Metisse recreates Steve McQueen Desert Racer

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England’s Metisse Motorcycles is building a replica of the Desert Racer it made for Steve McQueen in 1966. Housing a reconditioned Triumph TR6 engine in a custom, oil-bearing steel cradle frame, the bike is specced the same as McQueen’s personal bike: BSA yokes, battleship grey bodywork, Amal components. It looks like a neat scrambler for casual dirt riding, but its spec, price and heavy-handed use of McQueen’s name leaves us cold.

While we understand that it was necessary to associate the new bike
with its old rider, the constant reassertion of the link complete with
a reproduced autograph on the tank and the use of McQueen’s endorsement
– “This rig is the best handling bike I’ve ever owned” — just makes us
think of the meaningless endorsements of vacuous modern celebrities.

Combine that with the drum brakes front and rear, the £13,000 price,
the limited production run (300 units) and the precise level of
recreation and we’re afraid that what we have here is a bike that’s
going to sit in a collector’s living room, not something that’s going
to be ridden. That’s a shame, because it looks like the Desert Racer
achieves something the similar, but modernized, Triumph Scrambler
doesn’t: performance.

Metisse (Thanks for the tip, David)

  • Dr.Danger

    That is sad. I saw that on the main page and thought it was going to be an exciting bike.

    Overpriced and underperformed, oh well.

  • thomashenny

    paint by numbers

  • Gary Sideburn

    The bike features in this recreation of Bud Ekins’ Great Escape jump carried out by Manx trials riders Steve Colley. He even does it without a lid.

    And I personally think you’ve got all your priorities in a twist. £13,000 is nothing for a hand-built, tuned ancient twin, in a limited edition chassis. Especially as the motors have to be throughly built. That’s a £5000 motor nowadays. Metisse don’t set those market prices. Whether you personally like it or not is another matter, but the value isn’t far off.

    • Wes

      That’s a very cool video and I’m not saying the price is too much, just too much to take off road. Especially with no brakes.

      Would you ride a bike that was billed as Steve McQueen’s and even had his name on the gas tank, or would you find that tastless?

  • Mike – Small Sun

    This is a collectors bike, and is exactly what Matisse should be doing right now. They are not there to compete with current production at all, and I think the price ain’t bad, considering they’ll be worth twice that in 10 years, rather than 50%, like the blades of today. And underperformed ? compared to what?
    A work of metal art – i’ll have 2.

  • terry

    I bought a Rickman Metisse 750 Interceptor (Royal Enfield) new back in 1973. It leaked so badly and was a bugger to start.
    But it sounded biblical and handled like nothing else. Of the countless bikes I have owned it’s the one I remember most vividly. It was superb.

    Thirteen grand for a piece of nostalgic artwork from the masters? Who cares if there is some tenuous connection to his most Steveness?
    To judge this as somehow questionable value because it has a ‘celebrity’ connection is to be far too easily swayed and qualifies for lifetime membership to the awkward squad.