So there really is only one story this month. Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly is now 20 years old! The first issue was published in July of 1996. In the spirit of a misty eyed retrospective on our funky little publication I bring you a brief history of MMM.
MMM was founded in 1996 by Dan Hartman and Troy Johnson. Troy and his wife, Erin, had returned to Minnesota after having lived in San Francisco where they had been exposed to local motorcycle publications. The venerable publication City Bike was a motorcycling staple in San Francisco. Troy realized Minnesota had a strong motorcycling culture, but no publication serving this voracious group.
With an opportunity sensed, and Erin’s father, Dan Hartman (who’s name still graces our official corporate name Hartman Press, Inc.), agreed to act as publisher, while Troy would be the creative force. MMM issue #1 was published in July of 1996.
My involvement began shortly after the first issue when I was recruited by Troy to write a story about working as a motorcycle escort for funerals. I was asked to contribute more stories despite my abhorrent writing skills, which I blame on a misspent youth avoiding English class. Eventually after hanging around long enough I was asked to join the staff as an associate editor.
By 2000 Troy had grown tired of past due deadlines, sleepless production schedules, and day old coffee. He asked if I would take the reigns as editor. Dan was ready to move on as well, and offered me the role of publisher. I accepted, but only after deceiving my wife, Tammy, into believing it wouldn’t be that much work.
It was a joint effort with my lovely wife picking up where I lacked, namely a witty take on biker films and an eye for grammar and speeling. (T.W. – I’m leaving this one.) But, I quickly realized that I needed more help keeping MMM on the road. And so, in came known high-miler Sev Pearman. His extensive knowledge of motorcycles and rumors of an Oscar for lighting work on a movie were exactly what MMM needed. His easy, Columbo-like style came in handy as he charmed us out of more than one speeding ticket on test rides. Where’s my wallet indeed!
In 2010 after ten years of publishing and editing MMM I sensed the need for a change. No editor should stay forever and it was time for new blood to take the helm. Into the picture came Bruce Mike. Bruce owned a chopper and knew print publication. What more could I ask for. Bruce brought a fresh face to the publication and actual graphic design experience.
Soon after, Guido Ebert joined Bruce. He wrote a ton of material and did his best to keep us classy, but Polaris soon discovered his talent and lured him away to their PR department.
For 2016 Dave Soderholm came on board as our road test editor. As a long time contributor, Dave’s passion for motorcycling is evident. He’s just now realizing what he got himself into.
So, with all that said I bring you a highly subjective list of the top 20 moments in MMM history. If we were a classic rock band this would be our greatest hits album.
1. MMM is founded. The rest of the list doesn’t happen without this.
2. We beg and plead with a dealer to get a demo ride for issue #1. We promptly crash the bike.
3. A staffer is arrested for riding at an “elevated and aggressive pace”. Pleas for bail money and a legal defense fund go unanswered.
4. The Minnesota Historical Society deems MMM worthy of inclusion in the archives. Every issue is preserved for future generations to mock.
5. We run a picture of Erik Buell with a thought bubble that reads, “I left and the place went to hell”. Calls from H-D corporate soon follow.
6. We run a lukewarm review of a Hyosung cruiser. The media rep is so incensed at our review that he personally threatens to make sure we never review another Hyosung again. Of course we do anyway.
7. One of the founders of a failed local motorcycle brand calls looking for a job as a writer. He is promptly hired and assigned to write about his company’s demise. He never follows through with his first assignment.
8. Thanks to an early production model straight off the assembly line we scoop the rest of the motorcycling press with horsepower figures for the Victory 92C. Whoops, did we publish that?
9. We convince a local Kymco dealer into to giving us a scooter to ride for the day. 24 hours later we return the scooter with 1500 more miles on the odometer than when we started. I’m pretty sure you said ride it as much as we want.
10. We scoop the motorcycling press again with the revelation of several new H-D models thanks to a deep cover mole. We giggle that one model shares its name with a cheap wine.
11. Staffers mock one of Publisher Wanchena’s many crashes by running a fake classified for his crashed bike listing the mileage as “80,000 miles on road, ¼ mile other”.
12. A reader writes in to complain that our free classifieds come with a price after he notices we add the word “loud” before the description of any aftermarket exhaust pipes listed.
13. We challenge three staffers to buy and prep a bike for $300 for an unspecified journey. They are then subjected to 350 miles on gravel roads and a hot lap of an enduro course. The result is moto-journalism gold.
14. MMM is cited as a source in a doctoral dissertation. We question the validity of any PhD based on anything we’ve said or written.
15. We send readers on a wild goose chase across the state looking for a riding gnome we’ve hidden. The clues are less than helpful.
16. We recreate the famous Hollister motorcycle picture using coffee cups and scooter. The photo runs on the April issue cover and is an instant favorite.
17. MMM Founder Johnson and then editor Wanchena enter a long distance endurance rally. They use this as an excuse to ride to Chicago for a Twins game and take a nap in the stands of Comiskey Park.
18. Despite warnings from our legal council we run a Poetry Corner.
19. One staffer goes 0-4 for test rides without a crash. We blame the heels.
20. We send a staffer to interview Evel Knievel. He’s as crazy and crabby as we imagined.
Thank you again for reading MMM. It’s been fun to produce. So here’s to the last 20 years and here’s to the next 20. Please join in a toast by raising a quart of 20W-50 or taking your bike off a sweet jump.