Clearing the Carbs

Who knew that putting out a magazine covering the wide range of motorcycling available in East Tennessee would be so controversial?

When we published our February edition of the revamped Handlebars, I thought it might get noticed—but didn’t expect a flurry of hate mail and an online petition for my ouster. Geez, was the article on The 555 really that upsetting? They’re nice guys, really. They ride Hondas, after all!

I may be kidding here, but that was one element that did upset some longtime readers: Articles featuring motorcycles that were not manufactured by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. To many who subscribe to the H-D lifestyle, these other brands do not represent real motorcycling—and they resented having “their” Handlebars cover European dual-sports or Japanese sportbikes.

But one thing I’ve learned in my short time as editor here is that there are many different viewpoints on what makes for the “real” motorcycle scene in East Tennessee. Previously, Handlebars focused for the most part on one segment—and it’s an important one, no doubt. But there are many different motorcycle riders here, and what I’ve been hearing is that most of them felt left out of the magazine. My goal is to expand the reach of the publication to as many different styles of motorcycling as we can, so that most every rider will find something in the magazine that interests them. (Though that doesn’t necessarily mean that every person will like every single article.)

This did not go according to plan with the first issue (as I explained in my previous note), and I’m still looking for a great cruiser columnist. (Apply now!) But this issue features a stunning custom V-twin by the crew at Cycle Stop (which went on to win best of show at February’s Easyriders show), a first ride of Harley’s U.S.-spec XR1200 (I think we squeaked our article in before the national magazines), and a gallery of photos from the Easyriders show. I would hope that all sorts of bikers will find these V-twin features interesting enough to peruse, even if they don’t personally ride cruisers.

Motorcyclists get enough negativity from the four-wheel world. Can’t those of us obsessed with two wheels try to get along within the pages of a magazine?

Coury, ed. (E-mail me)

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