New magazine published in Batavia connects the region's motorcycle enthusiasts
One of the secrets to identifying a good business opportunity is to figure out what nobody else is doing and start doing it.
Scott Wakefield loves things with two wheels and motors and getting on those bikes and going to interesting places. He noticed a lot of other people like doing the same thing but nobody was really helping them learn more about the local motorcycle culture so he decided to start his own magazine.
Four issues into the enterprise, it looks like he's found a niche.
"The motorcycle culture, I think is kind of tight-knit but you've got all these disparate groups," Wakefield said. "There are sportbikes, you've got the cruisers, you've got the restoration folks and vintage folks, and I think they may get along really well but there's no direct communication. Buffalo has a magazine but Rochester didn't..."
The idea of Motoclectic Magazine was just a dream until Wakefield met Dan Hosek -- a designer, artist, and comic book creator -- at the Richmond Memorial Library when Hosek gave a talk publishing comics.
One of the biggest pieces of advice Wakefield said he got when planning his magazine was to find a graphic designer. Even though Hosek had little prior experience with motorcycles, he got excited about designing a new magazine from blank page to finished product.
"I'm starting to get more into it but as someone from the outside, I kind of wanted to make a magazine that also I thought would appeal to any person who picked it up," Hosek said. "So, like in the first issue, we had a story that was more of a history piece about the Dansville Castle, the Jackson Sanatorium; adding stuff like that so that someone could pick it up, a wife or husband who isn't a rider but they could look at it and see it's a cool story."
The magazine, published from offices in the Harvester Center, is intended to break the mold of typical motorcycle magazines that emphasize machinery and feature plenty of photos of scantily clad women.
It's about motorcycle culture not motorcycles, as Wakefield and Hosek describe it; what you can do with a bike, like take long rides, go out and meet good people and see interesting things.
"I say the motorcycle culture because it's not just about motorcycles, it's about anything that goes along with it -- rides, destinations, bikes, new bike, gear, accessories, and just the camaraderie that comes with motorcycles," Wakefield said.
The magazine's coverage area starts in Batavia and spreads eastward into Monroe and Livingston counties, and if successful, Wakefield and Hosek hope to expand as far east as Albany.
They leave Batavia heading westward to Buffalo to an already established motorcycle magazine, Hardtails, whose publisher helped advise Wakefield on his startup.
Wakefield said there is a whole culture of motorcycle enthusiasts who often get overlooked, if not overshadowed; people who just love a wide variety of machines on two wheels (and sometimes, even three wheels). They don't just ride Harleys and wear leather vests. They love their BMWs or Suzukis and they show up at rallies and venues that welcome recreational riders. And in most places, the wide spectrum of riders, including those on hogs, are one big family.
"The motosocials in the Rochester area is a community that is very welcoming," Hosek said. "Everyone at those motosocials, like the Harley guys and or on any other sort of bike, they'll be there and just be talking with each other about their bikes. It's pretty cool."
Wakefield agreed, observing that in Rochester motorcycle culture everybody just gets along, so he figured he could create a magazine with a cross-brand appeal.
"I think Rochester, for some reason, has that culture that's pretty well like 'hey, we're all on two wheels, let's get along.' "
To help tap into that wide range of tastes, Hosek said he knew he needed to create a design that was simple and communicated distinction and sophistication -- after all, people who love motorcycles are people with good taste.
"We basically wanted to keep it as clean as possible because it's about motorcycles but we didn't want it to scream 'biker magazine,' " Hosek said. "We wanted something that had motorcycles but didn't feel like a biker magazine. We wanted a lot of white space, leaving it clean."
A less cluttered look actually makes the pictures of motorbikes appear more like artwork rather than garage wall posters, giving the designs of gorgeous bikes room to breathe.
"If I said, 'design a motorcycle event poster for me,' you know, it's probably going to be black and orange and silver, and it's going to have flames and skulls and either a woman or an outline of a woman," Wakefield said. "That's what they look like always. We don't want that. We want what we do to be family-friendly."
In an era of social media and dying newspapers, it might seem counterintuitive for two young guys to start a print publication, but Hosek said putting out a magazine that looks like something substantial is really tapping into another impulse of people who grew up on digital media -- they want to hold something substantial. That's why Target, for example, has started selling vinyl records again.
"People have been approaching us because they want all the issues -- like they think of it as something that is collectible, like they want to keep it stored somewhere, which is cool," Hosek said.
You can view a digital copy of the first issue by clicking here. Locally, one place the print edition is available is at The YNGodess Shop on Main Street in Batavia.