Around three weeks ago, I mentioned having picked up a copy of Dirt Rag‘s new magazine, Bicycle Times, which I had tucked away in my bag to read following my dissertation defense as a reward to myself. Well, this past Tuesday, I successfully defended and I promptly devoured the magazine. (Note bene: There were other important rewards also, like a 15-year-old bottle of Macallan single-malt. Delicious.) Since the majority of folks who read this blog most likely fall within the magazine’s target audience, I think it makes good sense to post a review of the first issue here. So, without further ado…
To begin with, the magazine has a nice look and feel. Aesthetics are important, you know. This is not the slick, glossy style and format of Bicycling. Instead, it features the sort of layout, design, illustrations, photographic artistry, and texture that one might expect to find at the intersection of comic books, campus newspapers, and literary journals, were the three ever to collide.
The focus of the magazine is clear and consistent. This is not a run-of-the-mill bicycle magazine that just happens to talk about city cycling. It is a magazine devoted to bikes as transportation, and the editors and contributors seem poised to do an excellent job of covering that ground in a way that speaks successfully to the diversity of bicyclists who do that sort of riding. Their approach to product testing and reviews (which carries over from Dirt Rag) is geared toward real-world conditions, which include most importantly the duration of time. Furthermore, they test items spread across a decent range of price points. I found this particularly nice, given that I’d just finished reading an article about a beautiful bike tour in Japan only to learn at the conclusion that the price tag is roughly $9,000 per person! So, it’s nice to see gear tested that ordinary folk can afford, because, well, you know, they ride in the wet and the cold, too.
Finally, I mentioned above that the magazine does a nice job of covering the diversity of the bikes-as-transportation community. Here are a couple of examples illustrating what I mean. First, they make a big deal all over the magazine about it being a forum, which basically means there’s an ongoing open call for contributors. Right on. I think this is essential to a magazine on this topic, because bike commuting does not happen in a controlled environment, and the more riders we have chiming in, the better life on two wheels will be for everybody. Second, this issue featured an article on “commuter kits,” i.e., all the stuff you make certain is with you every time you’re on your bike. What was cool about it is that, unlike so many “Top Ten Most Essential Items To Have In Your Seat Bag” sidebar articles, this article spans six pages, reflects a variety of opinions, and is peppered with truly helpful tips.
The magazine has substance. I am duly impressed. If you can find a local bike shop or bookseller that carries it, grab a copy the next time you’re out. Otherwise, they’re currently offering a one-year subscription (four issues) for an introductory rate of $10.