In punctuation news, a sudden run on the world’s stock of exclamation marks has led analysts to speculate that Dennis Publishing is attempting to corner the punctuation market in the lucrative run up to Christmas. There are genuine fears at Cycling Plus that all they’ll be able to get hold of is a couple of question marks and some left-over semi-colons for their New Year’s edition. ¡There is even talk of bringing in some grey-import exclamation marks from Hello! magazine in Spain!
Anyway, the January issue of BikesEtc takes cover-line hysteria to new heights with 12 exclamation marks on this month’s cover. Yes! Twelve! OMFG! I blame the new Editor (yes, another bike magazine with a new Editor), who is clearly VERY excited by the prospect of writing cover-lines!!! Or maybe he just can’t help himself, given some of his previous jobs:
Soldinger has actually been at BikesEtc for a couple of months, but strangely there was no announcement of his arrival, or the previous Editor’s departure, and the Editorial Director has written the Ed’s Letter for the last couple of issues. Soldinger has also worked at Loaded and Now magazines, and while at Nuts he flew out to Basra dressed as an elf to deliver Nuts Christmas presents to British troops stationed there.
Oh dear. Still, he’s a professional journalist and I’m sure we won’t have any of that sexist crap in
NutsEtc BikesEtc. Nor will we have hyperbolic cover-lines with the words “sexiest”, “beasts”, “revealed”, blah blah. Except that’s exactly what we get. Check out: “Revealed! The Race Legend Fuelled by Cow’s Blood!” It’s sensationalist drivel. Really.
Maybe Dennis Publishing is aiming for the top end and bottom end of the market with Cyclist and NutsEtc, leaving Time Inc and Immediate Media to fight it out for the middle-ground. I don’t know. But what I do know is that this month’s cover of NutsEtc is appalling shite. Just as Nuts was appalling shite. I can’t wait for them to do a piece on the women’s peloton: Top 10 Pro Team Hotties Undressed! Latin Lovelies in Girl-on-Girl Giro Rosa Action!
So, what’s inside this month’s edition? Well, we start off with a listicle about a new Hoy bike entitled “10 reasons you’ll love this bike”. I could give you 10 reasons why I don’t love this bike, but that would be as boring as the article. Next we have a rather random test of three “pro” bikes. Except they’re not really. They’re running Ultegra, have cheap wheels, and cost around £3000. Pff!
Next is the NutsEtc Awards, a 14-pager bigging up all manner of stuff from the last year. It’s not too bad, but there isn’t much meat to it, and we do get a gratuitous photo of Daniele Colli‘s horrifically broken left arm which is uncalled-for. Following on from this is one of those throw-away features that fills some space, gives you an excuse for a cover-line, but which has no real substance: The 10 Sexiest Bikes Out There. The design of this feature is hideous, and there’s been no attempt to really explain what makes a bike sexy (if anything). And including the Venge ViAS in this list is a joke.
The winter riding feature is good, though. They sensibly got an expert (long-distance adventure-cyclist Tom Allen) to write it rather than some staffer trotting out the usual guff we’ve come to expect. An interesting piece.
So too is the next feature — a look at the life of Mick Murphy. This sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the mag. It feels like it should be in Rouleur rather than NutsEtc, but it’s a great read about an interesting bloke that few people have heard of. Good effort, except for the pathetic cow-blood graphic.
Now we come to the reviews section. The Winter Jerseys test doesn’t include the Castelli Gabba, the one by which all others are judged, so we can immediately dismiss this. The Premium Lights test seemed OK (I don’t know enough about these things to know if the test is actually any good). Winter socks? They’re all good. The Budget Wheels test is not bad at all, and the Winter Gloves piece, although not extensive, does a fair job.
And then there’s this: £1600 Carbon Bikes. There are, of course, several dozen bikes that fall into this category, but we get four seemingly chosen at random. If I was in the market for a bike at this price-point I would certainly read this feature, but it’s not going to be terribly helpful in the overall scheme of things…there is too much missing (Trek, Boardman, Canyon, etc). A better approach might have been to pick four bikes many readers might otherwise have overlooked in this category…offerings from KTM, Cube, Merida, etc. That would get round the problem of the test not being comprehensive and also offer readers something they may not have considered.
Next up is the usual training section: Eat more fish, ride like a pro, don’t go mad at Christmas, clean your chain, ride your turbo, blah blah blah. All good stuff if you’ve only been riding a bike for six months, repetitive and boring if you’ve been doing this for more than a year or so.
At the back of the mag is the rides section, which includes the Cotswolds, Sa Colabra, the Dragon Ride, and North Devon. These are all reasonably interesting, if slightly lightweight (still better than the 12 pages CA give these things).
And that’s that. There are 110 pages of editorial in a 130-page mag, which means paid-for advertising is looking a bit sparse. I really hope someone slips some Diazapam into the new Editor’s tea, because if this level of hysteria continues I fear the worst (Editor Spontaneously Combusts in Blizzard of Punctuation Shocker!!!).