Tricks of the trade
Since he became a BMW Motorrad UK sponsored rider earlier this year, Mattie
Griffin's feet haven't had chance to touch the ground. The Irish stunt-riding
star has been travelling around the UK and Ireland in recent months, appearing
at a variety of shows and festivals with his BMW F800R.
Ranked fifth in the world at Street Bike Freestyle Riding, Mattie's presence
at events such as the Annual Across Ireland motorcycle run, Goodwood Festival
of Speed, Kells International Road Races and the Glasgow Show has been hotly
anticipated by his growing fan base. "I normally do three 15-minute shows throughout
the day, and each show consists of up to 40 tricks," he explains. "Someone
once said to me that my show is best described as like a ballerina on a bike
on one wheel."
The 30-year-old from Galway works hard to entertain his audiences, training
for two hours a day, six days a week, and for four hours on Sundays to practice
his routine and develop his signature tricks. It's a dream job for Mattie,
whose motorcycling career began at an early age – thanks to an enthusiasm for
trials riding and talent for mechanics.
"I've been crazy for two wheels since I was a child and I enjoyed trials riding
as a hobby for many years," he said. "In 2004, my friend, David Hanahoe, suggested
I take up stunt riding, and I rode his bike a couple of times and really liked
it. So I bought a crashed bike and built a stunt bike from that."
Building the bike in his workshop was almost as enjoyable as honing his stunt-riding
skills and gave the young motorcyclist greater confidence in his abilities.
"I'd been doing mechanic work since I was young and I have always enjoyed working
on motorcycles in particular. It can take months to complete a stunt bike,
a lot of parts have to be made especially for it, and it can take a while to
get over any teething problems before you feel totally comfortable on it."
Soon after he decided to start stunt riding, he was spotted by BMW Motorrad
Manager Conor McRory at the Irish Motorbike Show in Dublin in 2004. "He saw
me perform and was pretty impressed by my riding skills. From there, I carried
out some demonstrations on different BMW motorcycles and was introduced to
the BMW Motorrad team."
Now the manufacturer supplies Mattie with two BMW F800R models for his shows
and competitions. Flat bars and a reshaped seat provide greater comfort and
control, and the tank has been reinforced to take his weight during stunts.
"What I like most about it is the engine," he says. "It's a parallel twin and
has smooth power, it's not too aggressive, which makes it a nice bike for stunt
The BMW F800R is also the motorcycle used by record-breaking stunt rider
Christian Pfeiffer. The German champion is a huge source of inspiration for
Mattie, partly because he too came from a trial riding background and initially
used a trial bike in his shows. "When I first saw his tricks, I practised and
managed to pick them up quickly. Generally, I like the style of his riding,
his tricks and that he's so professional about what he does."
Happily, stunt riding is now a full-time profession for Mattie, too. Most
of his week is spent preparing his BMW F800R for shows at the weekend and
working in his home office in Galway. "Most mornings, I'm on the phone or the
computer, sorting out insurance, travel arrangements and sending out photos
from my shows, for example," he says. Replying to fan mail also takes time,
and he tries to respond to each and every request.
The response he receives from the spectators at his shows is one of Mattie's
main motivations and he appreciates the opportunity to travel, meet new people
and entertain such a wide audience. "What I enjoy about any of the shows I
do is the reaction on people's faces, both young and old. When you can put
a smile on someone's face, and when people take the time to come and talk to
me afterwards, that's what I enjoy most."
To find out more about Mattie, his BMW F800R and his upcoming shows, visit www.mgstuntriding.com and
to see a video of how Mattie's stunt bike is equipped, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGswK64Y1SQ&feature=fvsr