Robin Bradley was born in the mid-1950s and brought up in England's 'Detroit' - Coventry: the heartland of Britain's automotive and motorcycle industries. Like all "Classic Boomers”, he regards his life as having been a gilded one; a life lived through the best of times - a true Golden Age of peace, plenty, and Prog Rock!
Robin said that while his time at university wasn’t exceptionally memorable, it did give him a pathway to formalize his interest into a way of paying the rent. He had already dabbled in publishing while a teenager and “fancied himself a Pulitzer back then.” The result was a near 50-year media career - but not one that stopped the drinking, the gigs and the "other stuff". In fact, it turned out that 'the media' was a career choice that floated on a sea of such diversions.
Like most youngsters, Robin fooled about with bikes. He once built a hovercraft with a 195 cc Villiers single that he rescued from an AJS. Really! It worked too - noisy and dirty, but it 'flew' and carried one person! For the record, the first bike he owned was a 1973 Soviet era East German MZ ETZ 175 cc single.
By the late Eighties, Robin’s career highlights had included a brief, late 1970s stint in the music business on London's iconic New Musical Express and international publishing in the golf industry among other experiences.
Robin Bradley’s motorcycle industry involvement started in 1989. At first, he worked for a British custom magazine called Back Street Heroes. It was a highly regarded "keeper of the flame" for a nascent domestic British custom culture that directly paralleled the earlier salvage yard chopper build ethos of the Easyrider generation here in the United States.
Back Street Heroes was the catalyst for a magazine called 'HOG', Europe's first pure H-D title. They had the rights to the 'HOG' name in the UK (for magazines, events and merchandise) before Harley had started consolidating its 'IP' war chest. Robin said,” In and of itself that was an entertaining career 'Chapter' (pun intended!).”
Robin Bradley started AMD Magazine (initially as European Dealer News) in September 1993; International Dealer News followed in 1997, and his collaboration with Custom Chrome resulted in the first AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in 2004, at Morgan Hill, California.
After a year in Las Vegas (Big Twin West, 2005) they moved the event to Sturgis. The event ran from 2007 to 2012, before moving the show to Europe.
As Robin became closer to the fast-growing parts, accessory and performance aftermarket at close quarters, he found himself gravitating to the business end of the equation, the dealer and industry journal publishing market.
In hindsight, Robin said he now realizes just how good the training and experience that he got through his 10-year London publishing career had been. One of the many important lessons he learned was that a publication that positions itself well as a 'trade enabler' can establish itself as the oil in the engine that drives a market's business cycle.
Robin added the twist of bringing a consumer magazine personality and production values to a trade publication. He combined features with facts to deliver an intense torrent of information and insight. Robin said it seemed an obvious approach for a non-lifestyle rider like him to take. While it may have been obvious to Robin, his approach turned out to be a 'mold breaker' that set a new, cross-over template for how industry magazines could operate in a consumer market.
Much of what Robin did in the magazine, and with how the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building program was structured and operated, turned out to be new and did much to make AMD and their motorcycle design and engineering competitions the infotainment based "disrupters" and "influencers" that they became, long before the modern use of the term.
For Robin, the critical reason why he came to call the motorcycle market home wasn't any sense of "career" or carefully calculated plans to be a publishing pioneer, and it certainly hasn't been about the money!
The simple, primary, and motivating difference between the motorcycle industry and all the others he had encountered has been the people.
Most of those who become motorcycle industry 'lifers' do so because of the "oil under their fingernails." With Robin, it was ink. But the sense of 'shared passion' and commitment has been the same. It’s had him hooked with the first trade show he ever went to. That was the first road trip he made.
Though Robin has never pretended to be a hard-core, high mileage rider, the friendship, passion and drive of the people he has encountered in the motorcycle business is what has kept him coming back for more. And it still does so now, some 30-plus years later. Robin says, “Thank you for allowing me to make your world my world!”