The Triumph Metisse

Mar. 12, 2014 By By Rick Sieman, with thanks to The Early Years of Motocross Museum and Métisse of Oxfordshire, England
Ready to ride!

The story of Derek and Don Rickman and the line of scramblers that they created is unique in the annals of motocross. The Rickmans were both world-class competitors and innovative designers. After riding less-than-competitive machinery for the Royal Enfield factory, the English brothers decided to develop a motocross hybrid of their own.
Older brother, Derek, called the first machine a "Metisse," French for mongrel, and it was an apt description, as the machine was a mixture of mechanical bloodlines: Triumph 500cc twin engine, BSA frame, gearbox, clutch and wheels, and Norton forks. Derek rode the bike to victory in its first competition in England in 1959. Later that year, Don led Great Britain to win the Motocross des Nations at Namur, Belgium, on the Mark 1 Metisse.

After a second successful BSA-framed version, the brothers developed the Mark III Metisse, sporting a beautiful nickel-plated frame of their own design and construction. Engine oil was carried in the frame and additional weight savings were gained by utilizing snail-cam chain adjusters mounted at the swingarm pivot, reducing the unsprung weight, and extensively using fiberglass for the gas tank and other bodywork.

Another sweet Rickman, this one with a Triumph 650 twin engine.

So much interest was shown in the Mark III that the Rickman brothers began commercial production of chassis kits, capable of housing a number of different engines, in 1962. The quality and handling of the Rickman chassis, and it acceptance by world-class competitors, was well demonstrated by the fact that 24 Metisses were on the line at the Motocross des Nations in 1964. In 1966, the Mark IV chassis was introduced, a refined version of the existing frame.

Hereís something you donít see too often:  A Triumph Trident Metisse flat tracker.

The Rickman Mark IV chassis was powered by a 500cc Triumph twin. This is representative of a combination that carried the Rickman brothers and many of their customers to wins throughout the 1960s, before the lighter two strokes ran them off the tracks of Europe.
The bike of choice - Steve McQueen rode one during 1966 and 1967.  The bike weighs 300 lbs. dry and has a Triumph 650cc 6T engine, producing 47 hp.

Replica of the Triumph Metisse desert racer owned and raced by the famous Steve McQueen during 1966 and 1967.  The bike weighs 300 lbs dry and has a Triumph 650cc 6T engine, producing 47 bhp. The motorbike was originally built in Carswell Oxfordshire.
An accomplished desert motorcycle racer, McQueen's ride of choice was a 1966 Métisse Mark III Desert Racer, modified to suit his specific riding style. This authentic reproduction by Métisse of Oxfordshire, England has been hand built to McQueen's original specs with such features as McQueen-styled footrests, 35mm Ceriani forks with 7" of travel.
Hereís another angle of the McQueen replica. Want one?  Itíll cost around $15,000.

Other features include a chrome-moly, nickel-plated, oil-bearing frame, chromed-steel wheel rims, period chrome exhausts, scramble rear tire, trials front tire, Amal competition levers and twist grip. It is fitted with a period Triumph front hub with BSA rear, authentic color-coded tank, seat, and panels. The bike is powered by a reconditioned period Triumph 650cc twin with a single Amal carburetor. Steve McQueen's signature appears on the tank badge. Dry weight 300 lbs.
The gearbox and engine are period Triumph TR6, with a single Amal carb, set in a Mk III Métisse frame. Forks are 35mm Cerianis with over seven inches of travel: BSA yokes position the handlebar behind the steering stem for better control. Wheel rims and exhausts are chromed, and the rear shocks are authentic Girling reproductions.
For more info, check out The Early Years of Motocross Museum in Orange County, California.
The Early Years of Motocross Museum
Villa Park, California
Phone: 714-921-9137
Fax: 714-921-9138
E-mail: [email protected]

Visits to this private museum are limited to events only.

1969 Rickman Triumph in flawless condition. Newsletter
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