Zero Motorcycles started back in 2006 with Neil Saiki and his wife, Lisa, building the first electric-powered motorcycles in their garage in Scotts Valley, California. From that typically entrepreneurial beginning – when the company was actually named Electricross – Saiki guided the company to where it is now; over 60 employees, large-scale production facilities and the largest selection of electric motorcycles currently on the market.
It is a fine accomplishment and was done rather quickly considering the way the motorcycle industry works in these economically depressed times. Now that Zero is running about as smoothly as it can, Saiki has decided that he wants to take on another tough challenge and will be leaving Zero behind for the promise of blue skies.
Neal Saiki previously worked for NASA as an engineer, so he knows a thing or two about how things work – especially aeronautical things, otherwise known as flying machines. His own personal interests led him right to the electric motorcycle, which he successfully released into the world not long after he started work, and now it is time to move on to the next opportunity. Saiki will be competing in the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition, a contest which awards a cool US$250,000 to the first team to create a human powered helicopter which can hover in place for at least 60 seconds at a momentary height of 3 meters and remain within a 10 square-meter area.
This quest obviously means much more to Saiki than a chance at a fat check considering the success at Zero he is walking away from; no, this is more. He has been planning this for some time; it was almost an open secret, partially due to the large talent pool assembled over the previous several months – Abe Askenazi from Buell and Scott Harden from KTM, just to name a few – and now the news is official. “I’m extremely proud of the team we’ve assembled to carry Zero into the future. I can now move on to pursuing the dream of building a human powered flying machine,” said Saiki.
The ‘human-powered’ part of that plan sounds daunting, and to this point only two machines have even come close to succeeding. However, Saiki has never been one to walk away when someone says that something cannot be done – just look at the Zero Motorcycle model line for some hints at the way his mind solves problems – and he has the desire necessary to succeed at this.
Keep your eyes peeled towards the newsprint because Zero’s Neal Saiki does not ever seem to sit still – we will see him again!
Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com