In my last post, Motorcycle Reviews are Bullshit, I shitted all over the motorcycle industry, especially motorcycle journalists. It has seemingly become a race to the bottom in order to churn SEO content that hits well, and not produce a review that is worth reading. Pages of stats, and meaningless videos of shootouts are what motorcycle-centric media outlet produce. But I’m here, doing the goddamn Lord’s work. Telling all of you how motorcycle reviews should be done. Starting with this:
Move Away from Stats on a Page
Motorcycles perform like supercars, for a thousandth of the price. Sure, as a content producer, you have to do some educating for people who do not know much about motorcycles, but claiming that a 600 lb. motorcycle has 300 horsepower is doing nobody justice. We, the audience, no matter our collective skill levels, need context.
Give the audience some semblance of what this bike can do. Sure, it can do a 3.1 second 0—60mph, but what the hell does that mean to us? All of us aren’t going to the drag strip and doing pulls, so relate it to the street, not the track. Motorcycles are not about the numbers. They are about the experience. There have been countless books, essays, and words written about the “freeing” aspect of motorcycles, but every review tries to be clinical. Telling the audience that the BMW S1000RR will destroy a Bugatti Veryon in a drag race (and it will).
No More Fucking Shootouts
Ugh, fucking Shootouts. Every time I see a motorcycle media outlet post their “Middleweight Sportbike Shootout” or some other bullshit, I cringe and pray to Black Jesus that he will take me from this Earth soon. Nothing bothers me more than a quasi-scientific idea with unscientific methods.
The Shootout idea can either be punted into the trash (where it rightfully belongs) or it can be refined. Normally with a shootout, you have a different rider for each bike, or the bikes are a complete mismatch, 600cc inline 4 vs 675cc inline 3. So, stick with a control rider, and make sure the bikes are identical, 600cc inline 4 vs 600cc inline 4. Now, here comes my creative content based idea side, you can make a special shootout where you compare the bikes that are not alike. Boom, problem solved. No more of this garbled, mishmash nonsense that nobody can fucking understand. And, you have double the content!
Give that Bitch a Story, Bitches Love Stories
As the great Ed Wuncler III (voiced by Charlie Murphy) put it, “Bitches love smiley faces.” We, as humans, love emotions. We love to see emotions, because it reminds us of when we have felt those exact same emotions. We love reading stories. They take us to a place we have been, or wish to go. Motorcycle reviews, are not much story anymore. Just inflated, boring metaphors about how this bike, “Has so much acceleration, it will blow your head out of your butthole!!!1!111!!”
Even if there is a story about the motorcycle in the review, the story revolves around what the manufacturer or brand did to get the motorcycle journalist out there. So, it goes a little something like this: “Ducati flew me out to the Italian Alps to ride this bike, blah blah blah, then we did a track day at Monza. It was so beautiful.” Something like that. Where are the feelings? The emotions? How did this bike sing to you? Did the motorcycle touch your soul, or did it molest you harder than a Catholic priest? We need these answers; the audience deserves these answers.
That Sweet, Sweet Payola
Payola, comes from the radio broadcast world and means, any payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on commercial radio in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day's broadcast (thanks Wikipedia). To relate payola to what I am discussing is making it, any payment or other inducement by a motorcycle manufacturer for the favorable review of their motorcycle in the journalist’s publication where aforementioned publication is an alleged unbiased and untainted source. To break it down further, and simpler, it is basically getting bought off by a motorcycle company in order for you to write a good review. This happens in the food industry and the video game industry.
Now, I’m not stating that there is money changing hands and these journalists are taking large bribes, but I am saying that motorcycle companies are blurring the lines between a “friendly review environment” and “providing the journalist with an all expenses paid trip to review a bike in a great location.” Think about it, a motorcycle brand will fly a bunch of journalists out, to a beautiful locale, feed them, house them, coddle them, stroke them, whatever; and expect them to write an honest review of their bike. But, how can anything unbiased come out of that. If some random, murderous billionaire, flew me to the Bahamas, let me fuck his hot wife, and paid for anything and everything, I’d come out of that situation thinking, “Meh, he’s not that bad of a guy.” It is damn near impossible to come out of a situation like that with an unbiased review.
To solve that problem, you can do a couple of things. Either, make sure you have an unbreakable curmudgeon as a reviewer, with the constitution of a moderate Supreme Court Judge, or stop going on those “press junket” style reviews. Coordinate something with the brand, make them deliver the bike to where you live, and fucking ride. A pure, unadulterated review. Maybe then, we can see some kind of honesty.
MORE LONG TERM REVIEWS!
With motorcycle ridership on the rise in the United States, it makes sense that we move away from the stereotype of a “motorcycle as a weekend toy.” I’ve been motorcycle only for the past 4 years, and there are many more like me. But, reviews don’t reflect that. The reviewer probably puts less than 50 hours of saddle time on the bike, that’s more on the high end, and then writes about it. There is no way that you can find out about all of the bikes quirks, hiccups, electrical gremlins, decel pops, etc. Also, most review bikes are either 100% new, or they have a couple hundred miles on them, and they are well before the end of their break-in period. It’s like getting a piggyback ride from a toddler.
Just increase the term of the reviews. What, you have how many people working for your publication? 5? 10? Do they ride? Well shit, you have 5-10 reviews right there. Boom, content is king, fuck you pay me for my idea. It makes no sense not to do it. The moto brand would welcome it, and it is already a practice at some motorcycle media producers.
I guess what I want, more than anything, is transparency in the review process. I don’t want reviews to be laden with payola, journalists being biased, or unfairness in the review game. I just want reviews to inform the audience so that they can make the industry better. I want to move away from the “scratch my back, I scratch your’s” mentality, and move towards a collective unity.
I like what Jalopnik and Lanesplitter have done with their “Full Disclosure” that precedes their reviews. It provides the audience with transparency that should be clear from the beginning. It shows us that they have nothing to hide, and if there is a bias, to be on the lookout for it. Motorcycle reviews should be fun, engaging, and most of all, informative to their reader. It should not be clickbait, or flamebait, just to drive the publication’s hit rate and ad revenue higher.