What have a rescued Rickman Triumph, the new Husqvarna Norden 901 and a Japanese hoverbike got in common? Absolutely nothing at all, except they’re in this week’s Speed Read. Enjoy.
Larry Maas’ Rickman Triumph T120 Some fifty years ago, Larry Maas worked at Kosman Specialties, one of the most famous names in motorcycle racing. He laced up about 3,000 wheels for Sandy Kosman in his time, and when not working, watched another employee put together a bike from a Rickman Métisse frame and tank, and Avon seat unit.
The engine had a ’67 bottom end, 800cc barrels, a modified TR6 head, and racing cams. The forks were Ceriani GP35s, with a Fontana 4LS brake. Then the build stopped, the Triumph went up for sale, and Larry tipped off a friend—who bought it.
“Everyone was amazed at how powerful it was,” says Larry. “It had the standard one-gallon Rickman motocross tank and weighed in at only 295 pounds with oil and gas!”
Larry welded up a pair of megaphone pipes for his friend, and added the necessities to make it road legal. And when his friend passed away in 1990, he inherited the bike.
The T120 had been sitting in a garage unused, and stayed like that until around two years ago. So Larry decided restore the bike, “As a street-legal ride but keeping it as period-correct as possible… and with no oil leaks.”
As you can imagine, it was a long and often frustrating process—complicated by Larry suffering from a degenerative nerve disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth. But the result was worth it. “It now idles beautifully, a little rough from the hot cams, but it’s music to my ears!” he says. If you’re into Rickmans or old British iron, the story is long but worth a read.
Paul Smart, 1943-2021 One of the most famous (and likeable) British motorcycle racers passed away on Wednesday, after an accident while riding his bike in the south of England.
In the 1960s, Paul Smart was an extremely successful short circuit specialist in the UK, and a podium finisher at the Isle of Man TT. But he’s best remembered for his exploits across the pond—notably his win at the 1972 Imola 200 on a Ducati 750.
It was a hugely important victory for the Italian marque. At that time, Ducati was known for its small-capacity bikes, and had a low racing profile in the States. But today, anyone with a passing interest in historic racing would recognize the 750 that was piloted by the amiable Brit, with its blue frame and silver metalflake gelcoat.
Ducati celebrated Smart’s win with the stunning Paul Smart 1000 LE road bike in 2006, although the frame replicated the ‘sea foam green’ paint from the 750SS. Smart’s legacy has also inspired several custom builders.
He is survived by his wife Maggie (Barry Sheene’s sister) and two children.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350 by Ironwood The Meteor might be a low budget, no frills commuter bike, but it’s already winning fans. The design team included ex-Triumph people and Harris Performance, so the mini-cruiser performs well—enough to win the ‘Retro Bike Of The Year’ award from the British magazine Motorcycle News.
The Meteor is built down to a price, and sells for a mere £3,749/$4,399. Aesthetic corners have inevitably been cut, so Royal Enfield tapped Arjan van den Boom of Amsterdam’s Ironwood Motorcycles to add a little spice.
The brief was maximum effect for minimum cost, so Arjan had to temper his usual approach and focus on smaller changes. He’s done a remarkably good job though, tidying up the back end with a custom bobber seat, blacking out as much chrome as he could, and building a custom exhaust.
After adding new bars, YSS piggyback shocks and chunky Continental TKC tires, Arjan’s work was done. He handed over the bike to Royal Kustom Works, who finished it off with lashings of black paint and Star Wars-themed striping, complete with pinpricked star constellations.
Adrian Sellers, the head of Royal Enfield’s custom program, says: “This build reinforces how important accessibility is to us as a brand, and how much can be achieved with a little imagination. Full credit to Arjan and the wider Ironwood team.”
If you’re going to the EICMA show in Milan at the end of this month, look out for the Ironwood Custom Meteor 350 on the Royal Enfield stand. [US Meteor product page]
Husqvarna Norden 901 launched The ADV market sure is heating up. The Harley Pan America 1250 has made a refreshing splash, the Aprilia Tuareg 660 looks extremely promising, and a few hours ago Husqvarna revealed the long-teased Norden 901.
The Norden is based on the KTM 890 Adventure platform, with the same excellent 899 cc parallel twin pumping out 105 hp. The styling is clean and retro-futuristic; thankfully there’s no clumsy ‘beak.’
The spec list is impressive too. Claimed dry weight is a very reasonable 204 kilos (450 pounds), which is a substantial 50 kilos (or so) less than many of the higher-capacity ADV bikes. You won’t need a crane to pick this one up if you drop it.
Suspension is via KTM’s in-house WP brand, with 220 mm of travel in the 43mm Apex forks. The electronics package includes a 5-inch TFT display, multiple riding modes, switchable ABS, adjustable traction control, KTM’s superb quickshifter and auto blipper, and a slipper clutch.
It looks like the Norden 901 has actually been designed for off-roading and exploration. As well as the obvious F21/R18 wheelset, the projected range is over 400 km when the 19-liter tank is full. The engine also has knock sensors to prevent damage from low-quality fuel.
On paper it looks very promising, we love the aesthetics, and US pricing is sharp at $13,999. It remains to be seen how the Norden performs in the real world. But given that parent company KTM has won more Dakar rallies in the 21st century than any other manufacturer, we suspect Husqvarna is onto a winner. [Norden 901 product page]
A.L.I. Technologies Xturismo hoverbike We’re still getting to grips with the idea of electric motorcycles, so this one is a bit of a stretch. It’s not the first flying motorcycle we’ve seen—Lazareth attempted it a couple of years ago in France—but the Xturismo is going into production.
A.L.I. Technologies is a drone company based in Tokyo, and apparently counts the electronics corporation Mitsubishi as one of its backers. It plans to manufacture 200 hoverbikes by the middle of next year.
The Xturismo is around 12 feet long and weighs 661 pounds, which is about the same as a fueled-up Harley Softail Standard—and less than some of the bigger cruisers out there. With a rider weighing up to 220 pounds, it can fly for 40 minutes and reach a claimed 62 mph.
The Xturismo is available for pre-order right now, but there’s a small catch: the price is around $680,000. In other words, Ferrari Stradale money.
But even the most advanced hybrid supercar won’t transport you from your superyacht moored off Cannes to your favorite hotel on the Croisette. And that’s gotta be worth something, right? [Xturismo]