STEVE McQUEEN ’66 POPULAR SCIENCE | WHAT I LIKE IN A BIKE –AND WHY

A cool piece on Steve McQueen rating six bikes for Popular Science magazine back in November, 1966–

“First of all, I don’t set myself up as an expert on either setting up machinery for racing, or in the actual sport of racing itself.  But after 25 years of desert riding in Southern California, TT scrambles, Hare and Hound, and a bit of racing in the wet Six Days Trials in East Germany n 1964– I sure hope I picked up a little bit about motorcycles and riding along the way.” –Steve McQueen

At the end of the day, McQueen heavily favors his own hybrid desert-rippin’ beast that he put together with the help of the Ekins brothers–

“I used a Rickman-Metisse frame– a revolutionary piece of equipment that does away with the oil tank. The oil circulates through the tubes of the frame, which keeps it cool…I used a 650cc Triumph engine as the powerplant for this bike.  The drivetrain and gearbox are also Triumph.  It has Ceriani forks with 7 1/2 inches of travel for a real smooth ride, and a BSA crown.  The fiberglass fenders and tank hold the weight down to a notch under 300 pounds.  The rig is the best handling bike I’ve ever owned.  And the power– it’s like supersonic.” –Steve McQueen

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“If you can’t cut it, you gotta back out.”  –Steve McQueen

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RELATED TSY POSTS:

STEVE McQUEEN WAS ALSO A HUGE HUSQVARNA FAN, READ MORE HERE

STEVE McQUEEN’S HYBRID DESERT TRIUMPH, READ MORE HERE HERE-

STEVE McQUEEN, “IF YOU CAN’T CUT IT, YOU GOTTA BACK OUT.” READ MORE HERE

14 thoughts on “STEVE McQUEEN ’66 POPULAR SCIENCE | WHAT I LIKE IN A BIKE –AND WHY

  1. rickman & TRIUMPH

    FLAT trackerS PLUS the tt had DOUBLE disk UP front SO cool. I helped work on a mile MACHINE 4 steve hernandes when HE was battling kenny roberts INDOORS @ cow palace on OSSA , TRIUMPH 650 was 4 the MILE..

    the PAST was so EPIC..

  2. killer post once again JP. do you ride yourself? that came out wrong..are you a current owner/operator of a motorcycle?

  3. Great job! Rode a Bonneville back in the day. When you went past 4500 RPM it was like a big door opened in front of the bike. In an age of one-liter-plus crotch rockets it’s easy to forget that you can go too damn’ fast fairly quickly with 650 cc’s.

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  5. Have got a Triumph Bonneville myself and would not have any other motorcycle than a Triumph (or perhaps the new Norton if I could afford it!). Steve McQueen recognised a great motor when he saw it.

  6. Just for its history value: In summer ’69 I managed to put together the perfect street-racing TT Special (Triumph Bonneville). A ’65. Cams were slam-open, slam-shut, too hot for the street – no air-cleaners, just rear-facing velocity stacks – no battery of course, or ignition key, headlight-switch, or brake-light-switch: just kick it and the magneto would light everything. (Don’t forget to turn on the petcocks.) A thief would have wasted hours looking for something to hot-wire. Only switch was the kill-button. Downshift and tail-light brightens with increased revs – headlight too of course: a “Milwaukee brake-light” I calls it. Was able to find shorty mufflers to fit the fat TT-Special pipes – knocked the baffles out of them. They would sneak past a cop at idle and act like straight-pipes when asked. No one ever explained why the shorties increased torque radically, but they did. Painted Rust-o-leum black and red, in stock configuration, instead of blue and silver – hot-shots on Mach-3s mistook it for “an old Triumph” and discovered their extreme mistake too late. Never lost a street drag-race to anything. Could casually stay next to front wheel of torque-twisting, howling custom GTOs, Shelby 350s, etc, slowly winding to red-line in first, then carefully select 2nd, engage clutch, snap throttle open and instantly “Color me gone.” Hee hee. Those were the days – everyone was racing. What a miracle it would be to see such a bike today. (I currently ride a Monster and love it.)

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