SPADY’S SPEED SHOP’S GO-FAST BAGGER

SPADY’S IS DO­ING WHAT IT DOES BEST THANKS TO A 23-YEAR-OLD BUILDER

Hot Bike - - Contents - WORDS: JON LANGSTON PHOTOS: MARK V PHOTOGRAPHY

Spady’s Is Do­ing What It Does Best Thanks to a 23-Year-old Builder ..............

What gives? How will this all shake out? Who knows— but it sure is fun to watch. Take Spady’s Speed Shop. The Boston-area cus­tom shop opened about 15 years ago as Spadafora Chop­pers, build­ing high-end cus­tom mo­tor­cy­cles. About seven years ago, its pro­pri­etor, Ray Wil­lis, de­cided to give a lo­cal kid a part-time job. His goal was just to help the kid out; he ended up with a part­ner who’s in­tro­duc­ing Spady’s to that next gen­er­a­tion of cus­tom-mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­asts.

At 16, Matt Cen­tore started out sweep­ing floors, tak­ing out the trash, and ba­si­cally be­ing Ray’s shop rat. “He didn’t even know what a ratchet was,” Ray says.

The kid was sharp, though, and it wasn’t long be­fore he was hold­ing the drop­light, hand­ing Ray tools, that sort of thing. From there, he started chang­ing tires and plugs, and as­sist­ing on more in­volved projects.

Af­ter high school, Matt left Spadafora to study en­gi­neer­ing at one of Boston’s sto­ried in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing. But by then, it was too late. He’d caught the cy­cle bug bad, and af­ter a se­mes­ter of cut­ting class to go work at the shop—“i wanted to build bikes, not spread­sheets!”—matt was told to ei­ther drop the course or get flunked. The choice was easy.

To­day, Spadafora Chop­pers is also known as Spady’s Speed Shop, and Matt, now 23, is de­sign­ing and build­ing per­for­mance bag­gers for one of New Eng­land’s hottest cus­tom shops. Matt has helmed sev­eral projects al­ready. But this white 2018 Road Glide Spe­cial is his baby, and per­fectly ex­em­pli­fies the di­rec­tion in which Spady’s is headed.

Know­ing he wanted to use Öh­lins forks, Matt first took the FLTRXS down to the frame and had it pow­der­coated gold. Then, he shaved off 140 pounds, utiliz­ing car­bon-fiber body­work, fend­ers, sad­dle­bags, and wheels. Com­bine all that saved weight with a tur­bocharged Mil­wau­kee-eight 108, and this monster bagger makes a knuckle-pop­ping 150 hp.

Matt then went to work on the fuel tank, carv­ing knee cutouts for com­fort and in­stalling three ver­ti­cal gauges on the right side. He put still more gaug­ing in the fair­ing to com­ple­ment the fac­tory di­als, then hooked up Spady’s POV Twisted Tee-bars, plus a dig­i­tal gauge on top to mon­i­tor the tur­bocharger. To pro­tect the hand con­trols, Matt then clev­erly doc­tored a set of Pow­er­madd ATV hand guards to house built-in LED turn sig­nals.

So what’s up with all those gauges? Matt laughs: “My dad was a com­mer­cial air­line pi­lot, and as a kid, I re­mem­ber be­ing just fas­ci­nated by the cock­pit, all those di­als and gauges. That stuck with me.” Clearly. “But I guar­an­tee you, from the seat, ev­ery gauge is right there,” he says. “And if some­thing starts act­ing up, I can see what it is al­most in­stantly.”

“MY DAD WAS A COM­MER­CIAL AIR­LINE PI­LOT, AND AS A KID, I RE­MEM­BER BE­ING JUST FAS­CI­NATED BY THE COCK­PIT, ALL THOSE DI­ALS AND GAUGES.”

To ac­cen­tu­ate the bike’s car­bon­fiber ac­cou­ter­ments, Matt had the painters mask off the ma­te­rial and blast over the tape. When the mask­ing was re­moved, the in­tri­cate fiber de­tail was re­vealed, and the ef­fect adds depth to the black-and-white graphic scheme. The over­all look de­fines the per­for­mance-bagger aes­thetic.

As for the fu­ture of Spadafora/ Spady’s, Ray is psyched. “When I first opened, the whole in­dus­try was all about out­do­ing the next guy,” Ray re­mem­bers. “Ev­ery­one thought they were bet­ter than ev­ery­one else. Now, it’s like a big fam­ily. Ev­ery­one’s help­ing each other in­stead of try­ing to beat each other.”

And he ac­knowl­edges he’s learned a lot from the kid. “Matt re­ally turned me on to the idea of fo­cus­ing on what we do best and not be­ing afraid of us­ing other peo­ple’s com­po­nents,” Ray ad­mits. “When our bikes get the best of the best, it’s bet­ter for us, it’s bet­ter for the other shops, and it’s bet­ter for the cus­tomer.”

So while OEMS are still try­ing to fig­ure out how to make af­ford­able bikes and ’90s bands are play­ing for geezers on the rally cir­cuit, rest as­sured the next gen­er­a­tion of cus­tom-bike builders is alive and well and thriv­ing in the 21st cen­tury. And it’s the young guys like Matt Cen­tore who are lead­ing the charge. HB

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