I have a bit of a magazine habit, I must admit, always have had, and it has recently got a bit more expensive.
Most of the mainstream titles leave me cold to be honest. You know, the ones with a very staged cover shot of someone with their head unnaturally up and with a big fixed grin on their face. Production line publishing by template filling almost – Insert article text on ‘which Gels/cloppy shoes/bum cream’ here, add photo there, select glossy paper and print. A lot of photography mags are the same, you read them once or twice and realise they are all much the same, carrying the same articles every year – ‘How to shoot landscapes/weddings/pets/street’ etc.
I do pick up MBR now and again, lots of rear curtain sync sticky out elbows and knees, but it’s not bad, and at the moment, it’s a quid cheaper in WH Smith, and I was given a free drinks bottle (branded for one of the grinning mags though…) containing a couple of power gels or turbo powders. I’m easily bribed I must admit.
But, I have recently found salvation in the upmarket, quality end of the magazine shelf, and I have to admit, I think I’m hooked.
There are two or three high quality mags aimed at roadies and racing, such as Rouleur and Cyclist, and whilst no doubt they are very good, the bikes and riding aren’t my thing, so they remain untried by me.
It was only a few months ago that I bought my first copy of Singletrack after previously baulking at the £5.95 cover price. Having got it home though, I realised the error of my ways and promptly scooped up all their remaining back issues in a card melting frenzy, and it is now a ‘must have’ each time. It’s just like the other mags, but higher quality in all areas. It carries bike and gear tests but has the feel of a magazine designed by real people rather than marketing departments and their ‘optimum glossy content’ template style. The photography is superb, the writing good and it even smells nice, as any good publication should.
Cranked is new on the scene, that is issue one that recently dropped onto the doormat, and it comes in at a hefty tenner plus postage if you buy online. It isn’t yet on the shelves of the high street newsagents, it’s online or in some bike shops/upmarket magazine or book shops only at the moment.
Cranked is the work of pro photographer Seb Rogers and so you can imagine the photography is top notch. The magazine goes against the grain in this field by not featuring bike and equipment tests, going instead with interviews and in depth general articles. One or two bits haven’t quite hit the mark for me though, I have to admit. An article on forum trolls for instance seems a bit weak and out of place in the first issue of a magazine entering the market and carrying a stiff cover price. But no doubt, I’ll indulge my habit in following issues to see how it develops.
Needing even more of a mag fix, I pulled the trigger on issue 9 of ‘The Ride’ which thumped onto the Axminster just recently. This one is £8 plus postage, and again online or via a select few outlets only. Very promising it is too. I’ve only had a brief flick through, and a quick read of a couple of articles, but it has something for everyone it seems, and features some cracking artwork to go with great photography. Again, it’s a quality item, both in terms of the hardware (about 200 pages on thick paper and so on ) and the content. Even the adverts fit right in, (just a few, and they are at the front and back of the mag only). Lots of single page writings on a hugely diverse range of cycling topics sit among bigger more in depth articles on a particular subject. The Ride is also a not for profit magazine, with all profits made going to charity. I’ve only had a quick look as I say, but for me and my tastes, it looks a winner for sure.
So these three represent a big hole in my bank account, but have also filled a gap in my bed time reading. A bit pricey for a magazine, but think of them as soft back books (albeit with a few adverts) to be kept and appreciated rather than the ‘read and bin’ mainstream stuff, and the cover prices seem far more reasonable.