I’m quite a fan of Dirt magazine. Back in the day it was great. Sure they made the odd design mistake like printing black text against a muddy trail but you overlooked that (unless you were Rich), because they had the grunge thing down to a tee. You would read it and want to get out on your bike right away.
The design style made it look like it was literally cut and pasted together – it was like reading a fanzine with some money behind it. The articles were compelling but it was the photography that really drove the mag. The absolutely stunning imagery was what set it apart from it’s peers. Reading through old issues of the magazine really brings out the image of the sport back in the day.
All things move on though, and so did Dirt. They wanted to expand their horizons to take in more than just downhill biking – and why not?
Alas they seemed to lose their way a bit for a while. The photos were still present and correct but they were held back by the the layout. If anything they got a bit too sensible, stuck in a wilderness somewhere between their old look and the very clean cut lines of What Mountain Bike. There was plenty of white space and it was all perfectly readable – all traditionally good things (just look at this place) but the grunge that defined them was sidelined.
I think they’re back in the groove now though. They’re still reasonably sensible where they need to be (you no longer get black text on a black background for instance), but the grunge is back in full effect. Each page of a feature article has it’s own layout, something which ought to disrupt the flow, but somehow it doesn’t. Not every one quite hits home but it doesn’t matter – each page is trying to push the boundaries in one way or another, making good use of colour and strong photography to create a fantastic looking magazine. It’s back to being a magazine that inspires you to get out on your bike and attack the trails.
If only they could sort out all of the spelling mistakes. Some people are never happy, are they?