Rickman Metisse-Norton

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At the second Annual Cycle World Motorcycle Show, Pacific Basin Trading Co. displayed the latest Rickman Brothers of England's Metisse kit, designed to accept a 500cc Triumph engine and a Matchless gearbox. CW readers may remember the Editor's experiences with a somewhat similar kit made to take the Matchless 500cc Single (CW, December 1964). This machine is still his favorited mount and continues to amaze all who see it. For those who may not have seen that issue, a Metisse kit consists of: a fantastically expensive bronze welded, nickel plated frame and swing arm weithing 24 pounds, carrying nearly a gallon of oil in it; ally engine and gearbox mounting plates; Avon fiberglass tank, seat, front and rear fenders, and an ally skid plate; English patern moto-cross handlebas; and high hounted exhaust pipes.

Roy Burke of Allied Mtrs. in Portland, Oregon, took the kit and managed to stuff a 750 Norton Atlas twin into it. Burke, a hare and hound competitor from way back (seven Big Bears), built it just to be different! Installation, according to him, was easy. (The Editor will argue it out later.) Norton forks are used, as prescribed by the Rickmans; a Honda front wheel, BSA rear wheel, Girling shocks and special exhaust pipes complete bike.

Burke found virually no detectable oil temperature indicating through the frame after extensive hard riding. Next in line is complete modification of the Norton engine, including altering the crankshaft to 180 degree (separating the rods 180 degrees, making the big twin act more like a big single, giving 180 degrees of crankshaft rotation between the first and second firings, and 540 degrees between the second and third). This should produce more torque and traction as well as improving the balance of the engine. Harman & Collins are presently grinding cas to fit. Steel rods and Well bearings have been added; 9.5 to 1 MC pistons and Honda Alternator ignition are being prepared. When complete, the Atlas/Metisse will weigh 315 pounds, and Burke hopes for 75 hp!

article by  Marvin Foster,
Cycle World magazine c. 1965
text & photos courtesy of Gregg Myers, Dictator for Life, Twin Cities Norton Owner's Club

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