When was the last time you read something that made you want to get on a bike? Go ahead, I’ll wait. I won’t blame you if you can’t come up with any stories that made you want to get on your motorcycle, or start riding one. That’s the problem.
Motorcycle journalism is broken. It’s too closed off, too dominated by ex-racers turned writers, too cozy with manufacturers, too unoriginal, too centered around high-end extreme performance bikes and “SUPERBIKE SHOOTOUT!” comparison tests that have little or no relevance to your average rider — or someone new who wants to get into riding.
Worse, motorcycle journalism seems entirely centered around the deeply flawed American idea that motorcycles are just toys, that they begin with Harleys and end with 1200cc crotch rockets for our country’s future organ donors. (That’s the perception, anyway.)
That’s the wrong way to look at motorcycles. Bikes have so many advantages that cars don’t. They’re cheap, they’re easy to maintain, and they’re anathema to today’s tech-laden appliances that further dilute that intimate connection between human and machine. Sick of fake engine noises and bad electric steering on cars? Get on a motorcycle.
And as is the case outside the U.S., they make for a better and more economical form of urban transport than cars. Why aren’t people writing about motorcycles that way?
But motorcycle journalism as it is doesn’t do anything to combat the idea that a bike can be a viable means of getting from place to place as well as a source of fun and adventure. And it’s part of why the motorcycle industry is losing an entire generation of young people.
So we’re going to try and change all that. A few months ago, former Jalopnik editor and bike evangelist Wes Siler outlined all the ways to make a successful motorcycle blog. Nobody took him up on it, so we’ll do it ourselves.
Welcome to Lanesplitter 2.0, aimed at being the bike blog the world needs. It’s good to have you with us.
We owe the motorcycle crowd a favor, anyway. We’ve been too hard on them through the years with our “Two Wheels Bad” attitude, and even after we launched Lanesplitter, the blog was mostly a repository for occasional news posts and interesting videos we came across. Surprisingly, the blog itself became extremely popular by motorcycle website standards, which was a sign to us that there’s something there.
From now on, we’ll be doing a lot more in the way of motorcycle content, the kind that goes against the poisonous conventional wisdom that dominates the bike journalism world. Our goal is to bring you unique stories and make motorcycling in general more accessible to everyone.
This effort will be headed up by our team of writers who ride: Damon Lavrinc, Andrew Collins and David Tracy. It will also feature columns, stories and editorial guidance from none other than Mr. Siler himself, one of the best and most iconoclastic voices in the bike world. (And I mean iconoclastic in a good way here, because this status quo needs to be challenged.)
Here’s the plan.
More news. What’s going on in the bike world? What’s in and what’s out? We’ll be bringing you all the motorcycling news on the product side as well as in motorsports. We are a blog, after all.
We won’t cover every limited edition iteration of yet another liter bike or regurgitate press releases (or print them in their entirety, for fuck’s sake). When we write about something, it’s because it’s important, not just because we need to fill the page.
More bike reviews and test drives. With Collins headed to the West Coast soon, we’ll have several staffers poised to take advantage of the best (and only) press bike fleet in the country. You’ll be seeing much more in the way of new bike reviews soon, done from the kind of enthusiast-everyman perspective Jalopnik does best.
We won’t be the first to get bikes and we don’t care. We’re after the bikes that matter: new, old, iconic, interesting, and innovative.
Bigger, better stories. I’ll steal some paragraphs from Wes’ missive and put them here:
Where the opportunity here lies is to tell first person stories around interesting, unique bikes. Why hasn’t anyone flown down to New Orleans yet to take JT’s bonkers Bienville Legacy for a spin? Do that, take some awesome photos. Get drunk with JT after and come back with an awesome story. I did that with one of his previous bikes back when I was getting started in this world and it remains one of the best stories I’ve ever told, even if I did get sued over it.
Do the same with a friend’s oddball classic bike and tell us what it’s like from the perspective of 2015. Find custom builders near you and do the same with their work. Try and get some seat time on a famous race bike. The opportunity here is to tell great stories about interesting bikes, not to try and compete with CycleWorld for launch access.
All that and more.
More explainers. What do you do if you want to start riding? What bike should you buy? How do you go about your first track day? How do you fix your bike if it’s broken? We aim to be a resource for new and budding riders as well as for experienced veterans.
More gear reviews. All the gear, all the time. You’ll read about the best and worst stuff to get here.
More technical stuff. We’ll be diving deep into the technical aspects that surround the motorcycling community, from the latest bike technology to the legislation that affects how you ride.
So that’s the plan, for now. This plan will evolve and change over time. We’ll see what works and what doesn’t. I ask you to bear with us as we conduct this experiment. It’s something we’ve never done before, but it’s an experiment we’re all deeply committed to.
And we need your help. We need your eyeballs and your input. We need your voices. We need you to tell us what you want and don’t want, what you like and don’t like. We welcome your contributions and your ideas, too.
If you have suggestions for the blog, or a piece you’d like to contribute, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Lanesplitter.” We’re here to listen to what you have to offer.
Two wheels good.
Contact the author at email@example.com.