Author: Phil West Posted: 08 Feb 2016
From the world's fastest wheelie to jumping 18 double deckers, we look at the very best stunt riders to have emerged from these shores. Here are our top ten in no particular order:
Dave Taylor MBE
The late, ‘70s ‘wheelie king’ and display riding star rose to even great prominence as a leading campaigner for motorcycle safety making many radio and television on the likes of ‘Record Breakers’ and ‘Blue Peter’. Most famously of all, however, he wheelied an entire lap of the TT Mountain circuit aboard a Yamaha XT500. His name lives on via MCN’s Dave Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award, which honours those whose life’s work has had the biggest positive effect on motorcycling.
Eddie Kidd OBE
Arguably most famous of all British stunt riders, Eddie, born in 1959, gained fame in the late ‘70s as ‘The English Evel Knievel’. This led work as a stunt double in Bond films and others, most notably in The Living Daylights and Goldeneye. Paralysed in an accident following a jump at The Bulldog Bash in 1996, Kidd took two months to complete the London Marathon in 2011 and carried the Olympic torch in 2012, the same year as he was awarded the OBE.
Welshman Chris, born 1957, is a retired stunt rider and long jump world record holder having jumped 18 double decker buses in 1983. However his biggest claim to fame, arguably, is in being the builder and rider of ‘Streethawk’, the short-lived US TV show which was effectively a two-wheeled version of Knight Rider and ran for just 13 episodes in 1985. Chris bought the main bike afterwards and brought it back home to Swansea.
Merseysider Rothwell sprang to fame in 1992 when he performed an impromptu stunt show at the TT aboard a Z1300 on Douglas Prom and was promptly featured in Performance Bikes magazine who acclaimed him as ‘a genius on a motorcycle and will be a star in years to come.’ Despite a night in clink, he was officially booked to return the following year. He faded off the scene in the early 2000s but re-appeared last year at Elvington to grab the record for the world’s fastest wheelie.
Self-styled ‘extreme stunt rider’ Craig Jones is a Brummie born in 1970 famous mostly for an assortment of ‘stoppie’ world records and for being ‘factory’ rider with Buell/Harley-Davidson between 2000 and 2010 when his stunt shows were used as a publicity tool. He has since also had associations with Kawasaki and Victory while in 2007 he also launched a Bike Skills Academy.
Scot Kevin Carmichael is another Brit stunt rider who sprang to prominence in the late ‘90s, when the there was a sudden surge in stunt riding competitions, and has been both European and World champion. He’s most famous, however, for being, like Craig Jones, a ‘factory’ rider, this time with the UK”s own Triumph with whom he regularly appears at shows and events – most recently being involved with the press launch for Triumph’s new Speed Triple R in Spain.
Irish-born Mattie is another professional stunt rider now employed by a major motorcycle manufacturer – this time BMW. Born in 1979 and hailing from Galway, he now appears globally at events under the BMW banner performing on his specially-modified F800R, most recently in the UK at events like Motorcycle Live at the NEC and the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Coates, from Darlington, has been a professional stunt rider for over 20 years, regularly performing at shows in the UK and Europe he has also delivering on-track stunt shows for high profile events such as the British F1 GP at Silverstone, BTCC, British Superbikes, and the Isle Of Man TT. In recent years he’s been supported by Yamaha and has regularly used an R1, FZ1, WR450 and, most recently, an MT-09, in his shows.
The Royal Signals White Helmets
OK, we could argue the toss about stunts vs displays, but surely the historic, much admired White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team deserves a mention? Founded in 1927 and operated by the British Army’s Royals Signals out of Blandform Forum, the squad had been performing its own unique brand of impressive, choreographed motorcycle team display at events across the UK for generations and are still going strong. Even more impressively, they still (mostly) use old Meriden Triumph 750s…
And if we include the White Helmets… we also have to include The Imps, effectively a junior version of the WH and, they claim, the world’s foremost youth motorcycle display team. Founded in the 1970s as a non-profit-making organization intent on providing opportunities for underprivileged youngsters, the team is open to all 5-16 year-olds and performs at events across the UK and Europe.
Who would make your top ten list?