Cycle World tells Cafe Racer to get off its lawn

Dailies -


fixed_that_for_you.jpgOne of the few articles Cycle World makes available online is calling out younger journalists in general and Cafe Racer’s Mike Seate in particular for irresponsible journalism. The flawed reporting in question? Mike’s suggestion that the speed record for crossing a 1/4 mile finish line sans bike stood at 136mph when, as Allan Girdler explains at length, the record actually stands at 139mph.  The 72-year-old Girdler then goes on to say of Seate, “When that was going on, this author was riding his Schwinn Sting Ray bicycle around the neighborhood.” Mike is 39. Kids these days…

Cycle World

  • Cliff

    I won’t comment on Cafe Racer, I have never read it, but if I was affiliated with Cycle World (1/2 hour read at best), I would look at one of the English mags, say “Bike”, look at mine, and then weep. Nothing against Girdler, he has been there forever, but like the domestic auto mags, CW’s reasons for existence are getting fewer and fewer. I pay a fortune for Bike, but every time I pay $4 ($5?)for CW at the airport I wonder why I even bother. Just because the format worked in 1972 (Girdler’s heyday – and I am old enough to remember), doesn’t mean it can work now. Sheesh, pick up a competitor sometime to see how it can be done, other than to kvetch.

    • robotribe

      This is easy:

      Cycle World = pamphlet

      Bike = magazine


  • Az

    Such flawed reporting could have also been a typo for as insignificant as this appears…. geez CW!

  • General Apathy

    Great article.. I love a good bitchslap.

  • CBontheMV

    I don’t think I’d mind CW (or any other car or moto mag) talking about journalistic integrity as much if they’d include the same with their reviews. Every review a gushing declaration that this is the best model ever, run out and buy it NOW, with the manufacturer’s ad conveniently placed right at the end of the said article. I realize that advertisers pay the bills, but I’m tired of reviews being thinly disguised ads.

  • SDMike

    The article summary is quite misleading. The author takes facts from two different stories within the editorial and presents them as being from the same story. This really should be corrected. Though I do see the (un)intended irony if it isn’t though, this being a post about an editorial about journalistic integrity. :-)

    • Wes Siler

      Are you talking about my write up? If so, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, mind pointing it out?

      • Ben

        Your write up poses Girdler as Eastwood in Gran Torino, stirring up crap over a typo. The issue presented wasn’t only the speed difference. Seate reported on a racer who he claimed “was the only man in history” to accomplish a such a feat. There was a similar record publicized in Cycle World of 139 mph that Seate supposedly knew about. So, it seemed that Seate ignored the facts either for entertainment value or out of personal spite. Also, if Girdler is to be believed, Seate brought up the age issue to begin with.

        Your write up is considerably more entertaining than the proposed reality of the article, if that’s any consolation.

      • SDMike

        The Schwinn remark was made in relation to a review Girdler had done of a book Seate had written. He has some incorrect information in there about Kenny Roberts as well.

        In reflection, this isn’t that big of a deal and I don’t know why it stuck me as such. I must have been in a feisty mood when I read this before. ;-)

  • Corey

    Why are our magazines so lame? A year or two ago Motorcyclist made a huge deal about revamping its look and approach. More dirtbike stuff, a short-lived run of Dan Walsh articles, a new editor (Catterson) etc. Lots of promise that generated a couple of interesting series of articles (reviews of vintage bikes, honest helmet safety pieces, etc) but otherwise it was mostly cosmetic. Bike and the brit mags are so much better (and even Bike it isn’t nearly what it used to be). I wish I understood the US moto-mag business from the inside – why the content and style straitjacket? The readers of Motorcyclist whine when there are stories on too many European bikes or electric bikes or when they demonstrate resonable contempt for the performance characteristics of Harley and Harley clones. On the other hand, even when the US mags ‘step out’ and ape the British magazines they can’t seem to find real room for humor or ‘lifestyle’ pieces that go much beyond the limits of a handful of short color pieces (mosto of which ham-fistedly immitate Hunter Thompson’s prose). I know it is a business and they work hard to be able to offer one page of copy per page of advertising, but come on. Remember when Performance Bike staff built its own sportbike from strach, or when Bike ran the CBR on Apple ethanol, distilling the fuel themselves? The great coverage of MotoGP/WSBK Why can’t US mags do this? And then there’s the discrepancy between Speed and BBC motorsport coverage…ugh.

  • bzr

    Journalism: serious business.

  • GeddyT

    I’ve got subscriptions to Cycle World, Sport Rider, and Motor Cyclist. I mean, really, it’s $12 per year per magazine, so why the hell not? I’ve never read Bike Magazine, so maybe I should give it a try, but I still look forward to my “cycle porn” every month in the mail. Kills a few hours at work and I’ve found them to be pretty insightful at times.
    At any rate, for as much as people would like to bash the domestic mags, I’d pay $1 a month for Peter Egan’s column alone. Big fan of Andrew Trevitt at Sport Rider, too. And is there any better motorcycle technical writer than Cameron at Cycle World?

    It is kind of frustrating to pick up a magazine and read MotoGP and WorldSBK news from four races ago, but that frustration usually wears off when, upon reading the article, I learn something new that flew under the radar at the time.

    I will agree, though, that NASCAR–I mean “SPEED” Network’s coverage of anything motorcycle related is so pathetic that I’ve boycotted the channel outright. But that’s what the subscription’s for anyway.

  • JohninVT

    Mike Seate is the worst writer currently published in any motorcycle magazine. He displays no effort at crafting a well written article and is more concerned with name checking and appearing cool. He is the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.

  • Kerry

    I have met Mike Seate, he is a nice guy. Looks like he might have a temper but I have never seen it. I have never met Allan Girdler but I have read his stuff for most of my motorcycle life and sometimes feel like I know where he is coming from.

    That being said the whole stinking thing is retarded (and not in that cute Corky kind of way). I used like CW because despite the critics on how bad a mag it is, they usually took the high road. Now give them internet access and they are no better than some chip on his shoulder 17 year old with an internet connection and a score to settle. CW you should be ashamed of yourself, and for godsakes can you get one of the interns to change Allan Girdler’s depends – he’s getting awful cranky.

    Thank you CW for not making me feel guilty anymore that you lose money on my $6 a year industry subscription price. For the first time I actually feel that even at $6 you are still lucky to have me as a suscriber and reader. Grow up.

  • Rob

    Pish-posh. Who the hell cares who dismounted at the highest speed. It’s a safe bet that there are other undocumented cases at higher speeds. Shame on Girdler for even consuming the synapses required to write that article.

    I don’t know how the discussion about the UK vs US mag quality is relevant to the original posting other than both Seate and Girdler both write for US magazines. Regardless, I agree to the fullest extent but can’t stop myself from collecting a few pennies to pay the renewal fee for the few US mags I get. However, I fess up the $10 when I want to read a proper magazine and get Bike or TWO/Visor Down at the newsstand.

  • Sasha Pave

    What’s this book that Mike Seate wrote? The one Allan Girdler tore apart?

    It’s not too small an industry to hold a grudge apparently.

  • Rainman

    I’ll read Hell For Leather on my Google Reader ANY DAY over buying a copy or reading CW online.

  • woodcutter

    CW isn’t even worth the small renewal fee because I feel guilty putting all of the issues in the recycle bin.

    Arrogant. Cameron is the only writer worthwhile. Read him at the grocery store.

  • mojo

    Note to Allen Girdler @ CW: those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
    I can’t begin to tell you how many mistakes I’ve read in CW over the years. Either via typos, incorrect reporting, confusing or un-vetted facts. Other than Kevin Cameron’s articles, there really is no need to read CW. What Girdler is saying may be true, but CW isn’t the highwater benchmark for non-biased journalistic excellence.

  • RT Rider

    I find CW to be a very uninteresting mag. I do have a subscription right now that I will not be renewing. I find Rider and Road Runner far more interesting.

  • Jared

    I agree that Egan and Cameron are the only reasons I renewed my CW subscription last year. Burns has the occasional gem too, but $10 is too much to toss the mag in the recycle every month. I like the idea of traditional print media, but CW (and many others) is struggling to adapt to the internet age. It’s ludicrous to post “Breaking News!” in a magazine that comes out every 30 days when 90% of the readers probably saw it online 3 weeks or even 3 months before.

  • GeddyT

    For those still confused about this one, I believe I’ve figured it out. Despite all the comparisons to British mags in these comments, I believe the magazine Girdler is referring to is Cafe Racer Magazine, a bimonthly U.S. domestic mag that is also distributed in the UK. I can’t find anything on their website about who the editor is, but I can only imagine considering that under the tab “Order the Book” there are only two books and both are by Mike Seate.

    As for Girdler’s review of the book (which I believe to be “Cafe Racer the motorcycle”), I can’t find that anywhere.

    Website here:

    • Wes Siler

      Is it really that confusing? Cycle World is a print magazine, Cafe Racer is also one. Mike Seate is the editor of Cafe Racer, Allan Girdler is a curmudgeonly writer for Cycle World shaking his cane at some damn kid that’s playing on his lawn. Should we publish a flow chart?

  • nick

    if you guys think CW had lame articles (they do, but the editorials are short of genius), try Cafe Racer… theres a bunch of idiots that think they know bikes because they ride trendy cafes.
    When a 39 year old tries to ignore and bash a 72 year bike journo that was there for most of what we know of vintage and modern racing history…your a douche.

  • HW Pfabe

    Egan’s a good writer, I just personally find his articles pretty repetitive.

    Cameron is far and away my favorite. Entertaining, educational, and he doesn’t write down to people, but still manages to explain things nicely.

  • RpM

    I still mourn the loss of my old favorite, CYCLE. Even as a kid back in the ’70′s, when I plunked down my 50 cents an issue I knew I was getting a good read. While Cycle World had the glitz, CYCLE always had the goods.

    Granted, guys like Cameron and Burns have contributed some good work, but sadly, CW has been stuck in a helluva rut for some time now. Is this really the best they can do?

    Editorial decisions? Girdler and CW should have kept “The Wisdom of the Elder” to themselves. Unfortunately, they’ve slipped yet again.

  • PeteP

    Mike Seate lost me when he wrote that “No Waving” article, and painted “HNIC” on the side of his Ducati. Bwahahaha!

    This little tiff would have been best swept under the rug. Sometimes, it is not worth exposing bruised egos. Now, we all like both of them a little less.

    CW has a hard job. They positioned themselves so they must appeal a little to everyone, yet piss nobody off.

    Every US magazine that has tried to emulate the British mags has gone down in flames. Remember “Twistgrip”? Of course you don’t. The industry killed it before it could build a large readership. Advertisers boycotted it. It was really fun to read, though. I think I have all the isssues that made it out.

    It is painful to think that Germany can put out a really good magazine (Motorrad) every two weeks, and we cannot get something with a little edge once in a while.

  • Tom

    CW, like all magazines, if it wants to stay viable, it will have to offer value added material that is not easily found on the Net. Until CW does this, I find no reason to renew my lapsed subscription.

    Oh, and the CW discussion forums is the most pussified board run by so-called “real bikers” that I have ever seen outside the Indian board that sprang up around the Gilroy bike. Anyone who ppints out the obvious flaws in Harley-Davidson bikes can expect a swift BAN.

    I know its quite clear, but HFL is just so much better.

  • j Mac

    The biggest shock about this whole “who slid the fastest down the quarter mile” is that Girdler is in his early 70′s.Wow That must mean that I’m not 14 anymore, since I was reading him and others in the early 1970′s! It is painfully obvious that many of the North American, main stream motorcycle publications are a tad light on contend.The whole motorcycle market is segmented into so many different categories,cruiser,chopper,classic,sport bike ,hooligan,etc, etc. that it’s hard to play to the big audience.It used to be, we like motorcycles and motorcycling because,well, it’s fun!Everyone needs to lighten up a bit.

  • tom

    Moto-journalism = Oxymoron

    Seate’s writing in many of the articles
    he’s done is sophomoric at best, on par with JP Burns.
    His books on the other hand are a little better.