New Bikers Want A Motorcycle Just Like The One Of Brad Pitt

samourai1We know that among all his bikes in his collection, Brad Pitt has a soft spot for his old school style Japanese custom bikes built by Zero Engineering. Paparazzi pictures of Brad riding or breaking down on a Samurai Chopper having been flashed in all People Magazines around the world  made him involuntarily the best salesman for Zero engineering. Let’s talk about the power of paid (or non-paid) celebrity endorsement!

Samourai Choppers have been sold with tremendous success in Japan for 5 years and in the USA for the past year. Zero engineering is now setting up a small European Dealership Network based in England. The most interesting part of this story is that at around $40,000 for the illusionof feeling like Brad Pitt or at least to convince your neighbors that you are an old timer biker, the reality is that about 30% of Zero Engineering buyers never rode a motorcycle before. Now imagine one minute that Harley-Davidson find the right big celebrity (who?) and conceive the right motorcycle (what?) with 30% of buyers being new to the motorcycle scene and the advantage of not having to take trade-ins. All Harley financial problems solved in one year. $0.00 international advertising budget necessary. Just use the benevolent help of Paparazzi photographers for free publicity.

21 Responses to “New Bikers Want A Motorcycle Just Like The One Of Brad Pitt”

  1. 1 Jim C Jan 14th, 2010 at 9:14 am

    $40K for a rigid? Can someone tell me why that bike is worth $40K. It is basically an assembled bike made from parts off the shelf and very little fabrication. I could see it if there was alot of fabrication and machine time making one off parts. Don’t get me wrong,I like the bike but no way would I spend $40K retail on it nor would I spend $30K on it.

  2. 2 Sheriff Jan 14th, 2010 at 9:38 am
  3. 3 Dave Blevins Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I think you’re on to something Cyril, not since Arnold riding the Fatboy in T2, which generated huge exposure for HD, has there been a big star bringing attention to the brand.
    In the 80s there were dozens of rock videos with band members sporting Harley shirts and riding the bikes, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, even U2 going to Graceland checking out Elvis’ bikes, certainly big names… the early 90s saw country music videos featuring Waylon Jennings, Keith Whitley, and even Merle Haggard with Harley.
    No such thing as bad press, best pictures of Brad Pitt are when the bike breaks down! Personally, I always wanted to make a bike for Rob Zombie… I wonder if he rides?

  4. 4 J Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Hmm- prolly true….. Tell you what, Harley- I’m willing to step up and be seen on your bikes for the next year- hand me a bike, and I’ll deal with the paparazzi….

  5. 5 BIG WILL Jan 14th, 2010 at 11:22 am

    An Aesthetically Challenged M/C. Merely a Swa(m)p meet parts, bit za bike…

  6. 6 Steve Carr Jan 14th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I seems as Brad knows what he like’s and has good taste.

    Steve Carr

  7. 7 Jeff Nicklus Jan 14th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Jim C,

    A bike is worth whatever a customer is willing to pay for it …. nothing more …. nothing less!

    Over & Out,


  8. 8 Heykillah Jan 14th, 2010 at 2:02 pm
  9. 9 Manhattan Choppers Jan 14th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Like Brad’s silver one …

  10. 10 Axel Jan 14th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Can you imagine someone with no riding experience trying to ride that thing, with it’s short, yet raked-out forks and nearly nothing for handlebars, not to mention the f-‘d up riding position…..
    Hope Zero has some product liability insurance!

  11. 11 Brett Jan 14th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    The suicide clutch bike in the video is BONE CRUSHER that Paul Cox & Keino built for the Smoke Out West Biker Build Off a few years ago.

    Brad Pitt owns a few Indian Larry Legacy bikes. It’s funny when people say he’s not a real biker because he is an actor with alot of cash, but the fact is, he RIDES all the bikes he owns.

  12. 12 Chris Hunter Jan 14th, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    All Harley has to do is build a stock bike that appeals to people other than middle-aged accountants and wannabe badasses. Zero’s success is nothing to do with Brad Pitt: they were a cult brand well before Pitt noticed them, because they’re building unusually covetable bikes.

  13. 13 RJ Jan 14th, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    To all, fyi, Cyril knows Brad Pitt.

  14. 14 PBR Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I don’t know about what made Zero cool but I do know that we just took a guys 92 HD Softail and did it over based on a Zero bike the guy saw Brad Pitt on. So for me both Zero and Brad have translated into cash this past year. Thank you gentlemen!

  15. 15 maroco Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Zero engineering is one of the best.
    What define a good bike builder from others?
    I belive it´s a good question.
    To me Zero is very original, even the paint is a difrent process.

  16. 16 Conrad Nicklus Jan 15th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Different looking machine. I don’t like it but I also don’t hate it???? BP is a cool guy and especially a cool guy when it comes to toys. He has damn near every badass toy you can possibly think of.. But I am not sure if I like Zeros bike this time around, they are starting to all look the same.

    Conrad Nicklus

  17. 17 Jim Gianatsis Jan 18th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    The Brad Pitt owned bikes were built by Shinya Kimura, now of
    Shinya created and founded Zero Engineering in Japan, then left the company and his then partners in 2006 and moved to Azusa, CA. Brad’s most recent Shinya built bikes ARE NOT ZERO ENGINEERING bikes.

    The bike which Brad broke down on, and crashed last year while splitting LA traffic which has appeared in recent tabloid publications and websites, was built by Shinya when he was a Zero in 2004, and Shinya flew it to America to premier the bike at the 2004 LA Calendar Motorcycle Show Weekend where it took Best of Show. I photographed the bike at that time and it appeared in the 2005 Calendar Bike show ad campaign and the 2006 Iron & Lace Calendar which premiered at the Show. I assume this is where Brad saw the bike and purchased it.

    Shinya premiered the 2 newest bikes he built on commission for Brad at the 2009 LA Calendar Motorcycle Show, and you can see them on our website at:

  18. 18 nicker Jan 18th, 2010 at 5:56 pm


    “…He has really good taste…”

    Ya, and the $$$ to back it up.
    Check out the the Feb CW pics of the two Kimura scooters he just scored.

    Regarding those u-tube spots of the Bradster riding his
    suecide clutch & jocky shift scooter.

    He certainly gets points for going the traditional rout……. well almost…..
    Sure looks like that jockey shift’s on a ratchet-top.
    A bit of a short cut….. what??? …… 🙂

    Either way, good-on-him for going the extra mile.


  19. 19 Derik Jan 22nd, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Sorry guys, I think many of you missed the point of the article. It isn’t a question about the bike, it’s value or price, nor the design of the shifting mechanism.

    It’s about how do we as an industry influence pop culture to move a market towards a product.

    Does a celebrity endorsement add value and to what end? Terminator/Fat Boy, Arnold/Hummer, Transformers/Camaro, Cage/Eleanor, Eastwood/Gran Torino, Magnum/Ferrari 308, Fonda/Capt America are all pop Culture Icons to some degree.

    Many of us disliked American Chopper for product reasons, but it moved pop culture to be more interested in Choppers, allowing for many of us to pursue a passion and find market acceptance where there was no market 5 years prior.

    So, how do we continue to influence pop culture to keep our activities relevent?


  20. 20 reddywatt Jan 25th, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Hey Big Will, its obvious, based on your remarks above regarding Zero/Kimura Samurai bikes that A. you know nothing about these bikes,
    and B. you wouldn’t know a fabulous design if it bit you on your ass!

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