DEREK Rickman, an iconic figure in British motorcycling who founded the world-famous MÃ©tis society in New Milton, has died at the age of 88.
Passionate about cycling, the Walkford resident was a motocross champion who developed pioneering machines under the Rickman MÃ©tisse banner with his brother Don.
Their bikes were so coveted that legendary Hollywood actor Steve McQueen became one of their clients.
The Rickmans’ love of bikes came from their father, a speedway racer in the 1930s who founded the Ashley Garage. He bought a BSA 350cc bike for offroad racing but died before he could use it and the brothers persuaded their mother to keep it.
As adults they started competing in motocross, sold the garage, and in 1960 used the proceeds to build a motorcycle shop and workshop in Gore Road and created Metisse – French for women. bastard.
Frustrated with the level of motocross machines, Don and Derek began to design their own frame, developing 30 to 40 pounds lighter than existing BSA bikes.
They used a high quality Reynolds tube for the frame and put oil in it, meaning no oil tank was needed. This and other improvements helped them make a splash on the motocross scene in the early 1960s, with Derek winning the Nations Motorcross five times with the British team and the 750cc European Cup series in 1966.
Soon they embarked on the development of touring bikes – selling one to Isle of Man TT legend and multi-world champion Giacomo Agostini.
In the mid-60s, movie star Steve McQueen was brought to their attention by his stuntman Bud Edkins, who made the famous bike cable jump in the movie The Great Escape and was Rickman’s importer in California.
In an interview with the A&T, Derek later revealed how the star bought a gray battleship MÃ©tis after going to the New Forest and testing the bike on the streets of New Milton.
Derek and Don moved Metisse to a larger factory in Stem Lane in 1969 after being approached by the US section of the BSA Company to manufacture 4,000 250cc and 125cc bikes per year.
After they both retired from riding the Rickmans, they developed frames for Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki engines, motorcycle accessories and BMX bikes and branched out with a small Range Rover style vehicle. four-wheel drive – the Rickman Ranger – and a MÃ©tis sports car.
Their success earned them a Queen’s Award for Industry in 1974.
After the British motorcycle industry collapsed in the 1970s, the Rickmans were the sole manufacturer of motorcycles in England. At its peak, their factory employed around 130 people and produced more than 16,000 units.
In 1984, they passed the off-road business to Rickman enthusiasts Adrian Moss and Pat French. More recently it was sold to Gerry Lisi and still trades as MÃ©tisse in Oxfordshire today.
Derek and Don both received a place in the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame in 2007 and Metisse’s 50th birthday was honored with a special show at the Goodwood Revival.
His wife, Eileen, and his family said, “Derek will be sorely missed for his guiding influence, his dry sense of humor and the mantra he lived by: ‘If a job is worth doing, he worth doing well. “
Her funeral will be on July 26 at 12:30 p.m. at Hinton Park Woodland Cemetery.