We’re Going to Try a New Motorcycle Review Format

03/22/2017 @ 12:55 am, by Jensen Beeler79 COMMENTS

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.

  • Moot

    What would be awesome, and what a lot of reviews lack of, is comparison against similar bikes. Saying “it has amazing grip through corner” doesn’t say much because all reviews say that. But saying “it has amazing grip, slightly better than *insert a bike name with amazing grip here* ” would mean a lot, especially for people that may have had an experience with that bike.

  • PierreLaPierre

    Jensen Chap I will confirm I am a regular visiter here for the past 3 years or more and you do a very impressive job. Having said that there does seem to be a lack of bike reviews and I can only think of two that come to mind – The Ducati Scrambler which to my mind wasn’t very ‘in-depth’ and the last one was for the MV Agusta Brutale which I thought at the time was really well written and informative. So maybe you don’t get invited to test all the latest and greatest and/or lack the time and resources to do so thinking you maybe are a tight team? Related to ‘tests’ back in the early 90’s I used to read (used to) a Brit magazine ‘Fast Bikes’ and the reviews were the most in-depth and informative that I could find and that in turn lit the fire and I went out and bought my first Ducati.

  • Liking this concept. As an enthusiast, I appreciate up-to-the-second “new” news but, I don’t need up-to-the-second reviews. I’d gladly wait weeks for that in depth review. On that note, I also like the long term reviews by some publications.

  • Ian Miles

    Like it.

  • TonyG

    Bugger, the settles it; I will need to go Pro now. You had me when you dared suggest the need to firewall from manufacturers: now that really is keeping it real.
    This article really defines what I want on the review front, early observations followed by more informed judgment and intensive thinking. I also think that this leads to some potential to crowdsource owners’ views in the longer term, as well as the views on quality and reliability that A&R is already leading on. As an example. I would like to see is some place where owners can exchange ideas on using and improving their ride. My current ride is 18 months old and with some small changes is unrecognisably improved now compared to the bike I rolled out of the showroom. I would think that A&R might be able to consolidate that experience, as opposed to ploughing through dozens of forums. I say go for it….I’ll be there.

  • paulus

    Personally, I am not fussed for adding reviews. A+R are the great alternative source for the industry news, thoughts and interesting discussion. You are a layer above the launch-mill of the manufacturers. I fear your will find access to vehicles diminishing if you are brutally honest. Access to vehicles is everything… and you know how the brands play favorites… or rather, don’t play nice if they are going to get less than stellar reviews for their baby. I wish you the best and would be happy to see you add this to your burden… but don’t feel it necessary to hold my interest (or my A+R pro subscription).

  • randybsinger

    It’s interesting that you brought this up now, because I was reading this month’s Cycle World and Motorcyclist (now siblings from the same company) and I was noticing that their reviews had become bland and almost worthless. They almost never say anything negative about a tested motorcycle, and if they do they say it in the most couched or down-played way possible.

    In this age where motorcycle publications rely on the motorcycle manufacturers for both advertising dollars and motorcycles lent for review, I don’t see how any publication, even an online one, can afford to say negative things about a product and risk getting on the bad side of a manufacturer. (I’m sure that the fallout from Motorcyclist’s article “Blowing The Lid Off”, which resulted in a boycott from some advertisers, and which led to the forced firing of the article’s author, hasn’t been forgotten by anyone writing a motorcycle-related review.)

    Actually, I would just be wildly happy if a motorcycle review included the following information, hopefully in one easy to review table:
    – Horsepower
    – Weight
    – SRP
    – Quarter-mile time
    – Revs in top gear at 65mph
    – Seat height
    Even these basic things have become hard to find in motorcycle magazines lately.

    I don’t see the need for a “five star” rating system for motorcycles. There are no “bad” motorcycles being sold these days. Just about every bike will be a “4” or “5”. Manufacturers would probably have a fit if you gave their bike a “3” or less. Owners will be hopping mad if the bike that they own doesn’t get a “5”, and the rest of us don’t want to read their letters of protest.
    You can likely write better reviews than the pablum that the print mags currently offer, but I don’t see how you can be the “Consumer Reports” of the motorcycle world unless you use CR’s model of surviving entirely on subscriber’s fees and purchasing reviewed products like any other consumer. How else can you give a three star rating to a Honda CB500 and not risk never getting a review bike or advertising from Honda ever again?

  • StreetHawk

    Not sure your “Pro” format is going to get any love on this approach. An open review would likely get more screen time then other abbreviated and rushed efforts but this is on the presumption it doesn’t start just repeating manufacturer propaganda. Myself I tend to always read the reviews of the half dozen main web players looking for similar key kudos or complaints. The new Harley street rod is an example as so far at least 3 web efforts have pointed out the the exhaust system necessitating a wide straddle to put ones feet down. I’d take this consensus as factual and perhaps a problem.

  • Superlight

    Agreed, but that takes even more time and coordination to execute.

  • Superlight

    I have some old Cycle magazines stored in my basement and decided to re-read a few of them recently. I couldn’t believe the detail contained therein! I’d forgotten just how good that magazine was. Jensen, if you’d like a goal for your road test reporting, take a good look at the Cycle magazine tests.

  • Superlight

    I’m struggling with your A&R Pro fees. $60 a year seems excessive when I can buy most print publications for $6-12 per year, especially when I don’t have your road tests to compare to what i’m already getting.

  • MacaveliMC

    Haha, I love the tl;dr idea. A lot of the time I want you to feed me with paragraph upon paragraph of exhaustive (pun?) info, especially when it comes to David’s MotoGP round ups. But sometimes I’m just in the mood to get the quick details of a story too.

  • Jason

    At one time I subscribed to Sport Rider, Motorcyclist, Cycle World, Rider, Motorcycle Consumer News, and BiKE. Istopped reading the US motorcycle magazines one by as the content degraded until I was only left with BIKE. I dropped that magazine too when the price crossed the $80 mark*. I’m willing to pay for quality ad-free content. We will see if A&R lives up to that description.

    * Now that BIKE has an Ebook version available on the iPad I’m a subscriber again

  • Flanman

    I used to read BiKE Magazine reviews (stopped because of the price also).
    When I am looking for reviews I like video reviews because it is more of a “experience” seeing and hearing the bike. Obviously this is something that is very time consuming and may not fit well with AR. I do think a podcast style review with other test riders may be cool, and authentic (more than one point of view, more casual, easier to discuss negative points)
    This was already mentioned, but some sort of comparison would be helpful. On the last podcast you talked about how people are buying older bikes that are just as “good”, I want to know is the Hypermotard 939 worth it over the 821, and how does the old 1100 match up.

  • motobyte

    I think the review format that Sean MacDonald uses is pretty good. I like the Q&A section. Just don’t copy his fashion styles ;)

    My preference would be to outline the bike’s features, compare it to previous versions, compare it to other brand’s similar models, ride and review, and answer questions. First impressions typically lack detail. Maybe put all the tech specs there and leave the review to more subjective testing? It also seems like shootouts give more information about model comparisons than any review does.

  • Matthew Patten

    > 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.

    I hate to break it to you but that’s spelled Road Racing World. As good as A&R is I don’t see it paying (sufficient) dividends.

  • motoschmoto

    Does it show up as costing something different in different places? I show the 12 month sub costing $39.99

  • motoschmoto

    Agree. Some reviewers do this for certain aspects of a bike. Some don’t do it at all. Even just a loose comparison can be really valuable. Agree with Superlight as well that this can be really difficult to achieve all the time. Comparisons can also create muddiness since so many things influence the experience on a bike. The type of bike the reviewer more regularly rides, whether they got to ride the competition bikes recently, tire choice, suspension setup, weather, road conditions. All of these ‘can’ make comparisons (that aren’t straight shootouts in the same day) really muddy, if not fully misleading. That said, even the subjective comparison of a known reviewer can add something to your ‘knowledge’ of the bike and at the end of the day you gotta make choices and live with em (and ride the bike yourself first if possible before buying anything). At least part of this is entertainment and part is reporting.

    Looking forward to this new format. Sounds very cool.

  • Jason Channell

    A big trend I’ve noticed for quite some time in many mags is: may the best motor win.
    The “power über alles” approach to picking shootout winners may help in some categories, but in others it’s not the most useful measure.

  • Comfy

    Interesting….ive tended to stop taking notice of bike reviews….while i like reading them, and if i was going to buy another bike i would go for a test ride for myself. Case in point a couple of years back id read reviews on the s1000r – everything was positive, i lined one up to buy, money wasnt an issue so i could pretty well get what i wanted. I thought what the hell seeing as youre [me] going to get one then book a test ride anyway….dodged a bullet there…handlebars vibey, heated grips not hot enough, shoulders ached, felt disjointed from the road, other stuff as well but on the whole not what id read. In the end i settled for a gen 4 z1000 which i still own now, love it and dont look at anything else.

    Also the mt-09 – nothing but positive reviews (2017 model) but if you watch Lamb Chops review on it the QS its pretty dire….nothing mentioned on any of the reviews ive seen which just goes to show that the reviewers that are getting paid to do reviews seem to skew it as theyre technically on the payroll….

    By all means change the format but please try to be honest…!

  • Superlight

    I stand corrected. The monthly charge is $5, but if you sign up for a year there is a discount. Still way more than a magazine subscription, however.

  • Ken House

    So the plan is to provide unbiased and thorough motorcycle journalism, but only if you pay for it. Brilliant.

  • Calvin Silver

    Tis a small fee for all the content available on this website.

  • Daniel Croft

    I agree with a lot of the sentiment here; I don’t pay much attention to motorcycle reviews because they’re not the whole story.

    You get glowing reviews for every bike released. I’ve had the (mis) fortune of riding and owning a few too many bikes recently, the reviews just aren’t on point.

    I subscribe to some channels on youtube because I like the videos but, can’t be bothered with articles that might as well have come direct from a manufacturers press team.

  • George Belafonte

    I was just going to write about that too. One thing that would be amazing in your detailed reviews Jensen would be comparisons with older bikes. I would love to hear for example how the old Honda VTR1000F would stack up against the new Ducati SuperSport, or the Monster 1100Evo vs new Monster 939. (I have both older bikes, and I almost always bought used bikes rather than brand new from the dealership).
    Comparisons help understand the subtleties about bike ergonomics, handling, engine character, etc…

    Anyways I love your A&R and look forward to read the new reviews format!

  • Cecil-T

    Industry reviews in general I find pretty worthless, at least the subjective aspects. For performance oriented bikes most reviewers aren’t qualified to push the bike anywhere near the limit. For other bikes they don’t focus on day to day livibility.

    I like youre tl;dr idea. Most bikes I just want to be up to speed about – changes, specs, unique features. If I’m really interested in a bike I’ll go to a dealer, most bikes are fairly accessible.

    The industry as a whole seems to focus on and highlight just one particular aspect of each bike. E.g. if you write about the Ducati Scrambler you must talk about “hipsters”, whatever those are. Every. Single. Article. If you talk about the FZ-09 you say what a great bike it is, but oh those forks… if only. Nobody has anything really unique to say about a bike.

    My favorite reviews are when they put 5 different people of different sizes / backgrounds on a bike and you get to read their different perspectives. That seems most useful. As a single reviewer my suggestion would be to put yourself into as many different mindsets as possible and look at the bike from each.

  • major tom

    I wonder how much better the pro subscription fee tests would be then Motorcycle Consumer News and Road Racing World my two most trusted sources, one street oriented the other sport.Is there a trial period which would cover a test or two?

  • cvma131

    Yes, and it’s hard to beat a review by someone with the proven riding/racing/analyzing ability of a Chris Ulrich. You know he’s not white knuckling the thing around a track and then saying it doesn’t handle.
    That said, a useful motorcycle review includes a lot more quantifiable data (measured repeatably) than the possibly bias, subjective opinions of a rider who is not me (the audience).
    Oh and give us the damn fork and shock spring rates. These are almost always left out but are important….

  • 2Kcowboy

    Jensen, ride it and tell me what you think. I don’t care how long it takes you to do that. Don’t make it complicated. A motorcycle is just a machine until a person gets on it. A person with likes and dislikes and emotions and biases and experience, etc. You’re the person. I want to know what you think. If it strikes a chord then that’s what I want to know.

  • Shinigami

    Do you work for free?

  • I think these are great new ideas. I come from the pedal bike world where back in the day I could read a 4 page magazine review of a single bike. The kind of review where you’d grab a drink, sit down, and pour over the contents of the article. I really miss that in the internet age of ‘quick’ journalism, though this particular publication has been better than most.

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to the reviews to come.

  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    That may be true but you also get a lot more content here than you would in a magazine once a month.

  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    JB, I think this is a great idea and I commend you for jumping into unknown waters. Looking forward to the first long-form review.

  • Elton Alwine

    I have a love-hate relationship with online bike sites. I’m a bike magazine collector and the advent of online sites (like A&R) have pretty much deflated these great books from the UK and here in the States, magazines with great publishing history. But what it comes down to is that we progress, and the majority of people want their info and want it immediately. So I prefer my up-to-the-minute news online and I prefer my world-building stories in book form, where I can stick it in my bookshelf and return to it later if I’m interested. I may be in the minority here so I get that this online thing will only continue to grow and evolve. So with my penchant for enjoying a great motorcycle story, I’ll continue reading A&R and become a Pro member.

    But I’d love to see an annual or bi-annual printed collection in paper format of these tests and travelogues with fantastic photography as a bonus for paying for media that all but disappears as online data will always be.

  • Mike D

    TL;DR – we are going to charge you for in-depth reviews.

  • Braden

    This sounds strikingly similar to what HFL tried back in its heyday, namely selective paywalls and the pursuit of long form content bordering on miniature narratives. I loved it. There was a genuineness to it that struck a very different chord to what was currently on offer. Reviews that are often unforgiving, modest in their praise, and take the time to drill into the details will stand out among the sea of vapid, four paragraph reviews filled with tortured metaphors. I think you just won yourself an A&R Pro member.

  • Barry Rothwell Taylor

    Best reviews I ever saw were in Bike Magazine – original home of Ogri
    How many reviews would say ” in the wet a dangerous joke ” these days ? the advertising dept would have a fit ( Kawa H2 on original tyres , 1972 ) but they changed publisher and the reviews got shorter , dumber and blander – all in the pursuit of a bigger profit , result they killed the spirit of the mag , turning it into the boring crap it is today .
    Reviews are rarely realistic because they are written by professionals who’ve ridden hundreds of bikes and they become stylised , not telling you what it’s like to live with the beast warts and all . Had a 1976 GT750A and the things the reviews DIDN’T tell you about that would fill a book .
    The 70’s were fun , the 80’s not so much …

  • Mill0048

    As a non-Pro member, I say this definitely sweetens the pot! I like the idea of breaking it up into three articles and I’m excited to see the new format in action.

  • Cru Jones

    First Motomatters and now you guys. :( I guess the advertising model just isn’t there anymore, huh? Pants…I’ll have to decide if this is another HfL (does anyone even go to ‘RideApart’?) or a MotoMatters move. You should do a sample of this new format, so that people can judge if the model works for them or not.

  • I want to do what your suggesting for a select few segments, and have what I think is a novel way of executing it. In terms of doing it at a press launch though, rarely do they ever bring along the competition for comparison. So, RS hard to make honest comparisons on many aspects.

  • Access is always an issue, and I do think part of the equation is that A&R isn’t a go-to place for reviews…yet. I’m hoping to change that. Some brands will “get” what we’re doing here with this new format, and others won’t. It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out.

  • Right on!

  • Conversely, I can now tell manufacture X that they can invite a publication who will race to get their review out FIRST (because that’s what advertising rewards), or they can invite us, knowing that our story will focus on quality, not deadlines. When you’re spending thousands of dollars per journalist at a launch, that’s a strong proposition.

    Feedback so far is good, from the PR types. One even thanked me. So, we’ll see. This is also where stubbornness is a virtue. I have no problems doing this the hard way, if I have to.

  • Watch this space. 😉

  • If we were doing just one or the other, I’d agree with you. What you describe in your reading behavior is exactly what I want to cater to with the TL;DR version.

  • Is it though? What’s the cover price on an issue these days.

    Regardless, the current print model is married to advertisers. Yes, you can find a subscription price at basically the cost of what it makes to print the pages….half of which, by the way, will be ads.

    They will even keep sending you the magazine after our sub expires, because they need to keep their circulation figures up, again for advertisers.

    That’s a very different business model, why all three of the Bonnier titles are struggling. Why do you think Motorcyclist just changed its format to six isssues a year??!

    Hey, if A&R Pro isn’t your jam, it’s not your jam. It’s not designed for everyone, so I’m not going to pretend that it is. But, I do know that we have a number of readers who want more than what the typical “website with advertising” model can provide for, and I know we can cater to both groups.

  • We’ve been chewing on that idea too. More to come.

  • I’m not handsome enough to dress like Sean, so I have to make up for it with a lot of “personality”.

  • Truthfully, this idea came from a conversation with Chris, maybe a year or two ago. I would much rather compete for eyeballs with RRW on detailed articles, than compete with everyone else on being “first” with a boilerplate review.

  • I’m riding the R6 today, and all the content on it will be available. 👍🏻

  • I think I’ve been pretty clear how A&R Pro is different than what HFL did, namely we’re not taking anything away from you. Instead we’re giving you more content, if you’re willing to pay for it.

    As for this new review format, all of our R6 reviews will be for free, to show people what exactly we’re going after here.

  • Superlight

    Jensen, I know the print magazines are struggling in an Internet world (I subscribe to Motorcyclist and Cycle World right now), but before I spend a lot more for A&R Pro I’d like to see road tests that equal/surpass what I used to read in Cycle magazine. I pulled a couple of the old mags out of storage recently and was amazed at how much content was in their road tests. If you can do that I’d be happy to pay more, to get more.

  • Chuck Surprise

    Works for me. Bikes have come into the modern age, with all sorts of computerized electro-mechanical additions to the basic vehicle. It’s good that you choose to join them. And please, for me, don’t err in favor of cutesy phrasing in your in-depth reviews. For example, if I never again read the word “bespoke” in a bike review generate within the USA, I’ll be a joyful reader. Thanks!

  • cvma131

    It would be better for the readers if there were multiple reviews of the quality of Ulrich’s simply because one could compare opinions and data.
    We know that whatever A&R does, it’ll be well thought out.
    I heard it takes six months to build a Rolls Royce and thirteen hours to build a Toyota ;)

  • Moot

    Before anyone take this wrongly, I’m not suggesting shootouts or multibike comparisons. Have a listen to 44Teeth videos (I know they’re technically competitor site), and every now and then they’ll mention how *this bike* feels similar or dissimilar to *something else they’ve ridden*. That’s gold perspective there.

  • I get what you’re saying. My only push-back is that if I’m going to say Bike X does something better or worse than Bike Y then it either needs be a glaring difference, or I have ridden both bikes back-to-back, with similar conditions.

  • Well, you’ll certainly have the opportunity. Even at the more expensive monthly level, an A&R Pro subscription costs the same as a taco and drink each month, so…either that value is there for you, or it isn’t.

    I’m not bothered either way, because we’re going to keep providing free content for those daily readers who only want that, and provide more content for those who are willing to support it. Win/win/win.

  • David is incapable of saying things quickly. That’s why we love him.

  • Real ultimate powahhhh!!!!!!!1

  • But what if it is bespoke??

  • Jason Channell

    And skinny jeans are a crime against humanity.

  • True, but they do provide valuable insight into your religious upbringing.

  • Chuck Surprise

    Then you are honor bound to place your right hand on a copy of The New York Times and bespeak it as such.

  • Ganesh Acharya

    How about video reviews?

  • Bobby Chombo

    I look forward to the new review formats, they sound good. I don’t mind waiting for in depth reviews.

    Now if I could just have my A&R Pro login page default to HTTPS… :)

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Manufacturers are competing against other manufacturers and want to get their story out as soon as possible. So while the Editor-in-Chief and photographer are over in Spain riding the latest and greatest, hordes of reporters back home are filling in the details and incorporating the notes, documents and pictures sent back at night, publishing the review the next morning (motorcycle.com). Some print-oriented online magazines publish their reviews after a few days, but by that time it is old news and no one reads them. Such is the nature of the internet. The interesting thing about in-depth reviews is that they are timeless. They could be published after a few days or a few years and they would still be relevant.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    And that’s why Toyota sells millions of cars all over the world while Rolls Royce has been sold to BMW and Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors.

  • Superlight

    Jensen, will you please share an example of your A&R Pro road tests with us so we can experience the difference?

  • Frédéric De Waegenaere

    I’m interested to see where this is going and I also like the comparison approach mentioned by another reader.

    For example, a lot of reviews on the Triumph Bobber were saying it is very maneuverable and has good lean angle and very good brakes.
    Now …. this may be true in the chopper segment, but I rode it last week (spurred on by those reviews) and noticed that…
    It has no lean angle at all, it has no front brakes worth mentioning and whilst very stable in corners, it requires decent steering input.
    So it might be a sporty bobber, but it is by no means a contender for a sporty bike in the retro segment.

  • Jake F.

    Consumer Reports and long-term reviews have had substantially reduced value to me ever since owner forums became a thing. When I’m considering a new bike, I look for the complaints from people who already own it. If no one already owns it, I don’t buy it. I let the early adopters be the guinea pigs.

  • motobyte

    I’m pretty sure skinny jeans reveal your “personality.”

  • Pro:
    I like the idea of changing the review format, especially the TL;DR, because, that is the max you can get out of a presentation ride.
    If you really want to test an check out a bike, you have to “own” it for some time, ride it everyday, do some maintenance and so on. Just taking an extra two weeks for writing about your only day of riding under OEM controlled conditions will work out.

  • Jason Channell

    I’m not following your statement at all. Clarify?

  • paulus

    I respect your direction… it is a unique position in motorcycle journalism.

  • Paul McM

    I hope this works out because I have found the motorcycle reviews in mainstream USA print magazines to be completely unreliable. Significant flaws, and sometimes even “mission critical” problems are not revealed. I probably ride 25 different bikes a year, through test rides and/or rental programs. I am constantly amazed that within one or two minutes I’ll notice something really annoying. I will say to myself — how is it possible that this machine’s atrocious seat, or unreadable controls, or non-existent low-end torque, or mushy suspension etc. was not revealed by the reviewers. All stuff that is painfully obvious to anyone with a brain and some riding experience.

    Here’s my suggestion to A&R — don’t worry about making reviews hip and breezy, don’t worry about following formats used in magazines. Write the review as if you were giving a “preflight” briefing to your very best friend who is about to risk his life or spend his life savings on it. Explain all the mission critical factors about the bike, explain any factors that may complicate the riding process. Explain what is good about the bike but also things which may cause problems. And, please, don’t be afraid to suggest how the bike could have been made better. Also, give meaningful comparisons to other bikes in the same category. For example if you are comparing an FJR 1300 to an R 1200 RT, explain that the Yamaha has a stronger engine, but the BMW is significantly lighter and has better luggage. Only by comparing bikes in the same category and truly revealing both the strengths and weaknesses of all candidates, can motorcycle buyers really make informed decisions.

    And lastly, I would suggest that you sometimes include machines that may be up to 6 years old when analyzing the features of brand new bikes. Reason? Is big cases, older bikes were better. They may have had better fairings, better ergos, better seats etc. all design changes are not necessarily progress. It is useful to a acknowledge when someone older designs are better in some respects

  • sfk

    I agree. Putting the bike in its competitive context helps me understand the critique better. “If you are considering the R6, then you are considering X, Y and Z other bikes. Compared to these bikes, the R6….”

  • Jason

    BIKE Magazine UK is $87.93 per year in print / $39.37 per year as an eMagazine

  • Superlight

    If I purchase BIKE magazine it is because of a specific issue that interests me. I don’t/won’t subscribe at those rates.

  • Jason

    I guess you have a lower pay threshold for a quality magazine. $40 a year is $3.33 a month. I figure I easily get $3 of enjoyment per month out of BIKE.

    You mentioned Motorcyclist. I subscribed for a year a while ago when I got a offer for $6 a year. It is a shell of the former magazine. Only 82 pages of which only 60 is content and that is being generous as many of those pages are mostly pictures. Only 11 pages of actual bike reviews – again dominated by pictures. To me that isn’t even worth the $6 because I feel bad about having a magazine sent to my home that I read for about 15 minutes and then throw away. I would consider the digital version from iTunes but they want twice as much to sent me a digital file compared to paying print and ship paper.