When Honda came out with its CB750 in 1969, it brought new levels of sophistication to the street. But while the 750’s four-cylinder power and disc brakes were big advances, the bike’s frame, flimsy by today’s standards, was still a limiting factor.
Derek and Don Rickman had a solution.
The Rickman brothers started out as motocross racers in the 1940s, improving their British-built racebikes by building lighter, stiffer frames. By the 1970s, the Rickmans had expanded to produce frames for a variety of dirt, street and racing motorcycles, including Honda’s hot new 750.
The buyer of a Rickman CR750 chassis got a frame made of exotic manganese molybdenum steel tubing, a stiff swingarm with a proprietary chain adjustment system, cafe racer-style fiberglass bodywork, clip-ons, rearsets, a replacement front fork, and upgraded brakes and wheels. A CB750 engine, electrics and controls slotted right in.
With all that going for it, a Rickman CR kit wasn’t cheap. It cost about the same as a complete CB750. That, plus their limited nature, made a CR750 one of the most lustworthy machines of the early ’70s.
“I grew up in 1970s Japanese motorcycle shops,’’ said Robert Simpson, owner of the CR750 pictured above. “We knew about things like this, but it was unobtainium for a guy like me.’’
Simpson bought the bike in wrecked condition and had to track down several pieces of bodywork to finish his restoration. But his efforts paid off.
In October, when Derek and Don Rickman visited the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio, for their induction into the Hall of Fame, they awarded a first-place trophy to Simpson’s CR750, which was competing in a class for Rickman-framed specials in the Concours d’Elegance.
Afterward, Simpson generously agreed to put the bike on display in the Museum for a year in honor of the Rickmans.