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.