Tuning In To Two-Wheeled Podcasts
When I worked for a major media company based out of the Atlanta area (I’ll let you guess who that might have been), we used to say that “content is king”. In other words, make shows people want to watch and the viewers will come. In the days of broadcast and basic cable, this strategy was absolutely true as people flocked to tentpole programs like M*A*S*H, Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, etc. But today we live in a world where content is everywhere, on fractured platforms that require separate subscriptions, apps, logins, etc. Who can keep up with it all? There is simply a flood of content entering the market, even in niche areas like motorcycling. And nowhere is this more evident than in the surplus of two-wheel themed podcasts that have recently hit the internet.
Podcasts are popular because they captivate listeners without the major expense of a video production. So, content creators have sought podcasts as a way to engage with an audience at an affordable rate. And the strategy is clearly working. Podcasts have been a huge hit, as people can listen to them on a commute, while they work, during a workout, etc. Before the pandemic hit, I used to listen to podcasts daily while I sat in traffic to and from work. I won’t lie, I don’t miss the commute or the traffic, as I’m currently working from home, but I do miss the chance to listen to the occasional podcast. I have since started listening to them during my regular jogs, as a change of pace from the steady stream of hair bands I typically listen to. It was during these jogs that I encountered the wave of new motorcycle-themed podcasts. I’ve sampled as many as I can and wanted to take this opportunity to share my findings with our readers.
As a means of offering info on these podcasts, I am providing the playlist I have been using on iTunes. Some of these examples have accompanying video feeds on YouTube, but I prefer to listen to a podcast while doing other things, so the reviews to follow will simply cover the podcast in their audio format.
REVZILLA’S HIGH SIDE, LOW SIDE
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that Revzilla has radically stepped up their content game. The major move involved the hiring of Zack Courts and Ari Henning, who’d formerly done work with MotorTrend’s streaming service, CycleWorld and Motorcyclist’s YouTube channels. (Courts is known for motorcycle reviews and Henning’s technical expertise has been featured on countless how-to videos.) Zack, as well as Common Tread editor Lance Oliver, routinely join podcast host Surgeon Dunbar for some rather lively discussions of motorcycling. Rezvilla’s series is reliably posted and its content covers an array of motorcycling subjects. One critique would be the length of this podcast. Many of these motorcycle-themed podcasts exceed an hour, which as a listener I find to be excessive. In my humble opinion, podcasts should be snackable content, and I see that as roughly 30 minutes, especially given that the average commute in America is about that length. This is a minor criticism, as High Side, Low Side is one of the strongest moto-podcasts out there.
TRIUMPH’S FOR THE RIDE
Hosted by Adam VanderVeen, Triumph America’s Marketing Director, this podcast is a little slow to get going, but once they begin covering their topics, such as a custom build for Welsey Schultz, the lead singer of the Lumineers, the podcast becomes much more engaging. VanderVeen is not a polished interviewer, but he gets better with each episode, and the podcast really becomes interesting when he invites various motorcycle industry professionals, like custom painter J Daar or race announcer Ralph Sheheen, to describe their craft and careers. I enjoy the many and varied guests they feature on For The Ride.
INTERNATONAL MOTORCYCLE SHOWS THE RESERVE TANK
Given the impact of Covid-19, IMS pivoted their approach to motorcycle shows and as part of a major press release at the end of 2020, they announced that they will be holding all 2021 shows outside. This welcome move will allow ample opportunities for attendees to interact with the brands at the show and even demo many of the motorcycles on display. Additionally, IMS announced the launch of two podcasts. The first example is Reserve Tank, which is a podcast geared toward motorcycle consumers. Hosted by Sam Bendall, an avid rider and enthusiast, this podcast is a short-format example with high production values (it is even sponsored by Progressive Insurance). The Reserve Tank addresses a number of motorcycling topics and themes, from packing for a motorcycle trip to events and activities geared toward women riders. Bendall provides his perspective, but is careful to defer to the experts and does an excellent job of highlighting what the interviewee brings to the world of motorcycling. If you are looking for a smooth entrance into motorcycle podcasts, this example is an ideal introduction and offers great information for the general riding community.
INTERNATIONAL MOTORCYCLE SHOWS CENTERSTAND
This podcast differs from the others outlined above as it focuses on those working in the motorcycle industry. Robert Pandya serves as the host and does a superb job of discussing the current state of the motorcycle industry, from achievements to challenges, and provides his informed opinion while discussing these topics with folks working for manufacturers, dealers, riding organizations, etc. The podcast is still approachable for a general listener, but many of the topics addressed are industry concerns that may not be as engaging to enthusiasts. With that said, Pandya’s knowledge of the motorcycle industry and his passion for riding are clearly evident, and he definitely believes more can be done to welcome people to two-wheels. For that reason alone, Centerstand is an enjoyable listen, albeit a deeper dive into the industry than some listeners may desire.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON’S H-D PODCAST
Of all the podcasts outlined here, this one started out as my least favorite. Initially, the podcast featured lengthy commentary from Harley-Davidson loyalists who shared their experiences with the brand and their passion for riding. It favored their existing consumer base, and while I appreciate Harley-Davidson, the podcast just wasn’t informative or overly entertaining. That changed as the podcast evolved over time. A notable shift occurred during the episodes highlighting Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Up travels through South and Latin America on a pair of Harley-Davidson Livewires. The behind-the-scenes access to the journey, plus other facets of the Motor Company, has been interesting to listen to of late. With its second season underway, hopefully the H-D Podcast will continue down that path, because hearing people merely opine about the brand just wasn’t that entertaining.
These are but a few examples of the motorcycle-themed podcasts currently being produced and distributed. Platforms like iTunes include many others, and I would encourage you to explore other programs. We here at Road Dirt offer our own, Road Dirt The Podcast. Our editor Rob Brooks hosts, as he shares a range of current stories on the site as well as topics such as repairs, insurance and road trips. A former radio disc jockey in the Atlanta market, Rob’s voice is easy and engaging to listen to.
If you are looking for something to tune in and catch up on motorcycle news and just commiserate with fellow enthusiasts, these podcasts outlined above are a welcome addition to two-wheeled media. Take a listen; you might just learn something while being entertained by riders from across our diverse community.
What other podcasts have you found and enjoy? Share them in the comments below.