Inspiration: Interview

Nick Apex: my rise to global freestyle fame

From 'nerdy kid' to stunt king

FTR Bio:, Nick Brocha AKA Apex

Hometown: Las Vagas, NV

Stuntbike: 2011 Triumph 1050 Speed Triple

Awards: XDL National Championship Title, Lots of trophies that meant the power bill was paid, but probably late.

Camera rolling, take five… the ‘nerdy kid’ in the cap on the first rung of a fledgling movie-making career shouts the instructions to a trio of stunt riders.

Weeks and months of staring through the camera as the choreographed action unfolded meant Nick Brocha was making a decent living.

His small video production company in the ‘granola and hippies’ city of Seattle – his words – was making a name for itself as the go-to place for quick vids.

But the more he remained an observer behind the camera, the more he wanted something to add to his weekend adrenaline hit of snowboarding

“We were just mercenaries for hire doing any job we wanted to do and although Seattle was a great place, I started to realise I’d have to move to take the next step,” he said.Apex4

“Seattle is a granola city for hippies and not a sports bike city, so after moonlighting as a waiter until I was 25, I arrived in Vegas with a fairly good résumé for restaurant work.”

Now years later, the kid in the baseball cap is on the other side of the camera, starring in freestyle riding movies for some of the world’s biggest brands.

He’s just back from part one of a video shoot in Osaka, Japan – his 14th time there – and this time it’s the production team for energy drink Monster shouting the instructions.

“It’s all been a bit of a roller-coaster ride. We were ambitious and were selling films to Tower Records, one of the largest distributors of action sport DVDs,” Nick said.

I was the nerdy kid, so no one expected me to get on a bike and do it.

Nick Brocha AKA Apex

“Being hyperactive and always on the lookout for the next big thing, I started to wonder whether I could get into the film-making industry on a bigger scale.”

After moving to Las Vegas and renting a ‘stupidly large’ house – a former home and movie location for 70s porn star John Holmes – he set about contacting the local street riders in California, Arizona and New Mexico.Apex2

He said: “They stayed for free and I got to know everyone in the industry and shot loads of video. We met some that were quite successful, but at some point someone mentioned they didn’t like the fact that I was making money out of their sport.” So motor sport fanatic Nick quit snowboarding and decided to try his hand at freestyle.

The rest is, as they say, history. “I was the nerdy kid, so no one expected me to get on a bike and do it,” he said. “But I have an obsessive compulsive nature and I rode every day for three hours for years. I never really had any ambitions to make it as a stunt rider – I always wanted to be a snowboarder.

I was quite introverted and never intended to ride motorcycles for a living… I just thought it was fun.” From 2005 on he did some small shows and street hooligan events, and spent his time messing around in parking lots annoying drivers, still keeping his hand in with the DVD work. Just in case.

Make or break time came when he met Ernie Vigil. The pair hit it off instantly, pushing each other those fractions of degrees further in the quest for the perfect stunt.Apex3

“That was the time I said ‘that’s it – choose riding or being behind the camera, you can’t do both’. I’d lined up a one-month tour doing shows, which was a gamble, and got on with riding full-time with Ernie and Chris Fisher.

We never looked back after that,” he recalled. “Doing the DVDs was good, but doing what I do now is pure because the rider overrides the bike – you are an athlete rather than a rider or simply someone disconnected doing some filming.”

Ernie and Nick both regard the Triumph Street Triple as the best tool for the job, but Nick admitted: “I also love the Daytona and Tiger, and the sheer diversity of the range. I’ve got 20 bikes at the moment. I guess I’m a bit of a hoarder.”

There’s an unencompassed freedom of movement and beauty. There are no rules, but the thing that separates good riders from bad riders is the transitions – how you move from a stoppie into the next move is what sets you apart.

Nick Brocha AKA Apex

Nick Apex

So what is it that coaxed Nick to ditch the camera and become the star?

“I love the fine bike control of freestyle sport. It drives my passion that I’m not just a rider. I am an athlete and the bike is part of me,” he said. “There’s an unencompassed freedom of movement and beauty.

There are no rules, but the thing that separates good riders from bad riders is the transitions – how you move from a stoppie into the next move is what sets you apart.”

Nick and Ernie performed at the D1 Drifting Champs in Osaka in front of a Japanese public totally in tune with the scene. They are back there in October for the Tokyo section of the tour.

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Nick said: “The reaction to what we do is different the world over. The crowds in the USA are quite reserved until you win them over. In England they’re enthusiastic from the start and a great audience. In Japan they’re quiet and then when they get going they don’t stop. “I first went to Japan in 2006 and the place is mad on racing.

The scene is growing all the time out there and there is a huge group of young and incredibly talented riders coming through to entertain a very supportive community.” The pressure to stay ahead of the chasing pack is immense, but Nick insists that’s where his obsessive nature works in his favour.Apex10

“There is always something in the back of my head that tells me ‘no, that’s not safe’, but I don’t have a lot of self-preservation when it comes to trying new stunts – I always think ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ and try it anyway,” he said. “If it’s going to hurt I hold my breath and take the bumps. If I’m stuck on a stunt, I keep telling myself ‘anything is possible on a motorcycle’ and if I find I’m missing that last 10%, I work it through until I get to 100.”

In-between work on editing the Japanese footage for the Monster YouTube channel for late November, putting together a 72 Hours of Empire short and another stunt film scheduled for December release, there will be little time left for the pursuit of perfection.

He said: “The plans for next year are still unwritten but we want to do something with speedway spot bikes on asphalt. But nothing is set in stone because we are lucky enough to be able to write our own history now. “I never expected to be travelling the world doing stunts and making videos when I was growing up in Seattle.

I’m still pretty humble about it all – after all, I just ride bikes.

Nick Brocha AKA Apex

Nick Apex