Behind the scenes: Bikevibe
Published biannually out of Norway, each issue of Bikevibe magazine explores a different city from the perspective of bike lovers.
For the latest issue they travelled to Portland, and with the imposing black cover due to hit shelves this week, I caught up with editor and publisher Mari Oshaug and features editor Silje Strømmen to find out more about the magazine, how they got started and where they’re headed.
How did you come up with the idea for Bikevibe?
Mari: It all started in 2014 when I went to Tokyo on vacation. I had just got myself a new camera and I was really excited to photograph bicycles – it’s a big thing in Tokyo, every street is lined with bikes. After two days my memory card was full. Chucking them all on a hard drive seemed like a waste so I figured I should make something more out of it.
It started out as a photo book, but as I included more writing it gradually turned into something closer to a magazine. Writing is not my strongest side so I got in touch with Silje to asked if she wanted to come on board as features editor.
Silje: Of course I said yes! And some months later we launched the Tokyo issue of Bikevibe. By the time we got the issue from the printers we hadn’t really done any promo, but after setting up some social media accounts we were all sold out.
Mari: So we got started on the Oslo issue. Oslo was a natural choice because it’s our city, but also to give ourselves a soft start and the flexibility to consider the structure of the magazine and settle on a visual and editorial tone.
What’s your personal relationship to bikes, Mari?
Mari: I’m by no means a hardcore cyclist, but I’ve always ridden a bike. Most of all I’m drawn to the physical object; it’s such a timeless design. I think people’s relationship to their bikes is very special – everyone remembers their first bike, it’s like a milestone in life.
That fascination is the foundation for Bikevibe. We want it to have a broad appeal and to tell stories of ordinary people with an everyday relationship to their bikes. By travelling to one city per issue we wanted to highlight the diversity of cyclists within it, anything from commuting mothers to road cycling devotees.
Silje, you studied magazine publishing at London College of Communication – what are the most valuable things you learned?
Silje: Definitely the love for and eternal faith in niche publishing. We have come to describe Bikevibe as an urban planning, travel and bike journal. While it’s centred around bikes, Bikevibe has many uses and a lot of potential readerships. If you think bikes are beautiful and you’re interested in the whole culture surrounding cycling you’ll probably find something of interest in Bikevibe.
You could also see it as part of the wave of a new type of travel magazines. We want Bikevibe to be a complete city guide for travellers who are into bikes. And the locals we feature are key in giving a more authentic, insider’s look at the city.
Tell me about your recent trip to Portland to create issue three
Silje: Portland is an amazing city, but it was an extremely exhausting trip. We’d get up, go through our schedule for the day, go out to meet people, make sure to eat, and by the time we were back in the apartment in the evening we were completely beat.
Mari: Travelling with the sole purpose of making an issue was a whole new experience for us. It was two months of intensive research and planning, boiling down to ten days of even more intense work. At its most hectic we did four or five interviews each day. But we had a great time and we met so many amazing, interesting people.
How are you able to fund it all?
Mari: Bikevibe is currently funded out of our pockets and – I’ll be honest – it’s a constant struggle. Especially since we do it in our spare time besides full time jobs. All our savings and holiday leave goes into Bikevibe. We’re not able to pay our contributors, and having worked freelance myself I hate asking people to work for free. We’re currently looking into some potential brand partnerships, but we’d never work with a brand we don’t personally like. Funding is hard, creating a print magazine is expensive, but it’s genuine; Bikevibe is our soul.
The Portland issue is launching in a couple of days – what’s next?
Silje: We’re very excited to have our new website launching soon, which is where we’ll post video features, interviews and bike-related news. It’ll be a great way to keep readers engaged between the printed issues.
Mari: We’re also in the process of planning our next issue. This time we’ll actually be travelling to a region and not a city; Tuscany in Northern Italy. We’ll be looking at the cycling culture in Florence, Pisa and other the small cities and villages scattered across the region, how you might cycle between them, and explore the mountain paths that connect them.
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