1970 Triumph 650cc Rickman
Engine no. CA743216
Don and Derek Rickman were both World Championship-level motocross competitors, over a 15-year period spanning 1952 to 1967. They are renowned for creating the Rickman Metisse, a fine handling MX chassis, that became commercially available in 1961, and which accepted several different types of engine. Although the concept relied on donor engines the 500/650cc unit Triumph was the most popular installation. However, towards the end of the 1960s, the days of traditional 4-stroke scramblers were numbered, outperformed by the new breed of 2-strokes. Undaunted, and possessed of a wealth of experience, frères Rickman turned their attention to the street market where there existed a host of discerning riders aware that, in handling and braking terms, Rickmans highway version chassis would be an improvement over anything available from a conventional manufacturer. In any case, following the cult of the Café Racer, the higher end of the market was already familiar with machines that now saw Triumph engines fitted into Norton or BSA frames. It will also be recalled that Rickman Bros were the first to regularly use front disc brakes on motorcycles, tying in successfully with their mid-1960s venture into making road race chassis. At peak Rickmans labor intensive factory employed in excess of 100 personnel; the brothers were distinctly hands on; quality was endemic. On more than one occasion, incidentally, they had approached Triumph with a request to purchase engines, but had been quite brusquely declined. They had at one time also offered the Metisse chassis design to all three major British factories thats AMC, BSA, and Triumph with a proposal that the manufacturers should fit their own engines into Rickman chassis, which, as part of the deal, the factory concerned would now produce, leaving the brothers free to concentrate on future development. Again, the idea was rejected.
The 1970 Rickman Triumph bristles with tasteful touches, not least of which is a pair of AP Lockheed Grand Prix disc-brake calipers and an A.R.D. magneto. The rigid, superb-handling frame, lends itself to the rear-set foot-pegs, fitted in conjunction with dropped handlebars and a single seat. Note, too, the stylish reverse cone mufflers and slightly downdraught Concentrics by Amal. Front forks are Rickmans own and both rims are aluminum; an eclectic package in overall terms.
Through the 1960s the T120 Bonnie was produced in high volumes relative to British factory standards, that is amounting to around 25,000 machines per annum. These quantities duly spawned several cleverly crafted Big Bore conversions by such as Nourish, Weslake, Morgo, and A.R.D. Quite frustratingly for Triumph the stock 750cc T140 Bonneville didnt reach the market until 1972.
The freshly restored 650cc Triumph Rickman is a superb example of the Art of the Special. The machine has reportedly covered nil miles since the work was completed.