Where’s HFL? Motorcyclist edition!

Dailies -



It’s that time again! Time to play Where’s HFL?! Guess who’s decided to play the game this time?! Motorcyclist magazine! Unlike last time, we didn’t even have to hide tiny watermarks in images, they decided to play by apparently copying their text straight from Hell For Leather! The following line is included on Motorcyclist’s website and in their March, 2011 print edition: “JT Nesbitt denounced the Diavel as ‘a monumental breach of brand trust and honesty,’” Where have we seen that quote before? I know, right here!

JT’s quote can be found in the second paragraph of the article titled “What The Hell?” in the March, 2011 issue of Motorcyclist and on their website here. In full, it reads, “…JT Nesbitt denounced the Diavel as a ‘monumental breach of brand trust and honesty…objectively compromised the performance of their motorcycle.’”

In the first edition of Where’s HFL? we secreted tiny HFL logo watermarks in images we published over a three-day period coinciding with last November’s EICMA motorcycle show, then challenged readers to find the publications that were ripping us off by finding where those images ended up. Turns out that nearly every online motorcycle publication pulls its content straight from us!

While that game was tons of fun for everyone involved, we were forced to soberly note the laziness and lack of respect for their readers it indicated in the offending publications. While copying your content from HFL is one thing since we’re such an outstanding source of information and images, copying from us could indicate that those publications also copy their content from other sources, sources which might not be so reliable. Can you really trust a publication that repeats rather than reports?

Now back to the matter at hand. Could it be that our old buddy JT simply said the same thing to Aaron?! We emailed him to make sure:

Nope, sure didn’t!

Could it be that the always hilarious JT shared that quote with someone else, who then shared it with Aaron?

Not according to JT!

But, wait, how do we know that Aaron reads HFL comments, where JT originally made this quote?! Well, he’s an HFL commenter too! Here’s our favorite comment of the 15 he’s left under the pseudonym “Salad Shooter”:

We reached out to Aaron and asked him where he found that quote:

“That came from Ducati Senior Designer Bart Janssen-Groesbeek, who designed the Diavel, during my interview with him this past November, in his office at the Ducati factory in Bologna,” he told us in an email!

Bart has yet to respond to our request for confirmation of this.

Now, why is copying something said in HFL comments a problem? Well, as we’re sure a credible journalist such as Aaron Frank knows, misrepresenting a source is unethical! He didn’t cite our comments section as the source of the quote! Additionally, all content on Hell For Leather, including comments, is copyrighted, as is noted at the bottom of every page, and copyrighted user commentary is licensed to HFL, not to be exploited by other publications our users may or may not read!

As a subscriber, Aaron should also be aware that reproducing published material from HFL violates the terms of use he agreed to when he subscribed and violates the reader/publisher trust we work so hard to establish with each article!

Don’t worry Aaron, we won’t cancel your account this time, but consider this a warning. If you abuse our other readers and their ability to comment for selfish reasons, it’s a violation of our policies and can result in cancellation of your subscription without refund!

The thing is, all this is a bit silly. Aaron, had you emailed us to ask permission and agreed to cite us as the source of that quote, we’d have happily agreed! Hell, if you’d simply cited us, we’d be cool with it too!

By printing this comment, Aaron and Motorcyclist appear to be tacitly acknowledging the major role that our commenters played in the conversation surrounding the Diavel’s release. Exciting, right?! The thing is, by failing to properly cite you guys as the source, they’re denying you credit for that contribution! That’s just disrespectful to our readers!

What the hell, indeed!

  • Michael

    Oh snap! Good bust boys!

  • Endless Mike

    Can I change my name to Valentino Rossi and get Motorcyclist to quote me?

    • ike6116

      Dibs on Erik Buell

  • zato1414

    Terms of Use? Must have got lost in the fine print. I like HFL more every day. Smack down of paper rags and their 2 month late editors is worth the price. Keep firing away!

  • ike6116

    HFL’s got your balls in the Salad Shooter there Motorcyclist.

    It’s tax season, do you think these motorcycle magazines write off HFL subscriptions as a cost of doing business expense? Seems they wouldn’t have much content otherwise.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Agreed. Our rags always have so much out of here it’s scary, sometimes photos too, I must keep a sharper eye out for HFL watermarks!

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

    What’s a more likely response from Motorcyclist? “We regret this unfortunate editorial oversight. We hold journalistic integrity to be a guiding principle of our publication, and will immediately remedy this situation.” Or, “…”

  • Kevin

    Wow, great work HFL. It’s about time HFL gets more respect from other MC media outlets.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Just call me Rodney.

      • Cajun58

        What’s that old saying imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  • debra

    proven once again..i go nowhere else for my info- only HFL-

  • jwinter

    Ha ha! Love seeing people called out on this.

  • Nick

    Hold on, they still print motorcycle magazines?

  • Antonio

    Bang to rights!
    Funnily enough, I came across HFL because a story which was wholesale plonked into an MCN article was properly referenced. And now I don’t bother with MCN at all! By comparison, the vfm and quality of content here is superb.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Devin

      Yeah I found out about HFL from Autoblog – properly sourced even.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        We actively work to garner links from sites like MCN, Autoblog etc and both are usually very good about linking.

      • Kyle

        Yea I found you guys through Autoblog also, they’re usually very courteous about giving credit where credit is due. Especially when they’re a week or two late on things.

        But I’m glad to have thrown down on your subscription. I will occasionally pick up a Sport Rider here and there when I want something to read on the train ride back in from the city. If only you guys had an iPad app or some kind or emagazine it would be sick, I love what Evo has done with theirs.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Well the current version of the site was designed from scratch to suit the iPad. Save us to your home screen and you even get a custom button. I understand that this won’t work while you’re offline though.

          It might default to our mobile site, just scroll to the bottom and switch that off for the full thing.

  • Peter88

    Why shouldn’t Motorcyclist reproduce published material from HFL? Wes and Grant are just “blogging in their basements”. :)

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Looks like someone’s a Jalopnik reader :)

      • Peter88

        My eye sometimes wanders in the cage direction. They also led me to you and this site.

        • jp182

          me too!

      • Jon

        lol wut?

        I miss old Jalopnik when that wasn’t allowed…

  • Surj

    I see this on Facebook all the time, too – the other moto mags often post stuff I’ve already seen here. I know that it’s possible they got the information themselves, but it happens so frequently it’s hard to write off as coincidence.

  • slowestGSXRever

    Hah, this is awesome. I’m somehow reminded of rappers beefing with each other (also awesome).

    • nick2ny

      I’m up for it as long as HFL only plagiarizes stuff from Fast Bikes. If they start copying Cycle World, I’m never coming back.

    • Chris Davis

      It makes for great publicity for everyone until you go to Vegas and someone busts a caps lock in your ass and drives off.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler


  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

    I had to fly this week and forgot to bring a book. Thought I’d browse the magazine racks and see if maybe motorcyclist had anything for me. It was all ‘news’ that was already three months old.

    Can you do an investigative report on why JT Nesbitt is such a cockface? These clowns are so protective of their territory. Why is motorcycle journalism so in-group? What are they afraid of?

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    Just another reason why I wouldn’t receive Motorcyclist if my subscription weren’t free, meanwhile I’m happy to pay for HFL.

    Did Aaron ever identify himself as the infamous Salad Shooter, or will this just be dismissed as hearsay?

  • Your_Mom

    Sadly I resubscribed to Motorcyclist only to find it isn’t the same as it used to be. Brian Catterson isn’t Mitch Boehm and neither is the magazine what it used to be. Mr. Catterson seems fascinated with rock musicians as he often writes about his so-called escapades with them instead of writing about motorcycles.

    Oddly enough, even though my subscription lapsed and they sent repeated “last issue” notices, they keep sending me the magazine. Is this to inflate their subscription numbers to advertisers?

    As to Mr. Frank plagiarizing HFL, it is beneath contempt. Anyone who does this and accuses someone else of lacking journalistic credentials is a hypocrite and lacks any sort of ethical basis upon which to criticize the craft. He is a buffoon.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

      Gotta agree with your assessment of Catterson. Recently, he got a major fact wrong on one of his long term test bikes writeups. He claimed the Z1000 / Ninja 1000 engine is a detuned ZX-10 engine, which it isn’t. Worse, his own magazine previously got it right.

      That they might benefit from giving me a free subscription makes me feel dirty.

      • Richard

        Catterson sucks, destroyed that magazine. Wish I had his wavy locks though.

  • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

    They could have just said that they read it on AsRub, which would have been credible at several levels.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Well, if you’d spelled AssRub correctly this would win comment of the day.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        He still has time to edit it. Don’t lose hope.

        • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

          Once again, work interferes with what I should have done…

  • kidchampion

    When Motorcyclist quotes JT Nesbitt as calling your site “Fagorific”, they will hopefully provide attribution to your fagorific site.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

      That would be outstanding.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        If that happens, I’ll frame it.

  • overunder

    And this is why I give HFL my lunch money every month.

  • Cajun58

    This is somewhat arbitrary although it relates to other sites that faithfully link to HFL. What’s happening with our Viking friends at MC24? The Norwegians blog hasn’t seen a new posting since the beginning of December.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Ivar got a new job as a consultant and as soon as he showed up in the office the guy he was supposed to be working for left on sick leave. He’s closed down MC24 in the idea of taking on HFL as his motorcycle outlet, which he’ll be doing once his day job is a little less hectic.

      • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

        I miss Ivar’s contributions to the motorcycle journalism world. I always imagined him typing away furiously in his unheated hut, wrapped in furs, wearing an iron helmet with horns, occasionally stopping to munch a giant spoonful of lutefisk, and washing it down with a healthy chug of Glögg from a crude earthenware mug. If this is not anywhere close to reality, please don’t tell me.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          No, that’s pretty much exactly how it works. His computer is actually made from ice.

          • Cajun58

            Thanks Wes my first exposure to HFL was through a link (the only thing I could read)on MC24 so I will always be in Ivar’s debt. It will be great to have the Norseman’s work in english. He seems to possesses just the right blend of irreverence and impertinence that a proper moto-journalist should have.

            • Ivar Kvadsheim

              Oh boy, you’re too kind. As Wes says I’m a bit busier than expected, but it’ll get better and I will most definetely be back. How could I not find the time to do it when Wes and Grant are letting me write for the world’s best readership (apart from the godlike MC24 readers). Now off to look up “irreverence” and “impertinence”

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    Can’t sneak one past HFL!

  • Corey

    I seem to remember Motorcyclist once giving HFL props and calling you guys ‘friends.’ Did I get this wrong, or have times changed?

  • Brad

    If you hire the Jack Lewis guy, I’ll never read Motorcyclist again.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler


      • Richard


        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Ha, I wasn’t joking. I only pick up the occasional issue when I’m flying or something.

  • dux

    What’s “Motorcyclist”? Some newsletter or something?

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    Declaring that the Diavel is Ducati’s most attractive naked bike was just too much to stomach in that piece. Plagiarism is far from the only journalistic problem.

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    I think I subscribed to a 2 year subscription to Motorcyclist, although I’m too lazy to cancel it. I also get ‘huge discount’ offers from them begging for me to resubscribe. No thanks!