Poor old Felix Dennis must be spinning in his grave. That a magazine, published by a company bearing his name, should churn out such awful shite would be heartbreaking for a man generally considered to be one of the publishing “greats” of the 20th Century. I was fortunate enough to work for him briefly back in the day, and we was a maverick genius, truly one of a kind. Google him…he was a visionary.
But NutsEtc, Dennis Publishing’s most recent addition to their cycling stable, is anything but visionary. For a few months in 2015 NutsEtc was beginning to look like a half-decent bike mag. It wasn’t perfect, but it seemed to be heading in the right direction. But last month’s issue was pretty poor, and this one is worse. It’s lowest-common-denominator publishing brought to cycling. And I, for one, don’t want to be treated like a 19-year-old noob.
Anyway, let’s get this over with, shall we? In the Ed’s Letter the new Editor admits to being a gym nut. Clearly he’s not a cyclist if he chooses to pay to spend his leisure time indoors with lots of other sweaty people when he should be outside on his bike. And, as we shall see later on, he seems to think the rest of his readers are not cyclists either. He may be right…maybe we don’t know the benefits of cycling, or how to clean a pair of shoes (yes, NutsEtc will explain all of these things this month).
10 Reasons You’ll Love This Bike — this month we’ll be loving a 9.2kg ally-framed BMC with Tiagra, apparently. Except most of us won’t. Although “being lightweight, stiff and part of BMC’s Altitude Series means you’ll snaffle hills for breakfast on this bike”. Yeah, right.
Next are some news and products pages that includes a review of piece of gym equipment that has neither pedals nor saddle and costs £1445. The First Ride this month is “disc-braked racers” and features a Kinesis Aithein, a KTM Revelator Sky, and a Lapierre Sensium. The test starts out by claiming that these three are “race-ready” and then spends the next nine pages explaining that they’re not really race bikes at all. It’s almost as if they thought “ah fuck it, it’s Christmas” (FIIC) and just boshed any old shite together.
And then there’s this:
New Year’s Resolutions, or lightweight advice for newbies dressed up in the lamest “creative” idea since the Editor went to Basra dressed as an elf? Fair play to Susannah Osbourne, though…as a freelancer she must be delighted to see an hour’s work spread out over six pages of editorial.
And she sold them another one in the shape of “Secrets of Rio’s Olympic RoadRace Route”. This is basically a re-hash of a tourist guide book about Rio de Janeiro along with a few snippets about cycling there. This is genuinely one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen in a cycling mag, but look no further if you want to know about the monkeys in the Tijuca National Park, or where to take a great picture of Christ The Redeemer. Perhaps NutsEtc think all their readers are heading off to Brazil this summer to watch the Olympic road-race? Or maybe they thought “ah fuck it, it’s Christmas”.
The four-page New Year, New Bikes piece contains a few pics and a paragraph on each of the six bikes featured. It’s an FIIC filler.
Next up is a six-pager on why the 2016 Tour de France will be the bestest one ever ever ever! And to confirm that fact, they asked a load of people (whose livelihoods depend on lots of people watching the Tour) what they think. Unsurprisingly, they think it will be super-epic. Come on, NutsEtc…YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE JOURNALISTS! This is feeble beyond belief. On second thoughts, FIIC!
Susannah pops up again with “8 Great Escapes”, a piece about cycling abroad. She is a travel journalist, but you or I could have thrown this together in an hour or two. All the usual boxes are ticked: Mallorca training camp, Cape Rouleur, Marmotte, Girona, Rapha Retreat, etc. It doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen countless times before, but it’s another eight pages for Susannah’s portfolio, so that’s good.
And now we come to the reviews section. The base-layers piece is reasonably good, the action cameras piece doesn’t include the GoPro Hero4, the energy gels piece doesn’t include anything from ZipVit or SiS, and the saddles test is just pointless (saddles are such a personal thing that testing them is a waste of time). The saddlebags test is just a small, random selection, plus a moron’s guide to what to put in your saddlebag (how stupid do they think we are?). They don’t even tell us the capacity of the bags. Eejits. And the Cleaning Kits piece appears to have been written for 12 year-olds (now remember, kiddies…a clean bike is a happy bike!).
The £720-£800 road bikes test is not of any interest to me, but maybe for newbies or those looking for a winter bike. Unfortunately it’s pretty turgid stuff, it fails to give all-up weights, and makes a lot of allowances for some pretty cheap kit. Yet again we don’t know why they chose these four out of the dozen or so bikes that fit the price range. FIIC.
The Edge section is the usual melange of crap — eat nuts and berries, ride like Peter Sagan, how to clean your shoes (no, really!), and 15 reasons why riding your bike is better than joining a gym. In case you hadn’t noticed, Mr Editor…this is a feckin cycling magazine. Of course we’re more interested in cycling than joining a gym. Only a total noob (or the Editor) would even consider paying money to join a gym rather than go cycling. Utter shite.
In the Out There section are short pieces on riding the Yorkshire Dales, Monte Grappa, Sussex and Pembrokeshire, all of which are short but reasonably OK. And that’s it. 130 pages, of which 107 are editorial ones. And it’s a really piss-poor effort. Seriously, it’s shockingly bad. I guess if you’re a complete novice then some of this stuff may be OK, but for anyone who’s spent more than a year on a road bike this stuff is Children’s Hour. But at least they’ve cut the number of exclamation marks on the cover down to a paltry 10!!!!!!!!!!