We get asked a fair few questions about Cranked. Is there an online version? (no). Can I get a subscription sent to //country x//? (yes). I went on a great trip with my bike last year. Will you publish the story? (it depends). But the one that crops up most often is simply this: what’s in it?
A variation on this particular theme is one that makes me squirm. “It looks a bit like //magazine x//”.
Oh crap. It shouldn’t look like any other bike magazine. Y’know, aside from the fact that it has pages made of paper, and some photos and words related to riding bikes.
Frustratingly, it’s almost easier to explain what’s not in Cranked. There are no product reviews (because you can get all that information elsewhere and, anyway, what would be the point of product reviews in a quarterly publication?). There are no event reports in the traditional sense (because they tend to be of interest only to the few hundred people who were there). There are no new product announcements, or press releases masquerading as news (see ‘product reviews’). There are no route guides (because downloadable GPX files). There are no technique features (we just assume our readers can ride and, if they can’t, that they’ll figure it out). There are no ludicrously upbeat ‘travel’ stories full of fill-flash riders in matching kit riding suspiciously clean bikes (because no-one likes a show-off who blagged a free holiday from the tourist board, and coffee-trails-beer-sleep-repeat does not a worthwhile story make).
So that leaves…?
Rather a lot, as it turns out.
Here’s the thing. After 19 years freelancing as a writer and photographer for all (yes, all) the other UK mountain bike mags over that period, I learnt a thing or two. Mostly that if you don’t work at it, all mags end up looking rather same-ish (see the list of stuff we don’t publish above; there’s a reason we don’t do it, and that’s because all the other mags do). Dig a little deeper, spend a bit longer talking to people, ask the right questions… and the interesting stories will come. Garnish with genuinely stunning photography. Sweat the details. Make it look amazing. Job jobbed.
The common thread running through many of our stories is a simple one: they’re genuine. Real people, relating real experiences. Story-telling is as old as humans; it’s what we’ve always done. Individual, lived moments are endlessly fascinating. People ride bikes; people race bikes; people crash bikes; people find new places to ride bikes; people invent new kinds of bikes… you get the idea. We love to hear other people’s stories because it helps us relate to them. Those individual experiences become shared experiences, and it doesn’t really matter whether the medium is a fire pit or a beautifully printed magazine (except for the fact that what we sell is magazines, not fire pits…)
So Cranked isn’t really like other bike magazines at all. Yeah, OK, it’s got bikes in. But it goes a whole lot further than that, because what we want to do is create a magazine that we want to read ourselves. We’re not targeting a certain demographic, or chasing a particular audience, other than making something that we hope will appeal to people a bit like us.
That’s why it’s intentionally different. We like it that way. We hope you do too.
Seb / founder and editor