HowStuffWorks.com gives this succinct history of the GB500;
"The 1989 Honda GB500 Tourist Trophy motorcycle was named for the famed Tourist Trophy race held on England's Isle of Man.
Honda evoked the look of great 1960s British race bikes with its 1989 GB500 Tourist Trophy, but the strategy was less than a success.
With the 1989 Honda GB500 Tourist Trophy motorcycle, Honda sought to bring back the flavor of the great British twins that were by the late 1980s resigned to history.
As a result, styling of the 1989 Honda GB500 Tourist Trophy motorcycle closely followed that of racing bikes from the racing glory years of Englands' Norton and Triumph.
Shunning the fairings and 16-inch front wheels of contemporary Japanese sportbikes, the 1989 Honda GB500 Tourist Trophy motorcycle looked very much the part of a 1960 British racer.
Standard-size spoke wheels, fork gaitors, clip-on handlebars, blocky fuel tank, and single seat with tail fairing were all part of the game.
Even the 500-cc thumper with two-into-one header would strike a chord with fans of British machines. The front disc brake, however, was a nod to modern technology.
Despite Honda's best efforts and intentions, sales of the 1989 Honda GB500 Tourist Trophy motorcycle never took off in the United States, and the GB500's life span was short."
Too bad. Because the bike was underpowered (@ 45HP)it didn't suit North American tastes. Vast open spaces, millions of miles of roads, and a cafe style just didn't mix. But it's got a small cult following now with good examples going for a handsome buck. Or should I say Euro?
The stark background really sets off this Honda CB550 cafe racers' clean, purposeful look. Aftermarket clocks, seat/tailpiece, pipe, fork brace and other touches make for a classic Honda cafe conversion.
What a ball-buster this Honda CB72 cafe racer must be anywhere but on the track! That tank/tailpiece combo evokes an era of motorcycling long gone but with happy memories for those who experienced it first-hand.
Phillip Sanford created this vivid Honda Goldwing GL1200 cafe racer.
And It's quite an eyefull! Sanford has done so much it's hard to know where to start. Well, first I guess, it has to be the paint and colour scheme. Red-rust-brown on yellow might shock the eyeball at first but the more I get used to it, the more I like it! Then there's the plush two-tone seat that looks like a stock Honda Goldwing seat re-covered, and the big chrome rack on back.
Clearly this is a bike that's ridden and not posed. Nice touches like the SuperTrapp pipe, big cafe fairing that would be a full fairing on a smaller machine, bar-end mirrors, painted-out fork lowers, final drive and engine guards, and many more personal touches make this Goldwing cafe racer a unique creation indeed.
Bimota is a legendary specialty builder that dabbled in full but limited production hybrids over the years. Co-operating with various manufacturers to create some remarkable high performance bikes, Bimota has contributed to the vast pantheon of bikes backed by the big factories, and sometimes going out on their own to satisfy a hunger for extreme versions of stock production units.
This 750 Honda doesn't have much "stock" left. Typical of Bimota's quest for perfection!
When Phil Read won the Isle of Man's inaugural Formula 1 TT on a works Honda CB750 in 1977 Honda decided to celebrate the victory with limited edition of the bike based on the Honda CB750 F2 using the standard SOHC in-line four cylinder engine.
Colin Seeley was commissioned to build 150 of these bikes not to be confused with the Seeley-Honda, which used a Seeley frame, the Phil Read Replica relied on special bodywork finished in 'Honda Britain' livery to set it apart from the standard production model, ironically, the year it was released Phil Read was beaten by the returning Mike Hailwood on a Ducati.
It is believed, at present that there are only approximately 35 of the these bikes still existing.
This fine bike appears to be an original example as the chassis number falls into the range of the bikes built by Seeley. It has all of the little details, such as the original ignition switches mounted in the fairing and the original ignition switch blanked off. This machine starts and runs perfectly, all the gears work well and it rides very well.
The frame has been powder coated and the exhaust is a perfect replica in stainless steel, which even mimics the original exhaust note. It has only 22,000 miles, which is believed to be genuine. The 750 Honda was arguably the first of the new range of superbikes when it was announced in 1969, and even the rival, the earlier announced
Triumph Trident, had one less cylinder than the Japanese bike's four. Steadily, the Honda was developed from its initial K guise until in 1978 it was available in K7 form. During that time, what was the incredible performance of the early bike had dissolved, as the power unit was modified to suit pollution regulations. In a bid to resurrect the performance to meet the evergrowing competition, a Super Sport F1 version was announced, which featured sportier looks, if not a lot else. The F2 was an altogether different proposition, however, with a completely revised engine which was hoped to keep customers happy until Honda's sixteen-valve twin-cam range was ready.
The F2's engine is a 736CC single-overhead-camshaft four which, with larger inlet and exhaust valves than the F1, produces 6bhp more at 73bhp at 9ooorpm; torque peaks at 461b ft at 75oorpm. Although not as sophisticated as other Japanese fours, the Honda unit is nevertheless powerful and very smooth and able to give the bike a top speed of just over I2omph. Cosmetically, the F2 is far removed from its predecessors and its looks bear more than a hint of the famous Honda Formula One racers. The matt-black engine has an air of quality about it as do the steel Comstar wheels. The original Honda 750 was the first mass-produced bike to be fitted with a disc brake as standard, and since that time every manufacturer has adopted them. This sporting Honda has three: twin front and single rear, with floating calipers and slotted brake pads.
Handling has never been the 750's best point, but-the F2 is an improvement over the rest with its revised suspension. The Japanese tyres are not as safe as European covers, however, on this particular bike.
The standard of finish on Hondas is high, and the F2 is no exception, with the chrome on the four-into-one exhaust, which finishes at the tail of the bike with a width of no less than five inches, standing out in particular. Night time riding on the F2 should be easy with a powerful quartz halogen headlamp cutting a path. More like the endurance racers is a limited edition F2 which features a 'Phil Read' twin headlamp endurance style fairing, finished in Honda Great Britain colours. That, until the sixteen-valve series comes along, kept the road racers happy.
Rickman Motorcycles was established by Derek and Don Rickman and manufactured motorcycles from 1960 through to 1975.
Initially the frame designs were for scrambles, and then for road racing. Later, in 1966, road bikes were produced as well. The first street legal bike used a Triumph Bonneville engine. Rickman initially supplied frame kits, as none of the major British motorcycle manufacturers would sell engines to them. The frame kits were built for many engines, including Triumph twins, BSA singles and Matchless. In the mid-1960s, Rickman also produced road-racing frames for AJS 7R singles, and in the 1970s they began selling chassis kits for Japanese bikes like the Honda CB750 and Kawasaki Z1.
The road bikes were the first to use disc brakes both front and rear (a joint project with Lockheed).
Other innovations included the use of large diameter telescopic forks (1-5/8" or 41.2mm) and oil carried in the frame tubes to help dissipate heat and save weight. An eight valve cylinder head conversion (700cc) for Triumph 650cc twins was developed in the late 1960s which considerably increased power output (up to 60 bhp or more depending on state of tune) and showed up some weaknesses in the Triumph crankcases and connecting rods. Chain adjustment was via eccentric discs rather than drawbolts to avoid misalignment.
After the Royal Enfield factory closed, a little over 200 Series II Interceptor engines were stranded at the dock in 1970, originally on their way to Floyd Clymer (of Clymer repair manuals and Enfield "Indians" fame) in the United States, but unfortunately he had just died, and his export agents, Mitchell's of Birmingham, were left to dispose of them. They approached the Rickman brothers for frames, and as the Rickman brothers' main problem had always been engine supply, a limited run of 137 Rickman Interceptors were built.
In about 1971, Rickman began producing complete motorcycles in 3 displacements, 100 cc 125 cc and 250 cc. The 100's had Japanese Hodaka engines, the 125's had German Zundapp engines, while the 250's featured Spanish Montesa powerplants. Many of these little Motocross bikes were produced from 1971 to 1975, most being shipped to America.
In 1974, Rickman was awarded the "Queen's Award to Industry" for their export business, but it was the same year Norton Villiers Triumph collapsed. The Rickman brothers turned their attention to larger Japanese motorcycle engines, and produced Rickman Honda 750s, Rickman Kawasaki Z1/Z900s, Rickman Honda Bol d'Or 10th century, Rickman Kawasaki Z1000s, and Rickman Suzuki GS1000s.
The bikes or frame kits were known for their beautiful fiberglass work and nickel-plated frames and are often referred to as "Metisse" frames, a term used for their own first effort. The Rickmans had a sense of humour. Google translates the word politely as "mongrel".
The company stopped producing complete motorcycles in 1975, continuing to produce accessories. In the 1980s the Rickmans sold their parts to a company called MRD (Model, Replica & Design until then specialising in model aeroplanes). 'MRD Metisse' was born and run by Pat French, a Rickman Metisse enthusiast. Business was good throughout the late 80's but the early 90's saw a levelling off of the business. In 1999 a new enthusiast arrived on the scene and set up a new company (Métisse Motorcycles Ltd) and bought Pat French's business including some later parts and the rights to use the word 'Metisse'.
Throughout this period another Rickman enthusiast, successful scrambler and friend of the Rickman's Adrian Moss was the first to spot that the mark III would be the most popular model over time. Adrian was already building and racing Rickman bikes and spares. He set up the successful British Bike Bonanza in 1981, for pre-65 machines and enthusiasts, which is still going, and growing, to this day. The company name 'Rickman Motorcycles Limited' was also licenced to Adrian, and later passed to him, enabling the production of genuine Rickman Motorcycles to continue as they always had done.
By 1985, before retiring, Rickman Engineering Limited (now also owned by Adrian Moss) diversified into general engineering and into the production of four wheeled vehicles, namely the Rickman Ranger and the Metisse sportscar. Dave Gittins wrote a book in 2001 (now in great demand) called 'The Rickman Story' which documents the complete story. Derek and Don Rickman were inducted into the A.M.A. Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007.
This from Wikipedia, author unknown.
Don & Derek Rickman
Don and Derek Rickman, aka "The Brothers" built their first street frame in 1965 for roadracing. They had a background in offroad racing ("Scrambling" in the UK) where they had a series of 50 (fifty) victories, including the Belgian GP in 1959 and French GP in 1960. In late 1966, the assembled the first street legal version of their Rickman "Metisse" (i.e. "Bastard"). The difference to the roadracing version were a stock Triumph Bonneville engine, a 'somewhat' muffled exhaust and a front and rear light.
All the frames had a classic dual cradle design, built of Reynolds 531 tubes and were brazed to avoid the tensions that arise from the temperatures the welding process. Afterwards, the frames were nickel plated.
The combination of a nickel plated brazed frame was very common among custom frame makers, Seeley, Rau, Egli (except for very late frames, which were welded) and may others made their frames in the very same way. Which is giving many people a hard time now restoring the frames: Nickel plating as opposed to chrome has a warmer shine but the surface is by far not as hard as chrome so that many of the frames that have survived need re-plating. This means to remove the old plating first but this is where the trouble begins: The old plating is usually removed electrolytically in sulphuric acid but that also dissolves the bronce used for brazing so that you will end up with a assortment of loose tubes! A better way is to remove the nickel (and the underlying copper) plating electrolyrically in an cyanidic bath which leaves the frame intact but is so aggressive that the once polished tube surface needs to be polished again. Thanks to the size and structure of a motorcycle frame this is a mostly manual, a tedious and time consuming process.
Well, back to The Bros. The first Street Metisse had inherited one speciality from her Roadracing predecessor which were hydraulic disc brakes which were developed together with Lockheed. Rumor has it that this very Metisse was the first street bike with disc brakes, three years earlier than the famous CB 750/4 which came out in 1969.
The Metisse Street chassis was available for a variety of engines, like Triumph, Norton, BSA, Matchless and Royal Enfield. In 1974, Rickman was awarded the "Queen's Award to Industry" for their export business. But also in 1974, Triumph/BSA died and the export contract into the U.S. was not extended. Which raised major havoc with Rickman, since 90% of their production went to the U.S. (which explains why Rickman is relatively well known there). In the early '70s, Rickman was Englands largest motorcycle manufacturer.