Portal Power#2

Continuing our series on bicycle web portals, BikeBiz checks out a very British one, GoFar-mtb. It aims like the rest to attract a hard core of enthusiasts which, the site hopes, the bike trade will want to plug into by placing banner ads on the site. IBDs can benefit by being featured on the demo bike day database
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Optimistically claimed by the editor to be the UK's first independent cycling webzine GoFar-mtb is nearly two years old although it was dormant until a relaunch two months ago.

It is edited by Mark Alker, a contributor to MBUK, Cycling Plus and Total Mountain Bike (RIP).

GoFar-mtb webzine is gaining poularity and support from both the cycle

industry and the general riding public at an incredible rate. The mission

statement of GoFar-mtb is to be a completely independent source of mountain biking information for serious riders, said Mark Alker.

It is not owned by any publishing house.

GoFar stands for Get Out For A Ride.

The site contains periodically updated news and reviews sections; route guides with PDF maps; race results and reports; technical features and regular columnists.

GoFar-mtb wants to be in the thick of action. It uploaded daily articles and images from the Cycle & Leisure Show and was also live from the Spring Polaris in the Peak District. A searchable database of results was posted within two hours of the end of the event.

In its first month, GoFar-mtb was visited by 2200 enthusiasts and this number, says the editor, will increase after an awareness campaign kicks in soon. The site will be sponsoring a number of TrailQuest events as well as smuggling its URL into the pages of the mainstream printed bike mags.

A banner ad in a top of page position on GoFar.mtb costs 1p per exposure ie visitor. Current site sponsors include 9feet.com, Airbourne, Lumicycle, Sensible Products and Buff.

Carvel Lonsdale, of GoFar-mtb sales, has a clear pitch: "We aim to provide the cheapest source of quality web based media advertising in the bike industry.

The sites editor has high hopes for it:

"Our hit rates are rising every day. By the end of the year we want to be

the most widely visited MTB related website in the UK.

The site was set up 18 months ago by thirtysomething bike enthusiast Matt Wenham in response to the loss of Mountain BIke World. He was the editor and site designer. A group of MTB enthusiasts from the UK-REC-CYCLING news group supplied him with much of the content. However, with a full-time job away from the computer screen, Wenham could not put in the time needed to keep the site fresh.

Enter Alker.

The site lingered in a state of hibernation for eight months. I offered to take on the editorial duties at the end of last year. Total Mountain Bike had just gone under. We spent three months planning the relaunch.

Two more colleagues joined Matt and I in the venture. The site is now owned by myself, Matt Wenham, Carvel Lonsdale, and Shaun Murray, with the original contributors also each owning a small share.

How will an enthusiast-run portal fare against the bigger budget portals, such as BikeMagic.com and MBUK.com?

Alker is hoping word of mouse will win out over big budgets:

Bike Magic is mostly a news forum. We aim to be much more than that. We are striving to become a true magazine. The only difference being we are on the web not the newsagents shelf. MBUK.com is aimed at their readership. We are not.

We have correspondents scattered about this fair isle. They will be getting along to as many events as possible to promote the site as well as

gather race reports and results. Our simple leaflet campaign at the Spring

Polaris resulted in a threefold increase in site traffic the following day.

We will be in attendence at Bike2000 as well as most of the major race

events this year. We will be working with [Chipps Chippendale] at 9feet.com with respect to product reviews and editorial. Our logo and URL will be on posters and entry forms in return for prize sponsorship.

Does the site make a profit?

Alker: At the moment we are covering expenses. But we have other revenue earning plans in the pipeline. One idea almost ready for launch is our 'Demo Bike' database. Readers will be able to search an online database of IBDs that have test bikes available to ride or who will be holding a 'demo bike' day. We will soon have a searchable classified ads section that will be free for text entries but with a charge for a full screen ad with an image.

http://www.gofar-mtb.com

http://www.gofar-mtb.co.uk

http://www.xc-mtb-uk.co.uk

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