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Profile: VMX Magazine

Name: VMX Magazine

Year Founded: 1998

Who Founded: Ray Ryan

Number of Subscribers: Varies but over 10,000 including news stand sales

Online, Print or Both: Print only at this stage but we will be soon releasing some of our early issues (which are now out of print) digitally

Home city: Sydney, Australia but very much an international magazine with subscribers in over 30 countries

Website: vmxmag.com.au

Contact Email: ken@vmxmag.com.au

Subscription Cost: US $70 including postage, to your door

Issues per year: Four

  1. How did VMX get started?

The vintage movement started in the mid/late '80s and initially focused on bikes from the '60s and early '70s. It grew quite rapidly and occasionally there were reports of vintage race events in the mainstream motorcycle press. The vintage and classic movement was of course already well established for the road bike scene but the dirt bike guys took a while longer to make it happen.

Ray Ryan saw an opening for a magazine to cover the vintage dirt bike scene and started with a newsletter and that eventually morphed into the glossy quarterly publication that is VMX Magazine. From that Issue 1 in 1998, the magazine has grown into the most respected, most collectible vintage dirt bike magazine in the world and is now up to Issue 55. Sadly, Ray Ryan passed away in 2004 but VMX Magazine has been operating with a new team with exactly the same ideals as Ray and has taken the magazine even further forward in the market.

  1. What's the main focus of VMX articles?

The magazine focuses on the '60s, '70s and '80s of the dirt bike world, be it motocross, enduro or trials. There are features on the bikes of those eras, the riders, the tracks, restoration articles, collectors, race events and product reviews. It's not just a case of "reliving the past" it is a celebration of riders and restorers having fun today, with old bikes and often old bodies. Same old bikes, same old dirt, same old fun is our motto.

  1. Do you have a regular feature?

There are regular features such as "Blokes and Sheds" which take a peek inside the garages or sheds of people all over the world who have great collections of old dirt bikes. There are columns in every issue as well, with two of our most legendary columnists being Rick "Super Hunky" Sieman and World Champ "Bad" Brad Lackey.

  1. Why do you think there is such a big interest in vintage dirt bikes?

There has never been any time in history that dirt bikes were more popular than in the early '70s. There were more dirt bikes sold in say 1973/4 than at any other time, including right now. Everyone had a dirt bike! So all those riders are now in their fifties or so and just remember that time in their life as being perhaps the best time they ever had, so why not do it all again, and bring back those memories.

Besides that, today's dirt bikes are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain and don't have a lot of character, and they typically use mostly the same formula (meaning that they are all very similar). Bikes from the vintage era have incredibly different takes on how a dirt bike should be built and consequently they are often very individual and they have something that most of today's bikes don't have - a personality!

Times were simpler back then and bikes were of course simpler as well and most people can work on a vintage bike by themselves. That keeps costs down if you're restoring a bike. Overall, prices are relatively cheap anyway, typically you can by a vintage bike that's already been restored for a few thousand dollars. It's fun, it's cheap, it's full of interesting bikes and people, what more could you want?

  1. How are today's dirt bikes different from the past?

Like I said, bikes of the vintage era had character, each brand was markedly different and the allegiance to one brand or another was very strong. There were so many brands as well back then, such as the Spanish brands Montesa, Bultaco and Ossa, many German brands such as Maico and MZ, lots of English brands, and on it went.

Bikes were definitely simpler, especially the air-cooled two-strokes, almost anyone could do a piston/ring replacement with a minimal amount of tools. Suspension was of course very limited back then as well, with typically no more than 7-inches of travel in the front and 4-inches of travel in the back, up until the mid-'70s.

  1. Can you break down the ultimate vintage dirt bike for us?

That's a tough one as the vintage and classic movement covers such a wide range of eras and classes. That said, many in the vintage movement hold up the 1081 Maico Mega 2 490 as the ultimate twin shock dirt bike.

  1. What's the dirt bike community like in Australia?

Same as everywhere else, just people who love restoring, riding or racing old dirt bikes. There's a load of race and ride events for people to attend in most States and the scene overall is very active.

  1. Who are Australia's vintage motocross riders we should know about?

Two of Australia's "guns" from the '70s and '80s were Stephen Gall and Anthony Gunter. Their rivalry on the track was always intense (even though they were the best of mates) and they each took out multiple National Titles. They are both active in the vintage scene which is fantastic.

Written By: AndrewT

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