Cycle Source, to some, it’s a world in itself; a mere idea that developed into far more than ever imagined. Within these pages of a grassroots publication is a union of real bikers with above average dreams, gathered together to share ideas and adventure. They are writers, photographers, builders, musicians, electricians, mechanics, and artists recording a lifestyle that controls every one of us and sets us free. Over its now twenty-year history, Cycle Source Magazine has found the potential in unknown writers and made them journalists, it has taken the unappreciated artists that capture our culture from behind a lens and has given them a face and a name. Cycle Source has shared millions of miles with hundreds of riders, delivering their story to its readers thirty days at a time. It has remained current, it has seen the face of an industry change more than once, and it has always stayed loyal to the ones that have been there to open the pages and experience the stories inside. It’s more than an American success story, it’s a testament to passion and persistence. Cycle Source is a magazine for the average blue collar worker written by the average blue collar worker. Not one of us is here because we have to be, we are here because we want to be. And on behalf of everyone past and present that has been part of the 20-year history of Cycle Source Magazine, thank you for that opportunity.
It’s been twenty years now since a twenty-four-page newsprint publication first saw the light of day. Born of a need to tell the story within a sixty-mile radius of the Blue Collar city of Pittsburgh, Cycle Source was a free publication found nestled on the shelves of its advertisers waiting to be discovered by every garage mechanic and street carving V-Twin juggernaut. At the time, Chris owned Fat Cat Cycle Accessories.Motorcycles and the lifestyle that surrounded them had always held a place in Chris’ heart. He felt that while there was always attention to the scenes on the right and left coasts there was a void in the coverage in the rust belt that he had always called home. Other magazines almost had what he needed to feed that literary itch, but there was nothing, to his knowledge, that related to the average man and the sheer drive that the working class builder and rider possessed.
“I had to decide whether I was gonna sit behind the counter and watch the world ride by or if I was going to join them.” – Chris Callen
It’s not just a good-looking statement on the cover of every issue of the magazine, it’s the Cycle Source mantra. While you may not read about an event for two or three months after they occur in most magazines, Cycle Source has a three-week turnaround. No cushion, no safety net, 20 years of the seat of your pants journalism. Headquarters isn’t an office secluded in a back lot of motorcycle wisdom, it’s anywhere it needs to be. Chris and his partner in crime, Heather handle every aspect of the company from new subscriptions to making sure all the bikes are represented in true Cycle Source tradition. Three weeks to fill 116 pages and get it to the printer. The duo spends most of the year slamming on miles, zig-zagging the continental United States in order to represent the magazine and scout new features. With a 30-day turnaround, headquarters is anywhere that provides decent Wi-Fi and hopefully coffee. The office is streamlined to pack up into the van and is cautiously configured wherever it’s needed. In most cases, long after the last bike pulls away from an event and the brooms have scoured the streets the two are harbored up in some hotel room mainlining caffeine in order to make a deadline.
It’s this commitment to a product that has allowed for 20 years of success. One man has seen it through for its flawless consistency, bending to the harshest storm without breaking. But the biggest advantage is being part of a community that is willing to step into the fire to help one another out. There has been and always will be an endless number of contributors to Cycle Source. It’s their love for the culture that feeds the pages each month. The easy road would be for a magazine to answer to a committee that analyzes profit margins and risk assessment in order to properly invest in a guaranteed future quarterly profit margin. The safer road would be to stay home and farm out stories to overqualified college graduates with impeccable hair and limited street smarts. It might be easier to just not care about the quality within its pages or the reader that buys the magazine. But that’s just not the case and it never will be. For 20 years, this magazine has been printed on a foundation of desire, not economic security. Its staff has learned how to produce a better product each and every month. The monster grew every year, throwing roadblocks in its wake but never failing to be reborn by a deadline. Persistence and a love for a culture gave winds to the sails and here we are at the beginning of another 20 years. You either sink or swim during feast or famine, you can either sit at your desk and watch the world ride by, or you can collect your thoughts and go ride with them. Few of us get to choose our path in life, even fewer have an epiphany while standing at the crossroad. But after 20 years it still remains Cycle Source, a simple monthly offering to the motorcycle gods from……………..real bikers
– Jimmy Frizzell