Don & Derek Rickman
Don and Derek Rickman, aka "The Brothers" built their first street frame in 1965 for roadracing. They had a background in offroad racing ("Scrambling" in the UK) where they had a series of 50 (fifty) victories, including the Belgian GP in 1959 and French GP in 1960. In late 1966, the assembled the first street legal version of their Rickman "Metisse" (i.e. "Bastard"). The difference to the roadracing version were a stock Triumph Bonneville engine, a 'somewhat' muffled exhaust and a front and rear light.
All the frames had a classic dual cradle design, built of Reynolds 531 tubes and were brazed to avoid the tensions that arise from the temperatures the welding process. Afterwards, the frames were nickel plated.
The combination of a nickel plated brazed frame was very common among custom frame makers, Seeley, Rau, Egli (except for very late frames, which were welded) and may others made their frames in the very same way. Which is giving many people a hard time now restoring the frames: Nickel plating as opposed to chrome has a warmer shine but the surface is by far not as hard as chrome so that many of the frames that have survived need re-plating. This means to remove the old plating first but this is where the trouble begins: The old plating is usually removed electrolytically in sulphuric acid but that also dissolves the bronce used for brazing so that you will end up with a assortment of loose tubes! A better way is to remove the nickel (and the underlying copper) plating electrolyrically in an cyanidic bath which leaves the frame intact but is so aggressive that the once polished tube surface needs to be polished again. Thanks to the size and structure of a motorcycle frame this is a mostly manual, a tedious and time consuming process.
Well, back to The Bros. The first Street Metisse had inherited one speciality from her Roadracing predecessor which were hydraulic disc brakes which were developed together with Lockheed. Rumor has it that this very Metisse was the first street bike with disc brakes, three years earlier than the famous CB 750/4 which came out in 1969.
The Metisse Street chassis was available for a variety of engines, like Triumph, Norton, BSA, Matchless and Royal Enfield. In 1974, Rickman was awarded the "Queen's Award to Industry" for their export business. But also in 1974, Triumph/BSA died and the export contract into the U.S. was not extended. Which raised major havoc with Rickman, since 90% of their production went to the U.S. (which explains why Rickman is relatively well known there). In the early '70s, Rickman was Englands largest motorcycle manufacturer.
To make up for the business lost, and to respond to the upcoming and pace setting japanese engines The Brothers came up with their CR (Competition Replica) frames for the legendary Honda CB 750 and Kawasaki Z1/Z900 engines. They came with their own 42mm front fork or a 38mm Betor fork, single or dual seat, front and rear Lockheed disc brakes and alloy or rim and spoke wheels.
The latest frame kit by Rickman was the Predator, a chassis designed for Honda's CB 900 Bol d'Or and Suzuki's 1000 engine. Unlike all the former Metisses and CRs, the Predator was more a sport touring bike than a cafe racer.
In 1984, frame builder Pat French of MRD, came to an agreement with the Rickman Brothers to build copies of the famous Metisse frames under the name of MRD Metisse until the year 2000. In the meantime, MRD Metisse had produced about 1000 frames, mostly for British engines.
Wheelbase: 57.1-59.1" / 1450-1500mm (depending on swing arm)
Trail: 3.54" / 90mm
Herbert Streithoff in Germany is taking care of existing Rickman CRs:
Vahrer Straße 54
Tel: +49 421 45 57 35
Fax: +49 421 45 57 35