Bikes & Customs: Workshop

Return of the Cafe Racers

Rickman-inspired custom

A cafe racer with scrambler roots

One man’s vision of a modern Bonneville T120 with retro styling, a collaboration with Triumph Australia and an unhealthy obsession with all things cafe racer birthed this glorious green machine.

After flying over to attend the T120 launch in London in 2016, Geoff Baldwin, Australian moto journalist and bike builder, knew he wanted to get his hands on one. At the launch, Geoff had chatted to Triumph Australia about collaborating on a custom build but, due to busy schedules, plans were delayed.

Geoff, however, couldn’t let it go. Drawing inspiration from the Rickman Triumphs of the late 50s, 60s and 70s, Geoff went about designing something seriously eye-catching.

All photos from Tank Moto Magazine www.fueltank.cc

The original Rickmans

The innovative Métisse MK1 and MK2 were the creation of the Rickman brothers, Don and Derek, in 1959. Both successful motocross riders, they mixed and matched existing bike parts, including a Triumph engine (as they were the most powerful), then decided to create a purpose-built motocross bike of their own – the MK3.

Replica MK3 Metisse with 650cc Triumph engine. Photo: Métisse Motorcycles

Being a hybrid of parts and ideas, the brothers thought about calling the bike a ‘Mongrel’. Eventually, they settled for the much more attractive French translation: Métisse. The bikes took the motocross world by storm and have since become famously fashionable. From their scrambler roots, the Rickman brothers also made frames and fibreglass parts for cafe racers.

Rickman Triumph cafe racer Photo: PSParrot CC 

“Not only did the Rickman bikes look great with their shapely fibreglass bodywork and nickel-plated frames,” Geoff explains, “they also outperformed factory bikes at the races, raising many eyebrows and forcing manufacturers to re-evaluate their own designs.

“So, inspired by those factors, I loaded up Photoshop and put together a concept that featured a T120 Bonneville wearing replica Rickman bodywork and a nickel-plated frame. Thanks to the classic styling of the T120 engine it looked right at home beneath the retro bodywork.

“I then applied a colour scheme of emerald green and gold as a hat tip to when I began the project – 50 years since the first street-legal Rickman hit the roads. The next day I sent it off to Triumph and the response was so positive that the project was set in motion.

“I met with Karl Stehn from KDS Designs in Melbourne to discuss the project. Having worked with Karl in the past, I knew he was more than capable of realising my vision.”

Together they added Rickman-replica fairing, tank cover and tail from Aristech Streamlining, a nickel-plated frame and swingarm by Carroll Electroplating, custom glass screen from Gustafasson Plastics and custom paintwork by KDS Designs.

The result is nothing short of breathtaking. Green and gold scream 70s and coupled with the T120 powerplant will have the performance to back it up. And, of course, he named it ‘The Mongrel’.

 

“Special thanks to Triumph Australia for their huge part in this project and to Karl for his devotion to turning a crazy idea into a reality.”

See more at Return of the Cafe Racer.