A Daredevil in Tahiti

Interview with stuntman Robbie Maddison, who charged Tahiti on a moto-surf-cycle

| posted on August 02, 2015

In the video above, you’ll see a madman take off on a sizeable wave in Tahiti on a highly-modified motorcycle. His name is Robbie Maddison, and he’s a surfer-slash-stunt-rider from Australia. “Maddo” seems to know no fear, as he’s backflipped the Tower Bridge in London, jumped the Corinth Canal in Greece, and acted as the stunt-double for Daniel Craig in James Bond films. But looking over the ledge in Tahiti, while holding onto two handlebars, is another level of madness. We caught up with Maddo to ask him, well, why?

Well, let’s take it from the top. Where the hell did this idea come from?

Well, I grew up surfing, and my wife is a big-time wakeboard champion, so every time we’re home in Australia we’re in boats, on the water, etc. I guess the idea originally came from—well I mean I’m obviously a motorcycle guy—but I was on the back of a boat and we were cruising along the river and I’m looking at the wake coming up the back, watching her wakeboard, and something clicked in my head. I fantasized putting skis on a bike and riding on water. It was a stupid vision at the time, but I kept toying with it, playing with designs and concepts, and eventually it became a reality.

Like most people who surf in Tahiti, you don’t have a good trip unless you meet up with Raimana. We heard he was pretty crucial to pulling this off.

Yeah, I’d never met him before, but he’s a nice guy, very hospitable and a great surfer. Before the stunt, the day before I got the big wave on my bike, a big swell came and Raimana towed me into the sickest waves I’ve ever experienced. I caught some wearing my full gear to get used to wearing it in the water, and he towed me into ‘em. Then right after, he towed into a couple waves and I watched him get some of the sickest barrels I’ve ever seen first-hand. I was up on the Jet Ski right in front of where the lip was hitting the water, parallel to the reef—it was just so epic. That scene will live with me forever.

Having grown up in Australia on the beaches just south of Sydney, did understanding the physics of a wave and ocean dynamics help you at all? Did your past as a surfer influence how you were able to ride that bike in the surf?

Yeah, 100 percent. I’ve surfed since I was 8 years old. I’ve been a surfer for like 26 years. If I wasn’t a surfer growing up there’s no way I would have ever even imagined this, not to mention have had the knowledge of how to read the wave. I was only comfortable in this scenario because I’ve spent the majority of my life dropping in on waves. Honestly, the whole way I imagined I needed to ride the wave on my bike was wrong, but after watching some footage, with my knowledge of surfing I realized I had to adjust to be up on the face of the wave—and I’m comfortable being there because I spent the majority of my life dropping in on the face of waves. If I hadn’t been a surfer at heart, I couldn’t have pulled it off.

How does the perspective that we see in the photos and the video relate to what your perspective was of riding those waves in full gear on your bike?

The thing that sticks with me the most after that whole experience was how physically demanding it was. Honestly, I really thought that getting the right wave would have been easier [Laughs]. I don’t think the photos or video show how physical it was. You can’t see that when the wave broke right behind me, I honestly thought that might be the end of my life. I’ve never felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time more than I did right there. It was a near-death experience. At the end of the day, the images and footage say something pretty awesome, but the ferocity and how gnarly that thing was can’t really be put into words.

  • Darren Graves

    Grab the rail, never bail

  • Godfuel Media Ministries

    absolutely insane!

  • Erik Stone

    As a surfer, there is something we all share . . . I’ve had waves that I’ve shared my life with too, and I think about those experiences often. To be able to combine passions in several sports in a unique way, is the stuff of my dreams. It is the stuff of legends. Is there anyone that doesn’t want to do what you have done Robbie? Take me with you next time . . . I can keep a secret 😉

  • Angus

    That’s really great but with a little work it could be brilliant. Like, how about instead of mounting the bike on skis have it sit lower on a small boat hull that can plane through the water? And instead of driving it with the real wheel you could use a small water pump, maybe even connect the pump to the handle bars so you could turn by changing the direction of the water jet? You could even put a bigger seat on it so two people could share, maybe wrap the whole thing above the water line in some sort of housing that would keep the engine and mechanicals dry in case you swamped it. You know, if you made it this way it’d be stable and you could stay afloat even if you stopped moving. The more I think of it I’m going to invent this new thing and I’m gonna call it a “Pump Boat”, or a “Water Jet Water Cycle” or “Jet Ski” or something. If I made it would you buy one?

    • Chris Kwikiautos

      Angus that was brilliant

      • Angus

        Thanks, I’m glad someone got the joke, and the point I was trying to make, that Robbie did nothing more than re-invent a crappy version of an already commonly used device–the Jet-Ski.

        • robert

          I know right. I was just riding my jet-ski down the road this morning

    • pakaeboiboi

      …. WOW DUDE … I think you just RE-INVENTED the jetski … I heard that someone invented a thing that goes around and round in circles … sort of like a rolling stone … but skinny … also someone else invented this thing that is HOT and burns … it’s orange in color and sorta like flickers when it’s hot … I betcha you could RE-INVENT those two inventions too … only BETTER than the first guys did … WHATCHA THINK?

      • Angus

        Doh! You mean someone already did it? Damn. Hey, tell me more about your round stone idea. If you could figure out a way to mount a seat on it it could be a great way to get around!

      • Brisket be trippen

        Oh my gosh cause yea with every jet ski they have wheels and tires to and are totally different than everything else out there. Cause this guy did something that makes dildos like you jelous and now you have it what a sad human you are.

      • Shane Travis Newell

        Your an idiot. Certain people create, and certain people hate. You just s some d’s. Try and be creative enough to figure that out pylon.

    • hwobstj

      Basically make it idiot proof huh?

    • Shane Travis Newell

      Defeats the over ground purpose

    • JP

      That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking this whole time.

    • Robozoid

      BUT his can drive on land AND water

    • Brandon Nevers

      That sounds retarded

  • BG Davis

    Total A-hole. Even worse than jet-ski A-holes. Wreck the environment, possibly put others at risk, all for Me, Me, Me.
    Hope someone strings a piano wire across one of his favorite areas.

    • Clutch

      Good..good….let the hate flow through you…

      • Hans

        It sure is amazing the amount of hate that things can generate! As for environmental issues anyone who wears clothing, buys food from supermarkets uses power and electricity at home is also contributing to destroying the environment. If you are that concerned make your own clothes from natural materials, grow your own food and generate your own electricity!

        • Shane Travis Newell

          Right? And this doesn’t even pour exhaust fumes directly at the water, or use water to cool it. So it’s just skimming by.
          Until you launch into a wave wrong. Peace out 9gs

        • HealthyPlanet

          So does this mean that until we do as you suggest Hans, that the beauty of the sounds, sights and health of the waves and the waters, and the homes of water animals, is okay to harm?

      • Hans

        Sorry that comment was for B.G. Davis

      • HealthyPlanet

        I don’t wish this unawakened person harm. He is already doing this to himself.

    • Russell Schiwal

      BG, Some people have no idea that they are evil. They just do and say what they want because it feels good. It’s scary, actually that sociopaths are free to walk the streets, and you don’t know who they are until they get on the internet and comment on harmless videos.

      • Not a harmless video

        Russell S, the fact that you call this a “harmless video” show that you lack empathy for the environment, coral reef especially, the local dolphin & fish as well as the locals who live & enjoy the tranquil water environment that their ancestors have been caring for for thousands of years…people that lack empathy fall into the category of sociopath & narcissist. Russell S. you seem to lack awareness of the negative impact of this dirt bike driver has on this beautiful reef when he wipes out and his bike sinks and hits the reef which only can damage the reef. BG Davis statement shows that he has self awareness and cares about the impact of others clearly showing he is NOT a sociopath unlike you.

        • GHZSD

          Eh, thinks you need to lighten up. This guy is amazing. I suppose you have the same vitriol for ALL big wave surfers who have jet ski support?

          • Not a “harmless” video

            LISTEN this Dirt bike is NOT environmentally friendly on the WATER…if it falls it will damage the reef and it will SPILL it’s gas & oil. A jet ski will not fall into the water because it will FLOAT and it’s oil/gas will not spill because they are required to meets standards.

            The comment that I was responding to originally was deleted. Had you read it you would have seen that it was he who stated that it was “ just a harmless video” when in fact it is NOT harmless to the environment and it’s fragile eco system. I don’t want to see dirt bikes zooming around a reef. period!

            I realize there are lots of boats & jet skis in the channel it only takes 30 mins to paddle out to this wave…why not paddle out are you not capable of paddling out to one of the most beautiful waves in the world?.

            Surfers always say that they have a love for the ocean but clearly most of you have forgotten your love for the ocean and prefer a dirt bike idiot zooming around to build is insecure ego & make some quick $$$$. What’s next for him, you know he is not going to stop building his fragile ego.

        • manny

          You can’t drive a jet ski on land. Great idea.

        • Guest

          I don’t agree with your statement at all. Yes it is horrible that this motorized vehicle is polluting the ocean water and putting sea animals at risk, but do you not realize that many jet skis and motor boats are ALWAYS out in the channel when this wave is breaking? I am a huge supporter of conserving energy, keeping the oceans clean, being green, etc. However, it is just illogical to make such a hype about this one bike when the same pollutants are entering the ocean water on a much larger scale from boats and jet skis.

    • Hans

      It sure is amazing the amount of hate that things can generate! As for environmental issues anyone who wears clothing, buys food from supermarkets uses power and electricity at home is also contributing to destroying the environment. If you are that concerned make your own clothes from natural materials, grow your own food and generate your own electricity!

    • JuanTizmo

      I think you got some sand stuck in your vagina.

  • Mik


  • Remi

    Shouldn’t we try to live in Harmonie with the Planet?
    D&C shoes should pay to Save coral life and not to promote this Stuff?

    I Love extrem sports, but i Reallöhne Do not like this video, sorry guys.

  • Jon Chester

    How annoying would that be in the line-up?

  • Mark

    This is pretty dumb… line-ups are crowded enough, we don’t need a dangerous machine out there ripping around… I really hope this doesn’t catch on.

  • Calmness is gone for good

    It use to be you could go to the beach to enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature and surf with calmness….now we will see every dirt bike owner racing on the water to get their thrills destroying the peaceful environment along with all the idiot jet ski owners in the world.

    • UWotM8

      Yeah.. because when making the video they didn’t have to fish the bike over 30 times which is a little inconvenient when you don’t have a filming crew and a CO2 flotation device, and “every dirt bike owner” suddenly won’t mind the salt wreacking havoc to the steel parts or the possibility of hydrolocking the engine …

  • Barry Snyder

    I would give the same response as I gave the Jet Ski’s when they came out to the line up.
    The FINGER!

  • wake up to reality

    Ya this is a good idea….so when he wipes out and his bike sinks, hits & damages the reef maybe then someone will tell him he is an idiot…his bike should not be in a beautiful reef eco system like Chopes.

  • Steve Flynn

    Coolest thing I’ve seen since Mick Fanning wrestled the shark and won. To the negative nancy’s I say…you sad, sad little people – give yourselves an uppercut..its a one off stunt and not a new threat to the lineup..lighten up !!!! geez…

  • Galactic Gaucho

    Creativity Rules, Pure Genius Bra!!!

  • yo momma

    Seriously??? As if there’s not enough crowd in the lineup already, now we have to be aware of come cunt that can run us over with a freakin dirt bike? This is probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.

  • Mr Salty


  • HealthyPlanet

    So Not Cool Friends

    What about this person’s motorcycle’c acidic & sticky coating of oil and gas? And the jarring noise that harms the waters and our cousin creatures too? This is more unkind human mindlessness. It’s not well thought and felt through, at all.

    If you think this is cool, Back Off of thinking it’s OK to do whatever the mind thinks of and sees and reads and feels, and create Good Karma instead.

  • rémi

    negative points goes to……. The sponsor!
    As a company, you Must think ethical. The Ride is terrific, the filming is a no go.
    Forget DC shoes, or use them on jetskis!

  • Johnson rod

    Man that was mind blowing!!! I’ve raced Moto for over twenty years and have been surfing for 8. It’s impossible to explain either activity to someone that’s never turned laps at budds creek or paddled out at middles, but this kicks ass. I still make my two stroke verbals when I paddle into a wave and my surf friends are asking “what the hell is that noise you make!!?” Im Rampling, but damn I am jacked to watch this in a full screen with the CVs on 10.

  • kathy crumpler

    Oh pleeeez people! He wanted to see if he could do it. He did. It’s over. Be “offended” by some of the ongoing atrocities taking place in the world today rather than a one-time stunt. Geeez..

  • G

    NO THANKYOU! What an enthusiastically perfect depiction of the decline of our civilization.

  • Dave

    Nice! Take my money!!! I want one!!!

  • JP

    I hope I never see another motorcycle in the ocean ever again.

    • Mik

      I’m with you…

  • kelp

    Well Dudes–gotta throw in the Miki dora quote–“This once great individualistic sport –is becoming a big mushy soggy cartoon”…………

  • Don Long

    Amazing…. I just hope this doesn’t start to catch on. Just what we need at Pipe and other spots in Hawaii. It’s just another technique to ride a wave…I won’t be riding my bike into the lineups.

  • David Romano

    What a jerk! Get this guy out of the line-up. Engines, noise and pollution are not what I want to experience when I’m surfing.

  • Glen Gremillion

    Why not just go with The Original motorcycle on the water… It’s called a Jet-Ski or now commonly called a Personal Water Craft (PWC), ….This is not ground breaking territory, it is just a bad interpretation of a VERY OLD idea… Buy a ski Robbie.

  • Bob Phillips

    Actually while it is an amazing feat, it is also an abomination to see that screaming noisy and environmental destruction machine violating the peace and serenity of the ocean – the scene where he screams by the outrigger canoe says it all. You do not belong here – ever.

  • Let My People Go

    Okay, so the guy comes up with another way to have some fun in the waves. I don’t understand all of the vitriol expressed below. I don’t think that anyone is going to wake up one morning and see the lineup over crowded with people on motorcycles. People need to slow down, recognize that individuality is a good thing, and show some respect for people who try new things. Surfers of all people should be more supportive of innovation and creativity. I’m just saddened to see so much hate toward someone for absolutely no reason at all.

  • simon

    These deemed ‘extreme’ (yet little deaths) events are set from businesses, either individual in this case, or at another level, for instance a ‘red’ firm which funds such events to sell junk unhealthy liquids to masses (from the latter derives the former, minimize risk, otherwise business killed).
    Contrarily to video title ‘defyconvention’ assertion, this stunt stems of this trick (limited) escalation conventional business.
    As in science/technology, human limits are near reached.
    A real surf feat, in this order, would involve devices to ride usually unrideable 10’s of m swells (mediatized very hazardous breaks surfed only a small share of these breaks), rogue waves up to 100 m (as really seen by sailors), a few km asteroid tsunamis (if it arrives).
    Robbie Maddison earns money as a stuntman, easy then to take his latest stunt with amusement, neither over-enthusiastic derisory awe nor excessive dissatisfaction over reef destruction (the story does not tell how ended motorbike after crush).
    Indeed, it is some time, more than half a century, many, not all, have taken surf as narcissism from when surf first deemed ‘cool’, many of them, even elder, currently call for sharks cull, it tells, when others just have no interest in ecosystems.
    The TSJ advised readers, 10-15 years earlier, a role-model surfer task, to take 10 waste off shores at each session, a decade after I asked editorial staff where this initiative is now, they were so upset of failure they did not even answer.
    So Robby Maddison, this is a funny trick, and that you don’t deserve to take all blame for your tricks as many do much more harm without mediatization, you should realize your mediatization should involve more than tricks in case you wish one sees you as a role model.