1965 Rickman Metisse Mk III Scrambler

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by JagLite, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

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    Finally, after 43 years since the first time I saw one, I have started building my own Rickman Metisse...

    (this is a Matchless powered Rickman Metisse, just to show what a Rickman Metisse looks like)
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    NEWS FLASH! Racer TV did a video on the Rickman Metisse and they used two of my pictures (the frame and steering head)

    See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz5b3C3e0Qo&index=1&list=FLw2PrvHxaIhFL6IwsFgwFCA



    The year was 1969 and I was 13 years old, a very impressionable age as you may recall. :eek1

    I was riding my Big Bear Scrambler minibike at the local dirt riding area when I heard and felt the rolling thunder of a big bore British twin. Nobody ran mufflers and the scream of two strokes was what filled the air when this dinosaur rolled past the parked trucks and shook the ground. Once clear of the parked trucks and children the rider rolled on the throttle bringing the front end way up in a wheelie that he rode all the way to the first hill. It seemed to me that the exhaust pulses from the straight pipes hitting the ground shot up bits of dirt like a machine gun firing at the good guys feet in a movie. I was spellbound! I was in love. I had no idea what that dark green bike was, I just knew it was the most beautiful motorcycle I had ever seen.

    After a while the rider came back and leaned the beautiful beast against his truck and pulled a can from a cooler for a drink. I got up my nerve, which required a lot of mental effort since I was a very shy boy, and went over to him and asked, "Excuse me mister, what kind of bike is that"? He was an older guy, probably at least 27 or 30 I was sure, and he told me that it was a Rickman Metisse with a Triumph 650 twin engine. It had a Bultaco front end and a BSA rear wheel and that it was a great desert racer but heavier than the new Husky's, Greeves, and other 2 stroke dirt bikes but he liked the sound and rode for fun, not to win races.

    I have to admit that when I went back to my puny little minibike it looked even smaller and punier than before. :puke1

    Of course I wanted to find out more about the Rickman Metisse and how I could get one. Soon my dad took me and my minibike to Steens to have them tune up the McCullough chain saw engine that screamed in my ear only to find they were the distributor for Rickmans! They had a Metisse rolling chassis on the floor as well as a street racer roller. Brand new, shiny and polished, they looked like museum artwork to me. Nickle plated frame, oil carried in the frame tubes, fiberglass tank, seat and fenders that look like an artist designed them. And the price! Yikes!!! I knew it was going to be a long term dream for me to ever own one. I would never have guessed how long it would be... :eek1

    Last winter I finally ordered a complete frame kit for a British Racing Green Triumph 650 twin power.
    http://www.rickman-motorcycles.com/parts-and-prices.php
    I realized that if I didn't do it now I probably never would.
    There are so many regrets in life that we can't do anything about and this is one I could change.
    Sure I can't afford it, never could, never would be able to justify the cost but fortunately my wife is understanding and encouraged me to go ahead and bite the bullet. Just like she did when we needed a second car and she insisted I get the Miata I had wanted for years instead of the work truck that would be more practical but no fun to drive.
    Good wife! :clap

    The owner, Adrian Moss called me back to finalize what I needed and put my name on the list to have the frame built. He said it would be a couple months and sure enough, about 2 months later I got the email telling me it was shipping out the next day. I had it delivered to the office since I live out in the sticks on a steep dirt road.

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    (the fiberglass side panels are not installed in the final position in this picture, there will be no gap. Those are atv shocks I had stuck in there for now)
    It is in the living room and will be kept in the living room after the build for display.
    I will ride it on occasion, but mostly it is a work of art that is not hanging on the wall.

    So far I have bought 2 front ends for it trying to find what looks period correct if I can't find the right parts at an affordable price. The best candidate front end is from a '76 Honda MR250, a one year enduro version of the CR mx bike. It had the CR suspension so is supposed to be better... They are 35mm fork tubes and the wheel has a conical brake hub so that is appropriate.

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    Unfortunately, the triple clamps won't work because the stem is too short and the wrong size for bearings to fit. The stem bolt is welded in so not an easy to replace piece. So, back to eBay and recycle yards online and I turn up a later Honda XR500 triple clamp with a bolt in stem that seems like it will work. It arrived and nope, stem bolt needs to be remade or replaced. After checking around locally it was best to ship it to England to Rickman Motorcycles for them to fit a correct stem bolt in it and then send it back with a few more parts I am getting.

    In the meantime I have been searching the net looking for a donor engine and finally, after more than a year of failed attempts, a local man answers one of my many email requests to say that while he doesn't have a spare engine, a friend of his might and why don't I come over that Saturday. I did and found a true Classic Bike Rebuilder. He has eight completely restored British bikes in his living room, all ridden regularly in the summer, six more in various stages of restoration in his shop, and two 40 foot containers full of complete bikes, racks of parts, and shelves with many engines ready to be rebuilt. It was a little like showing up at Jay Leno's garage not knowing what was inside. After I marveled at his many bikes and heard the stories behind each one, he showed me the engine he thought might work best for me. A 1971 Triumph TR6C twin. Everything is there but it needs a total rebuild from the crank up. I asked the price, because yes, I have to ask :cry and he told me that he doesn't sell parts or bikes, he only buys them. But he would GIVE me this engine for what he paid for it if I wanted it. $700 later and I had an engine for the Rickman!

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    Now I am trying to find a rear wheel that will work. I have the Honda MR 250 wheel but the hub is so narrow it looks goofy and will require new spokes to be able to offset the rim so the sprocket will line up. The brake is on the wrong side too but I can make it work if necessary. So I searched online again and finally found a Husky rear wheel that has the conical hub with the brake on the sprocket side, is a wide wheel, but will also require new spokes to be able to get the sprocket to line up with the wheel centered in the frame. The rim is also ugly...

    What I really would like to find is a BSA B50 rear wheel. It bolts right in without any changes. So far I have not been able to find one. If you know of anyone who has one, please let me, or them know. I already have $400+ in the rear wheels I have that don't work without modifying. Shipping parts up to Alaska is the killer. A wheel that you can buy for $50 with maybe $15 shipping will cost me $65+ for shipping by the cheapest parcel post. And the forks! Ouch.

    I am waiting for the new stem to arrive and then I can install the front end. I will fit the Husky rear wheel for now so I can have a roller but I will hold off on modifying it as I continue my internet search for a B50 rear wheel.

    The Triumph engine rebuild is a winter project since I like to ride during the summer on my DR650 and TW200 instead of working in the garage on projects. :clap

    This is my build, it is a long term, slow build of a new, old bike. :rofl
    I will post pictures of progress but don't be disappointed if months go by with nothing new.
    I wanted to start this thread to keep a record of the build and for friends to be able to follow along.
    #1
    diegosaenz likes this.
  2. oldhippie1

    oldhippie1 Been here awhile

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    Pretty amazing. I remember Schmidt Motors in Orlando was a Rickman dealer. That was back when I was a kid. They also sold Velocette. The Good Old Days live forever. We bought our first big bike in 68 a P11A Ranger. Wish I still had it today.
    #2
  3. spo123

    spo123 Man About Town

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    I WISH I was "in your shoes".
    LOVELY!
    FANTASTIC!
    Good luck and keep us posted.

    Thanks,
    spo
    #3
  4. cobrat

    cobrat Been here awhile

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    Great story! I agree, one of the best looking motorcylces of all time. Good for you for doing it.
    #4
  5. ardbeglily

    ardbeglily Been here awhile

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    That frame is a piece of art, but it must be ridden and enjoyed in it's natural environment. Good luck with the build.:clap
    #5
  6. wescnmbkr1

    wescnmbkr1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
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    NW
    Wish I had your project!!!
    Sounds like you are or will be searching for numerous 1st generation Triumph pieces. I used to work with a gentleman who lived & breathed Triumph. If he no longer has extras, he may know of a source.
    Last known number = 818-443-9630
    Good Luck!
    wescnmbkr1@gmail.com:ricky
    #6
  7. wildwilly

    wildwilly Old Fart

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    Seeley, CA (Alkali Flats)
    Check with RABER's, San Jose, CA, or Trophy Motorcycles, San Diego, CA. They may have whatever classic Brit bike parts you're searching for.
    #7
  8. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

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    I was amazed at the weight difference between the Honda rear wheel and the Husky wheel.
    Both are drum brake with aluminum rim and the Honda uses butted spokes.
    I put them on my handy semi-accurate scale and found:

    Honda 1976 MR 250 = 14 lbs.
    Husky 1977 WR 370? = 8.5 lbs.:clap

    Honda on left, Husky on right
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    I am going to see if I can make the Husky fit and if so, I will get new spokes and lace the Honda rim to it as it is in much better condition.
    This is a limited budget build so no new rims... :cry
    #8
  9. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Wow! Nice Project! Gonna be neat! Ive seen lotsa guys using Betor/Bultaco front forks and triple clamps,nice alloy that polishes up nice, Those steel triple clamps,in my opinion,just arent nice enough for that frame.
    They may be available, but the frame demands better. Hunting on ebay can yield nice stuff but you have to be picky and know what you want. 650 twins are way fun in the dirt,they slide great!

    Find a local machinist and make what ever you want fit. Shiny aluminum is nice.
    #9
  10. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    That can get tricky,the width of the hub and the offset of the rim determines how the spokes fit in the rim,spoke holes are drilled accordingly.
    Not every 18" rim can be spoked to any other hub. If the Husky rim isnt cracked or dented some long hours with polishing tools can make the rim look nice.
    #10
  11. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

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    I am not using the steel triple clamps shown, I agree with you 100% that painted steel looks out of place on the Rickman. I am using the 35mm fork triple clamps from an early Honda XR500 that are aluminum. I may polish them for looks. Cerriani forks were the common setup back then with the the Betor forks next. I have read that the Betor forks were just Spanish copies of the Cerriani units. A local vintage racer recommended the Honda forks of the mid '70's and he said they are copies of the Cerriani units too, and are easy to find.

    The goal is to make it look period correct without being limited to actual hard-to-find and very expensive original parts.
    If I was planning to race in the vintage class I would have to use all old stuff, but my racing days are over. A genuine magnesium Rickman rear hub sold on eBay a few months ago for $600. Way, way out of my budget. :eek1
    #11
  12. JeffS77

    JeffS77 cheap bastard

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    Some insperation for ya

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    this guy can ride. I raced with him a few weeks back


    getting the hole shot against the 70's MX'ers :eek1


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    #12
  13. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

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    Yes, that is my understanding too. The Husky rim still has the AKRONT label on it but has a very noticeable dent in it. I will follow your advice and see what I can do to clean it up. I spent 30 minutes wet sanding the rim before I took the pictures but it needs a lot more attention to remove the pitting from years and years of sitting outside in the snow and sun...

    I have had Buchannon's do a wheel for me in the past so I could have them redrill the Honda rim and lace up new spokes.
    They do excellent work that is worth the high price. It is just too high a price for me now. I will see what I can do first.

    Besides, what's the fun of just buying new parts and bolting them on? :rofl
    #13
  14. ferals5

    ferals5 Long timer

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    :drif:drif:drif look forward to this and can't wait to see the finished bike, I too drooled over this bike as a youngster:D



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    #14
  15. JeffS77

    JeffS77 cheap bastard

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    Moores Cycle Center can probably find you waht ever you need...may have a B50 wheel sitting around..its a cool old school shop with tons of parts

    http://moorescyclecenter.com/

    (looks like it may have changed ownership recently)

    Jeff aka Meatball over at Hell On Wheels may also be able to help..he has a ton of parts at his place

    http://www.hellonwheelsmc.com/
    #15
  16. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    You are living my dream. As a teenager in the late '60's I too was blown away by the Rickman's at the MX meetings. Compared to the homebuilt British singles and Spanish 2 strokes the Rickman's were a different world, apart from the sound of a twin, they were ridden with the front wheel in the air, and when it wasn't they were in a full lock slide....I wanted one. At one MX meeting as we were leaving I saw a Rickman Metisse in the carpark - road legal !!! Now I really wanted one.

    In 1975 the Rickman's were so outclassed they were just hasbeens, an uncompetitive bike of no use. And so I found a 1964 Metisse, one I remember racing a few years earlier, and bought it minus engine for $400. It was a 500cc unit Triumph, so found a 1973 Daytone engine and fitted that.

    My bike had BSA yokes and Cerinai's with a Metal Profile front brake, and a Velocette rear wheel. Because I couldn't gear it up for road use I fitted a Triumph conical rear wheel - then by using the standard rear sprocket and the bigger Rocket Three sprocket I had road and off road gearing. I cut the sprockets in half so I could change them without removing the rear wheel. I also cut the high pipes into TT pipes for road use - my road use was gravel roads, and this was the fastest bike I've user used on gravel.

    I've spent the last 35 years trying to find a bike that could match a Rickman Metisse, but I think there is only one bike capable of that - and you have it. If I won Lotto, I'd be doing just what you are.

    This is my bike in 1977 - road legal apart from a speedo, I was too much of a tight arse to fit a speedo drive to the rear wheel. Oh, and no side stand - power poles, trees, cars....there was always something to lean against.

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    #16
  17. Twin-shocker

    Twin-shocker Long timer

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    The Triumph/BSA conical hub rear wheels fitted to late 60s early 70s road bikes are pretty much the same as the B50 ones. Avoid vintage magnesium hubs, as cracking is a distinct possibility, especially when used on bikes a lot heavier that the ones they were fitted to originally. Finally if you have a GRP fuel tank, it would be a good idea to sell it before you use it and get an alloy one, as the person making the GRP doesnt use the correct production process, and while some might be problem free, others are likely to fail very quickly.
    #17
  18. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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    ...you might try Yoshi at the Garage Company in L.A. (http://garagecompany.com/).
    I was down there last week. he's got a blue Rickman TR on the floor, and the dude has a warehouse of bike parts.
    No guarantee on the price or availability...:norton...pretty sure everything has a price though.

    http://yoshisgarage.com/parts

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    #18
  19. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

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    Thanks for the input.
    I have tried two Triumph street bike rear wheels so far and neither was a conical hub but that is another option, thanks.
    I won't be riding it hard so I can keep an eye on the rear hub if I do use the Husky. No big jumps, just dirt roads for me.
    I have done my last doubles..... :eek1 :rofl

    The Rickman will only come in about 50 Lbs more than the Husky I got the wheel from, and I weigh a bit less than the average they must have designed the wheel for to have a large safety factor.

    And I am still searching for the B50 rear wheel anyway.

    Thanks Rapid Dog for the link, I have sent them a request and will see what they have.

    All fiberglass gas tanks MUST be sealed now because of what they put in the gas. Rickman sent instructions with the kit to use Caswell gas tank sealer. They also specify to NOT use alcohol in the tanks. The gas mixes common now are causing all kinds of problems in vehicle fuel systems. :puke1 Fortunately they don't use Ethanol in our gas here due to the weather, they mix other stuff in... could be worse, I don't know. But, our gas doesn't go bad after sitting for 6 months during winter so it must be better than most states have to deal with.

    I have thought about getting the aluminum tank but it is too nice to risk denting so I could put it on when stored in the house, and the glass tank on with gas for riding... But, the aluminum tank is out of my limited budget anyway.

    I appreciate any and all input! :ear
    #19
  20. Twin-shocker

    Twin-shocker Long timer

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    I have a friend who may well have a B50 rear wheel hub, and if you ever need one he also makes alloy tanks for the Mettisse.

    Sealing GRP tanks is only ever a short term remedy, and failure is certainly likely over time. There is no good reason for GRP tanks to fail when used with modern fuels, and I would guess the reason Adrian Moss suggests a tank sealer, is due to the fact his tanks are not being made using the correct materials and production methods.

    If MTBE is still being used in your area, then even the Moss GRP tanks should be OK as damage will only occur when ethanol or methanol is being used in the fuel.

    As a matter of interest your Rickman frame was made by Robby Rhind Tutt, who runs Wasp Motorcycles, and has bene making frames for many years.
    #20