Grab a slice of White Helmets history

Five of the disbanded Royal Signals Display Team bikes up for auction

Grab a slice of White Helmets history

WHEN it disbanded the White Helmets motorcycle display team last September the army brought an end to 90 years of sanctioned military daredevilry.

While the traditional stunts of formation riding, mobile human pyramids and jumping through flaming hoops might seem tame when compared to the backflipping heroics of the latest generation of freestyle-derived stunt riders, the White Helmets were really the prototypes for all stunt riders.

The decision to shut down the team means that the bikes it used are hitting the market, with Bonhams offering five of them for sale at its Spring Stafford Sale on 22 April.

They’re unusual machines, too; Triumph TR7 Tigers made as recently as 1999. These bikes might look like the machines that the Meriden Triumph was making in its early-80s death throes, but in fact they were built specially for the White Helmets by LF Harris, who bought the original Triumph tooling, more than 15 years later.

The five bikes are:

Number 8: the only ‘ride bike’ in the sale, used by Lance Corporal Ben Angel in the 2017 season and appearing in the team’s farewell performance on 30th September. Unlike the other ‘trick bikes’ offered, it has no rear rack and it has functioning rear suspension.

Number 23: A ‘trick bike’ complete with a ladder that was used for some of the team’s stunts. It also appeared in the last ever performance. As a trick bike its rear springs are replaced with solid bars.

Number 25: Another ‘trick bike’ used in the final performance, ridden by Lance Corporal Aidie Mackie and Corporal Rob Hitchmough in 2017. This one also has an extra seat on the front mudguard and additional handlebars on the rear rack.

Number 27: Also a ‘trick bike’, 27 was ridden by Lance Coporal Dayne Ryan in 2016 and 2017 and used in the final performance.

Number 28: Again, 28 is a ‘trick bike’, ridden in 2017 by Signaller Luke Timmins and used in the last ever show.

Jonathan Vickers, Bonhams West County Motoring Specialist, said: “We are proud to have been chosen to offer these five historically important machines for sale at our Spring Stafford Sale in April this year. Much loved by families and children from all corners of the globe who have experienced their ‘dare devil’ displays at shows and events throughout the UK, the ‘Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team’ also known as the ‘White Helmets’ are a British tradition whose origins date back to 1927. The sale provides an incredibly rare opportunity for bidders to acquire not just one but five of these wonderful Triumph 750cc TR7 Tiger motorcycles.”

Estimates for the bikes are all the same, with Bonhams believing they’ll make between £5500 and £8000 apiece.