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Adventure Rally draws riders and generates profit for motorcycle magazine publisher

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

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.

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