A Conversation With Ari Henning, Zack Courts, and Spenser Robert about Working for Revzilla
Finding a Good Home
Most of us in the motorcycle world know the names Zack Courts and Ari Henning. They’re the two long-time journalists at Motorcyclist Magazine, who have entertained and informed us for years now. After a short time with MotorTrend, the duo and Spenser Robert—the man behind the scenes who makes the camera magic happen—are at Revzilla now crafting content for the company on its YouTube channel and writing blog, Common Tread.
I wrote about their move to the company when Comoto announced it, but I recently had the opportunity to talk to the three of them over the phone about their new home and how things are going. The guys were nice enough to chat with me, let me know what it’s like, and where they want to take things.
If you’ve not watched any of their new content on Revzilla’s YouTube channel, you’ll be happy to know there are three new series that they’re putting out: Common Tread Experience (CTXP), The Shop Manual, and Daily Rider. All of them cater to the strengths of the team while supporting a kind of central mission around promoting motorcycling in general.
Common Tread Experience
The longer form series is the one that a lot of folks will want to watch. These videos will be a little bit more of what you’ve come to expect from Zack and Ari, and are designed to not only showcase motorcycles but the experience you can have on them.
“We like the idea of taking people on a ride or an adventure,” Spenser told me. “We’re hoping to make people want to go on an adventure of their own.”
The method for these longer-form videos will vary. It’s a little more free-form. Sometimes it will be a bike comparison, other times it could be a deep-dive on a single motorcycle or it could be an epic road trip or a motorcycle event somewhere.
“Our ambition is that it doesn’t have any limitations,” he said. “Anything that’s interesting in the motorcycle world is what we’re interested in pursuing.”
Because Revzilla is a retailer and not a publication like the kind that the team has worked for in the past, I wanted to see how the guys felt about working for a retailer as opposed to a motorcycle or automotive magazine. Spenser told me that Revzilla has actually pushed them to become more creative rather than limiting or controlling their shoots as I expected.
“I feel like if anything they’ve pushed us to tackle ideas that were a little bit bigger than what we initially planned,” said Spenser.
He said that at first, they pitched some smaller ideas, trying to keep budgets in mind, and Revzilla told them to not hold back and chase after some big ideas, including racetracks and events. The guys didn’t share any specifics, but I would imagine there are some pretty great things coming down the pipe.
The Shop Manual
The Shop Manual will be Ari’s series. He’ll do what he does best: explain maintenance and motorcycle technology in a way that makes sense. He’s done similar video series in the past, but he told me he’d do things differently this time.
“This is a little bit different flavor and a different presentation, and we’re hoping it will be as technical and specific and concise, but also include a bit more personal flair and a more casual presentation,” Ari said.
The topics will be focused on DIY—maintaining and understanding your motorcycle—as well as new technologies as they come out and become more widely used. Ari said they’re starting with foundational topics like basic maintenance. From there, they will branch out and get a little bit more granular and complex as things go.
“It’s nice to think the sky is the limit,” he said.”One of the great things about being back on YouTube is we have comments, so we can see what people actually want see and then address it.”
Ari said that means the show will be pretty flexible and its direction will, in part, be directed by what the audience wants to see.
Zack will take on a video series called Daily Rider. Again, it’s somewhat similar to what he’s become known for in the past, but this time around, he’s going to be taking it to a new level. The series will be him riding on the motorcycle with the cameras along for the ride, but he has some unique changes and an expanded vision for the series.
“The goal with Daily Rider is to just let people in and let people experience bikes on a regular basis in the way that we do,” Zack said.
Zack said the series will expand as time goes on, and he plans to score and rank bikes as he goes. This series will feature new motorcycles but it won’t do so exclusively. He plans to bring some older models into the series as well.
“One thing we’d like to do is include bikes from different generations and eras. We want to talk about other bikes that are important to motorcycling history or iconic for some reason and test those bikes in the same way that we test new bikes.”
Those bikes will also be ranked and that could make for some interesting comparisons. You could see what models from the motorcycling history books still hold up today.
Fitting Into the Comoto Family
Ari, Zack, and Spenser all seem to have a similar goal to the one that we have here at Web Bike World, and that’s to inform, entertain, and get people on two wheels. I don’t care what bike you ride. I just want to see you ride, and these guys seem to want the same. What’s surprising to me is how much Comoto—the parent company of Revzilla, Cycle Gear, and J&P Cycles—seems to want that, too. It’s this kind of commitment that seems to have made the trio’s move work.
“It’s been a learning experience and we’ve kind of shifted gears a little bit,” Ari said. “I like to think that Revzilla is kind of like the Goldilocks bed that’s just right because we have freedom to be creative and enjoy ourselves and to use the storytelling skills we developed at MotorTrend but it’s also endemic and in-market, so we’re speaking to people that are already interested and already know about bikes.”
The guys also said that Revzilla just seems to be supportive of not only them but of motorcycling in general. Ari pointed to The Ride Is Calling charity campaign that the company just put on, which was focused on raising money for a variety of motorcycle charities as an example, and they told me Revzilla does that kind of stuff often. The guys said that they had a different impression of Revzilla before they started working with Comoto.
“I think the impression that a lot of people have, and certainly I had, of Revzilla, is that it’s this kind of big machine and kind of this soulless thing, but what we’ve learned every step of the way is that the company itself is really remarkable,” Ari said. “They’re genuinely trying to make the world a better place, which is obviously a line that a lot of companies try and toe, but they’re putting their money and their effort where their mouth is.”
Zack said that he sees Revzilla as deeply invested in the success of motorcycling in general, and the hiring of Ari, Spenser, and himself shows that the company is interested in more than just selling gear. It’s really about promoting the industry and activity of motorcycling as a whole.
This is a sentiment that was brought up last year at AIMExpo, and something that has come up in recent Motorcycle Industry Council symposiums. Everyone agrees the industry needs to band together and get more people out riding, and Comoto seems to be doing just that with its activities, whether it’s content creation or charitable giving.
I won’t lie, when the guys first made the switch, I was a bit skeptical that it would work. I’ve always seen Zack an Ari as good journalists who aren’t going to sugar coat things or float a bunch of BS, and I was a bit worried that working for a retailer would skew their views, but after seeing the first few videos and talking with the guys, I think they’ll be able to do the things they want to without having to make compromises.
I’m looking forward to seeing future videos. You can check the next videos in their respective series on Revzilla’s YouTube channel, and I’d encourage you to give Ari, Zack, and Spenser your feedback. They want to know how they’re doing, and your comments will only make their videos better.