Editorial pet peeve #74: I hate interviews that begin with any anecdote involving the interrogator first. This story isn't about me--It's about Rich Ryan. In the world of choppers, I'm a kook. Greener than Shamrock Fabrication's website. Rich has been shaping metal and the chopper scene for nearly longer than I have walked on Earth, and that's pushing 50 years. If there's a man who doesn't have to suffer fools like me, it's Irish Rich.
I met Rich four years ago at the front door of his modest Colorado home. Billdozer and I had driven to east Denver in the dead of winter to pick up a motorcycle for our friend "Mad Dog" Moeller. Before this meeting, my communication with the Sinners Nomad extended no further than the tech questions he answered online. No matter how elementary my inquiries were, Rich provided descriptions, perspectives and measurements for every dumb thing I was doing. His knowledge was relevant, his friendliness seemed genuine and his generosity was boundless. Bill, Chris and I spent nearly five hours stomping around every corner of Rich's home and garage that day, and he never once showed signs of tedium from our visit. I have family who grow tiresome after 90 minutes. How could a man I've never met find a kook like me even remotely interesting?
As it turns out, that's just the kind of guy Irish Rich is. Since our first meeting, Rich has continued to help me with any cockamammy chopper stunt I'm dumb enough to try next. And every time, his contributions are voluminous and his interest is real. If you are a student of the chopper scene, you can do no better than going to school on the teacher friends and followers call Irish Rich.
Name: Richard “Irish Rich” Ryan
Age: Hey, let's just say I'm old enough to do everything legally, OK?
Job: I have Shamrock Fabrication. I do motorcycle builds from the ground up, motorcycle part fabrication, and whatever else motorcycle related I can hustle to make a buck. I also freelance articles to various magazines
Town: I'm located in Broomfield, Colorado, “Tree City USA.” Broomfield is halfway between Denver and Boulder
Co-workers: I guess Steve Glennon is the closest thing I have to a co-worker, but he only comes in part time. He has a full-time gig as a bartender up in Boulder. Smart kid--he won't get rich working with me!
Riding buddies: I always prefer to ride by myself. That way I can come and go as I want. If I want to go 40, I go 40. If I want to go 95 all day long, I do. If I want to ride non-stop from sunup to sundown, I can. Riding with a group it's always “too fast, too slow, too hot, too cold, I gotta pee, I left my gloves on the gas pump, I'm hungry/thirsty, I broke down, etc, etc.” If I do ride with somebody, it's usually Steve. We do well on the road, because he doesn't fuck around
First time on two wheels: On a full-sized motorcycle? The “older” guys that I hung out with wouldn't let me ride until I could kickstart my bike. When I could, I started riding then. I was 14 or so, I guess. Never rode dirt bikes when I was a kid, but I did ride a bunch of minibikes
First hand-built motorcycle: That would be in '68, my '41 Indian Sport Scout
Earliest two-wheeled adventure: I rode up to Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada from Buffalo, NY by myself on a borrowed bike for a big party when I was 17. I picked up this girl that was a couple years older that I was. She got so drunk that I had to use her belt to strap her to the sissybar. She got us to her place, and I got her into the bedroom, and got most of her clothes off. She rolled over, and fell in between the wall and the bed, and passed out cold. I woke up in the morning, and she was still stuck there, bare-assed, snoring away
Most recent two-wheeled adventure: Part-timer Steve and I rode out to LA for the Sinners July Fourth Liberty Bash, and Steve rode his chopper we built last year. Never missed a beat. This year I also made my twenty-third trip to Sturgis since 1982
Current stable of bikes and projects: I have my '99 Road Glide, and my '04 CFL-framed Twin Cam A. I've got a VL-framed dual-carb Panhead I'm working on slowly. That's for me. I still have the FXTT, but it's just a rolling chassis now--the drivetrain components went into a couple different clients' bikes. I just sent a project down the road, and I have two client's builds I'm working now, plus a shitload of frame mods and repairs. There's still room for more
Tools I wish I had but don't: A lathe, a mill, an upright metal bandsaw and a plasma cutter. I still make all my parts the old, slow way, cutting and working them by hand, and it's really time consuming
Tools I have, but wish I didn't: I can't think of one tool I wish I didn't have. Well, there is this one hammer: it's pretty fuckered up. I've replaced the head on it twice, and the handle three times. I should just get a new one, huh?
Heaven on Earth: Eighty-degree temperature, unspoiled landscape, and a wide open road any place in the West. “The West is the best, get here and we'll do the rest.” Mr. Mojo Risin' said that
Proudest moment: The birth of my three sons. They've all grown up, and are pretty successful in their chosen fields. I'm pretty proud of that.
Darkest secret: Those secrets will remain dark. There are a couple things I'm not too talkative about from the past
Deepest fear: Not getting all my bills paid every month. You guys better start sending me more work!
Biggest regret: Not going to college, but overall, no real regrets. I'd do it all over again
Reason for being: Haven't a clue, I'm still working on that. I never figured to make it this far, so there must be a plan out there I don't know about
Just how cool is Irish Rich? Cool enough to suffer the indignity of a Myspace portrait with a creepy stranger
If I lost my right arm: I do a lot of my work with both my right and left hands equally, I'm pretty ambidextrous. So, I think I could adapt pretty well. I know a pinstriper here in town that lost his right arm, and taught himself to pinstripe again left-handed, so if you want it, you can do it. I'd build myself a trike or a sidehack rig, and keep working and riding. Hey, I guess I'd have to switch deodorants too, I use Right Guard!
Thanks: Thanks to everybody that came before me, and took the time to teach and pass on to me everything I know now about motorcycles. If they hadn't taken me in, I wouldn't have a reason to get out of bed in the morning
Rich's ChopCult profile