I've known Matt Risley, the man behind Matt Risley Innovation (MRI) for a few years. I remember vividly the first time I met him at a saloon in Sturgis hanging out with his buddy and fellow Zonie (people from Arizona) Nick Trask. Matt looked to be just old enough to drink with looks and style that place him more in a fashion magazine than behind a welding mask. After having a three hour conversation with Matt I realized that I had not only met an extremely talented builder but a friend as well.
Outside in the pouring rain Matt showed me some of his hand fabbed parts on one of his shop mule bikes. I was impressed and wanted to see more on a sweet bagger. Although Matt's built many parts and bikes since our first meeting it was again in Sturgis last year that we met up to shoot the bike you see here: a rocketship Road Glide.
About a year or so prior to the '09 Black Hills Rally Matt came into possession of a bright yellow '06 Road Glide as partial payment for a bike build he was involved with. Although the chassis and sheetmetal were stock the bike had a 124ci S&S two-cam motor in it hooked up to a Baker six-speed tranny. Matt kept the bike but it sat in the corner of his shop getting used to mock-up seat pans, exhausts, and anything else Matt was working on. He occasionally even spoke to the bike, promising her that one day she wouldn't be covered in fiberglass and having sparks thrown at her all day long.
The day finally came when Matt was able to start on his neglected RG. Matt was excited because he was getting to build a bike for himself and not a customer. He loved the motor but hated the yellow. Besides, Matt planned on using many of his MRI Signature Series parts on the rebuild. Matt sold off all the painted parts of the bike along with anything else he wasn't going to reuse.
Matt's goal was to build a super-clean machine to complement the monster mill between the framerails.
Matt's first job was getting the chassis rolling by bolting on a set of Roland Sands Design wheels between the American Suspension lower fork legs; a modest 21 up front with an 18 incher out back. A Legends Air Ride kept the rear suspended. Now Matt was able to move the bike around his shop while concentaring on what he wanted to do and how to proceed. Since this was going to be Matt's ride he wanted the bike to be a rolling business card, something he could take out on the show circuit and show what MRI is capable of.
Matt got started on the sheetmetal fabbing a sleek, curved gas tank that features a flush door to access the fuel cap. The tank meets up perfectly with the seat that Matt made. On the front Matt started with a Jim Nasi fender and massaged it to wrap around the tire while in the rear Matt went with a Klockwerks fender. Matt added on one of his own retractable license plate mounts inside the rear fender too. A set of extended Trask saddlebags were added with little marker lights mounted on the bottom of each bag as well as signals in the panels between the bags and fender. On the front of the bike Matt put the turn signals underneath the paint where they can only be seen when activated.A few other MRI goodies were added such as the internally wired handlebars, the motor mount and the trick center stand. The MRI center stand is electrically operated and securely holds the bike even on gravel. On the right side of the bike it's hard not to notice the crossed MRI Zeus 2-into-1 exhaust system.
Matt likes his tunes too so he upgraded the audio system with a Kenwood deck that feeds two 6 1/2 inch speakers up front housed in MRI enclosures in addition to the two stock speakers. Although not visible from the outside there is an 8-inch subwoofer in the right saddlebag and an amplifier in the left bag.
Once everything was mocked up Matt had the bike shot in a deep Galaxy Grey color. He figured with the great lines this bike had he could get away with a single color and no graphics. Matt thinks the bike has a presence like a muscle car and will age just as well. Matt's a pretty happy guy when it comes to this bike. We got to ride around in Sturgis and I can attest to the sweet power that 124 makes. We did manage to get the photoshoot done before we were chased by hail and rain only to get trapped in another saloon for hours. Sometimes life is just like that, but at least I was stuck with a friend.