Shifting Gears

It’s been a satisfying ride the past 14 years, but the time has come for Editor Backus to turn the controls of Motorcycle Classics over to someone else.

Reader Contribution by Richard Backus
article image
courtesy by Richard Backus

For the first time since I can remember, I’m heading into spring with every bike in my garage — even my 1981 Honda Express moped! — running. The ’83 Laverda RGS got a top-end freshening last fall (and while the engine was out, a frame strip and repaint, along with new steering head bearings, swingarm bearings, wheel bearings, ignition coils and tidying up of the electrics) and is running better than ever. The ’73 BMW R75/5 is sporting a new seat cover and is running like the proverbial Swiss watch thanks to updated ignition and charging systems. The ’76 Suzuki GT185 … well, it just keeps running. And I’ve returned my new-to-me 1995 BMW K75 — the “appliance,” as I like to call it — to its original configuration after ditching the short shock and dished Corbin seat installed by the inseam-challenged previous owner, who’d also pushed the front forks up into the yokes a full 2 inches.

This is a new experience for me, and seems somehow appropriate as I turn my attention a new direction, from running this magazine to heading up my own business. When we launched Motorcycle Classics in 2005, there were people who said it couldn’t be done, that it wasn’t possible in the U.S. to sustain a magazine for classic and vintage bike fans. More than a few had tried, and they’d all, regrettably, ended up on the side of the road. Publishing is a tough business, even tougher in an age where information is increasingly driven by social media and other digital platforms. Print, many said, was dead. The news of its demise, to paraphrase the great Samuel Clemens, has been greatly exaggerated.

We’ve had the good fortune to not only survive, but thrive. And while we’re happy to take some of the credit, it really goes to you, the reader, the enthusiast who has embraced us and invited us into your home and encouraged us to become part of the classic/vintage motorcycle scene. It’s been a humbling, exciting, invigorating and incredibly satisfying ride, and now it’s time to turn the controls over to someone else.

That someone else is hardly a newcomer. When Landon Hall interviewed for the job of associate editor back in 2005, I couldn’t believe my good luck. An avid motorcyclist, he was also working in the magazine industry, so he knew the work and dedication it takes to produce a top-notch publication, issue after issue. That he’s stuck with us all these years is a testimony to his love of this magazine and of motorcycling. A track-day fan and a competent rider both on and offroad, Landon’s enthusiasm for motorcycling runs deep and true, and there’s nobody more capable of shepherding Motorcycle Classics into the future than he.

I’ll miss the daily routines of producing the magazine, but fortunately for me — and I hope for you, as well — I won’t disappear completely. I’ll still write the occasional piece, and even pen a regular column. Look for me towards the back of the book next issue. And I’ll still hit some of the great events we go to every year, including this year’s 4th Annual Ride ‘Em, Don’t Hide ‘Em Getaway, where I’m looking forward to rolling down the road with readers and guest of honor Dain Gingerelli.

I’m a firm believer that change is good. It brings new and unanticipated opportunities, and I’m excited for the new adventures awaiting me, and Landon in his new role as pilot of the longest running and, in my humble opinion, best vintage bike magazine ever produced in the U.S. See you on the road.

Richard Backus
Founding Editor

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine Featuring the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!