Zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds. A top speed of 120 miles per hour. State of the art suspension that pre-vents wobble as the speedometer climbs. Sounds like a sweet car for sure. But Eric Hoenshell doesn’t drive cars that go that fast. He rides motorcycles that go even faster. And sometimes he uses both wheels.
Soft-spoken and unassuming, this humble, 25-year-old stunt rider pulls tricks on a Kawasaki Ninja 636 at speeds most people will never drive. Hoenshell started his unusual career and de-veloped his obsession with speed and stunts at the age of 2. As a child, he rode motocross before most kids his age figured out how to ride a tricycle.
Hoenshell stuck with motocross for 18 years, until a near-fatal accident almost derailed his ca-reer. “In 2000, I was in an accident that crushed my right leg,” says Hoenshell. “I lost two inches of each of the bones in that leg. I was out of the sport for two years, and it was the worst two years of my life.”
But after two years of a hellish recovery, Hoenshell returned to the saddle. “After I recuperated, my parents bought me a Yamaha R6,” says Hoenshell. “It was my first street bike. I’d go out with friends and pull wheelies on the highway. I did that for awhile and then one night it hit me — this is what I want to do for a living. So I ran with it. Now it’s what I do and it’s the best job a guy could have.”
Hoenshell’s parents lost their minds when they found out what was on his. They couldn’t believe he was serious about a career as a stunt cyclist. When they realized he wasn’t joking, they laid down the law: if he pulled any stunts on the cycle they’d sell it.
But his conviction won the day. After being worn down, Mom and Dad consented to let Hoen-shell pursue his dream. Entering his first stunt competition in 2003, he won 11 out of 12 events. Says Hoenshell, “It was the happiest day of my life. I called my parents to tell them about it and they were speechless.”
“Now they can’t get enough of it,” he exclaims. “They’re my biggest fans!”
Eric doesn’t take his parents’ support for granted. After all, most parents worry about their kids simply riding Big Wheels into the street. But Eric’s parents cheer him on while he performs. And his performances include some dangerous stunts.
Says Hoenshell, “The two toughest stunts for me are the High Chair Circles and No-Handed Cir-cles.” High Chair Circles require Hoenshell to ride around the rim of a tank — while popping a wheelie. Then there are No-Handed Circles, another stunt that casual cyclists should stay away from. They’re exactly what the name implies, but also require the rider to do it while popping a wheelie.
Cyclists unwilling to ride on one wheel at incredibly high speeds can’t make it in the world of stunt cycling. According to Nick Hill, editor of 2Wheel Tuner Magazine, the stunt industry is a tough, competitive, aggressive business. Riders primarily have four ways to pay the bills: pro-ducing DVDs, winning prize money, securing sponsorships, and showing off their skills at vari-ous cycling events. Hoenshell’s success in all of these ventures is strong testimony to his abili-ties.
Says Hill about competitions, “There are usually 20 to 30 other riders chasing the same dollar. Unless you can finish first, second, or third there’s no prize money in it. A few lucky riders will get some of the really big sponsors, but very few riders see this opportunity.”
It’s hard to count all of the sponsors on Hoenshell’s riding gear unless you do a double-take. They include Oklahoma City’s House of Kawasaki, Ogio, Spy Optics, and several others — each a declaration of Hoenshell’s talent.
Shawn Garrison, House of Kawasaki’s Sales Manager, proudly endorses Hoenshell’s skills. Says Garrison, “When you see Eric ride, you quickly notice the obvious difference between an aver-age street stunter and a professional. He makes it all look easy, effortless. What he does is not nearly as easy as he makes it look. We’re proud to have him as part of the House of Kawasaki team.”
For more information about Eric Hoenshell and his outrageous stunts, visit www.erichoenshell.com.