We wouldn’t doubt North Richland Hills, Texas’ Rickey Graffeo’s powers of customization—not unless we wanted to eat our words like a sweet Texas barbecue dry rub. The last person to doubt him was a custom motorcycle shop owner who told Rickey he wouldn’t be able to build saddlebags by hand to fit his 2008 Victory Kingpin 8-Ball. Think of it as a triple-dog dare of A Christmas Story proportions—except no one’s tongue got frozen to any pole. This is Texas after all. We picture more tumbleweeds and spurs in this scene, though Keith Byars’ snow-angel touchdown celebration in the infamous Leon Lett botched-field-goal-recovery game of Thanksgiving 2003 taught us that it does snow in the Dallas area, at least occasionally (sorry for the nostalgic kick in the balls, Dallasonians…Dallasites…er Texans!).
And, when we say “bad,” we mean menacing-cowboy-dressed-in-all-black bad.
We digress.The obstacle here was getting the fiberglass shaped like the Kingpin’s fender, but Rickey lives for a challenge. It motivates him to push his talents and determination to the limit, and it resulted in one badass bagged iron horse. And, when we say “bad,” we mean menacing-cowboy-dressed-in-all-black bad. The type of cowboy who strikes a match off his rough, leathery face before warning that he doesn’t take kindly to strangers running off at the mouth.
There was no sophisticated process here. In molding his Kingpin’s bags and fairing, Rickey simply let the fiberglass almost dry then started pushing and sculpting it to his fancy. It wasn’t an exact science or something Rickey had ever endeavored to try before, but after seven months and a thinking man’s patience, the Rodinian results speak for themselves.
“I just started forming it with my hands,” Rickey admits. "I took a mold of my fender and started from there. It was more or less a trial-and-error thing; I’ve never done anything like this before in my life. I’m a TIG welder by trade, and everything I do is precise. For this, everything was eyeballed—believe me. Those bags have been on and off the bike a million times."
The finishing touch came in dressing this bad-guy bike in suitably rebellious duds. Its black is stealthy and pensive; the silver and blue silver leaf streaks defiantly cut into the fairing, front fender, gas tank, and bags like Native American turquoise over ornate Nevada silver adorning a cowboy hat band, bracelet, belt buckle, and boot spurs. It’s Johnny Cash with his jaw clenched tight and lips angrily curled to drop the mother of all atomic F-bombs on you with the bird fully flipped and extended for ever doubting him. You wouldn’t glean any such defiance from a conversation with Rickey though; he comes off friendly, humble, and good-humored. We wouldn’t recommend trying to stir the pot with him though not even if he triple-dog dared you.