Rebel’s Ride – Matt Newman’s 54 Pan

Article and Photos by Mark Valazquez, originally published June 2019, Cycle Source Magazine

In one form or another, we are all our brother’s keeper. With such bonds, the good, the bad and the ugly are always what make these bonds strong. In this world in which we ride on two wheels, this commitment is expected and comes with no cost or burden; it is just something we do from the heart. We pick up the slack and do our best to carry on the memories of our journeys and times we have shared with others, always with the hope they will never end. But we all know that reality often reminds us that all good things come to an end, and this is when we get to sit back and tell our tales of days gone by.

Richie Pomeo is just like most of us who read this rag. Born and raised on the hard streets of Brooklyn, New York Richie learned his life lessons through the school of hard knocks. Now calling Staten Island his home the lessons remain the same and so do his memories. 

It was on these Brooklyn streets at the age of 17 that Richie and his best friend Matty Newman first met.  From this meeting, a lifelong friendship would begin. Matty became like an older brother to Richie and all the good and the bad they did, they did together. Through this friendship, they both ended up in Staten Island, and along with another longtime friend Frank, together they shared bikes, babes, good parties, and life on the road.

As the story goes, Frank had built a bike, a 1954 Pan FL for a guy that after a short time crashed the it and no longer wanted to ride. Matty took it upon himself to buy the bike and put it back into running form.  So, for years this bike would be Matty’s ride, but then Matty got sick. 

Now Matty was a fighter, but during this time he would tell Richie, “when I’m gone, I want you to have this bike.”  At the time Richie could give a rat’s ass about the bike, he just wanted his best friend to get better and be well.  But in the end, this was a fight that Matty would not win. 

Sadden by the loss and much to his surprise, Matty actually left the bike to Richie. The only thought that came to Richie’s mind was that he would make his brother’s bike right and never call it his own. 

Work soon began on the bike to make it what it is today, while keeping the spirit of Matty in this ride.  Known for being an oil pisser, the top end of the engine and tranny were redone and done to be period correct. Work was done on the throttle, new brake lines were installed and since the front end was shortened just a bit a nice 21” wheel was put in place and a 16” sits on the rear. To top off the changes, a custom sissy bar was installed and just admire the killer paint because we truly don’t know who did the work.

Till this daym Richie still holds on to this this ride and ride it he does. The bike has been to Daytona, Virginia, through the streets of NYC and far beyond. Richie will never claim this bike as his own. He says that he is just the caretaker and will hold on to this ride till he can ride no more. It will be then that the bike will be passed on to a new caretaker.

The bike is called Rebel’s Ride because Matty was a true rebel. Born and raised on the streets of New York where a free pass was not given so easy, this bike reflects the person Matty was to himself as well as his brothers who will always live and die by the code of being your brothers keeper.

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