I sit here, feeling as though I missed a great party. Having only discovered the magazine fairly recently it feels like those moments when you’ve binge-watched a TV show only to discover it has been cancelled; or you’ve exhausted a late author’s back catalogue.
In a sea of cycling magazines focused on selling expensive bikes adorned with the latest incremental tweak, to people who already have bikes, Boneshaker was a breath of fresh air. Sadly, at the end of 2017 they announced that issue 20 would be the last.
Time to move on
Boneshaker started out in 2009 and produced 20 issues in its 8 year run. Their focus has always been on stories that are timeless, that won’t age and would remain as relevant now as they were when they were written. Each magazine will continue to be a good read decades from now.
“Twenty issues feels like a natural stopping point, and as real-life crowds in on all sides and making time gets ever more difficult, we’re looking forward to a bit of a break, and then to move on to something new.
The last issue was a bit of a retrospective. They waded through the archives, giving a doff of the cap to some of the people who got them to where they are today, with a mixture of regular contributors and the legends in the adventure cycling world.
I have a handful of issues of Boneshaker on my shelf at home now. I’m struggling to put into words how important publications like these are to the world of cycling. CAUTION! Rambling ahead…
From the outside looking in, where magazines offer little more than advertorials for the latest in a long line of bicycles from the big-name manufacturers, cycling can be a little off-putting.
We are forever being sold the next big thing –the next wheel or tire size; odd shaped cranks; the lightest frame ever; electronic gears; the most waterproof jersey; the hardest sportive; the lightest shoes and the list goes on and on. Don’t get me started on the subsets of each type of bicycle you can buy now. Do you want a road-race bike, a sportive bike, a gravel bike, or a cross bike? Do you want a downhill bike, an enduro bike or a cross-country bike? No, Gav, you want a fat-bike, don’t you…
Very little time is actually spent writing about real life. Cycling for travel, for getting from A to B, cycling for meditation or self-discovery.
Unless you are lining up with or against Team
Fracking, sorry Inneos, at a grand tour, gear really makes little difference. People have ridden around the planet on the £100 bike they had in the shed. (Please, don’t keep your bike in the shed…). They didn’t care that their shoes were 50 grams heavier than the market leader & they didn’t care that it wasn’t on Strava.
They did it because above all else they had the determination to get out there and do it. The bicycle was just the best tool for that particular job. Boneshaker was and is for those people. The ones who don’t care about the latest kit, just that there was a bike in their story and it made an impact on their lives so profound they were compelled to write about it; about the people they met along the way; and the way their experiences changed them.
In a world where there will never be a shortage of people to tell you the range of gear, ever more expensive, that you must buy before beginning a ride, perhaps there’s a useful message in the fact that all of my own tours were accompanied only by whatever gear I had at the time, that nazar bracelet, and that all important, irreplaceable instinct, simply to ride my bike.
—Julian Sayarer, issue 20 p.58
These past few years have been an interesting ride. Whilst the past 12-18 months have been a personal struggle that has taken me off the bike for a great deal of it, I can look back fondly on the things my trusty bicycle made possible. I won’t deny that bringing a new bike home is exciting, but the buzz subsides within hours or days.
It’s the memories I’ve collected, riding out in the early hours for a monster trip to Bath and back with Dave; the ride out to New Quay for a weekend away with Dave & Drew; more recently, the ride with Jack Thurston around the hills of Abergavenny, that will stay with me for years to come.
Whilst it is a shame that they decided to call it a day, it is a decision I can completely understand. Sometimes you just need to take a step back from things, no matter how good they are.
Sometimes you need to stop and think about where it is you are heading. Here’s hoping that whatever rises from the ashes of Boneshaker Magazine; whatever comes along next that scratches that same itch, is every bit as good.
You can pick up issue 20 from their store. So long, Boneshaker. May the wind be always at your back.
Speaking of timeless, this post had been languishing in draft since December 2017. It’s only taken a year and a half to finish it off. I initially held off until I’d met the guys at Bespoked in the spring of 2018, but then there was always something more urgent to attend to. Life got in the way.