Singletrack Issue 54 – What’s in it?

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With this issue being the last one of the year it has two Special Things: first of all there’s a FREE calendar bagged with it, and secondly the magazine contains the winners of this year’s Singletrack Reader Awards.

Subscribers' and bike shops' cover. Pic by Dan Barham.
Subscribers' and bike shops' cover. Pic by Dan Barham.
The "High Street" shops' cover. Pic by Dan Barham.
The "High Street" shops' cover. Pic by Dan Barham.
Contents pic by Gary Perkins.
Contents pic by Gary Perkins.

Here’s the contents of Singletrack Mountain Bike Magazine issue 54 in full…

7. Editorial
Chipps is scared of missing out…

8. The Great Divide
Jenn Hopkins raced 2,500 miles of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico and thrived to tell the tale.

16. Wet and Dry
All it takes to cure the rainy-day blues is a mountain bike trip somewhere new – and a drying room.

24. Column: Matt Letch
Matt celebrates those racers in the glorious bottom third of the results.

26. Interview: Nick Larsen of Charge bikes.
Mountain bikes just aren’t cool any more, and Nick’s trying to fix that.

33. Bike test: Widowmakers.
Three big-hitting bikes to help you get yourself into trouble from Commencal, Kona and Specialized.

42. Singletrack Reader Awards
Well, you voted for them, so find out who the winners are here.

44. Editors’ Choice
We get to play with a lot of nice toys. But which products can’t we live without?

50. Through the Grinder
A fresh crop of products dragged through a couple of months of autumn ‘sunshine’…

58. Baked Alaska – the Iditabike race.
The Iditasport Invitational is a 300 mile mountain bike race in Alaska. In February! John Ross went from Bristol to below zero to race it.

69. Press Camp Shootout
A light-hearted comparison of the different approaches companies take when launching new products to us journos.

76. Column: Jon Woodhouse
Jon looks at the ways that many riders choose to handicap their riding – through lack of gears or excessive suspension.

78. Propaganda
There’s JUST enough time to buy yourself nice Singletrack stuff for Christmas. Or leave this page open on the coffee table…

82. Grouptest: Helmets
Everyone needs a helmet and we’ve got 15 of the latest lids from all over the place prodded and compared on different bonces.

92. Subscribe to Singletrack!
It’s easy to do and subscribers now get even more benefits via Premier Membership of the Singletrack website.

94. Long Term Test Bikes
It’s time to say goodbye to this year’s selection of long termers. Will we be sad to see them go? Or relieved?

100. Powerhouse
Julien Happich volunteered to be a human hamster for the day and help power a house for a BBC programme using just leg power.

104. Column: Alex Leigh
Why wear body armour? Why not ride better instead and not crash in the first place? asks Alex.

106. Blame the Dog – Mike Ferrentino.
Our American columnist looks at the universal lack of a coherent cycling greeting.

108. The Big Welsh Ride Thing
Inspired by events like the Great Divide Race, some STW forum members decide to try a much shorter version in mid-Wales.

116. Route Guide: Eastbourne.
The south coast is home to endless miles of chalky singletrack. Or it was when Chipps was shown round.

126. Premier Club
Here just are some of the benefits of subscribing to Singletrack or becoming a Premier forum member.

127. Outro
The silly and stupid from this issue’s adventures and adventurers…

Comments (36)

    oooh that looks like a good read. I love the great divide reports in the past. and a free calendar to! woot!

    Great contents picture.

    I’m looking forward to reading the Great Divide article too. Jenn H is one tough cookie.

    when will it hit my doormat….?

    Contents look good but…

    8. The Great Divide
    Jenn Hopkins raced 2,500 miles of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico and thrived to tell the tale.

    Wasn’t that in WMB last month also by Jenn?

    Great cover pic, though the high street version really does look awful.

    That’s the point of the high street version. A(nother) reason to subscribe innit? 🙂

    Clubber, that’s why we make a nice clean cover for subscribers. Those cover lines are there to interest people who might normally pick up another magazine…

    Was the WMB story seven pages though? Yes it’s the same Jenn, but we hopefully have more room for a bit of good storytelling. 🙂

    i agree with Rex, nice contents image 😛

    Great cover pic, though the high street version really does look awful.

    That’s the point of the high street version. A(nother) reason to subscribe innit?

    Agreed – absolutely living the cover but the high street version is dreadful. Sadly I have no bike shop stocking STW near me and I don’t do subscriptions, sorry. It’s a shame as I reckon the subscriber cover would sell more mags in WHSmiths than the uglyass ‘high st’ version.

    Actually, I’m loving the cover pic, not living it . . . wish I was that good at riding roots 😉

    I’ve got to know. Did he clean those roots?

    ” I reckon the subscriber cover would sell more mags in WHSmiths than the uglyass ‘high st’ version.”

    You’d think so wouldn’t you? Unfortunately it really is not the case.

    Why don’t you “do” subscriptions by the way?

    From Alaska to Mexico. Could you hack it?

    Ha! Ha! More like are your pockets deep enough.

    any chance of that contents picture as a screensaver?

    when is it in the shops???

    Going to subscribe with cash from Xmas so if I subscribe now will I get this issue or will it begin with the next issue ie Jan/Feb issue no.55????

    “I’ve got to know. Did he clean those roots?”

    Indeed he did, for the half-dozen attempts it took us to nail the right shot! Brian Earle, Root Master.

    Why don’t you “do” subscriptions by the way?

    Mainly because I tend to look at the contents and then decide whether or not to buy depending on interest. I guess I’ve shot myself in the foot there with the ‘busy’ cover comments 😉 although as a serial surfer I usually know whats gonna be in the mag before it hits the shelves. Have to say though, on the newsagents shelves, I reckon the clean cover would stand out in a sea of ‘shout out loud’ mags.

    I think it was 5 or 6 pages, Chipps so you’re at least one up there 😉

    It was a really good article though so I’m looking forward to the ST version of it too 🙂

    Unfortunately, in Smiths etc, you only see the top left hand corner of the magazine anyway, as they’re always stacked behind other mags.

    Valleydaddy – you’re too late to subscribe for this issue, so a Christmas sub would start with 55.

    Headfirst – we’re working on some decent screensaver shots. It’s all down to contracts and rights-usages unfortunately.

    ok thanks Chipps,

    when is issue 54 in the shops?

    can’t wait to get it getting withdrawl symptoms – love my mags!!

    Chipps, when is it out?

    echoing others comments here, that Contents pic is just stunning.

    The mag will be on shelves on Monday. It was a little late this issue. However, the digital version we are planning to have ready on time for Thursday.

    Mamadirt.. Unfortunately.. well actually, more logically, those mags that shout loudest get noticed.

    This was my favourite cover ever..

    Until it instantly lost us 10% of sales on the newstand due to it being B&W.

    Cover design is an art.. a messy, commercial art.. but entirely neccessary if you are an independent mag who wants to survive on the newstand in a VERY competitive market.

    If there were just, say, two bike mags, then we’d be able to afford to be more ‘arty’ with the covers. Unfortunately you lucky people have one of the most crowded specialist markets in terms of magazines to pick from.

    Why is it that more than any other specialist market cycling seems to emit magazines on an annual basis?


    I hear what you’re saying Mark and you’re the folks with the figures but those two covers up there are a world apart. Maybe something a little more akin to the BMX mags’ covers . . . a little less in your face with the announcements (though they’re still there) and more chance for the work of the photographer to shine :).

    Believe me.. we’ve had long meetings about the cover and the conclusion is always the same..

    making covers nice and pretty and artistic and that show off the photographers work equates to less sales on the newsstand. And like I said earlier, weve had first hand experience of how a cover that we really like has cost us thousands.

    We agree with you… just to be clear… we MUCH prefer the nice clean cover. But if we put that on the shelves we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot. That cover is designed to be as loud and eye catching as possible. It has to be.

    I’ll let you in on a little secret..
    As Chipps spoke of earlier.. take note of the top left quarter of the mag. That’s called the ‘G Spot’. Its the ONLY part of the cover guaranteed to be visible on the shelves.

    Now.. Take note of the words that sit within that space…

    ‘FREE’… ‘OFFICIALLY’…. ‘BEST’ (best x 2 actually)… ‘GUARANTEED’

    although that last one is slightly below the fold.. ‘EPIC’ is still there on the left, which is visible on most shelves..

    These are all positive up-selling words designed to catch your eye via your subconscious and draw you in.

    On a typical newsagents shelf any title has 0.5 seconds to sell itself before your eye moves on. These positive key words are measurably more significant and have a greater impact on a possible sale than the actual design and prettiness of the cover.

    Next time you are in the newsagents and you are scanning the shelves, bear the ‘G Spot’ and the positive key words technique in mind. See what catches your eye and then ask yourself why? Unfortunately the numbers back up the premise that a well designed cover (that results in sales) rarely looks pretty in a saturated market segment.

    Hmmmmmmmm, so where can I get one of those lovely ‘rooty covered’ issues then? If I order from the STW shop do I get the ‘picture’ or ‘1000 words’ option? 😉

    Well traditionally buying from a bike shop or subscribing is the only sure way. If you call Claire on the subs/shop number published in the mag and order from her over the phone and ask her nicely she’ll make sure you get a clean cover version 🙂

    Cheers Mark 😀 . I promise I’ll subscribe once I’m rich 😉

    Mamadirt, I’ve seen the pics of your bikes you are far from skint!!!

    glynP, you don’t know the half of it 😉 . . . and I only have one bike, honest.

    “The Word” also do a clean subscribers cover and a bannered to death cover for the shops. And they too I believe (or at least purport to be) an independent produced mag. Knowing what the great unwashed are like I can totally see why crappy covers sell while skilful arty ones don’t. Let’s face it most of the high selling “product” these days is sold with tat or sex or tatty sex.

    Surely the content of the mag must come into play when in the newsagent? That terrible interview edtion wouldn’t have found it’s way onto my coffee table just cos it had a nice pic on the front.

    I have a flick through, then decide to buy – not blindly buy on the strength of the cover (I’d also take the mag out and look at the whole cover, not just the g spot).

    But anyway, if you get the content right, won’t people become repeat customers?

    Also – where on the newsagent shelf matters too – ST Mag is hidden out of site in my local WH Smiths, with What MTB at the front.

    I first picked up ST in Smiths as it looked more arty and ‘deep’ than What MTB or MBR – more classy. It’s now losing that kerb appeal now.

    Don’t judge a mag by its cover!

    People don’t BUY a magazine because of the cover.

    However, most people really do PICK IT OFF THE SHELF because of the cover.

    And then the “flick-through inspection” will decide if they buy it or not.

    Being picked off the shelf is the first and most vital step.

    And horrid/loud/garish covers get picked up more. It’s just a fact we’re afraid 🙂

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