Most Viewed Stories
Rice farmer runs Colusa motorcycle shop
River Rat Customs is not a typical Colusa County business.
Then again, the owner is not a typical rice farmer.
"Not too many rice farmers have long hair," said Rob Moriconi, who farms rice, has long hair and is the owner of River Rat Customs, which designs and builds motorcycles.
It is at Bridge and Webster streets in Colusa.
On business days, the sound of classic rock fills the bright orange building while Moriconi's only employee, mechanic Lance Miller, works on the bikes.
"I couldn't stand any of the other guys until him. I can't tolerate anyone else — I'm too anal," said Moriconi.
"There's one way to do it — the right way and that's it."
Bill Moulds is a customer from Washington who lets the shop work on his 2008 Heritage Softail Harley-Davidson when he is in town.
"They give me the best service I can find anywhere, and I'm funny about who I let work on my bike," said Moulds.
The warehouse housing the shop, once home to a car dealership, is packed with suspended motorcycle frames, custom-built bikes on display, signs for tattoo shops, parts and tools of the trade, and calendars with glossy photos of Moriconi's work.
One of Moriconi's custom builds was featured on the cover of a chopper magazine out of Australia, and that bike is for sale and displayed in the front window. It has been featured in several calendars.
He calls the 2007 River Rat boys custom build "Barbed Wire," and it's offered for $60,000.
"I get an idea in my head. I make a gas tank out of Styrofoam and a guy in Grass Valley makes a metal one for me," said Moriconi.
Shelves of trophies and plaques he has been awarded for the best bikes at shows fill the walls of the office.
Also in the office is a photo album where Moriconi keeps a lifetime of memories: flatbed boat parties on the Sacramento River; trophy girls sporting his shop's T-shirts; his custom bikes on display in front of Silver Legacy Casino in Reno; and pages of pictures of street parties he used to host in front of his shop.
"We used to have street rides. We'd block the road off and stunt teams would come do tricks," Moriconi said.
The show would include a live band and a couple of hundred people.
"They'd come from all over," he said.
Moriconi said he's not outgrowing the parties — he is just no longer willing to foot the bill without a reasonable payback.
Outside the shop, on the south wall, is a patriotic mural Moriconi had painted. The mural was done by tattoo artist Painless Pim three years ago when Moriconi painted the entire building.
"I wanted to show something to support the troops. Nobody gives them enough recognition," said Moriconi.
"I had a couple of old ladies come up and thank me, crying."
According to Moriconi, the shop offers anything from the ground up: design, rebuilds, factory warranty, tires, etc.
He also works on flat-bottom boats, 4-by-4s, snowmobiles and he has rebuilt a Jeep and a rock crawler.
"I work on whatever I want to work on, and that's it," Moriconi said.