It was 1992, I think. I had just purchased a second-hand BMW R100/7 and didn’t know much about motorcycles. One day, I was backing my bike into a space in a section of curb designated “motorcycle only” (even in those days, San Francisco was enlightened about the need for dedicated motorcycle parking) when I saw a shabby-looking red metal newsrack. A sticker on the scratched, dirty plexiglass read “It’s About Motorcycles! It’s Free! Take One!” So I did. Of course, I did.
Because in 1992, there was no Internet. No Motorcycle.com (not for another couple of years, anyway, and you had to be a nerd with a computer and a modem to access that), no discussion fora, no Facebook, no Instagram. The national and U.K. rags – which I inhaled religiously, of course – were great, but didn’t have a lot of info about riders who looked like me and rode where I rode.
That’s what a guy named Brian Halton thought as well. One day in 1983, the 40-year-old Vietnam vet, photographer, Norton owner and tile-setter was laying linoleum at a print shop in San Francisco’s Mission District. As he was cutting and gluing down the green floor covering, he chatted with the typesetters and printers, mentioning that he was the editor of his local Norton owner’s club newsletter. “Why don’t you just print it as a full-size motorcycle newspaper?” said one of the guys. “I hear you can make some money selling ads in local publications.” Ding! That’s all Halton, with wife and four kids in a tiny, rent-controlled two-bedroom North Beach apartment, needed to hear.