Jun 6, 2018

Another Brick in the Crumbling Wall?

cycleworldCycle World Magazine, probably the most popular motorcycle rag in the USA went to a quarterly “coffee table format” as of the latest issue of the magazine. "To respond to the changes in consumer and advertiser media needs, Cycle World is moving to a captivating, quarterly, coffee-table sized journal focusing on the art of the motorcycle." A friend handed off the first issue from this format, with an expression of general disgust and disinterest in what the magazine might do next. He was clearly neither captivated or entertained by the magazine format. In an act of insane desperation and cluelessness, Peter Egan is back; no less. If the rag’s goal is to appeal to the over-70-crowd, they are nailing it.

CW’s readers are less than impressed on the magazine’s reader forum. One particularly not-too-bright “reader” wrote, “Look, there will always be motorcycles and there will always be motorcycle publications, whether Print or Digital. It's not THAT critical which, although I do like a paper magazine, personally.

“And despite whatever Twenty Sumpthings are doing or not doing... there will always be Thirty and Forty and Fifty Sumpthings who want to ride bikes and will pay Sumpthing for good moto journalism.. even that payment means just enduring a barrage of digital advertising.”

I have to suspect he is unclear on the meaning of the word “always.” Another far smarter reader said, “Younger people just stopped buying printed materials, the advertising dollars to support 130-page, content-rich magazines left, and our ‘Buggy Whips Monthly’ started evaporating.” Regardless of your take on where motorcycling and motorcycle journalism is going, this seems like a pretty big deal in the overall scheme of motorcycling’s future.


Andy Mckenzie said...

In most fields I follow, magazines are dead or dying. I read a lot about woodworking (a lot more than I actually do any), and the number of magazines has been dropping quickly. Almost everything that's still around either charges a premium for a magazine with no ads (Woodsmith) or very up front about which reviews are paid for (everyone else). I suspect other industries are going the same way.

On the other hand, YouTube and online forums are picking up the slack, with users doing reviews, writing articles, and so on.

So while I agree that the future of motorcycling (especially in the US) is in doubt, I'm not convinced the failure of magazines is much of an indicator.

(I'm also really encouraged by the number of manufacturers starting to put out smaller, lighter bikes. I hope it means they're starting to push motorcycles as transportation, rather than a life-style choice.)

T.W. Day said...

Agreed. Times are changin' and nobody knows what's going to happen next. The smaller, more ride-able bike thing is long overdue.

Andy Mckenzie said...

Absolutely. I'm currently trying to talk a coworker into starting with a lighter and smaller bike than he was looking at originally. I hope it'll work.