For a long time, I have been unhappy with how we do motorcycle reviews here at Asphalt & Rubber – and if I am being real honest, I have been unhappy with how the industry as a whole deals with motorcycle reviews, especially in this new crazy online world.
Mea culpa, A&R is just as guilty as the rest when it comes to publishing motorcycle reviews. We have been just as lazy as the next publication, as we try to chase elusive pageviews at the end of each bike launch, with timely but flaccid prose (with varying degrees of success, on both accounts, I should say).
Well, I want that to stop. It is dumb, and it is bad for the ecosystem.
So, starting today we are going to try a new motorcycle review format – one that I have been chewing on for several months now. It is a three-pronged approach to bike reviews, which sees us trying to achieve different goals with each of our three postings about the new motorcycles we ride. Let me break them down for you.
#1 – Gone Riding
First up, during a new motorcycle review, we will continue to have our “Gone Riding” posts, where we will post live photos and musings from the press launch on social media, while also attempting to answer your questions about the bike during our road stops or track sessions.
This has been a fun and interactive format for us at A&R so far, and it gives us a chance to ask OEMs the questions you have on your mind about their latest and greatest creations.
It also means that we can get your questions answered directly by the people involved in a bike’s design, engineering, and testing, which often adds another layer of insight as to why a motorcycle works a certain way.
#2 – TL;DR
The next article attempts to answer the question regarding why we continue to write motorcycle reviews on the internet like we are still reading them in a print magazine.
This has always caught me as a little bit strange, because we do consume information differently online, and with varying degrees attention spans.
Going with the general idea that readers come to Asphalt & Rubber for different reasons, and we want to cater to each of those readers uniquely, this is going to lead to the biggest change in our reviewing format.
As such, our second prong in the review process is going to be more like a briefing memo – a succinct document that contains all the info you care about, without any of the fluff.
The idea is for these articles to appeal to readers who have maybe only a general interest in a motorcycle that is being reviewed, and it is designed to cater to the reader that simply wants to know what is new, what are the key features, and if the bike is any good behind the handlebars.
Quick and dirty, these stories will be a little bit shorter than what we have been putting out previously, but they will also get posted with a much quicker turnaround time.
#3 – The Last Honest Review
If the above doesn’t satisfy your craving for information, then we have just the thing for you in the third part of our new review format.
There was a point in time where motorcycle reviews were written with long deadlines – where writers could spend days, if not weeks, perfecting a story before sending it to their editor. The rise of the internet has all but killed the ability for us to devote so much time and energy to such a pursuit…or has it?
Generally speaking with the internet, the protocol involves twice the sex with half the foreplay. Reviews compete for eyeballs, and suffer for it if they delay being published. We aim to change that, and want to bring back the no-words-spared, super in-depth, no technical detail left untold style of reviews that are suspiciously missing from today’s media landscape.
So, the goal here is to provide you, our dear readers, with the singularly best review we can write. We want to feed the riders who are detail-obsessed, and those who are seriously considering bringing home a new member for their garage family.
We want to write a review that provides die-hard readers with as much information about a new motorcycle as is possible. Maybe even, too much information.
If you read only one review about a motorcycle, our goal is to make sure these are the ones you pick.
There is a catch with this idea though, because in order to achieve everything I just talked about, these long-form “honest” review postings will get published a week or two after our initial bike test. And also because of their time and resource requirements, they will be available only to A&R Pro members.
A Public Beta
The master plan here is to cover all our bases when it comes to the different and competing types of readers that digest a motorcycle review.
It is important to stress that while the way we organize and publish our reviews will change, we will continue to provide the most brutally honest accounts possible about every bike we ride.
If anything, this new format provides us more freedom from the pressures of the competitive journalistic landscape, not to mention it adds another firewall from the influence motorcycle manufacturers.
Ultimately, we want to be your Consumer Reports of motorcycle reviews, while also being your go-to source for Reddit link fodder – neither of which is an easy feat. So, this will be more of a process that grows and evolves over time, rather than something that is cast in stone from day one.
We already have some ideas for the next iteration of this plan, but we are also looking forward to feedback from our die-hard readers, on how to best serve your needs for motorcycle reviews. Leave your thoughts in the comments, I’m all ears.