Pulling the Trigger: Rickman Honda CR750

A motorcycle enthusiast discovers a never completed 1975 Rickman Honda CR750 kit

| January/February 2012

1975 Rickman Honda CR750

Engine: 736cc air-cooled SOHC transverse-mounted inline four, 61mm x 63mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio, 67hp @ 8,000rpm (claimed)
Top Speed: 109mph (period test)
Carburetion: Four 28mm Keihin
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/Wheelbase: Rickman 531 Reynolds manganese-molybdenum dual downtube steel cradle/56.5in (1,435mm)
Suspension: Betor telescopic forks front, twin Girling shocks w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: Single 9.8in (249mm) Lockheed disc front and rear
Tires: Dunlop TT100, 3.50 x 18in front, 4.25 x 18in rear
Weight (dry): 439lb (199.5kg)
Seat height: 31.5in (800mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.2gal. (16ltr)
Price then/now: $1,495 (kit only)/$12,000-$20,000

Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are the unlikely heroes of the hit television series American Pickers. And if you ask me, they just may have the best job in the world. Living the life of nomads, they travel around the country in their Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, knocking on doors and following up on leads of lost treasure. They’re looking for a “honey hole,” a property with plenty of dilapidated outbuildings crammed with remnants of yesteryear — and an owner willing to make a deal.

In their travels, they regularly come across motorcycles and parts. And the pair, motorcyclists themselves, have managed some fascinating negotiations, even purchasing a rare, early 1900s Curtiss V-twin motorcycle engine.

Some folks are lucky enough to have an American Pickers moment of their own. In 2008, Keith Lee of La Crosse, Wis., had his. That summer, Keith heard about a barn in eastern Wisconsin filled with junk — the good, dusty mechanical kind of junk we’d all like to find. A friend of his had already been in the barn and rescued a couple of Puchs, and a trio of Ducatis and a couple of Moto Morinis had been unearthed and already sold. But word was there was still another motorcycle lurking in the barn; a never completed 1975 Rickman Honda CR750 kit. Keith was intrigued.

Getting the scoop

Keith knew enough to know the unfinished Rickman was likely a special machine, but he didn’t know much about the British manufacturer. Before calling the seller about the kit, Keith conducted some research on Rickman Bros. Ltd.

As he discovered, Rickman Bros. was started by brothers Don and Derek Rickman, whose motorcycle roots go back to the late 1950s when the pair was successful in scrambles-type offroad events. Always looking for a competitive edge, the Rickmans began piecing together their own machines using engines, frames and forks from different British bike makers. As early as 1961, they built their own special, the Metisse, with a Rickman Bros. designed and manufactured frame. The name is French, and roughly translates to mongrel, or anything of mixed ancestry.

eric pratt
1/15/2012 2:56:34 PM

WOW-What a great bike and story. Every Honda 750 collectors dream for sure. The only thing I seem to notice unless it was a flipped negative in the photo or something is that the wings on the red K1 side cover jewels should be flipped so that the wing is pointed in the other direction. Congrats Keith on a Great machine.

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