Roger Hull co-founded Road Rider Magazine in 1969. Road Rider focused on motorcycle touring and was one of the first publications to spotlight the then small but rapidly growing segment of motorcycling. Under Hull’s guidance, Road Rider was not shy about tackling many of the era’s political issues that other motorcycle magazines rarely touched. Hull became a leading voice for the rights and interests of touring motorcyclists.
Hull was born in April of 1924 and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In the military, Hull was aboard one of the ships that surrounded some of the first atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific. After the service, Hull worked as a writer and in advertising. He came to motorcycling relatively late in life, starting to ride in his 40s. Hull wanted to tour America on a bike and in 1966 bought an ex-police 1960 Harley-Davidson Model 60 FLH Duo Glide, a bike he figured would be perfect for the open road. He affectionately dubbed his Harley "Houndawg," after saving money in his "H-D fund," which he’d told his non-motorcycling friends the "H-D" stood for a hound dog he intended to buy.
Once into motorcycling, Hull became a prolific touring rider, logging tens of thousands of miles on his Harley. He was so enthusiastic about riding motorcycles that he didn’t even own a car until health issues kept him from riding as much as he liked. A few years after becoming an avid rider, Hull started Road Rider and lured others to write for the publication for little monetary gain by pointing out they could ride new motorcycles every day. Road Rider was the first magazine to cater to the touring rider. It was chock full of well-written travel stories, maintenance, camping tips and reviews of everything from chains to fairings to saddlebags. The magazine drew a cult-like following and became the favorite of many motorcycle magazine readers.
Hull staunchly defended the interests of touring riders. He was straightforward and unpretentious and was in demand as a speaker at rider gatherings. Hull became friends with celebrity riders such as Jay Leno and Malcolm Forbes. One of Hull’s most memorable rides was the goodwill motorcycle trip through the Soviet Union in 1979 with Forbes and a small group of Western riders.
Hull served as a trustee of the American Motorcyclist Association. He felt at the time that the AMA focused on racing at the expense of regular road riders and felt honored to be able to help the association shift more efforts towards road riding throughout the 1980s. His influence led to the formation of the AMA’s Touring and Transportation Department. Hull earned the Dud Perkins Award, the AMA’s highest award for service to motorcycling, in 1990.
Hull’s belief that road riding was a major portion of AMA membership proved correct. His efforts pre-dated and perhaps contributed to an explosion of national touring conventions and rider gatherings in the 1970s, ‘80s and beyond.
A young rider named Greg Harrison once wrote to Road Rider with a technical question his local dealerships couldn’t answer. He received a three-page hand-written note from Hull in return.
"I wasn’t just impressed, I was absolutely dazzled," said Harrison, who went on to become the editor of the American Motorcyclist Magazine.
Hull’s idea of road testing new models was a bit different than most magazine editors. "He would get a new bike and take off on 10,000-mile trips," said Road Rider contributor Michael Farabaugh. "He would evaluate everything on the bike and knew what would last or could go wrong with them after these long and rigorous trips."
Magazine readers also contributed to the reviews, sending in problems or praise associated with their motorcycles. Hull’s honest writeups of new bikes didn’t always sit well with the manufacturers and it often cost the publication advertising it might have otherwise received.
In 1982, Hull sold his interest in Road Rider. By then the magazine had sprouted several other publications copying Road Rider's format, to one degree or another. The magazine, which began as a small newsletter, eventually became Motorcycle Consumer News.
Harley-Davidson recognized Hull’s unique talents and hired him as a roving ambassador in the mid-1980s. He traveled to major motorcycling events for the company and wrote features for Harley publications.
Hull died on February 22, 1995.
Motorcycling owes much to Hull's contributions. His enthusiasm for motorcycle touring was infectious and shared by thousands of riders. He documented the joys of touring on two wheels. Hull’s beloved Houndawg Harley was donated to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and was part of the Heroes of Harley-Davidson exhibit. It remains on display in the Hall of Fame area of the Museum.