other background plates to round it out,
then we packed up and headed home.
Frequently smoggy and unappealing as
it catches the pollution coming in from
Los Angeles and Orange County, the
sky in Temecula is rarely as beautiful
and blue as we needed it to be, so
when I got back to my studio I had to
get creative and add in some blue sky.
I also added the wheelspin, dirt spray,
etc. digitally. Although it was artificially
enhanced, the dirt roost was still somewhat organic as I created it in my backyard using my mountain bike against a
Eventually, the image was put onto
the Sprinter vans that would carry bikes
to demos around the country. After the
first one was wrapped, some of the
marketing folk drove it down with a
few bikes, and we took them out to the
secret Red Bull practice facility where a
couple of Red Bull-sponsored freestyle
MX riders were let loose on them. One
of the riders was Robbie Maddison, the
legendary (and crazy) Aussie freestyle
rider who in later years jumped onto
the Arc de Triomphe at the Paris Hotel
and Casino in Las Vegas. As soon as
Robbie got onto the Zero, he immediately wanted to jump it, so we let him
at it as I shot photos. He wasn’t going
as big or as crazy as he does with his
massively modified, high-powered FMX
bike, but he loved that it was light and
nimble and he could throw it around. He
was wheelieing it and doing fast plants
off berms and having a good time.
Like most of us who grew up as
fans of motocross racing, some of
the excitement is in the sheer noise of
the engines—“braaap!” So, watching
Robbie lofting the Zero around with
no sound was a little more like watching some crazy mountain bike jumps,
though without the hard pedaling or
long, gravity-driven acceleration to get
to the jumps.
Eventually, Saiki left the company
in 2011 to work on a human-powered
helicopter; he is also the CEO of NTS
Works, a company that makes electric
commuter bikes. I have to say that it
was a real blast to be part of the beginning of the company and the industry.
In just a few short years things have
progressed exponentially. Now, the
company has moved way beyond the
original Zero X and has crazy sport
bikes and dual-sport bikes with more
speed and range. The Zero S has up
to a 185-mile range and a 95-mph top
speed. The SR can hit 102 mph and hits
60 mph in 3. 3 seconds. That’s Ferrari
fast, and if you ask me, I’d say it’s a real
zero to hero arc of development.
Here’s the finished product of Tony’s photo shoot.
To see how it really happened, turn to page 90.
Like battery technology itselt, Zero’s production
bikes have evolved greatly over the years.