Educator / Off-Road Enthusiast / Former Magazine Editor
Dual-sport/adventure-bike explorer Cameron Coatney’s love for all things motorized (plus water sports) began when his family started going to Pismo Beach, California, to off-road when he was just a toddler in 1972. As soon as he was big enough, a Honda ATC90 was placed under him and he began exploring the dunes of both Pismo Beach and the amazing and infamous Glamis sand dunes with his father, Earl Coatney, leading the way through the dunes in his buggy. Before long, the entire family, including Coatney’s mother, Lauren, and his brother, Brandon, both on their own ATVs, were snaking their way through the dunes on family rides nearly every weekend through the mid-'90s.
In 1986, Coatney dove into racing SCORE and HDRA off-road races in class 5/1600 Volkswagen buggies with his childhood friend, Mario Panagiotopoulos (also known as Super-Mario in the motorcycle industry and Red-Bull’s go-to hospitality operator at the big races and TV series like The Great Ride Open). In 1988 at the age of 18, Coatney picked up his first motorcycle, a 1987 Honda CR500R, from a speedway racer who lived down the street. Coatney planned to use the bike to practice and train for racing ATVs in the AMA District 37 Desert and Grand Prix Series.
After winning the 1989 SCORE/HDRA Desert World Championship in the ATV class at Willow Springs Raceway, Coatney’s passion for riding soon switched to motorcycles and the ATVs were sold. “My friends still make jokes that I was a couch-rider or a quad-god back in the day,” says Coatney, “and I just laugh because that’s where my family started and I loved being out in the desert with them. I wouldn’t trade all those years in the dunes for anything—learning to read terrain at speed, learning how to ride well at night and learning the skill, art, and responsibilities of leading great rides.”
After graduating college from the University of California at Riverside in 1992 with a B.A. in English and a minor in creative writing, Coatney stayed close to the motorcycle industry by working at a fledgling little motorcycle accessory shop called Chaparral Motorsports (you may have heard of it!). While his parents wondered what the heck he was doing working at a motorcycle shop with a college degree, Coatney took aim at grabbing his dream job—becoming an editor at a motorcycle magazine like his motorcycle-magazine heroes, Tom “Wolfman” Webb, Rick “Super Hunky” Sieman, Dennis “Ketchup” Cox and the likes—while running the tire department at Dave Damron’s Chaparral and helping move the store twice as it grew into the mega-store it is today.
In 1995, Coatney was working at Corona Honda Motorcycles, when he married Kimberly Fong and got his foot in the door of the magazine industry. While reading Cycle News cover-to-cover as usual one week, he spotted a way into his dream job: an ad for the position of associate editor at Personal Watercraft Illustrated. Before he knew it, he was working on a watercraft magazine in the hey-day of the watercraft industry. Soon, however, a desk opened up across the office at Cycle News and in 1996, Coatney was pulled right over into his goal and dream career of testing motorcycles and gear, and covering both the AMA Supercross and National Motocross Series.
Arguably, those were some of the greatest years for the motorcycle industry due to increased TV coverage, dynamic riders and personalities like Jeremy McGrath, increased popularity with the mainstream public, new motocross teams and 18-wheelers the factory teams were beginning to introduce. Coatney soon found himself working with and learning from legends and some of the best writers and reporters in the industry like Henny Ray Abrams, Paul Carruthers, Kit Palmer, Davey Coombs and Eric Johnson; learning photography from some of the best photographers Kinney Jones, Fran Kuhn and Steve Bruhn (when digital photography started to take a foothold); and learning about how and why motorcycles really worked from some of the very best motorcycle tuners (Ed Schiedler, Eric Crippa, Tom Moen, Tim McAdams, Gary Jones and Tom Morgan).
In 1998, Coatney received an offer to work as an associate editor for MXRacer and Dirt Rider at the legendary Petersen Publishing. Working with and learning photography and writing skills from Ken Faught, Karel Kramer and Mark Kariya, Coatney got to work on Dirt Rider magazine’s legendary 24-hour motorcycle tests at the Petersen Ranch among other things.
By 2000, Coatney decided to follow his wife into the teaching profession and started teaching middle-school English. For the next several years, he still contributed to motorcycle Websites like SpeedTV.com and MotorcycleUSA.com, testing both accessories, gear and motorcycles.
Since leaving the motorcycle media industry officially in 2006, Coatney has continued riding, camping and exploring the deserts and mountains of the western United States. His daughter, Elise, was born in 2002 and spent her entire life exploring and loving those same deserts and forests. He has also taken multiple surfing, snowboarding and riding trips with his wife and daughter to Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Greece and Australia, often exploring those places for up to a month at a time while living in rented motor homes.
A legendary and unique American-made 1989 ATK 560 DS started his obsession with dual-sport motorcycles back in 1992. Since then, he’s ridden just about every dual-sport made and is hooked on the idea of having a license plate to be able to piece together epic rides across the western United States. Since 2009, Coatney has switched over to dual-sport motorcycles full-time and has set up several new big-bore KTM EXCs for this task. Coatney started riding adventure motorcycles a few years ago when he grabbed a legendary KTM 950 Adventure and started exploring on that from his garage. A KTM 1190 Adventure R now sits in the garage ready for off-road expeditions or two-up touring rides with his wife up the coast or across the country.
With social media and its popularity blowing up the past decade, Coatney has found himself sharing his love and stoke for motorcycles and surfing on Web-based platforms. He strives to be positive, helpful, uplifting and inspiring with his Facebook Groups like: KTM 450 EXC and Husqvarna FE 450, SoCal Adventure Bike Riders, KTM Adventure Motorcycles, Mid-Size Adventure Bikes, Adventure/Dual Sport/Trail Riding Couples and Surfers near 50 and up.
We at Speed & Sport Adventures look forward to working with a true hard-core enthusiast like Cameron, and plan to utilize his knowledge for bike setup, tour routing, ride scouting, photography, mechanical abilities on and off the trail, his positive attitude, bench-racing prowess and ability to make things fun.