I just got the new issue (Issue Six) of Classic Dirt Bike magazine. This relatively new quarterly publication comes from the UK, published by WH Smith. I have to say I really like this mag. It’s quite different from VMX Magazine, which I wrote about back in December. Classic Dirt Bike covers the whole twin-shock market – including MX, trials, and general offroad – in the UK and to a lesser extent Europe and the US. There’s plenty of historical content going all the way back to the early 1960s and beyond, as well as ongoing technical and how-to articles like the rebuilding of a TY175. But what I really like is the extensive coverage of the UK twin-shock scene, which appears to be way more active and mature than our own vintage efforts.
For instance, they have actual vintage MX racing teams. The current issue profiles Chris Houseman’s Dick Do Racing, which fields a team of no less than 11 beautifully prepped Maico 490s, both twin-shock and Evo-class single-shockers. Issue Three profiled Andy Story Racing, which fields a team of 6 1973 Honda CR250 Elsinores. How cool is that, real VMX “factory” teams? There’s also business coverage – of the extensive cottage industry that supports the whole twin-shock movement. Everything from small companies like Greeves and AJS that are keeping venerable old names alive to companies like Wulfsport that can sell you everything you need to build a brand new Maico 490 race bike. As well as a bounty of craftsman frame makers, metal casters, and machinists. The current issue profiles the new owners of Sammy Miller products, who are introducing a new line of MX parts to complement the trials line. Even the apparel market seems more lively, with ads from several vendors in each issue. There’s even a full-page ad for motorhomes – yes, motorhomes – on the outside back cover.
This kind of stuff is very exciting to me. It’s great to see how vital the twin-shock market is over there and it gives me some hope for our future here. Population density is a big barrier for us. After all the UK has 60 million people in an area about the size of Oregon, so gaining critical mass is a lot easier. Our vintage brethren are scattered across a land mass so huge a “national” series is a ridiculously expensive proposition. But it’s still great to see all the companies and teams and products and bikes that are alive and kicking in the UK. If you haven’t had a look at Classic Dirt Bike go check them out. I think you’ll really like it.
Having said that, I want to give some props to VMX mag. I subscribe to both, and will continue to do so. VMX is a stunningly beautiful homage to the golden era(s) of motocross, and it’s obvious that Classic Dirt Bike’s high production values are a direct result of VMX setting a blue ribbon standard. Both magazines provide valuable, but different, views to our past. VMX is strictly vintage motocross and, as such, may be a better choice for the restorer or enthusiast who wants to focus exclusively on that. But for my money both publications should be in the reading room of any good vintage dirt bike lover.