Cycle World, formerly the 800-pound gorilla of the US motorcycle magazine market, will end its print run next month.
The announcement comes as Bonnier Corp., the Swedish publisher behind Cycle World, sells the title off to Octane, a powersport financing outfit. Octane is buying the digital assets of Cycle World, Motorcyclist, Dirt Rider, Motorcycle Cruiser, UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Cycle Volta. Sport Rider, which was supposedly going to have some sort of online presence when its print run ended, has already disappeared off Bonnier’s website.
According to a press release, Octane “looks forward to welcoming Mark Hoyer, VP, Editorial Director of the brands, and his exceptional editorial team.” In other words, it sounds as if Octane plans to continue publishing online, although there’s no real details on what that will look like. Cycle World still has a lot of web site visitors. Thanks to its decades of authoritative editorial work, there’s a vast archive of previously published work that would also be valuable if properly managed in an online format. The same goes for the other mags involved in the deal, particularly Motorcyclist, which was Cycle World’s chief rival before Bonnier bought them both.
Two observations, going forward: First, Bonnier disastrous foray into the US motorcycle magazine market seems to finally be over, and that’s probably a good thing. Everything Bonnier acquired ended up dwindling slowly away; Motorcyclist went from a monthly to six issues a year, then online-only. Cycle World went from a monthly to a quarterly, and now it’s cancelled. Bonnier’s other moto titles also suffered similar fates.
Second, this leaves the US moto magazine market with a huge hole, with no newsstands carrying a magazine that focuses on the entire motorcycle industry. There are several niche magazines, mostly publishing six issues a year (think RoadRUNNER, ADVMoto, Roadracing World) and there are artsy mags like Iron & Air and META, but there’s no do-it-all magazine anymore. Rider, the last US moto-mag publishing 12 issues a year with a broad focus, hasn’t put out a print mag in months (although this was allegedly an issue with production, so maybe we’ll see it come back, once COVID clears?). Motorcycle Consumer News is also done, and even American Iron has stopped printing. It’s almost impossible to believe, because motorcycle magazines are still publishing monthly in the UK, in Europe and even in Canada. Cycle World, Motorcyclist, and even Rider and American Iron would have had very strong circulation numbers in previous years. So what happened?
No doubt it’ll all be blamed on economics, COVID-19, and so on, but you have to wonder: If motorcycle magazines are still able to make a go of it everywhere else, why can’t they succeed in the US?