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US magazine Cycle World has radically changed, and we’re going to have to change with it

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American magazine Cycle World rebuilds itself as a glossy quarterly.

We’ve made no secret of our views on the motorcycle industry and publishing in particular here at Motofire. Some of us here have some experience within both areas whilst others have just been disillusioned at the state of internet news publishing in general.

What we can all agree upon though is that the American magazine Cycle World has been a firm fixture upon all of our coffee tables and an altogether excellent publication. And now it’s changing…

Launched via an article upon its website, the new Cycle World is going to move from a monthly magazine to being a ‘heavy-duty, high-quality quarterly’ which the publishers hope will be the kind of ‘library-­worthy print piece you’ll want to keep forever’.

“It’s 2018, and Cycle World is ­reacting to the state of publishing and the market as the media world has changed profoundly.”

The landscape within the motorcycle publishing industry has been changing on an almost weekly basis for the past six months; in an article on Asphalt & Rubber written after our own, Motofire news, Jensen Beeler described it as an ‘never-ending evolution (or lack thereof), but this change for Cycle World looks appears to be an attempt to show more than just a little bit of vision.

And it could well be the kind of leading example that many other publishers should perhaps take notice of (especially when coupled with the kind of exercise that has allowed Sean MacDonald to go off and explore videoblog production).

That is if the readers respond kindly of course.

Which – if the comments underneath the announcement are anything to go by – it would appear they do not.

Here are an example of just a few of the immediate reactions,

“Self-destruction is sad to watch…”,

“I’ve been reading CW since the mid-60s, when I was a kid.  As a result of the new format and quarterly frequency I’m canceling my subscription.”,

“Well you’ve just lost me as a subscriber.  I’ve probably been one for 20 plus years.  I’m not looking for a life magazine clone, just an honest enthusiast magazine.”

So is this an own goal by the publishers?

Well, we’ve already admitted that here at MFHQ we know very little about anything of any import, but we sincerely hope that the team at Cycle World don’t lose heart  – and that their publishers don’t lose faith in the new approach – because this more luxurious, more evergreen approach to a motorcycle magazine feels like just the right kind of move in this current climate.

And have you noticed anything in common amongst the denigrating comments above?

That’s right, at least two of them mention that they have been readers for well over 20 years…

It’s a shame that some customers become so resistant to change and nobody wants to lose a friend, but when the market is dwindling at almost exactly the same pace as the average age of riders is growing, as an industry we’re fast hitting a point where there’ll be no new blood left with any interest in vehicles on two wheels.

If we’re going to attract new blood, new riders and new ideas then we’re going to all have to adapt and explore new opportunities.

And that includes us as consumers.

We wish everyone at Cycle World the best of luck. We’ve already placed our subscription.

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Custom of the Week: Harley-Davidson ‘XG750R’ Street Rod Flat Tracker by Noise Cycles

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IF YOU LIKE WEAVING through city traffic during the week, and then blasting through the twisties on your days off, the Street Rod is probably the best Harley for you.

We found it to be surprisingly sharp and agile, with a warmed-up version of the regular Street engine delivering 69 frisky horses.

Scott Jones of Noise Cycles likes the Street Rod. And his new ‘XG750R’ tracker version has got us wondering what a factory Harley tracker would look like—if Milwaukee decided to counter the threat posed by Indian’s FTR1200.

Scott is one of the top bike builders in the USA, and despite coming from the chopper side of the tracks, he’s been bitten by the dirt bug. Last year he built himself a racebike based on the regular Street 750: “It started out as just the basic XG,” says Scott. “So this year, I built one using the Street Rod—which has a 27 degree neck instead of 31 degrees.”

That simple change alone made a huge difference. “This one feels so much better and easier to ride. Still 500 pounds, but more nimble.”

Those of you who were riding in the early 80s may feel a slight sense of déjà vu with this bike, and you’d be right. The left-side exhaust mimics the placement of the Harley-Davidson XR1000 pipes, and the paint by Matt Ross (with pin striping by Jen Hallett Art) is a nod to the slate grey used on many XR1000s too.

Scott’s not going to be dicing for the lead with pros like Jared Mees or Brad Baker in the American Flat Track Twins series. He’s in it just for the hell of it, and enjoying every moment.

But he’s also inadvertently given us a pointer on what a Harley Street Tracker might look like. And it wouldn’t be a difficult bike for the factory to replicate, Red Bull catch can aside. Any takers?

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Custom of the Week: KTM ‘950SMR’ by Max Hazan

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THERE’S A DEFINITE STYLE to a Hazan Motorworks bike: a hint of steampunk, lots of beautifully twisted and burnished metal, and impossibly elegant proportions.

It’s an expensive endeavor, and Max operates in the same rarified atmosphere as Ian Barry of Falcon and the Japanese moto-artist Chicara Nagata.

Luckily, there are collectors and museums that have the funds to commission bikes like this, so the rest of us can enjoy them vicariously. But what happens when Max builds a bike for himself, with his own money?

This KTM is the answer. It’s a far cry from his previous KTM build, the supercharged 520 that now resides in the Haas Motorcycle Gallery in Dallas. But it’s a killer track machine, and just the thing Max needs when he wants to blow off steam.

Surprisingly, ‘950SMR’ is the first bike that Max has built for himself. So it was done in the down time between the projects that pay his bills. (“I completely lost track of how much time went into it.”)

The base is a 2005-spec 950 SM. It’s a tall bike—which suits Max’s lofty physique—with around 98 horsepower in stock trim, 17-inch wheels, and a dry weight of just 191 kilos (421 pounds). Contemporary road testers raved about the performance and fun factor.

“It’s possibly the ugliest bike KTM made with that motor,” Max admits. “But the bones were there. The KTM was carbureted from the factory, which let me simplify the design by avoiding EFI parts.”

Stylistically, it’s no flight of fancy: just a well-sorted bike with terrifically simple bodywork and a sophisticated warm grey and white paint scheme. “I wanted the bike to look ‘factory’,” says Max.

“I wanted it to have fenders and bodywork, and not look like a KTM that was chopped. With almost everything being rearranged, it was a lot more work than it looks like. But I guess that was the idea.”

It might be hard to believe, but Max has pulled around 100 pounds—45 kilos—off the 950 SM. (“It was built like a tank.”)

So what’s it like to ride? “It has a huge amount of engine braking,” he says. “It’s geared for about 120mph in sixth, and was in need of a slipper clutch to smooth out downshifts in the lower gears. But I just found myself ‘backing it in’ wherever I was going, as soon as I installed it.”

Everything about this KTM screams ‘track machine,’ but it’s actually 100% street legal. “It’s wired for lights and turn signals, and has a full setup that can be taken on or off in a few minutes,” says Max. “But I just prefer looking at it like this.”

It’s certainly a looker. But unlike many customs from premier league builders, Max’s KTM offers visceral as well as visual pleasures. We can’t imagine Max releasing a kit version of these mods, but if you have one of KTM’s big supermotos in your garage, there’s a ton of inspiration to be gained right here.


This article was first published on Bike Exif; For more details, photos and generally more awesome everything, visit Bike Exif.

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