RideApart: The Enthusiast's Guide to 21st Century Powersports

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h1Our audience is our best ally. You’d be surprised to know who reads us daily.

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When you're looking for the ultimate source of motorcycle reviews, test drives, and motorsports gear, one of your first stops is likely to be RideApart – the enthusiast's guide to 21st century powersports. It's not a small market either – powersports is a $20 billion a year industry that until now has been tremendously underserved online.

No one knows this better than Jen Degtjarewsky (pictured right), SVP and Editorial Director for RideApart. RideApart recently became a new Say Media content partner and we took the occasion to learn more about the world of powersports, what the fans want, and the coming trends in high-performance motorcycles and automobiles.

Give us some history - how did RideApart get started and who's behind it? Prior to RideApart, there was literally no one paying attention to how powersports readers were evolving, searching for and interacting with online content. You’d do a search and find a bunch of out-of-date vBulletin forums packed with super smart riders desperate for an up-to-date platform to interact with. They wanted one that was loaded with content that spoke their language and surfaced products and content they were passionate about. That’s what we do.

RideApart was born in May of 2013 when our CEO Jon Alain Guzik acquired a popular motorcycle blog called HellForLeather and he quickly began the process of recruiting professionals top to bottom who could create his vision for a 21st century portal for motorcyclists in the 18-35 demographic. Jon and I had had met a few years ago when he was at Yahoo Autos and I was at Hearst Corp working as the Editorial Director of RoadandTrack.com where I spent seven good years. As fate would have it, right about the time Jon was launching RideApart, Hearst was in the process of moving Road & Track from Southern California to Michigan... So, let’s just say that worked out well.

Another reason it was so easy to make the jump to RideApart is that we have so many great people on this project. Our technology department is run by Zach Risher who has launched many successful start-ups and who is in the process of finalizing a killer site redesign that we are very excited to show everyone a little later in 2014. We also have Nolan Zandi who Jon plucked off Wall Street to run operations and finance. You can see the whole cast of characters here.

Cycle World, Rider Magazine – there are a bunch of popular motorcycle magazines that have been around for awhile. What new things does RideApart bring to the mix that you can't get anywhere else? The first thing is that we don’t view other outlets as competitors, rather we see them as potential content partners. RideApart is a lifestyle brand that covers every aspect of being a powersports enthusiast. Sure, we review bikes but what we bring to the table better than anyone else is a constant stream of thoughtful, daily content that readers can depend upon being there. We also cover a wide range of topics – much wider than anything else out there in our space. You’ll find serious things like Health Insurance Policies for Motorcyclists and How To Ride Safely In Low Sun, next to fun reads like 10 Reasons To Date a Woman Who Rides a Motorcycle and Kickstarter Campaigns For Motorcyclists.

We also have a very rich gear section with real-world reviews that go quite a bit deeper than what most other online sites in our space spend time on. Our readers tell us time and again that they trust our opinion and use these gear reviews as purchasing guides that have ultimately influenced the outcome of what they spend money on.

We are also very plugged in and responsive to our audience seven days a week online, across multiple platforms. One of the things I enjoy most about our brand is that if someone sends us a tweet requesting that we cover a particular story topic, we usually have it online the next day. That’s something we do all the time and our audience responds to it with a lot of enthusiasm.

Our audience is our best ally. You’d be surprised to know who reads us daily − we have industry executives, university scholars, and the list goes on. I regularly tap members of our audience to write for us and they always knock it out of the park with results that far exceed expectations. Just this week the head S&C coach for the UC Berkeley MCLA Lacrosse team write an article on Introductory Strength Training for Motorcyclists complete with seven videos that blew the doors off.

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What are some of your most popular stories? We just recently published an article revealing our 10 most popular stories to date on January 1st. The field was varied, but the most popular story of 2013 was Common Motorcycle Accidents and How To Avoid Them.

You also brought DriveApart online in 2013 – what can you tell us about that? DriveApart is in its infancy, but our aim is to target the unique needs of powersports consumers in regards to the automotive segment. Most would love nothing more than to be on two wheels 24/7, however with work, friends, family and daily living that’s not always practical. So we focus on vehicles made to tow, haul and conserve fuel. With my background in automotive from Road & Track and Jon’s experience at Yahoo Autos and DriverSide there is a lot we want to do with this part of our brand and there is a lot of goodness on the way.

A $20 billion a year market – wow! Where are people spending most of their money? The gear side of the business is huge. It’s not uncommon for a rider to spend $700 and upwards on just a jacket. Then you add in base layers, boots, helmet, gloves, pants, a back protector, elbow and knee pads, backpacks, and more. A head-to-toe, CE-rated gear set-up can easily run upwards of $2,000 per individual. Then you stack on gear for various seasons and you can see how this can be an expensive sport. We always say that if you are buying a bike and can’t afford the proper gear, get a cheaper bike. It’s just that important as the results of not riding with proper gear all the time can be devastating.

And while you hear about how the motorcycle manufacturers are struggling, the thing to know is that it’s easier than ever before for an individual to put a brand new, shiny bike in his or her garage thanks to generous financing terms by the OEMs.

Also, as gas is continuing to cost American’s more and more, we have an increased number of bikes on the road from those adapting to two wheels in an effort to conserve money commuting.

After that, you add on things like safety courses, continued rider training, and track days… It really is a lifestyle and something our readers live and breathe and can’t get enough of.

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What are the most interesting powersports trends you're seeing right now? There are many, but one that is really taking hold and gaining traction is the electric motorcycle. Much like in automotive, there are several players on the field such as Brammo, Zero and Mission and as a result, electric bikes are quickly becoming a reality. In fact we named the electric Mission RS as RideApart’s Motorcycle Of The Year because we felt it demonstrated a superior performance solution to the typical internal combustion engines on the road right now. Plus, it’s also really, really fast.

You focus on highly sharable content. What makes your readers want to share your content – and where and how do they share it?When readers think our content is cool enough to share with their friends, we know we’ve done it right. We work diligently to always be relevant and to stretch ourselves creatively. For us, RideApart is an active conversation we are having with our readers. It’s not a one-way street where we put up a story and move on to what’s next. Instead, we put it up, see how they respond and actively reply to our readers. I never understand why some publishers mistakenly fall into the trap of thinking they know it all. Trust me when I say that your audience is smarter than you think, they catch more than you know and they are a highly valuable resource when it comes to generating content, testing formats and giving feedback that can ultimately make your brand succeed.

How would you finish this sentence: When in doubt ride… on two wheels.

RideApart is a Say Media content partner. Follow RideApart on Twitter at @rideapart.