Billed as the “world’s youngest motorcycle daredevil,” 6-year-old Jess “Z-Bo” Robinson can pop wheelies, make “donuts” (circular back-wheel skids) and ride one of his seven motorcycles (total value: $4,000) inside a spinning 10-foot wheel. That’s just his warm-up. His real forte is revving a Yamaha Z-60 to 40 miles per hour and sailing six feet up and over a row of 15 barrels. (As a safety precaution, a plank is placed across the top of the barrels, in case he lands short.)
It’s no wonder then that Z-Bo (” ‘Z’ because he was the last of three children and ‘Bo’ because he is a boy,” says his father) seldom talks about his feats to his fellow first-graders at home in Champaign, Ill. “They don’t believe me,” he finds.
Guided by father Jess, a plumber and pipe fitter who has raced motorcycles professionally, Z-Bo learned to ride at 2½ and by 5 was bouncing over barrels his father laid down for him. “He has trouble tying his shoelaces, but he can do this,” boasts Dad, who recognized his son’s showbiz potential two years ago and has since encouraged him to perform at local race meets and state fairs. Last February Z-Bo earned $1,500 for an appearance on Japanese television in which he rode a giant Honda 80—specially adapted to his height with two-inch lifts on the pedals—over a bank of five car hoods, then encored with a dive through a five-section burning wall, his most daring feat to date.
Z-Bo has yet to take a serious spill, and even his mother, Judy, has become less apprehensive about the dangers. For his part, Z-Bo, who enjoys reading and drawing as much as learning to ride his dad’s 100-plus horsepower Honda V65, has no desire to one-up Evel Knievel. He has seen some footage of Knievel’s films and declares, “His stunts are too dangerous. I just want to jump over barrels.”