Adventure Rally draws riders and generates profit for motorcycle magazine publisherLos Angeles Times — By Charles Fleming Los Angeles Times
Oct. 06-- Most motorcycle industry veterans are painfully aware that their business model is broken.
New riders are not coming into the sport as fast as old riders are aging out of it.
Bonnier Motorcycle Group, which publishes 11 moto-centric titles including Cycle World, Motorcyclist and Dirt Rider magazines, sponsors several events a year that are designed to reverse the trend.
The most recent was the Adventure Rally, held in California's Sierra Nevada mountains at the China Peak ski resort. More than 150 motorcyclists interested in "adventure" riding-which typically involves a mixture of on-road and off-road travel, on machines designed to function well on all terrains-showed up.
The event is a moneymaker for Bonnier, which charges participants $400 apiece for three days of riding, instruction and product displays, and three nights of dining, drinking and dispensing of swag.
Bonnier's director of consumer engagement, Corey Eastman, who for the last several years has overseen the California rally and a similar event in Colorado, said the event is profitable at a time when readership and advertising are dropping for most motorcycle publications.
"As a publishing company, we have to find new ways to create revenue," Eastman said. "This is a way to break down the fourth wall and really meet the consumer."
Eastman said the event was partly underwritten by sponsors, which this year included motorcycle manufacturers Honda and BMW, insurer Geico, riding academy RawHyde Adventures, and equipment and apparel manufacturers Bell, Alpinestars, Galfer, Moose Racing, MotionPro and TCX.
The sponsors were attracted by the concentrated gathering of highly motivated consumers who, according to Bonnier research, are much more likely to buy bikes and gear following a rally event.
A "participant study" from Bonnier's two 2016 rallies showed that 70 percent of event attendees were 35 to 54 years old, and 79 percent were male. Their median annual household income was $191,600. Bonnier said.
"We have a captive audience here," said Troy Siahaan of Alpinestars, which hosted a booth displaying jackets, boots and other apparel. "This is a great opportunity to get them familiar with our product and get direct, immediate feedback."
Honda brought multiple models to the rally, including some of its African Twin adventure bikes and its small-bore CRF250 Rally.
BMW had a variety of machines on hand, including its niche-leading R1200GSA adventure bike.
Riders spent two days on self-guided tours of the surrounding mountains, in search of waypoints. Teams of riders were challenged to locate as many specified locations as possible, and collect photographic evidence of having been there to earn riding points-with higher points allotted for locations that were most distant from China Peak, or involving the most difficult terrain.
Gary Guagenti, 41, from Redondo Beach, Calif., learned about the rally from a recent Dirt Rider issue and signed up at once. He even went out and bought a second motorcycle so his son Chase, 16, could join him.
Guagenti said he was inspired, after several test rides in the mountains, to consider adding another machine to his stable.
"After this weekend I want to buy an adventure bike," Guagenti said.
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