Bike designer scores contract with Michael Jordan
SUTTONS BAY – Garrick Opie has been around motorcycles for 30 of his 34 years, so it's no surprise that his new business-Garrick Opie Customs Inc.-designs and builds custom cycles.
What is a shocker is that the Suttons Bay resident's very first client is NBA legend Michael Jordan.
"I hope this is just the first of many bikes that we make for him," said Opie, who grew up in Adrian and spent 15 years in Chicago before moving to Suttons Bay. "He's a true collector."
An avid motorcyclist since the age of five, Jordan is a racetrack regular who runs the Jumpman23.com motorcycle racing team. The six-time NBA champion is also an enthusiastic street rider, owning a Ducatti 998 and 999 (the Ferrari of bikes) among a substantial stable of two-wheelers.
In March, Opie and his wife Cynthia happened to be staying at the same hotel as Jordan and his entourage during Daytona's annual Bike Week extravaganza. Opie had brought his custom-made, award-winning Ducatti 999 to Daytona and, after some persistent cajoling, persuaded the hotel management to allow him to display his one-of-a-kind bike near an exhibit of Jordan's Jumpman23 racing bikes.
"Some of Jordan's people, along with (NBA player) Charles Oakley, saw my bike and urged Michael to take a look at it," said Opie. "He was very friendly. The more I spoke with him, the more I liked him."
Jordan admired the custom cycle, which is valued at $150,000, took a year to build and won first place in its category at a recent DUB magazine show. That success earned it a four-page feature article in an upcoming issue of "American Iron," a prominent motorcycle magazine.
Eventually Opie and Jordan's conversation got around to building a similar machine for the basketball legend.
"He just said 'Do it,'" said Opie, who immediately began working on the project after returning from Florida. It took three or four months to finalize the design and get Jordan's approval.
"Michael had seen a lot of other designs – bikes that include his jersey number, 23, or the Bulls logo," said Opie. "I went in the opposite direction and I think he appreciated that."
Now the project is in the construction phase, which should take another five or six months, predicted Opie.
"I see all of my work as an art form," he said. "I believe in building the greatest product that I can. I won't let it leave my door without it being near perfect in style and performance. I see it as a work of art. We build for people who appreciate the function and art form of motorcycles, for people who appreciate work that has been done well."
It's a premium work of art. Jordan's one-of-a-kind cycle comes with a $125,000 price tag.
Jordan's bike will take another five or six months of meticulous work to build. Opie will cut the machine's custom wheels from four solid blocks of billet aluminum, taking 40 hours to craft each wheel. The custom forks are Laguna Seca forks, valued at $10,000 a pair. The brakes will be cut from a single block of billet aluminum.
The machine's lightweight, but durable customized carbon-fiber body will eventually be painted with two legendary motoring colors – Bentley black and Ferrari gray metallic. A 165-horsepower Ducatti engine will provide the power for the 350-pound machine.
Opie launched the company in Chicago, but moved it to Cynthia's hometown of Suttons Bay where they are raising their two sons. "We wanted to have a life," he said. "Suttons Bay is a great community."
While Opie is running a one-man operation, he is outsourcing pieces of the project to vendors that he trusts, including Tribal Motor Works and Custom Motor Works in Traverse City. He's emphatic about using Michigan vendors in the project.
"Kip Watkins at TMW and John Sirrine at Custom Motor Works have been a great help," he said. "We're trying to keep the money in Michigan."
Opie hopes that the Jordan project will eventually result in orders from some other high profile projects. He foresees other NBA players, rap artists and entertainment celebrities as potential clients. Eventually he'd like to build three to five custom bikes a year.
"I never would have thought that I'd be doing this for whom I'm doing it for," said Opie of the Jordan project. "I couldn't think of a better way to get my business started."
Learn more about Opie's operation at www.garrickopiecustoms.com.