The Stuntman: An Interview with Mattie Griffin.
After a bit of a break from interviews, I am happy to be back, and indeed back with a bang. My interview consisted of none other than Mattie Griffin, who is a world famous stunt bike rider from Galway. I first recall being hypnotized by Mattie’s performance all the way back at the Coolnights Car Show in 2008, and have been a fan since! This also marks a major first for me, as Mattie is the first person that I have both interviewed and talked to in person having met up at the recent Red Bull F1 event in Belfast.
1. How did you come about stunt riding and how did you find it hard to get out there so to speak?
When I was a kid I didn’t plan to be one of the best Stunt riders in the world, However I was crazy about two wheels and that I knew for sure, at the age of 3 years I was cycling a bike and it wasn’t long before I was pestering my parents for a BMX they didn’t have the money to just buy me one so I had to rely on good old Santa ant that next Christmas he didn’t let me down as you can imagine its December, its freezing but I didn’t care I was riding that BMX all day every day , after a few years I was probably 6 years old and my dad was fixing a moped for a neighbour and of course I was the test rider as soon as it was fixed from there I caught the bug and I was crazy about bikes.
I started riding trials bikes at the age of about 8 and to this day it’s still a big passion of mine I believe it had a big part in getting me where I am today with my Stunt riding, In 2013 I met with a guy called David Hanahoe from Westport in Mayo who had already made a name for himself with stunt riding on a bid sports bike he agreed to come up to Galway some weekend with his bike and let me have a ride, within 20 minutes of riding I felt comfortable and was already planning what can I sell to have enough money to build a stunt bike, within 6 months I already had a bike built and I was riding stunt bikes, the first competition I ever entered in 2004 at Athboy go kart track I won it and only a few weeks later my then friend David Hanahoe convinced me to enter the World stunt riding championships in Czech Republic where I came in at 16th place competing against 60 of the best stunt riders in the world.
At this point I had my own bike shop up and running and wasn’t planning to make stunt riding my job, but as at this time bike insurance was rising and I found myself working longer and longer days it was hard going in the bike shop and very little left over after paying my bills and paying the lads their wages, at the same time a guy called Conor McRory who was the head of BMW Motorrad Ireland had heard about me through some mutual friends that I rode trials with and he asked me to demonstrate some new model BMW bikes in Mondello and various venues and that was great to get some extra money, from that I was then asked to perform at some local bike rally’s and motorcycle shows at weekends so the extra money was handy, I’m not sure when it came but I was getting more and more shows and entering all the competitions that were going and I decided to just pack in the shop for the moment and look for more shows.
2. How did you come about getting sponsored by BMW Motorrad and is your BMW F 800 R specially built for what you do?
I guess with the BMW sponsorship it all started with Conor McRory back in the day, after Conor had me to demonstrate the various models in Ireland it wasn’t long before I was getting calls from BMW Motorrad UK asking me to come to England to do the same for them, I was delighted as it was more work for me and I was getting to travel and meet new people. My BMW F 800 R is specially built but not to the level that most people image I build and maintain all my own stunt bikes its probable easier for me to start with what’s not modified as its normally what people think is the most modified, the engine, frame, swing arm, sub frame, front forks, wheels are not modified in anyway!
I have an extra-large rear sprocket on my 800cc bike to gear the bike do a little for working in small areas, I have some extra callipers on my rear wheel so I have a hand brake under my clutch lever, I have stronger foot rests and engine crash cages fitted, I have a foot rail at the rear of the bike and a modified saddle with dense foam fitted after that there are only small modifications made!
3. Must be pretty special to perform at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed, how does it feel to get the chance to perform at such events?
To start with I am a pretty humble person, The last 14 years have actually gone so fast as I have been so busy traveling and performing, I have been all over the world and I have had some crazy and exciting experiences, I actually don’t think I realize or had a second to sit down and realize what I have achieved or experienced! Goodwood FOS is a pretty amazing event it’s hard to explain this event to anyone I always tell them they need to experience it to appreciate it and I am very grateful to Lord March who actually personally invites me back every year for the past 9 year, I am however very grateful of all the traveling I have done and more importantly the wonderful people I have met and friends I have made (that you can’t buy.)
4. Do you have to put in much time practicing and developing your stunts? And would your diet and fitness play a major role in your stunt performing?
The simple answer to this is YES you do need to put in a lot of work training blood sweat and tears! Don’t get me wrong I loved every bit of it but you need to be dedicated and have patience, this all didn’t come over night for me, I do believe I had a talent for this also, I have been riding bikes since a very young age and I love riding today as much as I did when I was a child (maybe I didn’t grow up yet) I am not on any strict diet but I do try to eat relevantly healthy each day with a balanced diet.
5. What’s your plans or ambitions for the future?
I am not one for planning to far ahead but for now I want to keep pushing and performing all over the world and for 2019 I do plan to set up a wheelie school to share my talent and knowledge with the rest of the world.
Just as always I want to finish with a massive thank you to Mattie for not only for the fantastic answers, but for the amazing effort he put in meeting with me in person in Belfast and making sure I had everything I needed for this interview and that I was satisified. A big thank you also to my Aunt Louise and Uncle Roby, who, knowing Mattie, came up with the idea for this and asked him for me if he would be interested.