Steve McQueen was well known as a motorcyclist and, as anyone who has seen him in the film ‘On Any Sunday’ will know, a capable dirt bike racer too. What is perhaps less well known was that he had a great deal of personal input into the bikes he rode and raced. One such bike, and allegedly his favorite was a Métisse Mark III Desert Racer imported from the UK in kit form.
The Métisse brand, originally established by the Rickman brothers, Derek and Don who were famous for their road racing frames, is now owned by Gerry Lisi who has gained approval from McQueen’s son Chad to produce a limited edition run of replicas of the bike his father rode.
Just like the original McQueen Desert Racer, the new version uses a nickel plated chromoly frame, which carries the oil for the dry sump motor. The engines being used are rebuilt original Triumph TR6 650cc parallel twins, albeit updated with Boyer electronic ignition. These are matched to four-speed Triumph transmissions that run a one up and three down configuration.
Further period correct parts can be found at the front of the bike where BSA triple trees hold Ceriani 35mm fork legs. Suspension at the rear is via Hagon reproduction Girling shocks. Retaining the retro look goes as far as the use of 7in drum brakes front and rear; Triumph and BSA respectively.
The battle ship gray fiberglass bodywork, which matches the color of McQueen’s original, is manufactured for Matisse by Mitchenall Bros, just as it was when the bikes were first built in the ‘60s. The finishing touch is a facsimile of McQueen’s signature on each bike along side the serial number. The first bike off the production line #000 has already gone to Chad McQueen and orders for the rest of the 300 bikes that will be produced are now being taken.
Link: Metisse Motorcycles