Ultimate Motorcycling 20th Anniversary – Arthur Coldwells Reflects

Arthur Coldwells - Ultimate Motorcycling
Ultimate Motorcycling Founder and President Arthur Coldwells.

“You’ll figure it out”. With those words, CurtCo Media Founder and CEO Bill Curtis gave the green light for me to start Robb Report MotorCycling, a glossy, coffee-table print magazine specifically aimed at those who were looking for an upscale, lifestyle motorcycle publication. A couple of years earlier, Malibu-based CurtCo Media had acquired Robb Report, a nationally known luxury lifestyle magazine. Bill’s vision was to launch or acquire verticals under that brand. Within a couple of years, he’d turned a bankrupt brand into around 17 magazines, over 600 employees, and more than $50 million in annual revenue.

Editor’s Note: This month, we are celebrating Ultimate Motorcycling‘s 20th anniversary. We will be publishing reflections from members of the Ultimate Motorcycling staff and team. First up is Ultimate Motorcycling Founder and President Arthur Coldwells.

I had always been the multimedia guy at CurtCo, so when I mentioned to Bill that we should add a motorcycle magazine to the niche market Robb portfolio, he instantly decided it was a great idea. “You do it,” he said. “Whaaat?” I replied, pointing out that I knew nothing of publishing; I was his multimedia and IT guy. Yet, with the above-mentioned response, suddenly—at 46 years old—I found that my career changed dramatically, and I was launched into the most exciting and rewarding journey beyond my wildest dreams.

Arthur on the Honda RC213V-S in Valencia, Spain.

Robb Report MotorCycling was an immediate success, and Don Williams joined as Editor after just two years. I immediately liked his no-nonsense, unfiltered style, absolute clarity of thinking, and quick wit. That he’s a great writer and a pro-level photographer didn’t hurt either.

The first launch I ever attended was the global launch of the all-new Ducati 999R at—of all places—Willow Springs International Raceway. It’s local to me, and I know the track well. I had an absolute blast. I came in after a couple of sessions, and Joe Piazza (CEO of Ducati North America at the time) came up to me and grinned: “Well, well. The Robb Report guy can actually ride.”  Oh, yeah. I’m gonna really enjoy this business, I thought.

And so it went. The motorcycle industry was incredibly welcoming to me and my staff. The likes of Jon Seidel at Honda, Jan Plessner at Kawasaki, Tom Moen at KTM, Richard Kimes and Avery Innis at Suzuki, Bob Starr at Yamaha, and Ken Vreeke at the Vreeke & Associates PR firm have all been wonderful people to work with. There are so many more! I’m proud to say I’m still friends with them all to this day.

But then the Great Recession hit in 2008. The world stumbled, and so did we. Advertising revenues plummeted, social media was born, and publishing as we knew it was upended. I approached Bill Curtis, and ended up buying the magazine and all its assets by mid-2008. Rebranded ‘Ultimate’, suddenly I was the proud—and scared shitless—owner of a lovely glossy print magazine and a small crappy website that we updated once a month if we felt like it (and we didn’t feel like it very much).

The interim years have been great. In 2010, I developed our iPad magazine app, the website grew rapidly, and we created a weekly podcast. In 2016, we were (sadly) forced to stop printing and go purely digital. Today, we’re one of the most influential and respected voices in US motorcycling, and I can say that because Don and my staff have done it with almost no help from me.

I have lived the dream. I have ridden the best and rarest motorcycles in the world on some of the greatest tracks and locations around the globe. I’ve made real friends with other journalists and some of the PR and industry icons that make up motorcycling in the USA and globally.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R For Sale

Among my most memorable rides have been the first Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP replica at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, the Honda RC213V-S (Honda’s made-to-order MotoGP-based street bike) at Valencia, Spain, BMW’s World Superbike-spec all-carbon fiber HP4 at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, the ground-breaking Suzuki GSX-R1000R at Phillip Island, the electric Lightning, plus and Bimotas, Aprilias, and MV Agustas at Misano. Add to that lapping with Johnny Rea on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R at Sepang, and riding the BMW S 1000 RR and the Honda CBR1000RR on different occasions around Portimão. Plus, I went to the Isle of Man TT and hung out with Guy Martin for a couple days courtesy of Dainese, and I rode the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R at the Las Vegas dragstrip—that was an education, to say the least.

I have been incredibly privileged, and treated with respect and kindness by everyone. To say that I’m grateful would be an epic understatement.

On this 20th Anniversary, there are simply too many people to thank individually for our success and continued relevance in today’s motorcycle market. But my staff have been, and continue to be, incredible. I offer my thanks, especially to Editor Don Williams, for his intelligence, skill, and work ethic. I can honestly say we wouldn’t still be here if he hadn’t been so unbelievably supportive. If you look up ‘dedication’ in the dictionary—there’s a picture of Don. Or there should be.

Of course, the rest of my staff (in no particular order) continue to be instrumental in our success: Nic de Sena, Kelly Callan, Teejay Adams, Jonathan Handler, Jess McKinley, Neil Wyenn, Gary Ilminen, Freeman Wood, and so many others who contribute regularly, such as Will Embree. Also, grateful thanks to my amazing office staff—Publisher Mary Buch, who keeps the business running, and Bri and Raz Cumbe in Art and Production, who make our monthly magazine app look so absolutely spectacular.

I have no idea where this is all going, but this is the horse I rode in on, and I plan to keep riding until I can no longer. In the meantime, I’d also like to thank you, our loyal readers, who continue to support us—we really do appreciate you!