Cycle News Magazine Ceased Publication.

Cycle News Magazine closed its doors yesterday Tuesday evening after a run of almost 50 years. The weekly magazine specialized in information related to motorcycle championships, industry and riders. The news was confirmed by employees already looking for a new job. 

The end of the printed magazines (like the death of the printed book) has been prophesied for many years. Whatever you may think, it’s merely an ongoing process and what is in the air is the timing. Written language doesn’t disappear, it’s just the way of displaying it.

The medium to deliver information has changed because digital is cheaper (not free), faster and because of possible interaction with the readers. The digital platform fits very well in the realm of freedom of information and expression. Dead-tree publishers can’t deny that they can’t compete in terms of economy with the web world. Add to this portability of the information and the fact that not only generations are raised on computers, tablets and smart phones,  but also that older people have mastered the art of surfing the web, e-reading and smart phoning.

Recently, at the airport on my way to Sturgis, and inside the different planes I had to take, I was amazed by the number of people and bikers in possession of all the new digital tools. I love some magazines (very few), but the reality is that they are going to become collector items. Many of these magazines are jumping online thinking it’s the solution. Maybe for some, but certainly not for those trying to reproduce in a digital format the same layout and way to read and turn pages (sound of paper included!) The same information is not read and navigated the same way on paper and in pixels. Already some digital failures, although more discreet, are happening. But it’s another story…  Cycle News has already an online presence, and if they continue on the web I wish them much success on their new medium..

Zipper's

30 Responses to “Cycle News Magazine Ceased Publication.”


  1. 1 JZ Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Sad news actually. I’m not an analogue man by any means but there is still something special about having a physical copy of a magazine in one’s hands. Cycle News will be missed.

  2. 2 Justin Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    RIP Cycle News.

  3. 3 J. Grumberg Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Cyril is right. Proof is we are reading and commenting on his site!

  4. 4 Clermont Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    There is room only for one or two motorcycle magazines. Not because of the economy. Because they all say the same things and 3 months after the news happen.Quality of computer screens is such that even magazine photography can’t compete.

  5. 5 Josh Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Anyone in the industry remembers VQ Magazine. Only top custom bikes, beautiful photography, great texts. The only mag. I would buy today.

  6. 6 Garibaldi Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I carry a laptop. So, I carry all the world information for a constant weight..

  7. 7 Jeremy Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Believe you Cyril. Was there in your first days with the Blog. No more buying any magazines and newspapers since years.

  8. 8 El Bruto Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Didn’t know this magazine! Don’t care.

  9. 9 Hamilton Sep 2nd, 2010 at 6:47 am

    If motorcycle magazines had real content, would not belong to their advertisers, it would not happen. They would be able to compete with online news.

  10. 10 Steve 'brewdude' Garn Sep 2nd, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Cycle News was the best. Been reading it since 1971. It will be missed and I’ll be in withdraws for a while.

  11. 11 Betty Sep 2nd, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Definately sad times. The younger generation doesn’t seem to realize that electronic media is just as detrimental as printed material (just think about how electricity is made) … at least paper can be recycled and it supports your local tree farmer who will now have to sell his land as an addition to the concrete jungle we are building for ourselves.

    What happens when we have rolling blackouts again in California? No one can read the news and no one can charge their electric car. Maybe then they will learn to do something with their hands again.

  12. 12 Dude Sep 2nd, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Print is not dead and digital is not the ultimate answer either. There will and has to be a synergy between the two though as well as production of good content. Many magazines have been able to survive with sub par content due to lack of access to other options for the reader or being the only player on the block.

    The issue is accepting change and responding to it. Stagnation of the death of any industry. It happened to the Movie industry with VHS and DVD. It happened to the Music industry with digital downloads. They both fought the change and have suffered immensely.

    Print is a tad bit different in the sense that it is a bot more of a tangible medium and there are more options in the way of presenting it. Until you can take you iPad, iPhone, Kindle, etc. to the beach, lake, etc and not have it ruined if it falls into the water or sand or even shut down because of the heat print will have its place.

    The industry statistics actually show, for some print magazines, that subscription sales and ad placements are up. These stats coincide with the companies that have embraced digital and are creatively changing their subscription structure along with synergistically producing content that drives traffic from print to digital and digital to print. Sub par and static publications will not survive, and there are quite a few out there, no matter if they have the prettiest digital version out there.
    Cheers,

    Insider

  13. 13 Advertiser Sep 2nd, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Dude, You must belong to a print magazine or a publisher group. I am an advertiser and know well all V-twin mag publishers: V-twin. None is saying that their subscribers or readers are up. Quite the opposite. Any tangible numbers with your sources or it’s just a self interest blank statement.? Can you explain how a digital version is going to link to a print magazin?, to read old news and features?. Betty. If there is no electricity, you can’t write a magazine on a computer and then print it!

  14. 14 Debby Racer 45y Sep 2nd, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Wow what a disappointment to hear ..I love Cycle News….I’ve spent years and years since the 70’s reading that thing. I’ve been in it, wrote for it, and now it’s over how sad. The new way isn’t always the best way that’s for sure!!

  15. 15 Mediaguy Sep 2nd, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Cyril, you turned an article about Cycle News going out of business into a plug for your digital format. I for one don’t think print media is dead. Of course the internet serves up “instant” news but what the internet (including your blog) doesn’t do is in-depth articles. Magazines need to reinvent themselves for sure and cope with the digital age. A lot of what’s happening is because of the economy.

    I can find out as it happens race results. But the stories behind the results? Digital needs to step up to this before we can declare winners/losers. You have a great blog but it’s just that. Skims the surface. Think about it.

  16. 16 Dude Sep 2nd, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Hello Advertiser,

    Alas, I was not referring to Motorcycle rags, V-Twin and HD types, those publications are not and will not benefit from the change unless they start targeting a younger and fresher demo and stop worrying about stroking their egos and the one foot in the grave crowd. The VT and HD rags are some of the worst offenders of being stuck in their old ways, rehashing and repackaging content. Any new content they produce form current news or events is generally disseminated 3 months late. Very few people are willing to tell them the “King has no clothes on…”

    In regards to who is getting it, you only need to look at the action sports industry as one example for the most part. Take a look at WSJ as well just to name a few. The key is to embrace the new and old.

    Q: Can you explain how a digital version is going to link to a print magazine? To read old news and features?
    A: Once again synergy. It is not about archival content, that is analog and myopic thinking. As an example the magazine pushes readers to the web for extended coverage of and article. The web pushed readers to exclusive article that is only found in print and then archived later on the web. The iPad version may have the same article but with dynamic changing content and advertising based on the location of the reader as well as what the reader was previously reading. Their is even talk and test examples digital print magazines. (The later may not come to fruition but is shows that some publishers are at least trying.)

    From what I see the real problem is a laziness on the part of some publishers, editors and such to not put any extra effort in to the task of saving their industry. They think they know best because that is all they know. And this is the important part, this does take a bit of extra effort and knowledge. A publisher might have to spend some extra time to generate extended content but the dissemination processes once in place is a fixed cost and generally no takes extra time.

    So much more to say but I think you get the gist.

    Debby Racer 45y, I hate to say it but your statement “The new way isn’t always the best way that’s for sure!!” is the type of thinking that is sinking many in the industry. Take a look at the newspapers around the country. It does not matter if it is the best way or not you need to cater to the user and what they want, so that dictates the best way. And who is to say what the best way is? Paper cost are going up so in that sense digital is the best way. If your audience is not the technology crowd then print might be the best way. But remember if you are catering solely to an older demo then they will grow stagnate and eventually die off and then what are you left with?

    The face that you are reading this post as well as responding to it somewhat invalidates you statement as well.

    Cheers,

    Insider

  17. 17 Cyril Huze Sep 2nd, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Mediaguy. I completely disagree that the economy is the main reason. I think that the recession accelerated the process, but it was in the air since many years, I remember that at the end of the 90’s I had conversations with publishers who told me that nobody will ever read a motorcycle magazine or news online (you included?), that pictures will never be as good those in print, etc. I heard the same thing in 2006 when I launched the Blog. I am surprised that print magazines didn’t adjust sooner, didn’t see anything coming and were in denial. The main reasons why the print magazines are unable to support themselves is because they do almost the same format since 30 years, with almost no in depth articles (agree with you on this one), and the fact that many have lost credibility in turning to a free redactional support in exchange of advertising. I turn down many press releases because I find them uninteresting for me and my readers. And some to tell me: “they run everything I want in other magazines, why not you?”. Because my first objective is to interest the readers, advertising is the consequence of readership, not the opposite.. Regarding plugging my Blog, you could say all online medias, but as a matter of fact I find most new online comers worse than some print magazines. And to conclude I really believe in 1 or 2 possible print magazines if they offer real substance to readers, find their tone, style, personality, etc. Ouside of the industry I also believe in luxury magazines as keepers. But don’t expect the print magazine industry to come back to what it was. It will not happen. The media landscape has forever changed. By the way, many will probably also fail online.

  18. 18 Advertiser Sep 2nd, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Dude. You made an excellent and very intelligent answer and I thank you. Just read what Media Guy wrote and he illustrates those in the VT industry that you describe as probably unable to evolve, stuck in the past and in the idea that print is superior. I also agree with Cyril because heard many times from dealers and clients that they don’t read any magazines anymore. They search their parts and find online all info they need. Cyril’s blog is very interesting and useful.

  19. 19 Jim Gianatsis Sep 2nd, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Comments from Jim Gianatsis of FastDates.com, former Cycle News Editor for 12 years 1968-1980

    I was with Cycle News almost from the beginning. Sharon and Chuck Clayton started what would become Cycle News West from their from their home in Long Beach California in the mid 1960s and they quickly expanded it across the United States by buying up other regional motorcycle monthlies. I was 19 years old in 1968 working at a local Yamaha dealer in my hometown of Biloxi Mississippi, and had my first new motorcycle in years, a Yamaha CT175 that I was racing on the weekends in anything from scrambles, to motocross, to roadracing on a 1/2 mile banked asphalt stock car track on Saturday nights in nearby Mobile. I had one set of spoked wheels with Continental streetbike tires for roadracing, then late Saturday night after the races I bring my bike back to the shop and convert it back over to knobbles for motocross on Sunday morning. One of my hobbies had always been photography, and since I was also shooting at the races, I started shooting and covering the local races for Dixie Cycle News based out of Atlanta.

    Within a year I had turned AMA Pro motocrosser, moved to Florida to work at a couple of Yamaha shops there, and was racing in the Florida Winter-Am Series with guys like Gary Bailey and Barry Higgins, while also sending in race coverage and test of new dirt bikes to Dixie Cycle News. In the summer of 1969 the Clayton’s decided to consolidated two Eastern newspaper they had recently purchased, Motorcyclist’s Post out of Lorain Ohio edited by Todd Rafferty and Gary Van Ivories, together with Dixie Cycle News. Both papers merged under the new title of Cycle News East based in Tucker Georgia under the editorship of Jack Mangus, a dirt track enthusiast from Maryland and friend of Triumph dirt tracker Gary Nixon. Jack immediately phoned me in Florida and asked me to come on board as the paper’s resident motocross specialist. About the same time back in California at Cycle News West under the Claytons, a skinny arrogant kid named John Ulrich who desert raced Hodakas and such was hired on as editor there.

    Once I arrived at Cycle News East I quickly found my job was much more than covering the races. Along with production artist Carol O’Neal we were responsible for the entire production of the paper which at that time was done by paste-up, using hot wax to burnish down the word type and halftone photographs to the cardboard page boards. Carol also did all the newspaper’s typesetting from hand written or typewriter generated copy. I was also the photo lab guy responsible for the processing of all the newspaper’s raw film, proof sheeting it, then making the selected photo prints and then using them to make the paper half-tones for paste up on the pages.

    My editorial duties included writing 1-2 feature articles during the week, which could have been a bike test and racer interview. And on weeks I would fly across the country to cover all the major AMA National, Trans-Am’s and Supercross races East of the Mississippi. Cycle News West covered the Western region events. And around 1972 the Clayton’s bought up another regional publication in Austin, Texas where Jody Weasel was the editor and it became Cycle News Central. When either of us regional editors covered a National weekend event in our area we had to carry 2 camera’s and shoot 3 sets of film, one for each of the 3 Cycle News regions. Then Sunday night after the races we’d drive our rental car back to the nearest airport on Sunday night and put the film on planes to Los Angles, Austin and Atlanta to be picked up the next morning. We also had to write out race story on the airplane that night as we flew home, as it had to be done by 9am that Monday morning so it could be teletyped to the other two offices as well. This was all before the days of Email, Faxes and Federal Express.

    Mondays were always the most hectic at all 3 editions of Cycle News as we had to have the papers completed by that evening for delivery to each of our regional printers on Tuesday, where they would be printed and mailed out to subscribers on Wednesday for Friday delivery. So even after covering a Trans-Am races at Unadila in upstate New York just the day before, I ‘d be back into Atlanta on a plane my midnight, catch 5 hours sleep and show up at our Cycle News office by 8am to finish up the paper. We usually be there to 10pm at night to finish up the paper, a good 14 hour day, drinking beers and getting pretty crazy. Some of the editors lived off whiskey bottles stashed in their desk drawers. I’d have to come right back Tuesday morning to drive the finished newspaper paste boards up to Athens Georgia, 60 miles away where our printer was located, and stay the day as the paper was plated and printed, doing a press check and bring finished copies of the paper back to the office. I usually drove senior editor Mangus’ 1969 Pontiac GTO up to Athens an back on there narrow 2-lane moonshiner wooded back roads with the speedometer hovering around 100 mph and the Who’s classic Who’s Next album playing full volume on the 8-track.

    I worked 60 – 100 hours a week and loved it. It was a dream job, working, writing, photographing and hanging out with the best motorcycle racers in the world at the heyday of the sport in America. Sharon Clayton made us sign 40 hour week time cards so we couldn’t ever come back and sue her for unpaid wages if we ever got fired. Mangus and I wanted at one point, to evolve Cycle News into the feature style of the then hugely popular Rolling Stone music newspaper, and I’d like to think East took the lead among the 3 Region,s despite not being located in the motorcycle capital of Los Angeles, and evolved Cycle News at that time beyond just race coverage. At some point in time all the good editors did get fired. Mangus fired me in November in a little spat over my not wanting to cover both a Trans-Am race weekend and also help Van Voorhis also shoot a Dirt Track Saturday Night National.

    I moved to Ohio to work for John Pen ton who owned Husquvarna East at the time. I was there for a year, but was then let go when Husquvarna of Sweden decided to takeover ownership of the US distributorships and move them to Tennessee. Then I returned to covering most of the National Motocross and Trans AMA races and doing feature articles for Cycle News on both coasts as a freelance editor. I was close friends with all the riders including Tony DiStefano and Bob Hannah and traveled the circuit with them and their mechanics in their factory box vans or in my own Ford E250 Econoline Van. Once I made a non stop record run from Los Angeles to Daytona in 36 hours. The teams often stopped over at my parent’s house in Biloxi on the Gulf Coast, where I was based at the time, to rebuild their race bikes on the front lawn between trips to and from Daytona. I covered all the major motocross races, tested bikes and wrote feature storys for Cycle News up through 1980, at which point I went to work full time for Moto-X Fox in San Jose, CA, as their product designer and marketing manager .

    During the mid 1970s Cycle News with their 3 editions was probably the most important motorcycle publication in America with around 30 employees. Cycle News was sold on the parts counters of every motorcycle shop in America. In 1976 all 3 editons were merged together at Cycle News West with Jody Weasel and Jack Mangus moving there to take over the reigns. John Ulrich was let go and went to work for Cycle World, and later started his own newspaper Roadracing World which would rival Cycle News for that sport’s segment. Cycle News was still the news source for motorcycle racing in America up through the year 2000. It filled a need in the sport that lasted until the Speed TV Channel emerged to cover racing in the 1990s. Still the Japanese bike distributors poured 10s of thousands of dollar in advertising revenue into Cycle News each month to tout their race wins over each other, or their newest bikes, just as a matter of company pride

    Then the internet came into its own around year 2000 an the handwriting was on the wall. Now all the race organizations from AMA to World Superbike and MotoGP had their own press offices and websites to report their races. This was soon followed by the race teams themselves getting their own press officers to offer team coverage as well. Anyone with a motorcycle website good offer just as detailed race coverage as Cycle News.
    Then when the US economy started its downturn 3 years ago, the motorcycle distributors saw their sales drop as low as 80%, all their advertising budgets ran dry, particular for Cycle News which was now down to about 30,000 readers a week.

    Could Cycle News have survived the current economic crises if it had done something different? Hard to say. Loosing the adverting revenue of the major motorcycle manufacturers was a huge blow. But they still could have survived if they could have stopped focusing on racing only coverage where they could no longer compete with TV and the internet. Instead they needed to evolve 20 years ago as mainstream motorcycle weekly newspaper like England’s still hugely successful MCN Motorcycle News. They needed to cover other major non racing motorcycle events like Sturgis, the EIMCA Show in Milan, the Bike and Product manufacturers, have lots of adverting from smaller events, product manufacturers and dealers. Both Sharon Clayton and most recent editor Paul Carruthers were too set in their ways. They didn’t want to change until it was already too late.- Jim Gianatsis

  20. 20 Jeremy Sep 3rd, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Jim Gianatsis. Nice story confirming that internet and the refusal to adapt killed Cycle News. So Cyril presented a good analysis and i find ironic that the ones who disagree are print media people reading the news and commenting on Cyril’s blog!

  21. 21 Branson Sep 3rd, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Cyril. I read your blog and nothing else. Keep it fresh every day.

  22. 22 gustian Sep 3rd, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I work with PC’s every day, I read Cyril’s blog, I surch information on internet and I certainly am not
    against our digitaI information source.

    But……………….., I must admit that I’m looking forward,

    -every month, getting my “Freeway” (French mag. on Harley-Davidson and American big-twins)

    and

    -every two months to my “Café-Racer” (Also French mag. on the Café-Racer scene, old and new)

    The thrill of waiting and then quick-nosing into the mag is something that can’t be replaced by a computer.

    Suppose I’m getting old, (became 54 this month).

    Peace Gustian

  23. 23 Mediaguy Sep 3rd, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Cyril, I find that we actually agree on a lot of things. One thing for sure is that the internet has complete changed media. Print must change and adapt if they will survive. Look at movie theaters, they were scared to death of VHS and then CD/DVD and now “instant” download of movies. But they survived by reinventing themselves. Print is not dead but it will not ever be the same.

    The funny thing is that Cycle News got my company (at the time) into the internet because they had a web page display at the Cincy trade show. I brought my boss over to the CN booth and showed him and soon after we had a web page. And my boss gave me the assignment to create the webpage? I knew NOTHING about HTML but thanks to Front Page software we had a primitive site up and running.

    And I disagree with you about the economy. Look at the overall motorcycle industry, OEM sales off 50%. Good dealers went out of business as well as magazines. Tough times made it really hard to survive. If the economy didn’t take a dump would CN be out of business? I don’t think so but we’ll never know. Did they change enough? Probably not. But there is a story behind CN when Sharon fired Mike Klinger as publisher a few years ago and brought in a guy who had zero experience in running a publication. Did this guy lead the paper down the road to extinction? I’ve heard he did. It would be nice to know all the details but we’ll probably won’t.

    Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t ragging on your blog, I enjoy it and read it daily to keep up with current happenings. It’s just tough seeing good friends lose their jobs in a shitty economy. I hope you continue to have success and I’m sure you’ll adapt to changing trends in the future.

  24. 24 Mediaguy (Larry Langley) Sep 3rd, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Oh and Jim, John Ulrich raced DKW’s, took him on the 1973 Greenhorn Enduro where he rode the 125 DKW and I kid him about turning him onto roadracing because the Greenhorn had a lot of street where we were hauling ass. Great recap of your history with Cycle News, very interesting. I wrote a lot for CN back in the 70’s, mostly enduros but some desert and bike testing (including the 250 Hodaka Enduro Bike).

    I don’t defend print media because I’m a “print media” guy, I’ve been involved in the internet since the beginning. I just don’t think it’s dead. I like both. Besides, it’s hard to lug the computer into the bathroom for a reading break.

  25. 25 Jim Gianatsis Sep 3rd, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Larry, I knew it was a weird bike brand John was racing, i just couldn’t remember. CN had so many great contributors over the years. Thanks.

    I’ve had a run ins with the last CN publisher Robert Norville and editor Paul Carruthers. Not nice people.
    Advertsng Manager Terry Pratt is a great guy and has been with the paper since almost the beginning.

    I still love print and always will. I subscribe to, receive and buy on the newstand about 25 print magazines a month…everything from the women’s fashion magazine W for the great photography and ads and models, to Digital Photo Pro for the tech stuff, to Octane magazine out of England for cool classic sports and racing cars features, to Road and Track and Cycle World. Plus the occasional Car, Chevy Performance or Carol Shelby Mustangs.

    I want to have the print magazines there on my kitchen table to read and touch and enjoy whenever i have time. And save the best magazines in my library. The internet is way too time consuming, and you have nothing to show for it later. As it is i work on the internet/computer 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I like to get away from it.

    Perhaps at some point in the near future everything including magazines will be digitally broadcast like programs on TV / web. And then as you can do now for prime time TV shows, you can access their archive on the internet and replay them on your computer or TV whenever your want. The only thing we know about technology is that it doubles itself every 2 years. 69 years after riding on horses we were walking on the moon.

    Cheers, Jim

  26. 26 JimC Sep 5th, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Well,don’t really care about all of the analysis that is bandied about in the above posts. Give me my stack of paper mags anyday! My reason follows!
    The fact is that it is really hard to take a computer with you into the bathroom to read while on the throne. Just the simple truth.

  27. 27 Guy Sep 5th, 2010 at 7:55 am

    JimC. Do you spent your life on the throne? Do you realize you just commented on an online magazine? Hope you are not still on the throne with your laptop…

  28. 28 JimC Sep 5th, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Come on Guy,it was a tongue in cheek comment. I spend a great deal of time on the computer as I use the internet for my work. BUT,I do peruse the mags while doing what every human needs to do. That is better than staring at the wall. I believe in not wasting my time on this earth and like to do more than one thing at a time if possible. I usually have an article that I read while in the bathroom.
    It is one of life’s many pleasures. 🙂

  29. 29 maroco Sep 6th, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    One of spects that i like in the magazines it´s the history of each bike or event whit all details possible,
    that only the persons who realy leave the scene knows, after they cher whit us.

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