Ride Free A Memoir...
Willie G. Davidson
Gary Ilminen, Ultimate Motorcycling Magazine
“The word “iconic” is a word I tend to try to avoid because it is so overused in current journalism that it has lost much of its meaning. This, however, is an exception. Now in his 90th year, Willie G. Davidson is a truly iconic figure in the motorcycle world. He has done a lot of living and, as the grandson of one of the company’s founders, his life has been inextricably entwined with America’s best-selling motorcycle brand. Willie G.’s new book, Ride Free – A Memoir, is more than an autobiography—it is an intimate, personal history of Harley-Davidson and a man who poured his life force into it."
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Willie G. Davidson likes to say that he was born with gasoline in his veins and a crayon in each hand. A designer at heart, Davidson combined his passions for art and motorcycles to extend a multi-generational unbroken thread from Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company’s birth in a wooden shed in the early twentieth century to today. The grandson of one of the company’s founders and the son of one of its longtime presidents, he created a series of iconic designs that defined Harley-Davidson “factory custom” bikes and cemented its standing as the premier motorcycle company in the world. Davidson was instrumental in saving the company from bankruptcy, then helping it facilitating its explosion into a global phenomenon. For more than five decades, Davidson was more than a namesake of the founders; he was the heart and soul of Harley-Davidson with a personal connection to millions of riders around the world, who knew him, simply, as "Willie G." Throughout his life, Davidson has embodied a close-to-the-customer relationship, by attending motorcycle rallies, rides, and races with his late wife, Nancy, the “First Lady of Motorcycling,” and son and daughter, Bill and Karen Davidson. Recently Bill & Karen joined their famous parents as inductees into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame. They play key roles in the Motorcycle Company today.
In "Ride Free," Davidson recounts his memories of family, relationships, and events that defined his extraordinary life and legacy of power, passion, and purpose. Davidson gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the planning, design, and conception of the legendary bikes that inspired millions of riders over the past half-century; stories of his unforgettable rides around the world; the people he encountered while navigating thousands of miles on the roads; and the legacy that he and his family have created which will carry on the most famous name in motorcycles.
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WILLIAM G. DAVIDSON
Chief Styling Officer Emeritus
William G. Davidson serves as Chief Styling Officer Emeritus and Brand Ambassador at Harley-Davidson, Inc. Affectionately called “Willie G.” by millions of motorcycle enthusiasts, his creations include the design of several of Harley-Davidson's most admired motorcycles. His artistic vision and passion for riding have made him a legend among throngs of enthusiasts worldwide that consider him the patriarch of motorcycling.
Born with gasoline in his veins, Davidson is the son of former Harley-Davidson president, William H. Davidson, and the grandson of one of the original founders, William A. Davidson. For fifty years, he helped shape the look, sound, and feel that define Harley-Davidson motorcycles. During the 1980s and 1990s, he developed unique designs which kept Harley-Davidson motorcycles selling while the company completed technological and manufacturing improvements. Based in heritage and tradition, Davidson is responsible for the visual design of such classics as the FX Super Glide, FX Low Rider, Cafe' Racer, Heritage Softail Classic, Softail Springer, Fat Boy, Road King, Softail Deuce, V-Rod, Nightster, Cross Bones, and the Street Glide.
A native of Wisconsin, Davidson attended the University of Wisconsin for three years before transferring to the ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles. He joined Harley-Davidson in 1963, when he was invited to set-up its motorcycle design department. In 1981, Davidson was one of thirteen executives who raised more than $75 million to purchase Harley-Davidson from AMF Incorporated.
As an avid rider, Davidson clocked thousands of miles on the open road each year. His family, including his wife Nancy, made Harley-Davidson the center of their lives. Through his life-long devotion to the Motor Company, Davidson has watched firsthand as Harley-Davidson has evolved into a true American icon.