The past decade has brought about radical changes around the world. During this epoch, not only has America elected its first black president (and first orangey one), motorcyclists have been introduced to a plethora of ground-breaking new technology. Back in 2007, traction-control systems and ride-by-wire throttles were just coming on line, and things like semi-active suspensions, IMUs and Cornering ABS were unheard of from production motorcycles.

Meanwhile, there was a moto battle going on in the online publishing industry. Motorcycle.com has the longest history among motorcycle websites, as it was inaugurated by visionary founder Brent Plummer in 1994, a time when web browsers (like Mosaic and Netscape) were only in their gestational phase. If riders were interested in getting motorcycle information on the web in the 1990s, MO was pretty much the only place to go.

Ask MO Anything: Why is MO called MO anyway?

I was slow on the internet uptake, scoffing at the lack of credibility prevalent on the web while I continued to add to my library of reputable and beautiful motorcycle magazines. The print and web worlds collided for me during the autumn of 1997 when I attended the first “press” (as in printing press, before we became “media”) introduction of my budding motojournalism career.

I had recently joined the masthead of “the world’s largest streetbike publication,” Motorcyclist magazine, and I must admit to looking down my nose at seeing reps from Motorcycle.com (or Motorcycle Online as it was known at that time) at the 1998 CBR900RR’s launch. I remember thinking: “What were these interlopers doing at my press intro?” It turned out that Plummer could bomb around the racetrack faster than pompous ol’ me, and he had considerable knowledge about motorcycles, too. Drats!

That’s me and John Burns toiling away in the salt mines 20 years ago! Photo by Kevin Wing.

That’s me and John Burns toiling away in the salt mines 20 years ago! Photo by Kevin Wing.

Still, in my eyes, an e-zine like MO was just a pale imitation of print media, the gold standard in motojournalism, and it was surely just a passing fad that would soon fade into obscurity.

Funny thing is, I was hired away from a print rag about four years later to run a competing e-zine. Motorcycle-USA.com took me on to bring a level of professionalism to online content and motorcycle reviews, bringing the fight to the MOron establishment which continued its beloved angle of irreverence and humor. At that stage, MO was the established player among webzines, even going so far as to hire my former office neighbor at Motorcyclist, John Burns, as an erstwhile editorial adversary.

The step from print to digital wasn’t at all easy. Media reps at OEMs were far less likely to return calls and dole out test bikes, let alone send invites to motorcycle launches, but before too long MCUSA and MO were going head to head in the battle for web supremacy. The staff members of each remained cordial and appreciated what the other was doing, but beneath the friendly smiles was an intense digital rivalry to be rated as the top-tier webzine by OEMs. Meanwhile, we were duct-taping video cameras to fuel tanks and helmets in primitive attempts to deliver moving pictures and sounds to our leading-edge readers.

 

I’m at the dragstrip trying to cut a good E.T. during a MotoUSA supersport shootout. MO’s Publisher and Editor in Chief back then, Sean Alexander, tries to subvert my efforts.

I’m at the dragstrip trying to cut a good E.T. during a MotoUSA supersport shootout. MO’s Publisher and Editor in Chief back then, Sean Alexander, tries to subvert my efforts.

By 2006, MotoUSA had become a legitimate player in the moto-publishing field, with invites to bike launches even occasionally coming at the expense of print publications. Meanwhile, MO entered a new phase at the beginning of 2006, with Gabe Ets-Hokin taking the reins after Sean Alexander left for a lucrative position in the PR field.

A new page was turned in December, 2006, when its original owner finally gave in to offers for the website, allowing VerticalScope, Inc. to become the new owner of Motorcycle.com. At that time, MO was using an antiquated web layout, so relaunching the site on a new platform was a prime focus for VS. Concurrently, the new owner was looking for an experienced editor to bring its headlining property to the next level of online publishing about motorcycles.

That’s how I was invited to a meeting with VS’s founder, Rob Laidlaw, to discuss my vision for online moto publishing. He must’ve been pleased enough with our conversation, because in April 2007 I became MO’s Editor-in-Chief (and, at the same time, a new father). I was lucky to have staffers Alfonse Palaima and Pete Brissette under my newly fluttered wings, and together we soon launched MO 2.0, a redesigned website.

Welcome to the brand-spankin’ new MO 2.0!

So, once again I was challenged with bringing an e-zine to the top of the moto field. This time I had to do it against competition for which I had worked diligently during the previous five years to beat the publication I was now helming, and I somehow had to succeed with a smaller budget. Oh, and to do it all without the social and equipment benefits of a shared workspace.

Ah, the Travertson V-REX, the most outlandish motorcycle I’ve ever ridden, reviewed almost a decade ago.

Ah, the Travertson V-REX, the most outlandish motorcycle I’ve ever ridden, reviewed almost a decade ago.

An obsession with keeping costs low has helped to ensure that MO has remained a successful operation while others have drifted into obscurity. Anyone remember 2WF.com? Sadly, Moto-USA could no longer compete and went out of business last year.

Unfortunately, there’s a few MOrons who no longer work here. The lovable “Fonzie” Palaima, a wonderfully capable photographer, good guy and excellent rider, left to pursue a freelance career. Brissette, my do-it-all editor and another great fellow, opted for a more lucrative and steady gig as a transportation driver for the film industry. Jeff Cobb came and went fairly quickly, but he carries on today at another VS property, HybridCars.com. Similarly, Jon Langston had a relatively short tenure before moving along. Mike Maez was such a brilliant photo/videographer that he was enticed to move on to greener and less-stressful pastures after less than a year.

Pete Brissette (left) and Fonzie (behind the lens) are missed around here. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed at MO, most of it has been attributable to the terrific people who have endured my stewardship.

Pete Brissette (left) and Fonzie (behind the lens) are missed around here. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed at MO, most of it has been attributable to the terrific people who have endured my stewardship.

But these vacancies have created coveted spots at MO for the fantastic staffers filling up our virtual masthead. Tom Roderick was the first new blood to join the crew, followed closely by Troy Siahaan and then Evans Brasfield. In 2013, Sean Alexander rejoined MO as Editorial Director of VerticalScope’s powersports publications, including MO.  He swung enough weight to entice the bean counters to bust the budget and hire John Burns – one of my favorite motojournalists of all-time – to reconnect with his MOron roots. Thankfully, Dennis Chung has remained an integral part of MO as our news editor and back-end tech expert since 2008.

Duke’s Den – Courtship Of Editors

Much has changed over the course of the past 10 years, but we’re happy to have maintained an online relationship with many of our readers from the pre-VS era, such as Kenneth Moore, MO-ron and Buzglyd. Each of them provides smart and knowledgeable comments, which I suppose should be expected after reading MO for a decade or more! And when we get a comment like the following quote from reader John B., well, it makes me tremendously proud: “I visit MO every day because I know I will find great content created with enthusiasm and passion. That’s the highest praise I can give.”

Anyone thinking I might’ve been around my job long enough to lose my affinity for riding motorcycles should see this shot of me earlier this month.

Anyone thinking I might’ve been around my job long enough to lose my affinity for riding motorcycles should see this shot of me earlier this month.

Ironically to the guy who once poo-pooed internet publishing, Motorcycle.com now has a deeper editorial masthead than the glossy magazines I once aspired to join. So, with the best staff of journalists in the business, it became time to fill the final hole in the masthead with the recent hiring of a videographer.

We’ve been working closely with James Martinec for more than a year, and with the video component of online publishing being critical to any web success, we’re thrilled to have James join our crew. The quality of his work has been exceptional, elevating our ability to bring stimulating moving pictures and audio to the eyes and ears of readers/viewers across the globe.

And now it’s 2017, a full decade after I first became a MOron and turned my back on jobs that were limited to just 40 or so hours a week. With my big nose pressed firmly to the grindstone, the pace of progress is sometimes difficult to track. But thinking back on the state of MO a decade ago puts a bright perspective on how far we’ve come together. Motorcycle.com isn’t just a nice web resource, I believe it’s the best outlet to find motorbike information and reviews anywhere you care to look.

As the old adage says, if you love your job, you never have to go to work again. Which isn’t to be confused with being on vacation. Back to work!

Gotta fill my bucket. I’m not giving up at least until manufacturers again offer rides on their Grand Prix racers!

Gotta fill my bucket. I’m not giving up at least until manufacturers again offer rides on their Grand Prix racers!

Related Reading
Duke’s Den – Ride More!
Duke’s Den – Risk/Reward
Duke’s Den – Inside Moto Guzzi
Duke’s Den – Father’s Day
Duke’s Den – You Can’t Help Getting Older
Duke’s Den – Award Season
Duke’s Den – On TV
Duke’s Den – Decades of Fireblades
Duke’s Den – 1977 Yamaha XS750 Review (Of Sorts)
Duke’s Den – Inside Info

  • David Davidson

    Made me nervous reading that! Been a big fan since the 90’s and check up everyday. Keep up the good work!

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You thought he was going to announce something?

      • David Davidson

        Yeah, maybe that they were having to close or change of personnel etc

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Yup. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

          • Kevin Duke

            I keep re-tying shoelaces so that doesn’t happen!

  • lennon2017

    Happy 10, KD. MO is a staple in any enthusiast’s diet and the mixture of high and low, brief and breaking and in depth, and dedication to providing rewatchable video reviews and shootouts in a timely and abundant (though by all means increase ’em please!) manner cannot be appreciated enough. Skeptics and the envious may poo-poo it all, claiming cozy quasi-journalism. Anyone with insight into the biz knows that it is hardly the most swank situation, your garages aren’t stuffed with swag, payola, or annual “long-terms” that are like “take your sweet time, guys, we won’t miss this or that machine one bit, teehee,” and I know I’d rather get the skinny from you and similarly respectable and always improving perspectives than the makers themselves, some of whose marketing/promotional and existing/potential customer relations prowess is sometimes asking, even begging for scoffs and/or eyerolls. I never, ever get the sense from any of the folks at MO that they’re phoning it in, either. Camaraderie is professional yet genuine, too. Here’s to ten more. (P.S. I hope the next desktop-targeted design upgrade is nigh. I find I seek you out more on mobile for the more pleasant reading experience lately. Not a bad thing on a 5.5″ screen, but I don’t want to avoid the larger site entirely, do I ;-))

  • john burns

    dang i wish I had held onto that first Rossi replica AGV helmet… who knew?

  • John B.

    Congratulations Kevin!

  • Kirk Harrington

    Duke, Congrats on the anniv. Kenneth is a swell guy and although I don’t get onto the forum like I used to I do miss him as a friend and client to my insurance agency. That time in Daytona for Bike Week, even with the rain, was a blast. His mom was a fascinating woman. Rolling onto the property and being invited into the house with Dire Straits playing is a memory to never forget. Another was the opportunity to help MO with those articles. You and the crew provided me with entertainment, friendship and a creative writing outlet and for that I thank you. Here’s to the next 10, Sir!

  • Old MOron

    In motorcycles I’ve owned German, Italian, and Japanese. If I ever sell my current bike, I could own any one of those again. I guess I’m not a brand-loyal type of person. But I’ll be damned if I don’t feel some sort of brand loyalty to this MOronic project!

    In other threads I’ve likened MO to my favorite rock band. You guys put love into your art, and it moves me. Has it been ten years? You guys are still gold. Stay gold, MOrons.

    • Mahatma

      Makes me want to change my nick again to MOhatma 😛

      Great site.Apreciate the effort.

    • DickRuble

      You would make a great court poet, if only you could put in in verse.. Every great ruler (and tyrant) had a few of those hanging around, writing odes to their greatness. You could be MO’s bard.

      http://www.asterix-obelix.nl/images/albums/characters/c-bard.jpg

  • JWaller

    I guess I discovered MO when I first got on the internet in about 2000 or 2001, some time around when Burns was the Bitter Little Man at Motorcyclist. I was happy after he left Motorcyclist when he showed up on MO. Since discovering MO, I’ve remained a fan. (I actually got a kick of reading all the stuff that Kpaul would put in the forums, if for nothing other than a laugh). If I don’t check MO daily, it’s only because I’m not able to do so, such as being in the field or on a deployment, back when I was still in the military. Looking at my “favorites” bar on my browser, MO comes after NOAA’s seven day forecast and above everything else. It’s hard to believe you’ve been here ten years, Kevin. They’ve definitely gone by quickly, for me at least.

  • William Marvin Parker

    Been a reader since 2000. Appreciate the site….now where’s the Superbike Shootout Biittcchees?!

  • JMDGT

    Here’s to the next ten. Lang may yer lum reek.

  • HazardtoMyself

    I discovered my love of riding much later than a lot of people on this site.

    MO was already going strong when I threw my first leg over.

    What I remember though was finding MOs beginner series as I began to comtemplate riding. The links no longer seem to work, so I don’t remember which staffer wrote it, but if I remember correctly the writer was also new to riding. Was it Troy maybe? I must have read those stories dozens of times though.

    Ever since, MO has been a daily stop for me. Regardless of subject, I have learned a lot from this site.

    Duke, very glad you and your crew are here. Looking forward to learning from you for many years to come.

  • Old MOron
  • Starmag

    Congratulations on your Aluminum Anniversary. MO has the best motojo’s, the best content, and the best comment section in all of motocycledom. I don’t bother with websites that don’t allow comments or overly moderate them. The use of Disqus was a wise choice in my opinion because of it’s ubiquitous nature and ease of use. No disrespect intended, but some times the comments are as or more interesting and funny as the article.

    It’s easy and addicting to come here everyday for a motorcycle fanatic needing a fix.

    Treat yourself to a massage for a job well done.
    http://www.motorcycle.com/images/content/How-To/08_july_trackdays_03.jpg

    • DickRuble

      Track days used to be good in 2008.

    • Born to Ride

      What the shit? How and when did I miss that article?

  • Andrew Capone

    Congrats, man, great work, and wishing you another decade of success.

  • Surviving 10 years in any one spot in this business is an accomplishment, Kevin, but you and your team have done more than survive. One of the best things about the internet side of the business is being able to make rapid progress, so looking back at the long run once in a while is good for both perspective and morale.

    Best of all, through all the challenges, you’ve remained the kind of good guy it’s fun to ride with and yak about bikes with.

  • Buzz

    Congrats Duke. I read many MO articles before I bought my 2000 Ducati ST4 in 2001. MO happened to have an excellent sport touring shootout. I though we produced a lot of good content back in my days as a guest tester and had fun doing it.

    Oddly enough after all these years hanging with the MO staffers, I’ve never met the esteemed Mr Burns in person despite my repeated offers of quality cigarettes.

  • kenneth_moore

    Congratulations Mr. Duke! I guess it’s obvious in retrospect, but I doubt a lot of people in your business 10 years ago really believed their industry would change so dramatically. The death bells rang for my print-mag subscriptions when I finally got a tablet a couple of years ago that lets me read MO anywhere, any time.

    I visit other bike and car websites, but MO has always been “home.” When I want to know what’s really going on in the motorcycling world, I come here. Thank you for making me feel welcome.

    • 12er

      Right there with ya, MO is home for my Motorcycle needs and the last and only comment board I post to anymore. Some Monkeys you just cant shake… 20 years and counting…

    • Born to Ride

      Here here, as a daily MOronic reader, I can say that whenever another publication beats you guys to the punch on a topic, (*cough* 2017 Superbike Shootout*cough*) I read their article with more grains of salt than it probably deserves because in the back of my mind is, “yeah… that’s all well and good, but what do Kevin and the boys actually think about these bikes.”

  • Craig Hoffman

    I recall those early days as a subscriber of MO, when it seemed implausible that an upstart online only site could compete with the print magazines. Much like digital cameras could not compete with film cameras in their early days, or online media vs. newspapers. We all know how that turned out.

    Kevin was ahead of his time coming on board back then, has evolved with the times and this site is prospering under his continuing leadership. This is an accomplishment to be proud of!

    Plus Kevin can wheelie a K1600. Is there nothing this stud of a man can’t do? 😛

    • Kevin Duke

      Your flattery is embarrassing. (Keep it coming!)

  • BDan75

    Congrats! I remember coming to MO for the first time in probably 1996, dreaming of buying my first decent bike. Time flies…

    • Born to Ride

      I leaned heavily on MO’s recommendation when purchasing my first bike. Sean and Gabe did a ninja 650 vs sv650 comparison back in 2006 that I read at least a dozen times in 2008 before I settled on a 2004 SV650. MO’s content was a little bit rougher and a lotta bit more irreverent in those days. Their constant shenanigans and jackassery just connected with me in ways that Cycle World and Moto-USA simply couldn’t. There has always been an authenticity with MO. A sense that these guys are just big dumb kids that like to chuck wheelies and laugh at their own raunchy jokes. I can sympathize.

  • ADB

    “Ironically to the guy who once poo-pooed internet publishing, Motorcycle.com now has a deeper editorial masthead than the glossy magazines I once aspired to join. So, with the best staff of journalists in the business, it became time to fill the final hole in the masthead with the recent hiring of a videographer.”

    Indeed. Well done. Well done.

  • Butch Schultz

    So I give up, which one is the “Orangey One”

    • James Stewart

      Trump is kinda Orangey – could he be a foreign agent, secretly supported by KTM?

  • SRMark

    I’ve been readying MO for a very long time. You’ve done a great job of keeping the content and format relevant. But most of all, keep it fun. To me this is what differentiates you folks from the rest.

    • Kevin Duke

      Happy to keep you satisfied all these years!