #777787 07/02/19 4:50 pm
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I haven't bought a magazine, (or a newspaper) in years and years. The only one comes to the house is the AAA periodical, I don't read it. One exception is Motorcycle Classics- I wanted to support them but realized I was only interested in 10 percent of the content. If that.

It sounds like you fear we can't be discriminating, informed citizens using only the internet and I disagree.

Television of any sort doesn't even exist for me. I use the set as a monitor for my DVD viewing, I , literally, haven't watched any sort of TV programming since well before the last presidential election.

The Guardian, (online of course), says I am surely not unique. The world is changing quicker and quicker.

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #777789 07/02/19 4:58 pm
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This reminds me to see if Netflix can still send me On Any Sunday, Version 2!

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778632 07/14/19 3:00 pm
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I'm an obsessive collector too, but nearly all British classic mags.... I faded away from US mags many years ago, when the road tests started to look like press releases from thee big manufacturors. As I got more and more interested in old bikes, they had less and less for me.
Now motorcycling is for old people- "City Bike" in SF just ceased paper and I do like their net presence. But how will it pay for them?

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778639 07/14/19 5:51 pm
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Originally Posted by old mule
I do like their net presence. But how will it pay for them?
Cycle News ceased paper publication nearly a decade ago but advertisers have kept it alive on the web, which shows that producing content on paper isn't essential anymore. At least in areas where sufficient advertising dollars exist to support a web site.

Originally Posted by old mule
I'm an obsessive collector too, but nearly all British classic mags...
Now motorcycling is for old people...
Some British magazines saw the aging demographic in the 1990s and made the transition to Japanese bikes. However, even without that factor, I have to wonder how many times a magazine can publish yet another article on the, say, Triumph Bonneville (or Norton Commando, or ... ) before subscribers have had enough? The current British classic magazines occasionally dip their toes into old Japanese bikes but, even if that doesn't drive away present subscribers, it's not obvious to me that the magazine-buying demographic interested in old Japanese bikes provides a sustainable alternative way forward like it did twenty years ago.

Another factor is that in the old days if you had a problem with your, say, carburetor your only choice was to write to a magazine or club publication and hope that months later an answer would be published (and that the answer was comprehensive and correct, which often it wasn't). Now you can ask your question on a site like Britbike, or an owner's club website, and within a day or two have bad answers, corrected by good answers, further added to by even more detailed answers.

Paper magazines have a permanence that web-based publications don't (but, only if you save them). That's a big factor, unless you don't care if you can find something that was "printed" on a now-dead site but, other than it, it's hard to think of very many actual advantages magazines have over the web for most people. And, old magazines are only useful if you can actually find an old article, and for that you need to have a searchable index of their contents. Yes, implausible as it sounds, I'm told there are still people in 2019 who don't use computers to find information on the web so for them magazines can be particularly useful. But surely there won't be many of those people left in another ten years.

I'm glad I'm not in the classic British bike magazine industry because navigating these societal and technological changes in order to remain profitable can't be easy.

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: old mule] #778641 07/14/19 6:50 pm
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Originally Posted by old mule

Now motorcycling is for old people....


You wouldn't say that if you'd seen the crowd at Mid-Ohio last weekend laughing .... rug rats and ankle-biters everywhere, thousands of them .... ohno

Lannis


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Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Lannis] #778642 07/14/19 7:26 pm
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"Motorcycling is for old people"

Yup, I work in a college, and when i was there decades ago, there was always the lads who had dirty fingernails and were either spannering, rebuilding, modifying, tuning or machining on old motorcycles. Apart from me on my old triumph, there were a few into Japanese two strokes, one lad had a rudge and another with a rigid goldie bitza, and i seem to recall one guy who liked Italian machines.

Now there is no one like that around, all the students now have cars, they have no interest in how things work, maintaining them or messing around with them as we did when we were young, most seem obsessed by their mobile phones and rubbish like facebook etc.

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778643 07/14/19 7:28 pm
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bon........I second that emotion


1972 Triumph T120
1968 BSA A65
1968 MGB Roadster
1979 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta
1969 Honda Mini Trail
1939 farmall f30 tractor
2004 Honda Shadow Aero
1972 BSA Thunderbolt
1975 yamaha xs650b
1972 Norton commando
2 olive drab WWII military bicycle replicas
Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778645 07/14/19 7:41 pm
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Now, the youths don't have DIRTY fingernails. They have BROKEN fingernails from punching the buttons on their
so called "hand-held devices."

What a sad, unadventurous, uncreative world this has become!

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778647 07/14/19 7:55 pm
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An interesting thread, here are my observations and experiences.

Originally Posted by Magnetoman
I have to wonder how many times a magazine can publish yet another article on the, say, Triumph Bonneville (or Norton Commando, or ... ) before subscribers have had enough?


For years I used to subscribe to or regularly purchase various magazines but a few years ago I stopped any regular purchases due mainly to the repetitive nature of them. I did have a soft spot for Classic Bike so persisted with that one for a bit longer but when they last changed Editors I called it a day as I don't like his style.

Originally Posted by Magnetoman
The current British classic magazines occasionally dip their toes into old Japanese bikes but, even if that doesn't drive away present subscribers


Here is where I probably don't fall into a particular demographic. I like bikes from every country and era i.e. not just Brit Bikes. For example I would absolutely love a first year Honda Fireblade just as much as I would love to have a McEvoy or a Flying Merkel. Therefore my ideal magazine would cover a whole range of bikes and years. So NOT covering loads of different bikes is what has, in part, driven me away.

Originally Posted by Magnetoman
it's not obvious to me that the magazine-buying demographic interested in old Japanese bikes provides a sustainable alternative way forward like it did twenty years ago.


In the UK there are a few magazines that cater for Classic Japanese such as Classic Motorcycle Mechanics and Practical Sportsbike. I dont know the numbers but I would imagine that there is no less demand for these that the more established Brit focused ones such as Classic Bike or The Classic Motorcycle.

Its pretty obvious that print media in general is on the wane due to the world we live in. I would say that we just need to adapt and move with the flow.

John

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778653 07/14/19 9:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Irish Swede
What a sad, unadventurous, uncreative world this has become!
Now, now. It's certainly different than it was, but different does not necessarily mean worse. I find it to be a very adventurous, creative world, but not in the same ways as 20 years ago, which weren't the same as 40 years ago, ...

Originally Posted by bon
Yup, I work in a college, ... they have no interest in how things work, maintaining them or messing around with them as we did when we were young, most seem obsessed by their mobile phones and rubbish like facebook etc.
Early in my career I used to ask prospective graduate students who wanted to work with me about their hobbies since I had found that students who repaired old cars or motorcycles, built ham radio sets from components, etc. typically had an aptitude for experimental research. However, by the late '80s I gave up asking that question because by then there were no user-repairable components on vehicles anymore so students couldn't work on them even if they had wanted to. For some reason I still remember the first student who told me one of his hobbies was C++ programming (I don't remember whether or not I hired him). I used to work on my own cars but I could not even see the spark plugs on the car I bought in 1989, let alone replace them without major disassembly work.

In the olden days (i.e. pre-1990 or so) there were tube testers in the drugstore where you could test suspect tubes from your television set and then replace them with stock held in the cabinet of the tester. No matter how much you might like to repair things yourself, if your flat screen gives out today just about your only option is to throw it away and replace it with a new one. In the 1960s Radio Shack stores were filled with components and build-it-yourself kits. By the time they went bankrupt a few years ago the only components they had were in the back of the store in something not much larger than a horizontal filing cabinet. How can we criticize today's youth for not being interested in repairing cars, motorcycles, or consumer electronics when there is little or nothing in them that is even repairable?

Originally Posted by George Kaplan
I stopped any regular purchases due mainly to the repetitive nature of them.
Sadly for me, I have an OCD need to have complete collections so I'm stuck with renewing my subscriptions every year.

Originally Posted by George Kaplan
Here is where I probably don't fall into a particular demographic. I like bikes from every country and era i.e. not just Brit Bikes.
A motorcycle analogy that I believe might apply to magazines today is that of the initial Trident/Rocket3. The styling of those was similar to that of the Japanese bikes that had been taking over the market. Unfortunately for the company, by the time those bikes were introduced most (but not all) people who were still buying British bikes were buying them because they did not look like Japanese bikes. The factory had to quickly scramble to make them look British again to hang on to the ever-decreasing market share they still had. My guess is the same is the case for a significant number of people who buy British-centric classic motorcycle magazines.

Originally Posted by George Kaplan
In the UK there are a few magazines that cater for Classic Japanese such as Classic Motorcycle Mechanics...
That's actually an example of a magazine that into the early '90s was about old British bikes, but by the late '90s had fully transitioned to Japanese bikes.

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778656 07/14/19 10:14 pm
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Ah yes, radio, i used to be into radio, still have a hf receiver in the shed, and listen in to the 20m amateur band. But i remember when i was small reading about the pow's in places like Colditz, who were not allowed radio's, making their own crystal sets from whatever they had laying around. I was intrigued, and found a ladybird book (which the uk lads will remember) on the subject. "Make your own radio" or something like that.

Built loads of them, learned plenty, including soldering etc. It was the bug of making something from scratch that was ingrained. Still at it making things like model steam engines, or parts for my old bikes.

I think the modern youth are losing out, everything is computer screen based, or bought from china.

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778665 07/14/19 10:56 pm
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I still go to Barnes & Noble to pickup Motorcycle Classics. I have supported Backus since the start. Sadly he has stepped away as editor and turned it over to Landon Hall. When Egan retired that was it for me at Cycle World. Way back Cycle was brought home to read Ed Hertfelder's crazy tales!! Always went to the stationary (a what store??) store for Cycle News to read about the race results from Flat-track & GP

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778668 07/14/19 11:13 pm
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I do get John Healy's Vintage Bike in the mail.... I listen to audio books downloaded from the local library onto my Smartphone...Mostly miltary history...I listen when exercizing or doing routine tasks.Or on the spot problems helped by a You Tube technical instructional video....Those who say Smartphones are the tool of idiots could be short sighted. .


79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,2001 Sportster....On a bike you can out run the demons..
Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: bodine031] #778675 07/15/19 12:21 am
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Originally Posted by bodine031
I still go to Barnes & Noble to pickup Motorcycle Classics.


I get mine in the mail. Cheaper and more convenient ....

I notice that with the last month's issue, they'd taken the cheesecake advertising photo off the back cover. That's progress ....

Lannis


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Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778682 07/15/19 2:10 am
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It's ironic that we're using the internet to lament the demise of magazines.

I don't buy magazines anymore, but it's for a different reason. I'm getting to a point in my life where I'm thinking about lightening my load instead of acquiring more stuff, and space is becoming a precious commodity. I have boxes of a few years of consecutive issues of Rolling Stone, National Lampoon, Iron Horse, and Old Bike Journal. I'll probably never take them out and look at them again, and I'm not interested in making an effort to sell them, so they'll probably be left for whoever survives me to figure out what to do with.


Mark Z

'65(lower)/'66(upper, wheels, front end, controls)/'67(seat, exhaust, fuel tank, headlamp)/'70(frame) A65 Bitsa.
Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #778715 07/15/19 2:20 pm
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I have thousands of old "Cycle", "Rider", "Roadrunner", "Classic Bike" on the shelves in the shop, going back to the 70s.

Why? No idea.

Lannis


Play stupid games ... Win stupid prizes!
Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: raf940] #778798 07/16/19 11:58 am
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Originally Posted by raf940
...I second that emotion



I agree with Smokey here grin

Sorry couldn't resist :bigt


beerchug
Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #779000 07/18/19 2:37 am
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A couple of weeks ago, I pulled down the "Cycle 9/61 - 12/67" file from the shelf, just for something to read. Turned out I'd never even looked at the issues prior to April '67, when I first started buying motorcycle magazines. All of them were fun to see again, if only because they did things so differently in the '60s. I certainly see them differently now than I did then. They were laughably unsophisticated by today's standards. Also, like our old Brit-bikes, they're reminders of a bygone era. There was a lot more lap-by-lap race coverage, including each GP road race, a lot of fiction, and humor, and "how-to's" and technical articles on everything from sprocket R&R to the physics of expansion chambers. It was a time when wheels meant everything to young guys (always men back then). They didn't just buy stuff, either, they modified stuff, raced stuff, ruined stuff and repaired stuff, and the editors knew their readers. Of course, the bikes were more fiddler-friendly then, too. The pages are busy with ads for small shops and small bikes - full page adverts for 90cc "sport bikes" were as common as ads for big Norton and Enfield road burners. It's too bad print is dying, because nothing on a tablet can recall the way it was like an old magazine.

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #779153 07/19/19 7:56 pm
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Back in 1987 my father got me a subscription to Air and Space magazine, put out by the National Air and Space museum. It comes out 6 times a year, and at that time a lot of the articles were about WW1, WW2, some Korea, and early aviation history. I saved every one till about ten years ago when the stories became more about space exploration, the old war stories turned to Viet Nam and the first Gulf war, and early aviation history was about the Mercury/Gemini/Apolo era. Still interesting and good reading but after they've been in the bathroom "reading rack" for a month or so they're gone. I even tossed all the old ones I'd saved after an afternoon perusing them when I was supposed to be cleaning the attic out. You can't go back again, but it's fun to look that way once in a while. That's why I saved all the Popular Mechanics mags from the 30s 40s and 50s. The ads alone are worth keeping them, and who knows, maybe I'll order one of those toilet paper oil filter conversions and inline fuel regulators that's guaranteed to get my car up to 60 MPG.


1960 BSA A10
2007 Suzuki Bandit
1957 A10
(Used to be a Triumph here)
71 Norton Commando
17 Triumph Bonneville

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #779240 07/20/19 7:52 pm
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Today I was handed three POPULAR SCIENCE magazines from 1940, from a guy cleaning out his attic.

The old ads are indeed fun to see, but there were several articles in those old magazine that are still pertinent, even after nearly 80 years. The articles and ideas on tool-making and lathe maintenance are ones I will copy and keep for my files.

Re: Motorcycle magazines -- another one bites the dust [Re: Magnetoman] #780465 08/03/19 8:54 pm
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A friend of mine from college sent me the January 1966 edition of Cycle World, which he found in his mom's garage. This was a real motorcycle mag, from back when we really cared about every detail, and Joe Parkhurst covers them in an informative manner. As my friend said, "pure gold, every page". Nothing like the latest iteration of Cycle World, which is now a sort of lifestyle mag thick on art photos and only somewhat about motorcycles. Cover shot of a Bonneville test bike, great tests (Bonneville, 250 Harley race bike), articles and ads. Also, tons of little Japanese bikes, 50s, 80s, 90s, 250s etc. Interesting how many of the bikes appearing in the mag I own. I guess I am truly stuck in the mid to late 60's for motorcycles, and this old magazine was a trip back to those days for sure, when I was 16 and hungry for info on bikes of any kind.

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