Toseland plays MCN party

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Our official 50th anniversary press release

MCN has sold 500 million copies and made the news in motorcycling since 1955

The first ever issue of Motor Cycle News was published in Fleet Street on 30th November, 1955. It was the creation of a former landscape gardener turned motorcycle journalist, Cyril Quantrill, who, over a few beers in a bar with his friend Peter Baldwin decided to launch the first ever newspaper dedicated exclusively to bikes and motorsport.

The title was sold to Emap a year later, but Quantrill remained editor for a further 5 years, and he enjoyed close ties to the title until his death earlier this year.

Speaking shortly before he died, Quantrill recalled: “Everyone thought we were mad to be starting a newspaper about bikes, but the more we talked about the idea, the more we realised it could actually be done.”

The first ever issue cost fourpence and sold 3,000 copies. It headlined the suspension of Geoff Duke and 13 other top motorcyclists from the world championships for 6 months. At the time Geoff Duke was undoubtedly the biggest star in motorcycling, having won the championship 6 times already, in addition to 6 Isle of Man TT races.

The 6-month suspension by the “Federation International Motocycliste” was because the riders had gone on strike in support of privateer competitors who desperately needed more start money than the paltry sums on offer. As a fully paid up factory Gilera rider, Duke had nothing to gain by striking, but his sense of fair play led him to support the less fortunate privateers.

The story rocked the world of biking and the timing of that first issue of MCN could not have been better.

Geoff Duke is now enjoying his retirement on the Isle of Man where he moved in the 1950s. He recalls the early copies of MCN: “In 1955 we had The Motor Cycle and Motor Cycling magazines, but MCN was the first motorcycling newspaper to come along. I thought MCN was a young impostor back then but it’s certainly proved its point since! In an age when many things which appear to be deep-rooted just appear overnight, 50 years is a long time. I still read MCN on a regular basis to keep up with what’s happening. Let’s hope it keeps going strong for another 50 years!”

From those early years, MCN has reported on all of the defining moments in motorcycling history. From Mike Hailwood’s amazing 1978 comeback, to Barry Sheene’s Silverstone crash in 1982, to the birth of the Honda FireBlade in 1992, MCN has given it’s readers the story behind the story.

Today MCN is the biggest motorcycling newspaper in the world and the leading source of biking news, along with its award-winning website which was launched in 2000.

The paper’s award-winning team, now led by editor Marc Potter and published by Charley Davies, have tested every bike worth riding, witnessed some of the most memorable moments in motorcycling, and helped millions of readers to choose the right bike.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, 2004 World Superbike champion James Toseland will be making an appearance at the MCN Peterborough headquarters, Media House. James, who at 23 was the youngest ever champion, also has a great passion for music, and is bringing along his acclaimed band, Crash, to entertain parent company Emap Automotive’s 420 staff.

James comments: “MCN turning 50 is a major milestone in biking. MCN gave me some good coverage when I was an up and coming rider, and I also won ‘’young rider of the year award’’ in 1997 and 2000 and their “man of the year” award in 2004, so it’s great to be part of the celebration”

For more information please contact: Genevieve Potter, PR Manager, Emap Automotive, 01733 468524/07703 128108. Email

Motor Cycle News readership is 480,000 (NRS April 04- March 05) and current average circulation is 139,105 (abc Jan-Dec 04)

MCN celebrated its 50th birthday on Wednesday November 30, and we invited you to share in the fun and the nostalgia!

Former WSB champion James Toseland and his band, Crash, played in our boardroom. He cut our 50th anniversary cake and both played keyboards and took the mike to sing. Download audio and video files of the band’s performance below (registered users only – click here to register – it’s quick, easy and free).

Local TV crews filmed for reports on Anglia TV and the BBC’s Look East. Watch on the evening of November 30 if you’re in the east of the country.

James’ super-exclusive gig helped us toast 50 years of the world’s biggest-selling bike publication.

We’ll add more soon.

PLUS: Coming soon – your chance to bid on the shirt off Toseland’s back!

See related topic link, right, to share your favourite memories of the last 50 years of MCN. Or tell us which images you remember and would like to see again and we’ll try to dig them out for you to share again.

And this week’s issue of MCN, out on Wednesday, exactly 50 years to the day after the first MCN, comes with a FREE supplement celebrating the greatest moments in biking since November 30, 1955.

See link right for more on this week’s issue.

See page two of this story for our official press release.

Have you discovered MCN Auctions yet? Click here

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff