Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An English Company, a French Name & an American Legend

During the 1960's and early 70's, Rickman-Métisse 'oil in tube' frames were the end all and be all in motorcross technology. Originally developed by the Rickman brothers after finding success on the race circuit, production of their lightweight, strong frames and rolling chassis for competitive use, ceased in 1980. Around that time the original tooling and the remainder of the stock was sold off.

In 1982, an engineer named Pat French purchased all of the company’s assets and re-started production. Lack of demand and the economic recession forced a decrease in sales in the mid-90's. To keep the company from folding, enthusiast Gerry Lisi struck up a partnership with French to see the company through its difficult time and a new factory was constructed at Carswell, England.

Métisse Motorcycles are still producing these amazing frames for die hard vintage fanatics and recently announced a new (old?) development in a product range spanning its forty eight year history. A replica of an iconic legend's own bike, the 'Métisse Desert Racer' as originally built by Steve McQueen for serious competition use is now available for order.

Complete bikes make use of a fully reconditioned period Triumph TR6 engine complete with a single Amal carburettor. Also included are styled footrests made to McQueen's original design and 35mm Ceriani forks with seven inches of travel, the degree he found to be optimal. BSA style yokes place the handlebars behind the steering stem for better control, again as per McQueen's preference.

The frame is classic Métisse - chrome-moly, nickel plated and oil bearing in it's MK III guise. Chromed steel wheel rims, period chromed exhausts, scramble rear tyre, trials front tyre, Amal competition levers & twist grip equally invoke the spirit of McQueen's bike. A period Triumph front hub, with BSA rear, along with an authentic colour coded tank, seat and panels complete the specification.

While no warranty is offered, each of the 300 bikes built does include an official certificate of authenticity and is fully endorsed by Steve McQueen's estate. His signature is even featured on the tank badge of each bike.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Motorcycle Bar & Workshop in Toulouse

I just got a tip on a cool bar in Toulouse called the 'Le Garage'. These guys are really tuned in to taking care of their clientele. Besides having your typical wide selection of beer, they also have have some good bar food and a formule consisting of salad, dessert, drink & café for 9,50 euros. Even better, you can catch MotoGP races live on their giant screen tv. If you prefere another type of music, check their scheduale for live bands or ask them about renting out their event space for a private party.

Of course, I've saved the best for last. What really makes 'Le Garage' stand out is their Atelier. They have a workshop open to the public that you can rent for 3 euros an hour. It includes access to a full assortment of tools, workbench and moto-lift. Check out 'Le Garage' for more information.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Andrea Pininfarina Dies in Scooter Crash

Well, I'm back after a short vacation and unfortunately passing on an unpleasant news brief.

Along with the joy of riding motorcycles coming the increased vulnerability. If you are around bikes long enough chances are someone you know will be injured or die. Of course this is true about many popular activities. But the press loves to jump on motorcycle accidents. Today the world bears an unfortunate loss, Andrea Pinifarina died in an accident. But not on a motorcycle as is being reported by some reputable journals such as Bloomberg and The Int'l Herald Tribune, instead it was on a Vespa scooter. Some may call this picking at straws, but bad press is bad press. Read below for more information related to Andrea Pinifarina.

TURIN -- Andrea Pininfarina, CEO of Italian design and contract manufacturer Pininfarina, died Thursday morning in a road accident near Turin.

Pininfarina, 51, died after a car collided with the Vespa motorcycle scooter he was riding to the company's design and r&d center in Cambiano.

Pininfarina's death comes at a time when the family-controlled company is in the midst of a crucial restructuring.

Andrea Pininfarina has been Pininfarina's CEO since June 2001. He was also appointed chairman in May 2006. His father Sergio is the company's honorary chairman. His younger brother Paolo is Pininfarina's vice chairman and his elder sister Lorenza is a member of company's board.

Andrea Pininfarina is the grandson of Pininfarina founder Battista "Pinin" Pininfarina. He is survived by his wife Cristiana, and two sons and a daughter.

The company said it will issue a statement later today.

Source: Luca Ciferri, Automotive News