Inside Harley-Davidson

Why I Ride

Styling Manager Ray Drea: Designing the ride

03/15/16

why-i-ride-ray-drea

Ray Drea, Harley-Davidson Styling Manager, has two passions that burn deep – art and motorcycles. Not everyone is as fortunate to turn their passion into a lifelong career, however, Ray is proof it can happen. Maybe that’s what makes Ray so inspiring, or maybe it’s because he shares the same passion every rider has for the open road.

 

The world of Harley-Davidson motorcycles opened up to Ray at a young age. Growing up in a family of eight kids, older brothers inspired his interest in burning gas with motorcycles, hot rods and go-carts they brought home.

“I was five years old when my oldest brother got his license. He bought two Harley-Davidson motorcycles soon after,” said Ray. “I remember the first time he gave me a ride around the block…that was the day that changed everything!”

 

After that, motorcycles were always on Ray’s mind. “In school I’d draw motorcycles in notebooks starting in second grade.”

 

Ray grew up near Harley-Davidson’s Product Development Center, and when he was 12, he started spending summers riding his brothers’ bikes through nearby farm fields. The first bike he called his own was a Harley-Davidson M65, which he got as a young teenager. “It had a blown piston when I got it, so I worked on it with my dad and got it running,” said Ray.

 

Eventually, Ray began looking at motorcycles and cars as a blank canvas for his artistic instinct. He began custom painting motorcycles, cars and bicycles and saved money to buy his second Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

 

Ray’s world of design and riding is filled with inspiration and passion. And, each seems to feed the other. Whether he’s riding solo to Sturgis or sitting in the design studio hashing out ideas.

 

Ray says there’s no substitute for first-hand experience. “How do you describe the experience of riding to somebody? There aren't a lot of things out there that give you a 360-degree experience of the world at speed. You're using all of your senses,” said Ray.

 

Ray shared, “Long rides are very much like losing yourself while creating a cool work of art. When you get into that groove, you lose all sense of time, the endorphins are running and nothing else matters.”

 

Ray’s career as a designer at Harley-Davidson began in 1993 where he cut his teeth working alongside Willie G. Davidson. “Willie taught me more than I ever imagined, from an internal process of collaboration for manufacturing rolling sculptures, to the essence of our brand,” said Ray.

 

The need to create comes from a bottomless place in Ray. “When I finish a design project, I'm already looking toward my next one. My reward is the smile it puts on someone's face. It provides something positive for the world,” said Ray. This is why Ray believes in Harley-Davidson. “Our product holds value and meaning to enthusiasts around the world, often becoming a revered family heirloom.”

 

Ray believes what is at the heart of our brand is this: “Humans have an innate need to free their soul. Some hunger for going fast, others like the comradery, and for some it’s a tool for self-expression,” said Ray. “Harley-Davidson delivers all of that and more.” 

Ray’s first motorcycle

Ray’s first motorcycle

 

 

 

“When I finish a design project, I'm already looking toward my next one. My reward is the smile it puts on someone's face. It provides something positive for the world.”

Ray Drea, Harley-Davidson Styling Manager 

 

 

 

Ray riding through the Swiss Alps a few years ago

Ray riding through the Swiss Alps a few years ago