Mid-summer rant

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Mid-summer rant

By Ryan Snelson - 1m

This summer marks 20 years of actively riding with a motorcycle license. It’s also 20 years as a professional designer. Yes, I find it very easy to dismiss content that isn’t easily accessible within a few taps.

So why print anything?

I believe most motorcycle publications are out of touch. It’s not really about being on paper or on screen. It’s about riding behavior. I’ve never met a single person who rides flat track. I don’t know any riders who do wheelies on the beach against perfect sunsets. Who rides these insane custom bikes from TRON? Also, the women I know actually ride motorcycles instead of posing naked on them.

There will always be this idea lingering of what it means to ride, or who the real riders are. But the riders I know lean into one of two categories—gearheads or creators.

The gearheads wrench their bikes. They are builders and artists. They are proud of the work they do in a garage, and they are happy to customize and maintain their own machines no matter what. Need to put on a new tire or tweak that motor? No problem, let’s do it after work and hang out.

The creators have that same level of passion but they work in different ways. They express what riding means to them in photographs. They doodle in meetings and write romanticized essays. They play music together and put together events. They make shirts and posters. They experiment with video and motovlogging. Their time is equally divided between laptops and motorcycles.

Back in 1994 I made my first dirt bike website on GeoCities. It was so sick. I thought it was the most amazing thing on the planet. I shared it with some friends on AIM.

Today, a simple Google Search will get you 74,500,000 results for motorcycle websites in 0.67 seconds. Nobody has time for that. Besides, it’s all gear and bike reviews anyway.

I absolutely love what Instagram is doing for photography and video—especially as it pertains to motorcycles. It pushes me as a creator to make content that compliments what happens in the zine. But the whole experience online is built in a way that distracts our attention span. Sometimes I need to slow down and focus. I need to pull away from the insanity that happens online—to better understand what riders are thinking and doing inside this motorcycle community. This is one of the reasons why Motoveli has a print component.

Maybe the word magazine is wrong for all of this. A few days ago I posted a “paparazzi” video of the DMVlogger and Tasha Paz in front of Triumph Brooklyn. They reposted, and referred to Motoveli as, “NYC’s very own moto book of record.” Those words really resonated with me.

It’s easy to publish online. I wrote this post and sent an email blast on my coffee break. It didn’t take long and is probably loaded with copy errors… Next, I’ll make an IG story about this post and delete it if I don’t like it.

It takes about 4 months to put together a single issue of Motoveli. It’s nights and weekends and weird weather planning. We have to ride and go places and talk about stuff in order for anything to spark—for themes to emerge. The plan is to see what happens. The whole thing is shot with phones as to not distract from the ride. There’s copy editing, custom design and illustration, photo shoots and edits, and a ton of research. It’s kind of insane and painful, but it’s also very rewarding. It has to be done with care if it’s going to feel special.

So regardless of what it’s called or if it’s online or not… I’ll keep riding bikes, taking pics, exploring places, and talking about stuff.

When you purchase Motoveli, you’re supporting an independent and bootstrapped project that will most likely die one day. Until then, use promo code “hellomotoveli” at checkout for 10% off. Thank you for reading and helping to make these ideas possible.

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Ryan Snelson