If I’m honest – and I do try to be – I really can’t be arsed with sifting through the constant stream of vaguely bike related drivel that seriously savvy social media tarts, tweet every 139secs.
And it’s been a very long time (i.e. before quite a few of you were born) since I felt inclined to read MCN on the off chance that it might just report something that’s actually newsworthy. I probably stopped reading mainstream bike mags around the same time because by then I’d figured out that the constant ‘shoot outs’ between machines that were so similar they spawned the acronym UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycles) and the journalists’ orgasmic excitement whenever one of the big boys launched an ‘all new’ inline four at some exotic location, were simply an extension of the copywriting in the glossy adverts that paid their wages.
There is of course a downside to this kind of isolationist attitude if you’re a motorcycle magazine editor and as anyone who knows me will confirm, I’m not particularly well informed when it comes to world of motorcycling; but that’s actually nowhere near as disadvantageous as it sounds.
For a start, I don’t even own a car; so, discounting the bicycle I use for the daily school runs, my scooter is my only form of transport. Which means that I am out and about on it all the time and if there are any obvious changes, like an increase in commuters on little ‘peds, or the on-going proliferation of big adventure traillies, I don’t need to read about it, I can see it for myself.
The upside of my appalling ignorance is that I frequently find myself looking at stuff that turns up in my in-tray with the excited, “Wow, would you look at that!?” eyes of a stoned teenager. Of course the flipside is that all too often I find myself reading blurb for… Oh I don’t know… The Sons of Anarchy let’s say, with the jaundiced eye of a man entering his sixtieth winter!
I like to think I’m a good editor though and I believe the main reason I am is because I enjoy a good read so much myself. Consequently when I come across something that entertains, engrosses, or informs me, or – as seems to be the case with so many of the features we publish – all three, I figure that you might appreciate it too. Obviously we don’t all share the same taste or the UJM would be truly Universal, but I am always looking to please the discerning reader rather than the advertising department.
I also benefit from having an incredibly diverse – and constantly expanding – pool of contributors. Unlike the majors, who seem to hire their journalists for their ability to produce copy that suits the ‘house style’, we don’t have one so the Digest is ‘staffed’ by writers and photographers with a distinct style all of their own.
It was interesting then when I started putting this issue together, to discover that three of my regulars had observed and passed comment on the same phenomenon; and as you’ll see they have each come at it from their own entirely subjective angle. What makes their individual takes particularly intriguing is their backgrounds in biking and their relative ages.
For a start there’s about twenty years between each of them. However, while Smiffy (the Boy Biker) and Woffy have both been riding ever since they were sixteen, as Stuart admitted last month (see Time Travel), he didn’t start until he was 37 – which means the BB’s probably been riding longer than he has, while my old courier buddy was on the road years before either of the other two were born!
And what is it that all three of them have identified? The rapidly swelling demographic who are eschewing corporate, committee designed, incredibly complicated machines, and searching out what Woffy describes as, “basic bikes with personal style that you can maintain in your shed or garden with ordinary tools and without the need for a diagnostic laptop.” And they must be right because even I’ve noticed it!
Sashaying swiftly along: video, as the Buggles famously sang, killed the radio star. When you consider they made that bold declaration at the tail end of the seventies it seemed just a teeny bit previous at the time; but looking backwards from here their lyrics seem remarkably prescient (and given some of the revelations that have subsequently come out about that golden age of radio, it seems that a few of the stars – both artists and presenters – deserved shooting anyway!).
It’s largely academic whether it was video or TV shows like the X-Lax Factor that delivered the final killer blow, but if you tune in to any commercial station today you’ll get an idea of just how rotten the corpse is.
Whatever or whoever it was that was guilty of Radio-staricide, there can little doubt in the second decade of the 21st Century, that YouTube has kicked-off many a video star’s career – SBTV’s Jamal Edwards being a prime example. (What do you mean you’ve never heard of SBTV? I hope you’re not under the illusion that you know anything about the lives of your teenage sons and daughters? Do you even have any idea who they’re having sex with or what drugs they’re taking?)
So why am I talking about music in a bike magazine? I’m not; putting the Buggles aside, Don McLean sang about “the day the music died” way back in 1971 – and he was referring to an event that happened a dozen years before that… Nope, I’m talking about video.
Actually there will be music involved, but first and foremost it’s about video and motorbikes. Oh, and nepotism too (anyone who has a problem with me showing a bit of favouritism towards my progeny needs to explain why everyone at Motorcycle Live made such a fuss when the Queens eldest grandson turned up on the second weekend?).
OK this is the deal; my boy Joe’s doing a media A level and he showed me the rough cut of his latest video and I was mucho impressed. Now I know a load of you will be shouting, “D’oh! That’s because he’s your kid – my kid’s cleverer, faster, taller and stronger than yours will ever be!” and that may or may not be true but the fact remains that the filming and editing in this short documentary are none too shabby for a 17 year old.
Anyway, I remarked that there are so many people riding around these days with cameras inside their fairings, fixed to the top of their lids, or perched on their shoulders like a cross between a parrot and a Cyclops, that there must be literally thousands of miles of footage floating around out there just begging to be pulled together and edited into a short dynamic video.
His response was to say that’s exactly the kind of extra-curricular project he’ll need to produce if he’s going to get into his university of choice (whatever happened to getting your local council to give you a grant and putting some distance between you and your parents before partying for three years?). So how about it? How would you like to contribute some of your on-board video to see if my boy can use it to create a collage that captures the essence of what it is to ride a bike?
Just imagine how proud you’ll be when the credits roll at the end (personally I’d go for something like the opening titles of Star Wars) and your name’s up there in lights for you to point out to your girlfriend, your mum, your children, or your imaginary friend?
Obviously none of you will credited as ‘Best Boy’ because I’ve been promised that title if I can pull it off, but if you or anyone you know has video shot from or of a bike that you’d like to see turned into something special, drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org
Catch me every Sunday between 10pm and midnight (GMT) on www.BIKERfm