Bike Magazine Closes Both Print and Digital Output

by 18

We were very sad to hear over the weekend that the iconic and influential American magazine, Bike, had closed its doors, magazine and website, along with its stablemates (and equally influential magazines) Powder and Surfer.

Bike Magazine launched in 1994 and last year celebrated a 25th birthday. Powder started in the early 1970s and Surfer another decade before that. Over 100 years of magazine history was closed in a single day.

We’re sad…

To say that Bike Magazine was influential, both personally and professionally on Singletrack would be an understatement. As a reader, Bike was the first mountain bike magazine to look beyond the ‘What’ and ‘How’ of our sport and to look at the ‘Why?’. It showed that mountain biking was more than a trend or a niche, that it could be a lifestyle to live by too. And along the way, it introduced us to writers and photographers that would go on to become (mountain biking) household names. Writers like Mike Ferrentino, Stevil Kinevil, Rob Story and Bob Roll entertained, informed and amused, while the photographers helped push the level of mountain bike photography to an art. Bike introduced us to pioneering visionaries like Sterling Lorence, Paris Gore and Dan Milner and, along the way, ‘discovered’ previously unheard of riding scenes like Vancouver’s North Shore. Bike followed those new, exciting riders as they continued to push what could be done on a bike and helped pave the way for events like Red Bull Rampage to happen.

Bike brought us Grimy Handshake – one of the longest running MTB columns in the world

Bike was also good at looking at the ‘Who’ as well as the ‘Why’ and its stories were as important as the photos that accompanied them. Back when I worked for MTB Pro magazine, our publisher decided that the magazine needed a re-design to pep its look and feel up for a modern rider, or somesuch nonsense. I can remember walking into the meeting room and slapping a copy of Bike on the table. “Make it like that” I said. And the revamped Mountain Bike World owed many cues from those early issues of Bike. And, as Singletrack lore has it, the eventual sudden closure of Mountain Bike World by its spreadsheet-focussed publishers (to the dismay of its readers, who loved it) helped inspire a collection of friends to start a website, ‘GoFar-MTB’ to replace the hole left by that much-missed magazine. GoFar-MTB then reorganised a couple of years later and launched a magazine called Singletrack and its website too.

Bike Magazine here never went into the recycle pile and always got re-read

We’ve always looked to Bike for inspiration and have been delighted when we’ve been able to employ writers and photographers who’ve graced their pages. Unfortunately, in the modern world of shrinking profits and a million different ways in which to spend marketing money, magazines are genuinely hard work and a true labour of love. Explaining that to an accountant who only sees those years of culture and reputation as either a positive/profitable box on a spreadsheet, or a red/negative warning sign is a hard thing to do. And the bigger the company that owns you, the smaller that box gets.

I’ve banged on about it in the past, but it always bears repeating: If you like something and you want it to be around next year, whether that’s a record shop, or a coffee shop, or a bakery, a band, a pub, a corner shop or a cycling magazine, then try to spend some of your disposable income in their direction. It’s no good bemoaning the closure of your local bike shop when you get all of your components by mail order, or being sad that you can’t buy coffee beans on a Sunday from the cool little coffee shop when you’ve spent the last month buying coffee from the Costa as it was a tiny bit cheaper.

Chipps Chippendale

Singletrackworld's Editor At Large

With 22 years as Editor of Singletrack World Magazine, Chipps is the longest-running mountain bike magazine editor in the world. He started in the bike trade in 1990 and became a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the last 30 years as a bike writer and photographer, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish, strengthen and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

More posts from Chipps

Comments (18)

    Bike Magazine sure will be missed.

    Yes will be missed and sits in the pantheon of great magazines, was the sort of grown up version of dirt rag – more skilled in photography and still punk enough, broke north shore and freeride as well as understanding racing. Grimy handshake alone was worth the price, made me buy Turner frames and it was the magazine to have at one point. First one to to do bike bibles reviews and tests on video, I think.
    Recently lost its edge and overtaken by pink bike, nsmb that did Bike ideas of yore bigger and better better…..grim donut being a prime example.
    Bike lost being radical and different, generations move on .

    Will did out some old copies and smile, will shop small and local and read stuff that interest me, if doesn’t then sorry won’t be buying it for sentiment.

    Can STW have a few articles from Mr Ferrentino? Or a bike test?

    Damn. When I was getting into mountain biking in about ’94, I think I must have picked up one of the really early issues and was instantly hooked. There was one bookshop in Cardiff that stocked it, and I’d pretty much camp out there the week or was due. I was doing a journalism degree back then, and there was very little that matched it for quality of writing and innovation in layout and graphic design.
    Bike, and the Future mags (and getting to do some minor boys and bobs on them over the years) definitely pushed me down the magazine, not newspaper, route.
    As soon as I could afford it I got a subscription, but in recent years the paper mag basically became impossible to get over here.
    Subscriptions are a massive part of publisher revenue, and it’s about more than just the money you pay each year; publishers and sales pros can also point to subscriber base and how long they’ve subscribed for when selling ads, because subs give insights casual or newsstand buyers can’t.

    So: of you love a magazine and can afford the dosh, subscribe to it.

    How many key MTB titles have gone over the past few years, and how many remain?

    I’m gutted. Been a subscriber for at least 15 years and loved every issue. Their online content had really become excellent quality, too. Engel, Palmer, Butcher, Ferrentino, Formosa; you’ll be sorely missed.

    Gutted is an understatement.
    I’ve bought, loved, read & re-read Bike magazine since the start.
    Reading Ferrentino & Bobke’s pieces always bought a smile to my face, the photography was always on an epic scale & it just felt like the grown-ups MTB magazine.
    Happy memories of spending nearly £5 on Bike, when the UK mags were around £3, always felt like money well spent.
    I still think the ‘Bike of Bikes’ is a valid exercise well performed for these times & has influenced my bike choice more than once.
    As said above, I’d love to see more of Mike Ferrentino’s stuff in Singletrack, I’ve always thought both mags have a lot in common.

    All the racists that cancelled their subscriptions will claim credit.

    i’m surprised to read this as it was such a great magazine and website. I hope the staff manage to find jobs doing something that’s as much fun.

    Sad day! Used to get every issue of Bike when Borders was around to bring in decent US magazines. Then when Borders closed I subscribed for a couple of years. Only magazine I’ve ever subscribed to, never get thrown away. Sort of set the scene for mountain biking for me. Their photos and stories were amazing and will be missed!

    Shame about Dirt Rag as well. I haven’t seen a Mountain Flyer in about 10 years, wonder if they’re still going…

    I hope my sister still has my collection from issue 1 to may 2000 stashed in her garage. I only stopped getting it a couple of years ago when most news agents here either closed or didn’t bring it in. I now really regret giving away about 18 years worth recently.
    That is first issue is etched in my brain after rereading it so much. Other issues also got a few reads, like the Dirtbag issue & of course, Sick! from the birth of free riding.
    Hey @Chipps, has that issue up there with the cruisers got the full page photo of someone hooking a huge drift on a Klunker? One of the pioneer frame builders I believe, but can’t remember which one.

    Saw this on Pinkbike (the irony isn’t wasted) yesterday and it just made me feel sad. No more ‘Bible of Bike Tests’ people!!! Their content was always fresh and relevant, drizzled with the Bikemag flavour. Sad times and I wish everyone concerned all the very best.

    I know exactly what you mean Chipps.
    I never saw a copy of Bike so can’t claim to miss it but Surfer magazine was MY bible for design cues and creative inspiration. When they did their first deconstructed issue it blew me away. It was always in my mind when I created watersports magazine. And thanks to reading this I find out that a magazine I started buying just under 50 years ago has gone.

    That’s a real shame. I haven’t picked up a print copy for ages, but loved their online content. Maybe that makes me part of the problem! I used to pick it up at a newsagent near Tottenham Court road when i was in town, rarely happens these days though.
    I won a competition of theirs once, for an Orange DH rig. Think it was run by the UK distributor at the time, rather than the mag itself. After months of stalling, they finally coughed up for it, but only after I’d mailed the editorial team in the US asking for help! The UK guys sorted me out an Orange Five, which I promptly sold via the GoFar classifieds… 🙂

    Subscribed for the best part of 20 year; introduced me to a whole new world of riding unfathomably long technical trails through deserts, forests, landscapes unfamiliar to me, but still somehow connected and relevant to my everyday riding. Very sad to lose it.

    @kiwijohn – Checked for you. It’s a Repack shot from 1979 but the rider is uncredited… Nearly all the OGs have an epic shot from there though – Kelly, Fisher, Nicol, Guy, Breeze… (Though it’s none of them…) 🙂

    Thats a shame. I must confess, I’d never picked up a copy of Bike before, but I did enjoy many a feature from Powder. I can’t agree with your final point enough about supporting your local businesses, be they cafes, bike shops, magazines etc. There will always be chains and big corporations trying to tempt people away with a few pence worth of savings, but often its the little guys that make something really special!

    It’s a really shame to see so many print titles disappearing over the years (he says, looking firmly in the mirror as other than a recent subscription to Singletrack, I’ve not bought them in ages other than in airports!). Always nice to have those who focus on the whole of the sport, the culture and different aspects, rather than just another ‘oooh, bike park and big air’ focus.

    Call me retro, but kind of hoping they make a comeback, a bit like Vinyl, popular with the devoted few sick of all the digital vlog style you-tube content covering the same thing. But then I’d like a set of Anodised Purple X-Lite Stubbies too…

    A great shame, use to subscribe years ago and the past few years enjoyed their bike reviews on YouTube.

    It’s a very sad indictment on our society that the best quality mags are the ones that get pulled from the shelves. Lowest common denominator, Best mags tend to be subscription……

Leave Reply