This was just in from our friends at Atomic Moto and I couldn't believe my ears. Growing in the 70′s and 80′s racing motocross all over Southern California from Indian Dunes to Saddleback, Arroyo Park to the Golden State Series I had become reliant on every weekly issue to see who won what and if I was in it this week. As a kid your world is small and my world consisted of motocross, period.
Atomic Moto's post:
Our job is to sell gear, but The BOMBERS are also hardcore enthusiasts of the sport and industry. We love most everything relating to motorcycles, and are deeply immersed in moto history and culture. Every once in a while, something occurs that makes us take off our business hat and just be a rider. Unfortunately today is one of those days.
Yesterday, we received the stunning news that after 48 years in print, the motorcycle journalism institution, Cycle News, was closing down and ceasing publication. Even in this age of endless business failures, this was like a gut punch. Of course no business is immune from change, but the thought of Cycle News going away was unimaginable.
CN was published as a weekly, with a heavy focus on race results, including excellent regional coverage. Their 4x per month print schedule let them get coverage out there much more quickly than any other publication, revolutionary at the time but now completely taken for granted in the internet age. In addition to speed, they also had depth, covering parts of the sport that the hardcore followed like 500 Grand Prix racing, dirt track, MX GPs, Paris to Dakar, the ISDTs, MXdN, etc. Race reports had short anecdotes (call "Briefly") that gave much more depth about what was going. If you were a true racing addict, these were an opportunity for serious fans to know what tires worked, how qualifying went, who got injured, etc. I can remember getting itchy roundabout every Thursday, waiting to read GP reports about Lawson, Spencer, Roberts, in etc. I was not alone.
Regional racers were even more hooked. CN had an excellent network of regional contributors that covered local racing. Somehow, it seemed that no matter how podunk and obscure the event, it would eventually be summarized in print. Amateur motorcycle racers are accustomed to enormous effort for little reward, and thus seeing your name in print was the next best thing to a trophy.
It was more than racing. CN was always the first to report on new bike releases, trade shows, and new products. Their classified ads were the place to search for box vans, industry jobs, or ex-factory race bikes. Speaking of that, CN regularly tested rare race and exotic motorcycles, that the other mags never touched. Want to know what it was like to ride a Cagiva 500 GP bike? Rickey Graham's Honda RS750? The Britten? The Moto-X Fox RM125? All tested in Cycle News.
It was also a training ground for many of the motorcycle journalists currently active. This is perhaps its most obscure but significant contribution. Literally every major motorcycle publication has CN alumnus. Seriously, it is a long list. They were also well connected. Their most recent editor in chief was Paul Carruthers, son of former Grand Prix world champion and tuner, Kel Caruthers. Paul was fired last week after 25 years with the mag.
There are no words or metaphors that can properly explain how much of an institution it was. There is comparable magazine or media to be used for comparison (perhaps the best would be to compare it to all your moto-related websites, combined). It was a staple of riders, racers, and the industry, and it was nearly universally respected. People would actually visit their local shop solely to buy CN, and in my shop Thursday was always a good day. It is possible that CN will continue on the web only, but the sould, the print version, is gone. You can say that people that discovered in recent years were unmoved, but for us pre-internet fans, this is a sad, sad day.