My friend Gordon Lunde sent me some old 1960s motorcycle racing magazines to help me in my historic research. Thanks Gordo!
The fist magazine I pulled out of the box was the June 1964 issue of Cycle (Notice it reads ‘Floyd Clymer’s Cycle). This was still the days of Cycle when good old Floyd ran the show. Nothing against Clymer, but the magazine was nothing like it would become a few years later when it was purchased by Ziff-Davis Publishing and became the gold standard – under editors Gordon Jennings, Cook Neilson and Phil Schilling - by which all other motorcycle magazines were compared.
Back to the magazine I got from Lunde: Roger Reiman won the Daytona that year, but according to good old Floyd, they didn’t have a good color photo of Reiman, so they printed with Daytona 250cc race winner Dick Hammer on the cover. That was just an example of how Cycle was run pre-Ziff-Davis. Motorcycle riders could not depend on Cycle for real world motorcycle reviews in those days either. It’s been said the Floyd Clymer never met a motorcycle he didn’t like and you’d rarely see a critical review. The magazine often ran top-speed and horsepower figures given to them by the manufacturers.
Joe Parkhurst came along with Cycle World in 1962 and gave real reviews, pointing out a motorcycle’s shortcomings when found. Cycle World shook up the way business was done in the motorcycle industry in those days and a lot of the manufacturers tried to kill the new publication by withholding advertising, especially when one of their bikes got a bad review, or real horsepower and top speed numbers were published.
Parkhurst deserves a lot of credit for creating a magazine in Cycle World that catered to the readers instead of being a lap dog for the industry. Cycle World got the ball rolling and then Cycle, after it was purchased by Ziff-Davis, became motorcycling’s best and most trusted magazine ever.