Rickman Interceptor

Floyd Clymer's death impacted more than just his plans to promote Munch Mammut in the USA, it also put the brakes on his Indian Enfield enterprise. Switching from the Indian-badged Velocette single to Royal Enfield's revamped Series II Interceptor engine, RE's demise added to the dilemma, stranding upwards to 200 bare engines on a UK loading dock bound for America. Enter Rickman, who had gained early experience mating the RE engine into a modified version of its Metisse' frame for racing.      

Now remembered as a standout for early 1970s engineering and performance, the brothers Don and Derek Rickman are the men behind the Interceptor. Setting up shop in the late 1950s building off-road machines they soon developed and constructed their own high-quality frames, eventually expanding towards road racing machines and finally, street bikes. In 1970 Rickman -who up until this time was not able to source a sufficient supply of any engine to base a production run on- was commissioned by Royal Enfield's US export agency to build a bike around this surplus of bare, spare engines.

Measuring 736cc, the Royal Enfield Series B Interceptor was the final development of the long-lived pushrod parallel twin, with roots extending back to the 650cc Meteor and Constellation of the 1950s.  Released in 1969 it differed from the norm with wet-sump lubrication and featured modifications to the  cam profile and ignition system. A fine, flexible and powerful unit, some rate the Series II Interceptor ahead of version built by Norton and Triumph. Peak power figures fall somewhere just short of 60-bhp.  

Beautifully crafted, that handsome RE parallel twin is surrounded and supported by lengths of nickel-plated, cut-and-welded Reynolds 531 steel tubing. Later developing its own forks, the first Interceptor featured large, 41mm Ceriani forks. Later, Metal Profiles Limited developed a new tele-fork with a large, shielded inner hub to partially conceal a single Lockheed front disc. Borrani shouldered alloy rims were used, along with a  single rear disc brake and a conventional twin-shock swingarm. Chain adjust was via concentric discs at the swingarm pivot. Albion supplied the four-speed gearbox.

Usually in orange but some in red, the fuel tank and seat unit are molded in fiberglass. A consession to US riders saw the fitment of a high and wide 'Western' handlebar and forward-set footrests clamped to the exhaust pipes. High quality brightwork surrounds the clocks and controls. The cost in 1970 was $2100 ($2250 in Canada) which included a spare Royal Enfield 750 “B” engine complete with carbs.

Those individual components earned the Rickman Interceptor top marks in 1971 for handling, ease of speed, stability and braking. Topped only in outright speed by the Egli-Vincent or the aforementioned Munch. Some 100-lb lighter than the standard RE Interceptor, the lightweight Rickman was the uncontested king for twisty roadwork, besting the production norm by several years. Production was short-lived, but Rickman thrived for over a decade after, building excellent kit frames for the Honda 750 Four and Kawasaki 900 Z1. Its place in history secure, the Rickman Interceptor is a splendid example of balanced super bike performance exhibited at a time when balance was rare. A solid classic. Nolan Woodbury

Rickman Interceptor
Engine: Air-cooled, four stroke 736cc twin
Power: 56 hp @ 6750 rpm
Transmission/drive: Four-speed w/chain
Front suspension: 41mm tele
Rear suspension: Dual shocks
F/R brakes: 1x1 Lockheed disc
Dry-weight: 331-lb