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The Purple Helmets

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Review Summary
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by Duke Video
Running Time: 73 minutes, plus extras.

I have no idea how to describe The Purple Helmets.  How about “Monty Python’s frat-boy nephews meet Benny Hill”?  Or “Harold Lloyd meets the Monkees”?

If you’ve ever watched any coverage of the Isle of Man TT, you’ve probably seen those wacko guys in dirty brown dusters riding beater Honda 90’s and entertaining the crowds between races with totally outrageous stunts.  At least that’s how I was first introduced to The Purple Helmets.  I never realized they had a video where you can get your fill of their antics, but here it is.

Actually, “stunts” may be a misnomer.  Their schtick is trying to look serious by emulating a motorcycle precision riding team, but every stunt ends in miserable failure.  It’s very good comedy, because they revel in making a mess out of everything they try.

On a deeper level, The Purple Helmets represent a sort of anti-motorcycling theme.  That is, they represent an anti- everything approach to a the type of motorcycling that most of us take too seriously.  Safety, clothing, correct riding and Beemers costing 14 large are the polar opposite of everything The Purple Helmets represent.

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If this DVD was filmed in black & white and filmed at about 20 frames per second, you’d swear you were watching a classic slapstick comedy from the 1920’s.  The team appears incredibly goofy in their oversize and antique military coats, and their beat up Honda 90’s look like they’re held together by baling wire and duct tape — and probably are.

The video includes 73 minutes of craziness, including formation riding, outrageous antics on public roads, stunts, bin racing (half the team rides, towing the other half in sawn-off garbage cans, or “bins”), “Rocket Man”, the “Ring of Liquid” and zillions of crashes and mishaps, both planned and unplanned.

And there’s more: burnouts on pub floors, naked highsides, and the “crash and burn” method of removing mud from the bikes after an off-road jaunt.

The Purple Helmets apparently started out as a group of friends just having fun.  They’ve become somewhat more organized over the years — although using the word “organized” in the same sentence as “The Purple Helmets” is a stretch — and entertain throughout Europe at various motorcycle related events.

The video includes many clips from their gigs and lots of Honda 90 off-road adventures.  The poor bikes are beaten to a pulp time and time again, and seem to keep coming back for more.

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