John Burns, Welcome to Motorcycle Online!

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Large announcement number two, that really should be Number One:
It is my distinct pleasure to anounce to the world that we at Motorcycle Online have just made The Acquisition of All Time. On Wednesday of this week, we managed to procure the talent, wisdom, insight and humor of none other than John Burns.

He has been a long-time friend of many of us on staff, and so this was an idea--albeit a far-fetched one--we had been kicking around for many months. Finally, the stars aligned, good mojo took over where the bad stuff left off, and we were in business. Serious business.

So, dear reader, we invite you to read the first of many new columns and features to be posted here, by none other than the great, wonderful and talented John Burns...

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force, Calvin, Mini,and BP!

"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striventhese many months. The eyes of liberty loving people everywhere march withyou. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other Fronts,you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, theelimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, andsecurity for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, wellequipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

"But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, inopen battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced theirstrength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our HomeFronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions ofwar, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. Thetide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

"I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill inbattle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let usbeseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Order of the Day
June 6, 1944

Well, okay, invoking Ike may be a little dramatic, but for me personally,after all these years at print motorcycle magazines, coming over to MO istaking a bit of a risk--one I've been wanting to take for a long time. Notthat I had a choice, really. The huge pustulous pimple that was my andEditor-in-Chief Boehm's relationship at Motorcyclist magazine finally spat meonto the bathroom mirror a couple of days ago. Luckily, my good friend andnow co-worker Minime was right there with a spatula to scrape me off and, er,I s'pose that's where the metaphor must come to an end.

Perhaps I should establish my credentials as I take up the editorial cudgelshere at MO. Phil Schilling, he of Cycle magazine and protege' of Cook Neilson,Gordon Jennings, et al, hired me to come to that magazine in 1988, whichseemed at the time like being plucked from a sandlot softball game to playshortstop for the Yankees. Unfortunately, a corporate coup shortly afterwardsaw Phil ousted and me sent from God's motopark--Westlake Village,California--to the bowels of Orange County, where Cycle lived on "under newmanagement" for a couple more years before being "merged", yes that's it,merged, into Cycle World--and please pick up your severance package from Ms.Cervini on your way out.

And then, depression set in.

The phone did eventually ring and I worked at Cycle World for a couple ofyears, good times, and come to think of it that crew remains mostly intactand filled with good friends. (While there, I am maybe most proud of havingtaught Jimmy Lewis to ride a dirt bike.) Anyway, the siren song of MitchBoehm and Motorcyclist sounded about 94--more of a foghorn, really--and Imoved there for the same reasons everybody changes jobs: mo money, mofreedom, etc. And it worked very well for a long time. Under Boehm, I learnedto ride faster and fall off less.

Under Schilling, I had learned that motorcycles are important and deservingof careful scrutiny and a fair road test, and I think it's hugely importantto respect the work of the brilliant engineers who produce our favorite toys(in truth, motorcycles represent much more than playthings to me)--and thatwill continue to be Numero Uno here at MO, job one, the whole enchilada, nineyards, whatever. The fact is, between myself and Minime and the rest of theMOtley crew, I think we have the best motorcycle testers in the biz, print oronline. Mini is a fine natural rider who grew up in the dirt. I have lots of,ah, experience if less natural athletic ability, and while I'm flattered thatpeople have responded favorably to feature stories, etc., that I've writtenover the years, I still believe that getting the road test right is the mainthing--accurate, unbiased information gathered over many days and miles. Ihave to tell you that is not always the case at some magazines where I haveworked. Sometimes, lots of times, the new bike gets there and the test needsto be done in a couple of days cause the magazine has to ship and it has tobe on the cover. Here, I promise you, we will sell no wine before its time.

Magazine publishing, in case you didn't know, is Big Business, and editors ofbig magazines need to spend a lot of time supporting a very heavy corporateoverhead. We here at MO, on the other hand, well--it's just us. (Did I forgetto mention that Calvin's already a good rider and becoming a better one allthe time, on top of being some sort of computer genius?) Mini's 25 years old,Calvin's a bit younger I believe. I'm 42, but like Chuck Jones once said atthe age of 89, feel like a young man with something wrong with him.Essentially, we'd rather go out and ride motorcycles than sit around aconference table strategizing. It also explains why the content of MO hasbeen a slightly watery soup in the past--not enough manpower. With myselfhere now, we hope to throw in many flavorful chunks of meat and veggies,while leaving out the beaks and feet.

Another beauty of the internet is that we're free to blather on for as longas it takes, just like I'm doing now. Ooooh, I'm at 930 words--too many for aBitter Little Man column! Cut, cut! This time, I'm just getting started.

Maybe I shouldn't bore everybody too much on my first day, come to think ofit. My point is that for fair information about new motorcycles, you'll readit here not only first (by weeks, usually), you'll read it, in my humbleopinion, best. As an example, I rode the new R1 in Spain last week, and ouraccount of that ride has been up for a couple of days here on MO. You'll readSir Alan Cathcart's report in two or three weeks in Motorcyclist, by whichtime we should have already printed, ah, posted, a complete road test withdyno results. (The Dynojet's sitting right here, in-house, waiting, andspring is in the air.)

While it's true there are some things a print magazine can dobetter--beautiful photos, mostly, somewhat negated by the need to print themon cheap paper--and then there's the classic "I can't take it into thebathroom with me." If that's your hangup, you probably should consult aproctologist or shrink. How much time you spending in there anyway, bud? Givesomebody else a chance....

As for other things we can do better than print, I think we're on the edge ofuncharted territory. One example: We're about to throw up a Triumph SpeedTriple test. "Right," says I, "let's put up a little buyers' guide sidebartoo, telling people about the changes to the Speed Triple over the years."

Calvin and Mini looked at me like, What sort of cretaceous creature have wehired? All you have to do, see, is click on "related readings" at the bottomof the test, to pull up everything we've ever posted about the Speed Triple.That sort of capability just plain did not exist when I came into thisbusiness, and when you think about it it's amazing.

Kindly allow me to settle in and begin to learn and function and get my webfeet wet, and my sincere hope is that MO will become not only your mainsource of moto information, but one you can get a couple of yucks out of too.We've got a few interesting ideas kicking around.

And now, the Subscription Drive continues. Salary negotiations between myself andMO's business manager--also Mini--have not yet taken place. I trust the guyenough (I'm stupid that way) to believe that we're all in it for each otherout here on the amazing frontier that is the dang Internet. For me, for now,this is a part-time job, and I hope to support my lavish lifestyle withvarious and sundry freelance work. My heart, though, is here in the moto-magbusiness, and the more time I'm able to devote to MO, the better it willbecome. I hope. Won't you support a starving motojournalist? It only takespennies a day. Cough up the 12 bucks, tightwad, and your days of waiting foryour crumpled magazine to arrive once a month, jampacked with yesterday'snews written in a style designed to not offend geriatric spinster librarians,will be forever at an end.

John Burns
Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Adviser, Road Test Editor, Janitorial Supervisor,Shop Foreperson, etc.

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