"Constructive criticism"

I'm writing in regards to the "Improved" Handlebars Magazine.

First, a little background. I have been riding motorcycles for approximately 38 years. I started out at the age of 10 on dirt bikes, progressed into motocross, then later in life after college and raising children started riding V-Twin Cruisers. For a short period of time I also owned a custom motorcycle shop and still build high-end custom motorcycles today and have advertised in the past in Handlebars Magazine.

After reviewing the new version of Handlebars I thought I would offer some constructive criticism. It appears that you have approximately 25 advertisers in the Vol 5, Issue 1. Of those 25, I determined that 22 of those advertisers market towards the V-Twin market. That's approximately 88 percent of your advertising.

In looking at the columns that were written only one article, "Backroads and Byways" related to your market demographic. I do realize that you stated that you did not have a cruiser columnist and are looking for one. As you know we typically get one good chance to make a good impression and I do not think I would have released the new magazine without a cruiser columnist. I have to wonder how many of your advertisers will choose not to advertise next month. It appears to me that you have changed the type of the readers you want to target. Being a V-Twin rider and custom builder I do like to read a small article on vintage bikes and motocross bikes from time to time but I like the main focus to be on the V-Twin market. That is what the Handlebars Magazine was known for.

Whether you know this or not, most of your past readers love looking at the photos from area bike nights to see if their picture, their friend's pictures, or pictures of local bikes are in there. I think you have also cheapened the magazine by taking away the glossy cover. Actually I had hoped that as the magazine became more successful all the pages would have become glossy.

I'm not sure if you or your staff ride V-Twin motorcycles. If you guys do not ride V-Twins then you probably do not understand where I am coming from and the extreme passion we have for our bikes compared to other types of bikers. I haven't had a chance to speak to Randy Gracy regarding the change but I see that he is no longer the editor and is probably no longer involved in the magazine. Just so you know the magazine was a 24/7 job for Mr. Gracy. He is an avid V-Twin supporter and rider and during the riding months hit all the area bike nights in an effort to keep the magazine current with all the local (and non-local) happenings. He will be gravely missed.

I wish your magazine success and I hope that the next issue will be revised to focus on the V-Twin market.

Steve A. Bowman, Owner , Badland Customs, Lenoir City