The Commuter Journal: a review / by Tom Oliver Payne

I love travel, cities, bikes and photography. My favourite magazine Huck does an amazing job of covering all of these things. The mag exposes the work of some of the world’s most captivating photographers and writers talking neighbourhoods, ideas, style and culture, often woven together through stories of travel, adventure and personal achievements.

Naturally, I was pretty psyched when I heard that Huck had joined forces with Levi Jeans to create an edition purely focused on bikes.


Picking up a copy from East London’s Peloton & Co, I spent a couple of hours in the last of the afternoon autumn sunshine to have a read. Here are my thoughts…

The majority of magazines I pick up these days are tacky architecture/urban planning industry magazines, which look like they were thrown together in MS Paint. Immersing yourself in something well-designed makes the world of difference. Seriously, you should try it sometime... In a world full of miss-matched shapes and colours, seeing beautiful graphics is kind of like taking your first massive gulp after a big night out on the gins.

One of the best things about good graphics in a mag like this is its ability to enhance striking photography. This sounds lame as shit, but I seriously get chills up my spine when I’m looking at an amazing photograph. I’m drawn into the photo - wanting to be there, meet the person being interviewed, see the sites and smell the smells.


Flicking through the pages of Huck and having had lived and breathed bikes for most of my life, I felt like I knew exactly what the greasy crank arms felt like, and what the rubber tyres smelled like. I guess it’s like listening to an awesome song: there’s something so good about getting into a magazine which feels like it was put together just for you.

The cool thing was that when I read through The Journal, I began to realise how my interests moulded together in the first place. And upon reflection it kind of made me realise what I value on a day-today basis as well.

The stories aren’t just about bikes, brought together with amazing imagery. But each article was about the travel and cities that are explored en-route when on two wheels.

Bikes and places are intrinsically connected and one article in particular, really spelled this out. In ‘A Muse in Motion’ Taliah Lampert said,

It [the bike] changed the way I was in the city. Before the bike I always took the subway and I knew the city around certain subway posts. But suddenly with a bike I was going over bridges and going through different neighbourhoods and seeing the whole city and getting a feel for how it was laid out… the other week I took a different bridge and it was a whole new experience. It was one of those beautiful days, the sun was shining, the views were spectacular, and all the noises of the traffic and construction was coming together to be music.

An old boss of mine once used the expression, Genius Loci, which means ‘spirit of place’. It’s one of those cool terms which kind of says a lot in few words. Like art, music and fashion, particular places can spark all kinds of emotions. A neighbourhood can remind us of an old love, bring new ideas to mind, or teach us about an entire culture - all wrapped up in smells, appearances and sounds.

Photography and storytelling can capture a sense of adventure and lifestyle. They can also perfectly capture the essence of a place and the people within it.

When all is said and done in our lives and we’re sitting on our deathbeds, we’ll look back to think about what’s been important to us.

The number of dollars in our bank account won’t mean shit. Neither will the number of promotions we’ve had, or the amount of cars we bought. What will stick in our minds are the adventures we’ve had, the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met.

People, places, photography and a sense of exploring a new city on two wheels is an amazing part of life. In its beautiful simplicity, The Commuter Edition did an awesome job of reminding me of that.

If you’re in London pick up a copy at Peloton or Tokyo bike. Or if you get in touch with Huck via Twitter I’m sure they can help you out.

Ummm… by the way, did I mention The Commuter Journal is free!?

Thanks Huck/Levi's – awesome stuff.