In the 60s, a Rickman Metisse Triumph was the bike to own if you wanted to go scrambling. But technology has moved on, and modern off-road racing motorcycles are faster, lighter and sharper than the legendary Metisse. That said, they’re also a lot less pretty.
Like many other race bikes of the era, the Metisse has become iconic—not only for its proprietary frame and its prowess in the dirt, but also for its unmistakable bodywork. Which is why Thomas Vinçon, the founder of Thomis Motorcycles in Paris, used it as the inspiration for this custom Triumph Bonneville T120 scrambler.
Thomas’ T120 isn’t meant to be a faithful recreation of the Metisse, nor a competition off-roader. Instead, it’s a homage to the original aesthetic; a way to give the contemporary Bonnie extra retro style. “This is my favorite vintage purist bike, and I wanted to do a modern reinterpretation of it,” he tells us.
The Triumph Bonneville T120 is about as sensible a donor bike as you’ll get. It’s a good performer (and a handsome machine) out the box, that gets better and better as you mod it. Thomas designed the build as a daily runner that’ll spend most of its time on public roads, so everything you see here is bolted to the OEM chassis, with little more than a judicious subframe tweak.
The centerpiece of the build is the new aluminum bodywork. Hand-formed by an external fabricator, the tank and one-piece tail section mimic the vibe of the Metisse, but with their proportions tailored to the chunkier Bonneville T120. Those two parts alone took 140 hours of work to fabricate.
The beautifully upholstered solo seat might look like a bit of an afterthought, but it’s a dead ringer for those found on older Metisse builds. Also in the mix are a number board with a small headlight poking out of it, and a braced front fender.
The rest of the Bonneville is dressed in premium parts from a couple of well-know French Triumph specialists. FCR Original supplied the sump guard, while BAAK Motocyclettes sent over a stubby underslung exhaust system. The foot controls use a mix of SW Motech and FCR bits.
A set of Biltwell Inc. Moto handlebars dominate the cockpit, their crossbar design reinforcing the vintage MX look. The levers and switches are from BAAK, as is the side-mounted license plate bracket at the opposite end of the bike. The speedo and LED turn signals are Motogadget items, with the rear LEDs doubling up as taillights.
Thomas opted to keep the Bonneville T120’s stock suspension, brakes and 19F/17R wheels, but wrapped the latter in Continental TKC80 rubber. The engine is fully original, and the air box has gone unmolested. So this Bonnie should run as well, and as reliably, as it did before.
“When I created this bike in Photoshop, the idea was to draw my perfect bike,” says Thomas. We reckon he’s succeeded. We’re big fans of Triumph’s modern classics, so the idea of drenching one in vintage off-road racing style appeals to us, even if it’ll spend most of its time on asphalt.
Resplendent in British racing green with subtle gold details, this particular T120 is also just one in a series of 10 that Thomas plans to build. Each bike will be painted a different color, which should set you at ease if you’re thinking of ordering one, but worried that it might be a bit samey.
If, however, you like to get your hands dirty yourself, you’re out of luck. Even though these parts are plug-and-play, Thomas doesn’t plan to offer them as a kit. So they only way to get your hands on one of these is to commission a build directly from him.
You’d better hurry up though—this one’s already sold.
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