mags, not rags.

raw-frames-029i have an addiction to fine cycling periodicals. i remember seeing the old bridgestone catalogs years ago and being intrigued by the simple paper, black and white drawings and the actual content of words to elevate the reader’s understanding of the finest points of cycling. classic images alongside a detailed description of how bicycles are constructed. this was the pinnacle of cycling catalogs and why they are sought out by so many people today. in the last 5 years i have kept a keen eye out for rare and fringe cycling magazines. in the fall of 2002 a i picked up the first copy of i heart bikes. in it’s pages i found a deeper understanding of what cycling meant to all the people that felt that bicycling magazine just wasn’t cutting it for them any more. i mean come on, they have rehashed the same articles for the last 20 years. i still pick it up in an airport if that’s all there is and i am desperate but for the most part it leaves me wanting more. i want the behind the scenes story of what is happening. i want the perspective of some one else who is living the dream somewhere in the world. big glossy photos, different layouts, passionate words filling up pages void of graphic ads. i don’t want to open up a magazine and see a two page car ad. i want to see a photo essay of commuters in cities in boston. i want to read a personal account of a climb in the french alps. i want to read about how a bicycle was designed and built in the 1950’s. i want intelligence in an article or at least some juicy design. some of the magazines that i love lately:

rouluer. crisp and precise. clean layout and a little bit posh but a true understanding of all things pro with a classic appeal. the kind of magazine that costs $16 so you don’t leave it in the bathroom for fear that the moisture will damage the fine paper. great mix of well crafted stories from cycing eras gone past alongside photography from unseen roads in northern europe. what else would you expect from the rapha brand?

cog. started by my friend kevin in milwaukie, wi. with a couple other messengers, this is big color. the juiciest of most the magazines out there. i don’t think there is a square inch of space on the page that doesn’t have something goin on. brief articles but lots of fixie coverage. sometimes it’s a little hip for me but it’s all about balance and besides, it has a pin up-style centerfold with a bike on it in every issue. keep up the rad work k-murder!

bicycle quarterly. more of a reference material than a magazine. following in the footsteps of the classic bridgestone catalogs in terms of content and attention to historical documentation but a little on the retro grouch side of things. jan heine can be too unaccepted of anything made after 1965 sometimes. tons of data, diagrams and black and white photos. anyone who loves exploded diagrams will love this mag. this will make you realize that everything has been done before in the world of bicycle design.

embrocation. anyone who knows what embro is would love this magazine. cross, east coast cycling culture and solid layout. not too wordy but nice photos and full of passion for bikes. jeremy dunn created this a couple years ago and it is rad. the pages support a community of cycling all over the country. good interviews with pro cross racers about how to glue up tubulars. the finer points on washing your bike or what it is like to race cross in the dark with a bunch of friends after a night of drinking. jeremy is a great writer (and rapha conti rider) with a fantastic graphic style.

in the top ten of cycling mags is also, dirt rag, momentum from vancouver b.c., cyclo cross magazine and urban velo. these and coffee are my weakness when i find a couple extra dollars burning a hole in my pocket. not that that happens often.


7 Responses to “mags, not rags.”

  1. Ari Says:

    Mags that I treasure and believe are long gone.
    Bicisport from Italy.
    Miroir du Cyclisme from France
    Ciclismo a Fondo from Spain.
    Winning from ‘merica
    With all the money I spent on magazines I could have probably bought another house somewhere in Italy!

  2. joel Says:

    ari – im pretty sure at least bicisport is still around… and theres always cycling weekly from the uk – though over the years its gotten more and more bicycling-esque… winning never did all that much for me, but then, i was usually reading cycling. they did put out those fabulous world of cycling books in the us though, so i love em for that.

    most of my favorite cycling mags are at least 50 years old. but, im a big dork.

  3. ari Says:

    My friend Jason picked up a bunch of vintage magazines in a flea market in the outskirts of paris some years ago. I remember going over to look at them and just being amazed.

  4. Jason Says:

    wow, maybe it’s a “Jason” thing, b/c I got lucky and found a bunch of old issues of Winning and Dirt Rag in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store one time. Unfortunately, they were adopted by friends or lost in moves. I’ve really started to enjoy Singletrack from the UK. Being a new mag, it’s got lots of ads, but I think the number and quality of the articles easily overshadow the mail order ads. It kind of reminds me of “Bike” magazine 10 years ago, but better.

  5. d*pow Says:

    yep. cycling mags are almost as good as riding, and someways better. rouluer is at the top for sure. kind of like a cross between the alpinist (RIP) and Surfers Journal meets Cyclesport…Singletrack is great! There is a rule of thumb that I’ve always found to be true with magazines: The harder it is to find, the better it is.

  6. David Says:

    Don’t forget VeloVision! Very good stuff.

  7. bikeiowa Says:

    Recently I performed a double blind read test of Cooking Lite, a magazine regarding the preparation of low fat foods, and Bicycle Quarterly, a magazine about bikes and Jan Heine. These magazines vary only in content and thickness. As I turned the pages I found myself “com-plaining” about the silliness and downright subjectivity of one, while the other made my mouth water repeatedly.

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