If you watch Steve Colley’s spectacular finale of pulling stunts on a trial bike which only has one back wheel, you would have no idea of the medical intervention that keeps him wowing crowds – he has had both hips replaced.
At 48, Mr Colley is more agile than ever before, having found relief from decades of “agony” caused by constant back and hip pain, after an operation two years ago in which two Exeter hips were fitted.
Marking its 50th anniversary, the Exeter hip is proving to be the most successful implant in the world and has now been fitted in two million people.
Mr Colley, who lives on the Isle of Man with extreme sports fan wife Liz and their four-year-old daughter Sophia, felt his successful show-biking career would have to end if he took no action.
Before Covid-19, he was performing up to 35 weekends in the year, packing out high-octane shows for Honda across Mexico, America, Canada and Europe.
Unbeknown to the crowds, Mr Colley was in a world of pain.
He had always known that he was less supple and flexible than many of his peers, but now, the combination of slightly misaligned hips and his physically demanding lifestyle was destroying his body.
“I was in absolute agony,” said Mr Colley, who rides a Honda 300cc off-road trial bike.
“If I was walking up the stairs, I’d put my hands in my pockets to try use them to pull my legs up one at a time.
“My back was in spasm all the time, and my mental health as really beginning to suffer.
“I’d tried absolutely everything – tonnes of physio, and every pill, potion and gadget there is.
“I spent £6,000 on arthroscopy, a procedure that basically cleans out the hip socket and joint, but it didn’t make any difference. I was starting to think my career could be over.”
Then, two years ago, Mr Colley travelled to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for the life-changing operation to have both hips replaced with Exeter hip implants.
The operation was a huge success and even walking on crutches that same evening, he noticed a difference.
“My back had been in spasm for 25 years, and even on that first night, I realised it had loosened up,” Mr Colley said.
“It was no longer hurting. I’d developed a bit of a hobbling stoop, and I was already walking upright for the first time in years.”
After a few weeks of recuperation, Mr Colley noticed even more improvements, and by week six, he was back on the bike.
“It’s incredible,” he said.
“Even now, every day I notice my range of movement is a little bit better. A lot of people have one leg slightly longer than the other, and in most, it doesn’t cause real problems.
“For me it did. The surgeons were able to make my legs exactly the same length. That means I have amazing balance now, which is key for trail riding. I’m riding better than ever before.”
Now, he is once again in the saddle, jumping over buses, climbing stepladders and flying over ramps – although not without mishap.
“A couple of months ago, I nearly ripped off my foot after I got it caught in the bike. Then, nine weeks ago, I broke my leg after landing awkwardly from a 15-foot drop,” he said.
“I’m OK now – but I’ve put a lot of strain on my body, and my hips have held out fine. If anyone’s concerned about having a hip replacement, I’d urge them to go for it as soon as you can.
“For me, the Exeter hip has been absolutely life-enhancing.”