Ralph Avis RICKMAN SUZUKI T500
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
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.