I first met Mike back in the '90s when I sold him his first MTB as a youngster and he hacked about in Hamilton aboard his new beast. I don't really remember the 'young' Mike too well, in fact all I can remember is his riding buddy (Myles) had a submarine yellow (yes I know submarines aren't yellow!) Cannondale V something-or-other and I thought it was sweet!
After I sold Mike the bike he kind of disappeared and years later we again crossed paths, this time we were both on 20" wheels and Mike now had a penchant for taking photos of people on bikes, whilst Myles had headed over to the USA to work for the world's largest bondage gear manufacturer, that's an entirely different story, probably for a different website!........
If you've been flicking through the latest issue of Spoke, or browsed any BMX magazine from across the ditch, or checked out ZOMBIEbmx.com (one of Mike's various side projects) then whether you know it or not you've seen some of Mike Davies' handywork.
Mike's photography has grown from simply something to do while injured and unable to ride to a semi-pro level, landing the odd commissioned job here and there, to being widely published in the BMX media. More recently, spreads in MTB mags are seeing his work smeared across them.
Somewhere early-2000s Mike kicked off ZOMBIE-FLESH-EATERS, a BMX site (similar to this Spoke one) which had almost 100% local content and news, with almost all of it generated by Mike himself, all for the love of the bike. ZOMBIE BMX.com as it's now known has grown to be "the" BMX freestyle site in New Zealand and gets heavily hit from readers the world over. Advertising is sparse and doesn't cover the entire running costs of the site but he's doing it for the love and doing a damn good job.
Mike is totally down to earth and an absolute shredder himself. He never claims anything or gloats, just rides quietly and does his own thing. Mike is super generous, especially when it comes to bike parts and frames, with myself and many others getting some super good deals or freebies off Mike over the years.
Mike may call himself a BMXer but I'd simply call him a 'Bike Rider'. Mike usually has a fleet of bikes and rides all of them, from his BMX for daily shredding to a singlespeed MTB for Woodhill duties, a fixed-gear (or two) for going fast on the road, and I've even seen a very nice high end MASI road bike tucked in the corner of his office at home in the past.
Here's Mike Davies Frankly Thursday.....
Full name? Michael Robert Davies
Where do you live? Auckland City Who makes your riding possible? Friends, Sarah, Triple Six, T-Whites-Bikes, family
First bike? My first bike was from the organics section at the Hamilton dump, I have no idea really what it was, it kinda looked like an old Pantha? My Mum took it to a family friend who painted hot rods for living and got it custom painted. It was matte black fade into a bright green, and hand flame drop outs. I definitely thought it was rad.
First camera? I started out with a Nikon D100 a few years back.
Current camera setup? Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 10.5mm f/2.8, 50mm f1.4, 18-200mm, 1x SB800 Flash, 2x Vivatar 285hv Flashes and 4 x Pocket Wizards. It took me a long time to get the setup it is today, couldn't be more happy with it, it's dialled and fits all in one bag.
Favourite subject to shoot? Obviously any type of bike riding, BMX, MTB, fixed gear. Other than that I love to shoot people, especially lifestyle shots.
Best thing about travelling around the world riding your bike? It's always going to be the people you meet; best friends are made on bikes. Riding bikes around a foreign city is one of the best ways to discover a city, you usually end up somewhere your feet or public transport would not take you.
Best spot in the world to ride? I really enjoyed Singapore, it has a few nice skateparks, and the new East Coast Bays Skatepark is one of the biggest in the world, endless lines and constructed perfectly. The street is also super good and the people and riders there are super friendly which helps make it a great place to ride BMX.
What can’t you travel without? My camera and a pair of Nike Air Max 90s for long walking missions.
What can you not live without? Bikes... Bikes... Bikes... I could not go a life without bikes in it, it's always been about bikes and riding them. Oh and my soon-to-be wife, Sarah.
What's your day job? Customer services for Pacific Brands.
What motivates you to get out of bed and go to work each day? Mostly the fact that I get to work with bikes every day, I enjoy the people I get to talk to every day and I work with great people. I also can't wait to get up and go for a walk to the coffee shop.
What are your plans for the Northern Hemisphere summer? I'm heading to Vancouver in three weeks, when I get there I basically want to ride as much as possible and shoot photos as much as possible. I want to ride my BMX a lot and hopefully get the opportunity to shoot some photos of some really good riders, at the same time I want to get into mountain biking a bunch more too. I want to keep doing what I am doing now but push it more, and hopefully get the opportunity to work on some new projects. Why do you go to all the effort to run www.ZombieBMX.com? It's purely for the love of the sport and the BMX scene in New Zealand. I really enjoy having something to work on other than a regular 9-5 job. It's good to have something to be creative with. I also really enjoy that people feel a part of it and want to contribute to it.
From a BMX perspective what's wrong with mountain biking? As a BMXer I don't have a lot of, or actually any, problems with mountain biking, but one thing I can say is that some mountain bikers definitely do not know how to land smooth or spot the landing. They kinda just go into it, which is fine because of all the travel, but it's not really teaching yourself or learning how to ride smooth and controlled, but in saying that, there are plenty of mountain bikers out there who are super dialled. From a BMX perspective what's right with mountain biking? The speed and the ability to go places and ride obstacles you can't on small wheels. Who do you look up to? Anyone out there having fun riding bikes, anyone with motivation and a good attitude towards their passion. I used to look up to pro riders etc a lot, but now it's more riders and photographers in our community doing good things. What do you like best about living where you do? I love the city, there's always something to do, someone to hang with and ride with, I like being able to ride out the door and everything you need is just a pedal away.
What do you dislike about living where you do? It's expensive to live in Auckland City. I could rent a whole four bedroom villa in other parts of the country for the price Aucklanders pay to be in tiny little apartments and flats.
Favourite piece of bike kit? That's a hard question; I'm very addicted to bike parts and regularly change them and collect them... but anything CNC'd and anodized purple, but it can't just be any old purple, none of this grape stuff, it has to be mid school 90s race purple. What are your vices? I eat way too much cheese pizza. What sites are on your morning blog visits list? Oh man there are too many. I use Google Reader and have about 100+ subscriptions I check every day, defgrip, thecomeupbmx, spoke, thrashbike, qubicstore, skullbikeclub, focalpoint and a bunch of random Tumblrs, all my friends' blogs etc.