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Tributes flood in for Derek Rickman at Sammy Miller Museum

September 6, 2021

Tributes were paid to the late Derek Rickman at The Rickman Enthusiasts’ Day at the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, the largest gathering of Rickman motorcycles in the world.

Over 200 Rickman machines with hundreds of people gathered to celebrate one of Britain’s great motorcycle manufacturers.

At midday, Derek’s own world-famous Rickman Métisse bike roared into action before the start of a minute’s silence in the museum courtyard. Once the remembrance service had concluded, 50 bikes were paraded before the spectators, young and old alike.

Derek Rickman, one half of the sibling team that built the famous Rickman motorcycles, died aged 88 in July.

As well as being the builder of road and off-road racers and beautifully handcrafted road bikes under the Rickman banner with brother Don, Derek was a champion motocross racer. He won the Motocross des Nations five times with the British team and the 750cc Coupe d’Europe series in 1966.

Derek and Don Rickman sold their late father’s garage business in Hampshire and used the money to open a motorcycle shop and workshop. They designed their own off-road frame and came up with the idea of containing the oil inside its nickel-plated frame tubes, and idea later copied by BSA/Triumph, who also painted their frames dove grey to emulate the Rickman’s’ nickel plating.

Hollywood star Steve McQueen became one of their customers and at one point the company was Britain’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, flying the flag for British engineering when almost everyone else had given up. They bought out a stock of Royal Enfield Interceptor 2 engines left over from the Clymer Indian project to create the stunning Rickman Interceptors, and created a range of small two-stroke bikes, including a batch of Zundapp 125-powered police bikes.

Their success saw them win a Queen’s Award for Industry in 1974.

Once they retired from riding the brothers moved on from building bikes with British power plants and developed frames for Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki engines in the late 1970s, then made motorcycle accessories and BMX bikes. They branched out into car production with the Rickman Ranger, a stylistic copy of the Suzuki Jeep, the design of which was eventually sold to the Soviet Union. At its height, their factory employed over 130 people and produced almost 20,000 vehicles. Derek and Don were both awarded a place in the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation’s Hall of fame in 2007.

Speaking to their local newspaper, the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times, Derek’s wife, Eileen, and family said: “We will miss Derek very much for his guiding influence, his dry sense of humour and the mantra by which he lived: ‘If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well’.”

Don Rickman thanked everyone for making it a memorable day at the Sammy Miller Museum. Don has requested the Sammy Miller Museum Trust make this an annual event for the Rickman Enthusiasts.

The Rickman family has put Derek and Don’s world-famous winning bikes on loan to the Sammy Miller Museum Trust and these are now on display in the museum including No.29, the Rickman Métisse 1966 British GP Farleigh Castle Winner.

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