Former Editor and Publisher of <i>Motorcyclist</i> Dies

Bill Bagnall, writer, artist, philanthropist dies at 80.

Bill Bagnall, 80, former Editor and Publisher of Motorcyclist Magazine, co-founder of Motorcycle Dealernews Magazine, AMA President and long-time driving force of the Los Angeles-based Trailblazers organization, passed away November 22nd.

Bagnall was born on March 27, 1926 in Taft, California. After serving in World War II, he purchased his first motorcycle and by the late-1940s was mixing his two hobbies: motorcycles and photography. After submitting free-lance photos to Motorcyclist Magazine for some time, as well as a 90-day trial as Associate Editor, Bill was eventually hired full time as Editor in 1953.

In 1965, Bagnall and Larry Hester formed a partnership and launched Motorcycle Dealernews Magazine (now Dealernews), as well as a series of motorcycle trade shows. The two partners continued together until 1970 when he sold his part of the business to Hester.

Along the way, Bagnall and his wife Shirley had purchased Motorcyclist Magazine and, in 1970, agreed to be acquired by Petersen Publishing. Bagnall continued as Publisher for a few more years until finally retiring in the early-1970s. Shirley passed away in 1983, but Bill kept busy with a monthly camera show that he produced in Buena Park, California.

In addition to his magazine work, Bagnall had become a member of the AMA Board of Directors when he was at Motorcyclist and served three terms as AMA President. It was during that period that Bill played a key role in affiliating the AMA with the FIM, a move that opened the door for Americans to participate in world championship competition.

With his long background in the motorcycle sport and business, it was natural that Bill took an interest in the Trailblazers organization, a group that continues today, as it has for over sixty years, with the sole purpose of holding an annual get-together banquet. Bill was its long-time President until retiring from his post a few years back, although he maintained a President Emeritus status.

Bill was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999 and additional information about him is available its website at He is survived by a daughter, Tracy Bagnall Lloyd, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Services will be private, but plans for a memorial in the Los Angeles area in January are underway.