The Métisse Returns With An All-New Engine | Modern Mongrels

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Kyoichi Nakamura

When Italian entrepreneur Gerry Lisi launched Métisse a few years back, he started simple, with a reproduction of the Rickman brothers' most iconic model. Dubbed the McQueen Métisse, this was an exact replica of the mid-’60s Triumph TR6-powered Mark III desert sled that actor Steve McQueen once called his “favorite bike.” This gorgeous reproduction captured lots of attention and put the Métisse name back on the map—110 examples of this $23,000 motorcycle have been delivered to date. But Lisi’s intention has always been to manufacture modern versions powered by an all-new, proprietary engine. Now the time has come for that project to go live with the Métisse Mark 5 Street Scrambler and Café Racer models, officially launched at last fall’s NEC Motorcycle Show in Birmingham, England.

Both bikes are powered by Métisse’s own air/oil-cooled, eight-valve, 1000cc parallel-twin. Designed by ex-Formula 1 engineer Tim Baker and manufactured by Specialised Engine Services, a leading British F1 supplier, this compact engine is rated at 97 bhp and 70 lb.-ft. of torque. Both models share the same nickel-plated, chromoly, double-cradle frame, fitted with a classic-looking Ceriani-style Paioli fork and twin Falcon shocks. Brembo brakes, Avon tires on wire-spoke Alpina alloy rims and other top-of-the-line components befit a bike that is expected to sell for $27,000.

The bikes will be built at Métisse’s 4000 square-foot factory in rural Oxfordshire, England, where Lisi already manufactures an extensive line of classic reproduction parts. Lisi says customers will have a variety of options to choose from, including a power-up kit said to boost output to 120 bhp. “We can get a lot more power out of this engine in fully road-legal trim,” he says. “We’ve tuned one engine to produce 140 bhp with 80 lb.-ft. of torque, just to see what it’ll do.”

Lisi will continue expanding the Métisse lineup, beginning with a long-stroke, liquid-cooled, 1200cc version of the parallel-twin to power a touring model that will be released in 2013. A modernized Desert Rally model will follow, featuring long-travel suspension and a monoshock rear end.

Métisse plans to construct 50 examples each of the Street Scrambler and Café Racer in 2012, with the intention of slowly expanding production to a maximum capacity of 250 bikes per year. “My projections are to make not more than five bikes a week, all hand-built,” Lisi says. “We’re going to take it easy building up production to make sure we get it right, without sacrificing quality.”

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