Meet the biking duo behind MotorTrend’s newest show
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If you have an ounce of petrol in your veins then you’ll love motorcycling. And if you have an ounce of love for motorcycling, then you need to watch Ari Henning’s and Zack Courts’ ridiculous two-wheeled adventures. The guys have been friends since childhood, when they used to ride and race together. Now they’re grown up (in age, if not riding enthusiasm), they host MotorTrend’s newest show, Throttle Out – so we caught up with the guys to find out what’s in store for subscribers. Speaking of which, you can check the guys out using a free trial of MotorTrend's subscription service.
As I’m chatting to the guys online it’s very obvious that these two amigos have a very rare chemistry. Zack explains where it comes from: “Well, we dragged each other out from underneath motorcycles a lot as as little kids – and we shared an office for years when we grew up. That gives you a bond that’s hard to replicate any other way.”
Ari agrees: “We’ve both always had this crazy passion to ride anything with two wheels, so we have always had a friend who’s down to do anything goofy on two wheels – it makes for a good time.”
Tiny bikes, big places
Zack Courts (left) and Ari Henning (right) have been buddies since childhood – childhoods that both revolved around motorcycles
Speaking of goofy, the pair’s opening film for Throttle Out involved riding a brand-new pair of Honda Monkey bikes over 1,200 miles on tarmac and dirt along the route of the Baja 1000 in Mexico. These tiny bikes aren’t your usual rides for such an adventure, and they’d become a bit of a pain in the butt for the guys over the course of the trip (as you can see in the video below) – which is why Ari has some misgivings when long-term producer and cameraman Spenser Robert shared the idea with them.
“I told Spenser that he’s freaking nuts, no way would I do it.” he explains. “I had a very long list of reasons we shouldn’t do it, but he was persistent. We wanted to do something with the Monkey bike because that bike is new and also transcends motorcycling – everyone recognises it because everyone learned on it or had a neighbour who did.”
“Oh, and we have an MO of making adventures big by doing them on small bikes. We have an affinity for small bikes and doing the Baja on monkey bikes fit that perfectly.”
Along the way, Ari’s irreproachable mechanical sympathy saw him and Zack perform a 600-mile first service in the dirt outside an overnight shack. “Machines have souls and deserve respect,” Ari shouts down the line from California in mock protest. “We were thrashing it so hard in the very first instances of its life, so it deserved at least a decent service once at 600 miles.”
But did the guys develop a bond with their tiny under-powered steeds by the time they reached La Paz on the Baja peninsula’s south coast?
“If there’d been a large enough enough Trebuchet at La Paz I’d have fired that thing right into the ocean,” laughs Ari. “We’d been wearing the same clothes for six days, the temperature had been hovering around 100F the entire time except when it rained… and then we were soaking wet for six or eight hours, and we were disgusting. And a little malnourished and definitely under-rested.”
“I would’ve been flicked to the moon”
A recent episode involved building zombie apocalypse bikes out of a junkyard before mowing down zombies using paintball guns
I ask how the guys avoided crashing as they crossed treacherous flooded rivers and muddy lake beds on nowhere near enough sleep.
“That’s the beauty of only being 24 inches off the ground, right?! You can’t fall off!” explains Ari. “And having a bike that doesn’t go fast means you can’t get in over your head.”
Zack interjects: “It’s funny you say that – there were definitely scenarios where I would’ve definitely crashed a bigger bike because I would’ve been going a lot faster and I would’ve been farther from the ground. When we were riding in the mud at night I went completely sideways and I highsided… except because the bikes were so small sort of stepped off and just ended up standing next to it holding onto the handlebars. On a bigger bike I would’ve been flicked to the moon!”
Speaking of which, Ari confesses to being the more frequent crasher of the pair, whereas Zack has more spectacular crashes.
What’s on the two-wheeled horizon?
Zack (pictured) is the better at wheelying, and has also had the most spectacular crashes out of the pair – there must be some correlation…
With the support of MotorTrend behind them, Ari and Zack are clearly fired up for the adventures they have planned – including, happily – a car vs bike crossover.
Ari explains why: “The objective of Throttle Out is to view the world through the lens of motorcycles – and that includes reviewing cars.”
“Yeah,” continues Zack, “we like the idea of cars vs bikes not only because gearheads are gearheads, but we don’t think cars and bikes together has been executed very well yet – so we’re hoping to bridge that gap. We like inclusivity in motorcycling and want people of all ilks and styles and ambitions to get into bikes.”
As well as their main half-hour episodes, the guys will keep us up to date on the latest bikes with their Throttle Out Commutes buyers guide videos featuring Zack hooning to work on different bikes – and Ari’s Throttle Out Garage series will continue to explain the fundamentals of motorbike engineering in a straightforward and helpful way.
As the interview comes to a close I ask the guys the really important questions, such as who’s best at wheelies (Zack, because Ari has lost a lot of confidence after being spat off the back a few too many times), and what bike they’d choose if they could have only one (BMW R1200GS for Ari, and erm, a BMW R 1200GS Adventure for Zack).
Their answers, passion and laughter throughout the chat suggest the guys are incredibly happy at their new home on MotorTrend. It’s now just a case of finding new adventures that don’t involve riding a 125cc Monkey bike for more than 1,000 miles.
See the guys in action by subscribing to MotorTrend On Demand
Click here to get access to the whole MotorTrend catalogue of shows, including Throttle Out, Roadkill, Bitchin Rides, Wheeler Dealers, JDM Legends and a whole lot more – and you can now get a 14-day free trial.
Watch a clip from Throttle Out's first episode – riding Monkey bikes on the Baja 1000