MARIA RIDING COMPANY: CUSTOMIZING AND REINVENTING THE RIDE
Founded by four friends from Lisbon, Portugal, Maria Riding Company is the result of a group of passionate and dedicated motorcycle enthusiasts who found a way to balance motorcycle and surfing needs with a work of art and a quality design, the old spirit with the modern powerful performance.
Their inspiration comes from years 50 to 70, “very creative and stylistically rich decades” as they put. Many youth subcultures emerged, especially in the United States following World War II, most notably bikers and surfers, in search of unconventional life styles full of adventure and excitement. Back then surfing and motorcycling, along with other sub-cultural and counter-cultural activities, represented an escape from the negative aspects of the new social hegemonic rules. In modern culture today, new cultural groups have emerged and «old» ones endure and evolve. Having the middle 20th century aesthetics as reference, the Maria Riding brand is inspired in “the real emotions of the past, perfectly crafted into special rides for the last true essence seekers”.
Luís Correia e Rui Alexandre restore and customize vintage bikes and surfboards, they strip down motorcycles and rebuild them. They also create beautifully designed, adorned with eye-catching graphics and colors surfboards and with handmade wooden fins painted in unique patterns, shaped by renowned board shaper Nick Uricchio.
How would you define Maria Riding project? Back to the roots or a postmodern creation?
Maria is both. We create objects that are of today, but always with strong references from the past. As we see it, it would be pointless to just “recover” old things as they were. We intend to create, and that implies doing something new. We would just like to keep the right old spirit in the new things we do.
The name Maria… is this any kind of national statement?
Yes, in a way. Maria is the most traditional Portuguese name. A name that is simple, with a hint of past but eternal and universal.
What kind of ideologies do you carry?
Each of us at Maria has its own ideologies, as a person. As for our company, even if it indirectly reflects our visions, we don’t state an ideology, but rather a belief that life is a matter of aesthetics. Aesthetics of behavior, aesthetics of attitude, aesthetics of action and style.
What did it mean to be referred on the «bible» The Ride -by Chris Hunter?
It was amazing. The book is so cool. We were very proud of that. Luís, that is the head mechanic, is very dedicated and talented and it feels great to see Maria’s work recognized by people that speak and understand the same language.
Some would argue bikes are «uncomfortable, unreliable, dangerous, impractical, easily stolen and mechanically primitive». Others are down to «a thirst for excitement, physical bravery, an independence of spirit, a need for speed and the firm belief that there is no cooler way to get around than on a bike». What does really drive you to become a biker?
All that is completely true. Every word. I don’t really know what makes you become a biker. It is one of those things that you feel the urge to do at a certain point and either you go insane and go for it, or you know that you’ll spend the rest of your life thinking about it and watching others do. It’s very much like surfing. I have no doubt that it’s your primitive part winning over, because there is no reason to ride a bike other than it’s GREAT!
Can you tell when a motorcycle is destined to become a classic timeless model?
I guess that is something that only time can tell
For you, are surfing and motorcycling sports or… just pure play?
Surfing a sport?? Never. That’s football and Jogging. Even when you compete in surfing it’s not a real and proper competition. You have to have judges telling what they like the best, and the waves ridden are never similar, so you never know what others would have done in there. On the other hand it’s not either just pure play, because you’re always pushing yourself and defying nature, and that can be tense and dangerous.
Motorcycling is different. You can really compete with another guys, and you often do, even with friends. It’s hard not to show them clearly that your ride is the fastest!
Do you agree that surfing represents a way of life with slower pace, a life closer to ‘nature’, free from mechanization? How does motorcycling fit in? Or is it surfing and motorcycling a way of succeeding in a natural connection to an urban lifestyle linked to nature and outdoors?
Once again I think that all of that is right. There are a lot of different approaches on these matters and a lot of different ways to live and feel surfing and motorcycling. But I totally agree that surfing and motorcycling have this balance between a wild, natural dimension and this modern and urban environment we live in. Maybe there is also some contradiction between them, as the charm of surfing comes greatly from the simplicity and motorcycles are complex and aggressive machines but anyway, not everything has to make complete sense. We are always contradictory somewhat or sometimes, I guess. At Maria we don’t tend to rationalize too much, and we go with feeling and guts. That’s the whole purpose of having a brand of our own.
What is the dream bike you would like to get hold of?
I think that if Luís could grab another XS (Yamaha) he would be really happy. The first Maria motorcycle was a XS and we got very sad when it was sold to Canada. It hasn’t been easy to find another one to do a cool project.
What about boards? Which is your favorite?
I like all boards. I feel like I want to have every board I see. Most of my life I surfed with thrusters from Semente, but it’s great to try new boards. Since we’re on a Lightning Bolt publication I want to say that the special edition of Pipeliners are all amazing, as the old ones were. I’d want one of each.
Why did you choose Nick Uricchio to shape your boards? Are you considering inviting other shapers to the project?
Yes, and we already did. We created the “Spreckels” with Mica, that is a very enthusiastic and talented shaper. We work with the shapers that are more suitable to achieve a certain conception of surfboard and we look for people with a true and strong surfing spirit. When we talked to Nick Uricchio we intended to do a surfboard that would behave like a modern and performance oriented board but with an interesting and original look. Nick was the right man for the job with his experience and mastery in high performance boards, and we created “the Arrow”: a beautiful looking board with handmade wood fins (crafted by another master) that rips!
WHEELS and WAVES has become one of the most anticipated event in the custom motorcycling scene… will you be there?
Unfortunately no. They contacted us, to invite us, but we had a lot going on at the time and couldn’t make in. Maybe next time. It’s a cool event.
We plan on keep doing our stuff, having fun and playing rock n’roll!
Check out some of cool stuff that they do here: http://www.maria-ridingcompany.com/