The Rickman Triumph Métisse is a quintessentially British motorcycle, and it showcases some of the best individual components the UK had to offer during the time of its construction, all under one fuel tank. The name Métisse was chosen because it’s a fancy French way of saying “mongrel”, which the Rickman brothers felt was an ideal name for their new creation.
The most important part of any Rickman motorcycle is its frame. The Rickman brothers were retired motorcycle racers who had a broad range of hard-won engineering knowledge, and they used this knowledge to develop some of the best handling on and off-road motorcycles in the world throughout the ’60s and into the ’70s.
The first frames Derek and Don Rickman built were for scrambles events, and they quickly earned a reputation for their highly capable designs. They were amongst the first to pioneer a few now commonplace motorcycle technical advances including oil-in-frame bikes (to shed heat and reduce weight), as well as large diameter telescopic forks to handle more aggressive off-road riding.
The Rickman Triumph Métisse is one of the most highly sought after models to wear the Rickman name on the tank – as it happens Steve McQueen had one which he called a “revolutionary piece of equipment” in a 1966 Popular Science article, also saying “The rig is the best-handling bike I’ve ever owned. And the power – it’s like supersonic.”
The nickel-plated Rickman frame cradles a unit construction 650cc Triumph parallel twin (unit construction means the gearbox and engine are a single unit, pre-unit motorcycles have the engine and gearbox as separate parts bolted together). The fuel tank, side covers, fender, and seat are all light weight glass fibre, and the exhaust is essentially just an open pair of pipes designed to get gasses out of the cylinder and back past the rider as quickly as possible.
The all-original 1970 Rickman Triumph Métisse you see here has been previously restored to a high level, and in its current ownership it’s been on static display in a climate-controlled environment. Bonhams estimate that it’ll sell for between $10,000 and $12,000 USD when it goes to auction in Las Vegas on the 26th of January.