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