Last year was lousy for the motorcycle industry. Sales took a steep plunge after the economy cratered and people started spending less and less on leisure-time activities or hobbies. Although East Tennessee is a motorcycling haven, it's not immune to the domino effect of plunging sales—from dealerships to customizing shops to motels, everybody's getting hit by the industry's downturn.
As are we. When we were putting together the January issue, it was clear that fewer local businesses could afford to advertise—which in turn meant we couldn't afford to print Handlebars. So we decided to throttle back and take January off, like we did last year, and see how February looked. Not much better. Consequently, we've decided the best course of action is to go into hibernation for the winter and poke our noses out in the spring. We're hoping conditions will improve enough that we can rally support among local moto businesses.
In the meantime, we'll be updating the Handlebars website with stories from our team of motorcycle fanatics. East Tennessee still needs real stories about the sport that matter to real motorcyclists, and we aim to continue delivering them even when times are tough.