Cycle World Revamps Print and Online Publications

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At a time when much of the publishing world is going through serious economic pain, Cycle World has upgraded and revamped its print magazine and its website.

Beginning with its November issue, the 47-year-old motorcycle mag gets a makeover from the inside out. It will be printed on thicker, glossier paper that's glue-bound rather than stapled, and will feature reorganized content and restyled sections. Given the higher-quality paper, readers should expect more vibrant photography and energetic layouts.

The magazine's website, www.cycleworld.com, also gets the full redesign treatment with an emphasis on taking advantage of the Internet's immediacy and on establishing a strong social network of enthusiasts. The new site premieres in 2010. The magazine's Twitter feed, staff blogs and forums are up and running.

"I think what we're doing with the magazine really plays up its strengths and also its pertinence. Print is not dead. Print is more important than ever, especially for enthusiasts publications," says editor-in-chief David Edwards. "You spend quality time with your magazine. You don't curl up next to a fireplace with a computer to read a feature story, but you might do that with a magazine.

"There's also a permanence there. We found that besides being passionate about their motorcycles, people keep their magazines ... we have lots of people who have 1962 issues of Cycle World."

Publisher Larry Little says that while it's a huge leap for the magazine — at a time when many print products are dropping like flies — it's an investment in making the Cycle World brand the leader in the media side of the powersports market. No exact figure was given, but Edwards says the investment is somewhere in the seven figures between the online and print makeovers.

The revamped magazine retains all the popular columns and sections, but will have more feature stories and photo essays. It will also showcase more project bikes, product evaluations and stories on how to upgrade a new bike with aftermarket or OEM accessory parts.

The decision to beef up the website comes at a time when a handful of enthusiast websites native to the Internet have raced ahead to lead the online pack. The competition has a good start, but there is room for everybody, Little explains. "For the brand we don't have anywhere near the traffic we should and we're looking to fix that," he says. "We're looking to leverage the credibility of our brand online."

Part of leveraging that credibility could benefit powersports dealers. The magazine maintains online buyer's guides going back to 2005 in addition to several years of consumer buyer research (some of which ran in Dealernews). This information could be used to help educate dealers, says Corey Eastman, CW's marketing director. "Take any model that's currently on a dealer's floor, we've had a story on it at some point."

For marketers looking to reach the magazine's circulation of 300,000 readers, Little says there are other initiatives such as e-mail blasts and contents licensing programs that could be unveiled in the second half of 2010.

"The consumer is going to get a much better product on both ends of it, from print to digital," Little says. "At the end of the day, that's the key offering — consumers are going to clearly benefit." — Dennis Johnson