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There is true Motorcycle Passion behind each Issue, fueled by Motorcycle Nuts

By Chris Callen

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Bandit, after reading your article, I realize two things: I have been fortunate to take part in this ride with you. Two, more specifically towards the content of the state of the magazine article, we are in a great place…. Kinda!

You see, in the hay days of the motorcycle culture, when things got crazy big and popular culture fell in love with us, there was money for the corporations to come in and dominate our culture, especially the space in print. But the problem for them was the very thing that fuels this lifestyle, and that is passion.

I have watched the ups and downs of the motorcycle industry over nearly three decades now and understand that to make a living in this is totally possible, but to strike it rich, well, that's a fool's paradise.

Yeah, there are times that the motorcycle business may do better, other times way worse, but the constant that keeps us opening the door, turning the wrench, and tackling another deadline is the love affair we have with the subject matter.

The King hiding behind the Queen of Cycle Source, Heather.
The King hiding behind the Queen of Cycle Source, Heather.

In that, I remind myself that the original purveyors of motorcycle media were just that, enthusiasts. They did this just like your article points out, for the love of it. Names like Easyriders, Supercycle, Colors, American Iron and IronWorks, just to name a few, were driven by staff, if not a principal that was a diehard motorcycle nut. As long as there was some raisin pie and gas for the tank after paying the printer bills, all was good with the world, and they started working on the next issue.

As money poured into the American Custom Motorcycle segment, it became appealing for big publishers to buy up or launch a motorsports division with a title for our culture. Many of them employed people with the same passion I'm speaking of, but none were at the top.

The owners were a board of directors immune from the code, the culture, and the deeper meanings we all share. For me, telling the stories of the men and women in the motorcycle life has been my lifelong privilege. I can't imagine doing anything else, nothing of a higher calling.

Now the corporate-owned publications, on the other hand, when things got challenging, well, they wouldn't suffer a financial loss, so paper quality went down, they forced the good people that worked for them to shoulder the extra workload of smaller staffs and in the end, many pulled the plug in favor of a more viable business model.

So, when you asked me for a report on the status of Cycle Source, I was conflicted. On the one hand, I want to dive into our platform's minutia and why I think incorporating live broadcasting every week with ShopTalk, a weekly video magazine, our event activations, and do-it-yourself approach towards tech and fabrication articles. Setting very strict standards for the newsstand and our performance on it, so there is less waste is critical. Or that we have included social media, the weekly show, our blog and video content as added value.

We’ve promoted opportunities to our advertisers rather than going to them with additional costs to buy into the part of what we do that works best. To that end, I want to tell you that some level of mastery has helped us navigate those waters, and while some of that is very true, it also requires I go to the other hand.

There, I have to say that it is only because we love this culture so much we sacrifice family time, personal time, and economic hardships more than you can ever explain to anyone outside of this business. Not in an attempt to get rich or to be canonized, but because this is what it takes.

I learned my way into this from people like you, Rogue, Dennis and Marilyn Stemp, Chris Maida, Howard Kelley, Balls and John Green. All of you did the work as rule number one. I can't think of one of those people who are sitting on a yacht today reading this, thinking about what a solid financial investment they made through the motorcycle life.

Some may even have been looked over by posterity. All of them, however, have governed themselves, to one degree or another, by a tenant that I have decided to do with my life, and that's being "In Service" to your community.

For me, that's the motorcycle community and the people who make it what it is. I get to wake up every day and tell their stories, show their talents, defend their causes, and share their burdens. For a tenth-grade dropout with very few skills I possess today, I am the luckiest man in the world, not because I will ever be rich or famous but simply because I got to be part of the history of this life.

We had to have the pin-up of the Month.
We had to have the pin-up of the Month.

I got to do the thing I have loved for the past 25 years. I have met all my heroes and introduced them to other people. I've ridden the greatest roads in the country and some overseas. I've shown people where they are and what great spots are on the way to them. Someday, I'm sure, like many of my mentors, I will run out of the energy to go after all of this as feverishly as I have for the past quarter of a century, but I bought the ticket, and I'm taking the ride!

So yeah, at Cycle Source, we've had to learn terms like ROI and CPM. We've had to learn digital broadcasting and more than I ever wanted to about the greasy underbelly of the American Newsstand, but none of that is why print media will succeed or fail. It simply comes down to passion.

And there is always the constant fight for Chopper freedom.
And there is always the constant fight for Chopper freedom.

Those with that spark that keeps them up at night dreaming of building, riding, traveling on, rebuilding, painting, and sharing motorcycles, that's who it has to be to keep this thing alive. Whether it's a magazine, parts distributor, event promoter, or local motorcycle mechanic, start looking into their story, find those that are true enthusiasts and doing this all for the love of it, and support them. In doing that, you will ensure that our culture continues and will have good stewards of its storied history.

Click for all the info...
Click for all the info...

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Reader Comments

"You can't buy love, and you can't invent passion" -- Wayfarer (Bikernet Blog Editor)

Pillar Peak
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Very well said Chris! Keep up the amazing work.

Jim Watson
Georgetown, FL
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Chris is a Great Editor of a Great Publication. We Need More Like Him

Palm Bay , FL
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Editor Response You're right.

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