A manky cast-off frame res­cued from obliv­ion and now with cy­cle parts of the very high­est or­der is now home for a ro­bust Suzuki T500 Co­bra en­gine

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Special Build of the Year 2018 -

There are many strik­ing things about Ral­phavis’s mag­nif­i­cent Rick­man T500, but per­haps the most strik­ing of all is its weight. Or sheer lack of it.wheel­ing the trick Suzuki around dur­ing our SBOTY was like push­ing a moped – re­mark­able con­sid­er­ing a stock T/GT is a bit of a lump.

When Ralph first ac­quired the Brit-built Rick­man it wasn’t a Suzuki at all. “It was fit­ted with atri­umph Bon­neville mo­tor; a mix of ’60s and ’70s parts with a 750cc Morgo top end.the frame it­self had been chrome plated and was in a poor state. I made a few en­quires to see where I could get it re­fin­ished in nickel, but no one wanted to touch it. Re­mov­ing chrome is a nasty job, plus it was go­ing to cost over a grand!”

Ralph then turned to Rick­man, now run by Adrian Moss: “He wanted to use my frame as a jig in re­turn for him mak­ing me a new frame at a knock down cost.” Ralph put the Bon­nie mo­tor in the new frame, leav­ing him with this one spare.

“I even­tu­ally found a com­pany in Southamp­ton who would nickel plate it, and my plan then was to fit a Kawasaki H1 500 mo­tor in it. In the end I found a tatty T500 in Hull for £1250.

Ralph re­moved thet500’s en­gine and sat it in the Metisse frame. “Get­ting the lump sit­ting ‘right’ in the chas­sis takes time,” ex­plains Ralph. “I made the frame mounts first from card­board and then steel – the rear mounts are thick al­loy, how­ever. I needed the mounts to be re­ally strong and not af­fected by vi­bra­tion be­cause that could cause the frame’s nickel coat to crack.”

De­spite the Rick­man frame’s ear­lier in­cum­bent, the T en­gine now sits in the cra­dle as if it was al­ways in­tended to.the oil tank now holds the two-stroke lube.

Pete O’dell ofthe Mo­tor­cy­cle­works (and of this very par­ish) re­built the Suzuki mo­tor, while fel­lowt500 fancier­sti­tan Per­for­mance crafted the stacked stain­less steel span­nies.

The wheels are a work of art in them­selves; the front a tls hub, now con­verted to run a float­ing disc – made by All Bike En­gi­neer­ing to Ralph’s di­men­sions – gripped by anap caliper and­ven­hill line. Cen­tral wheel com­po­nents laced them up; the bil­let rear hub is tri­umpht 140 spec.

Find­ing an ally tank – Ralph’s pre­ferred choice – proved prob­lem­atic (he looked for one for three years), so he’s in­stead opted for a fi­bre­glass item that no doubt con­trib­utes to the bike’s feath­erlight feel.

Much work and mod­i­fi­ca­tion went into the lithe seat unit and neat head­lamp cowl to get the over­all look ‘just so’. the tiny screen started life as a vi­sor from a Bell hel­met. Ralph’s Rick­man sim­ply drips with in­ge­nious en­gi­neer­ing fixes, ex­quis­ite de­tails and out­stand­ing fin­ish. “It’s not turned out bad, has it?” he says, tak­ing un­der­state­ment to its ab­so­lute limit. Not bad at all.

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