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This BMW R nineT is a homage to Rickman Métisse

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
In the world of vintage desert sleds, the Rickman Triumph Métisse reigns supreme. It was a pretty legit scrambler in its day, and also one of best-looking motorcycles from that era.

For VTR Customs boss Dani Weidmann, though, there’s an even deeper connection. Back in the 80s, 17-year-old Dani took an apprenticeship at a company called Meier & Lutziger—the Swiss importer of Rickman frames and parts. Dani fell in love with the classy design of these throwback sleds.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
When the VTR Customs crew were recently shooting the breeze over coffee—and reminiscing about the past—the idea of building a Métisse replica popped up. And since VTR is the custom arm of the BMW dealer Stucki2Rad, it could be based on the BMW R nineT. Just like that, the ‘Bétisse’ was born.

“Since we knew very well how the ‘Bétisse’ should look,” Dani tells us, “the design was done very quickly. A gas tank, seat and tail combination in the classic Métisse style.”

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
The original Métisse body kits were fiberglass—but VTR prefer working with aluminum. So their head tech and ‘alloy godfather’ Cello Brauchli whipped up a full complement of hand-made body parts.

“I think Cello prayed to God that, one day, we’re gonna have simpler ideas,” quips Dani. “After producing the Spitfire, we still fear he might kill us one day.”

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
Cello nailed the lines; hints of the original Rickman design are unmistakable. But it took some under-the-hood work to get right too. The design called for a straight fly line front to back, but due to strict Swiss regulations, the main frame couldn’t be modded.

So VTR took inspiration from another R nineT custom they’d seen, and built a bolt-on subframe to run the length of the bike.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
It’s beautifully crafted, and also accommodates a custom-built air intake that replaces the stock unit, on the right. Look on the other side, and you’ll spot a matching air box cover. The new arrangement also called for a serious wiring cleanups.

The original airbox is still in play, but the exhaust is completely bespoke. It features custom two-into-one headers, terminating in a modified Akrapovič connector and end can.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
“This is a pure ‘racing only’ solution,” says Dani. (The bike comes with an additional, street legal system from Hattech.)

The team deviated from the source material on the livery a bit. An OG British Racing Green paint job was on the cards, but it felt too on-the-nose. So VTR opted for baby blue, polished alloy, and gold highlights, with replica ‘Bétisse’ logos. Paint shop Freuler over in Benken sorted it out for the guys.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
The frame had to be period correct though, and that meant nickel-plating it. But Swiss laws got in the way again (something along the lines of influencing the frame’s structural integrity).

So VTR nervously switched to a nickel-esque powder coating instead—and breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
One glaringly modern touch still remained: the R nineT’s motor and drivetrain are all black. So the guys took the brand new BMW, and stripped it right down to refinish it.

“The most shitty job,” Dani tells us, “was the sandblasting and glass pearl finishing of the engine. Stefano did this, in order not to stress Cello out even more.”

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
From there on out, it was a case of dressing the Bétisse in the right finishing kit. VTR started with BMW’s own Option 719 billet accessories, including foot controls, valve covers and the motor’s front ‘breastplate.’ They picked the clear alloy finish, but painted the cylinder heads black themselves, with some contrasting lines and lettering.

The cockpit was treated to a set of Renthal MX bars, new grips, and Magura master cylinders. Inspiration for the headlight came straight out of the 60s, with a deliberately “ugly, frog eyes and big plate look.” Out back, a pair of Kellermann tail light LEDs were sunk into tunnels in the rear section.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
Classic dirt bikes didn’t sit as high as their modern counterparts, so VTR debated at length whether they should jack up the R nineT Scrambler’s suspension. In the end, they fitted a new shock and forks from Wilbers, with a 7 cm lift at both ends.

Then they added an 80s hit, with a pair of gold wheels from Kineo. They’re wrapped in Continental TKC80 tires, measuring 120/70 19” in front, and 170/60 17” out back.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
Final touches include a small, hand-made fender up front, and leather upholstery on the seat by VTR’s upholsterer, Yves Knobel.

It didn’t shock us to learn that the Bétisse was sold before it was even finished. “It’s found a home alongside some other VTR Customs, inside a regular client’s garage,” Dani tells us. We just hope it doesn’t stay in the garage too long.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
If you’re hoping to order your own Bétisse, we have some bad news. None of the parts are available in kit or complete form—everything was made specifically for this build.

“One of our client promises,” says Dani, “is that we build single and unique bikes, and that no copies will ever be reproduced by us.”


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A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR