Interview – Maurice Rissman of Raider Moto

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While most of the bikes I feature are based out of the US, there’s always awesome finds in other parts of the world. A regular source of great motorcycles for me has been Raider Moto in Coffs Harbour, Australia, which is how you’ve been recent offerings like the BiMonkey, Alchemy SV-1, and the Target Design MV Agusta 750S. The Raider Moto name has been about going fast for three decades, though nowadays the focus has been in rare and collectible motorcycles. They’ll restore your old bike, sell you something new, or customize your current ride. I recently had the chance to speak with the man behind it all, Maurice Rissman. Here are his answers to my usual questions:

How did you get started with motorcycles – how did you learn, and what was your first bike?
My first bike was Suzuki A100, stripped down with knobby rear and road tyre front; I was around 13. About an hour’s ride through the bush there was an old quarry where the older guys had carved out a circuit, and we’d thrash around there for hours & hours. I learnt a lot about how to crash & escape with minimal pain; I had no riding gear at all as a kid; sand shoes (Dunlop Volley’s), no gloves, no helmet. When I started work I bought a brand new Suzuki RM125A & with the help of the local dealer got into MX.

What bikes do you currently own?
Raidermoto owns around 150 bikes, but I also have a small personal collection, mostly Ducati’s. My daily rider is a Bimota DB8SP, the best sports bike I have ever ridden to date; no electrical aids, a real rider’s bike!

Bimota DB8SP – photo from http://www.totalmotorcycle.com/motorcycles/2012models/2012-Bimota-DB8SP.htm

All I’ve done is fit a Rapidbike ECU which transformed the 1198R’s delivery. Gained 26hp off the bottom & smoothed power delivery beyond belief, I was so impressed we’ve become an agent for the Rapidbike system.

What’s your favorite piece of gear?
That’s a bit too hard to answer; I’d say my fabricating tools & TIG welder. There’s no better feeling than dreaming something-up in your head, working out how to make it real, then fit it to a bike and see it in working or finished form.

Assume for a moment that money is no object, and importation laws aren’t a problem. What’s the next bike you’d buy, and what would you do with it?
Easy, a Ducati GP17, then I’d fit a starter & lights and buy a trailer load of ear plugs for my ridding buddies!

photo from http://www.bikesrepublic.com/news/bulletin/new-ducati-desmo-16-gp-debuts/attachment/ducati-desmosedici-d16-gp-17

What’s the most memorable motorcycle trip you’ve ever taken?
In 2000 I took my girlfriend (now wife) to Europe for a month. We hired a Cagiva Canyon, rode the wheels off of it; did World Ducati Week at Misano, watched Troy Bayliss win his first ever WSB race at Hockenheim, shot over to the UK & took my girlfriend to the house she was born in, met all her family & killed a million brain cells, hell of a ride in more ways than one!

If you were forced to listen to one song on repeat while you were riding your motorcycle, which song would it be?
I’m so not into music when I’m travelling; I drive regularly to Sydney & back in a day, around 1,200k’s, and do the lot in silence. If I was forced to listen to any song on repeat I’d likely blow my brains out.

After 30+ years of four-wheel competition, why did you switch to motorcycle road racing? How did you manage to partner with Ducati?
I left car racing & started a building company (BMC Australia), through which I sponsored a Sydney based bike team in a 6hr endurance race. The bike was a 900SS; it won its class and was a world first win for the Pierre Terblanche designed 900 Supersport. As a thank you, the team invited me to a track day and my lap times were comparable to the team riders, who were all recognized A-grade riders; I’d never ridden a modern bike on any track before. The team manager shoehorned me into a set of leathers, organized a race license and as they say, the rest is history.

I first discovered Raider Moto due to your large inventory of great classic bikes. But you’ve gone far beyond the average used bike shop with your own division for custom motorcycle builds. This can be an expensive and difficult proposition – why did you decide to take the plunge, and what are some of your favorite builds to date?
About a decade ago, when the exchange rate really favoured us, we were importing a lot of bikes from Japan, about 10 containers a year, and supplying bikes to other dealers. Around the same time Deus Ex Machina opened their first store in Sydney, and we started to get people asking for Yamaha SR400’s & 500’s so they could build their versions of what Deus was selling.

One of these customers inquired if we could build them a café racer, so we did a bit of research and built our first Raider Retro, the Manx 500. From there we started getting more orders and finally inquiries for larger capacity custom bikes, so we searched the globe for something we could make our own. We came across a German frame builder by the name of Manfred Rau, who’d built a lot of 1000cc bikes between the 70’s & 90’s, but sadly died way too early in 1991. We sourced as many Rau’s as we could find, brought them down-under and rebuilt them under the Raider Rau name. So far as a favourite, whatever we’re building at the time is my favourite. Currently we’re doing the Mauler, a 1970 Honda 4 with ZX10 front & rear ends, we’re also doing Double-Shot, a XV920 Yamaha, and a very rare Egli Ducati, one of only 2 in the world. We’re also restoring a number of Ducati Bevel Supersports; two 1974’s, a 1978 and a 1980, plus gaggle of other projects.

With all your experience doing something many people dream of being able to achieve, what would you do differently if you were going to do it over again?
I’d have started road racing younger, that’s for sure, and also become a dad sooner, that’s something I never for a second thought I’d enjoy so much. Having two young sons who’ve grown-up in the workshop is so cool, but other than that I’ve lived a charmed life and wouldn’t do anything different.

I was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks, nothing evil, we were a one parent family and poor as a church mouse. To come from that and get to where I’ve been, and to be doing what I do today, well you couldn’t achieve that today. 30 years ago you got a job based on your ability, today you need a uni degree to get an interview.

If a buyer from outside of Australia is interested in one of your offerings, what should they know about the import/export process?
They don’t need to know anything, we take care of the lot. We ship bikes around the globe, by air & sea, and we have agents and partners in 6 countries. You buy a bike from Raidermoto all you need to worry about is the gas.

What can we expect for the future of Raider Moto?
Well asides of having an 18-24 month wait for builds in the queue, we also have some pretty exciting projects that we’ve been working on for a while. We were approached by Vyrus Motorcycles and are now their Australian distributor. Vyrus is pure porn; you either love or hate the appearance, but no techno-head can ignore the level of sophistication & build quality. We’re finishing compliance of the first bike now, and there’s another waiting to follow. We also have the only two Confederate Wraiths in Oz.

One was fully complied under a special provision for custom bikes and then someone decided to lodge a claim that the Wraith was a production bike, which it wasn’t; it never got beyond prototype status and no two of the circa 40 were ever built the same. This individual had nothing to gain but the pleasure of stopping us from getting the bike on the road; now we have to undergo a much harder and more expensive method, and all for nothing, but we’re known for overcoming the impossible.

One of the biggest challenges we have is finding staff passionate enough to work to the standards we provide. There’s only 3 of us in the workshop and what we really need a forth, so if any of your readers who believe they have what it takes, and want to live by the seaside and work on some of the coolest bikes in the world, they should drop us a line.


Like what Maurice had to say? Check out Raider Moto here!

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