British Bike Brand CCM Celebrates 50 Years of Slinging Sand

Today in the US, if you mention British bikes, Triumph is the first name that comes to mind. But it’s just one of several motorcycle brands that’ve sprung from the UK. While many have fallen into history’s pages, some, like BSA, have returned. It’s a similar story with another British marque, Clews Competition Motorcycles, aka CCM.

Clews’ motorcycles were made for off-road competitions

A black-and-chrome 1974 CCM 605 John Banks Replica motocross motorcycle on its stand in a warehouse
1974 CCM 605 John Banks Replica motorcycle | Mecum

CCM’s story starts with motocross. The company, then called ‘Clews Competition Motorcycles’ was founded in 1971 by Alan Clews, a British motocross racer, Cycle World explains. Its first products were built from leftover BSA components. However, by 1972, CCM had started designing and building its own motorcycles, Motorcycle Classics reports.

CCM didn’t just make motorcycles for off-roading, Bonhams reports. The company’s bikes were also used in Sidecar Trials events and other on-road races. However, it was in motocross and general off-roading that CCM really made its mark. Admittedly, the company’s bikes were rather pricey, costing roughly double what the equivalent European manufacturers charged, Bike-urious reports. However, they had the specs to back it up.

A yellow-white-and-chrome 1976 CCM Cross 4-Stroke motorcycle on a blue rear-wheel stand
1976 CCM Cross 4-Stroke motorcycle | Mecum

Take, for example, a 1976 CCM Cross motocross motorcycle. Yes, its 500cc single-cylinder engine stems from a BSA design. However, the bike has magnesium engine side covers, magnesium triple-clamp fork sliders, and magnesium wheel hubs and brake plates, Mecum reports. Combined with the nickel-plated chromoly-steel frame, and the Cross weighed just 250 pounds dry. That’s lighter than some of its two-stroke contemporaries—only the CCM Cross is a four-stroke motorcycle.

Thanks to motorcycle designs like that, CCM enjoyed some significant racing success in the ‘70s. CCM rider John Banks placed in the Top 5 of the 500cc World Championships five years in a row, Motocross Action Magazine reports. A CCM also bore Donnie Schmidt to his last 4-Stroke Championship win in 1995.

After its ‘70s success, CCM started developing motorcycles for the British Army. These bikes used Austrian-built Rotax engines and were eventually licensed to Harley-Davidson, which modified them for NATO use. And CCM continued to use Rotax engines in its Trials bikes, winning two British Championships in the ‘80s, Bonhams reports.

50 years later, CCM has a line of Spitfires, including one with a movie spot

Although the Clews family currently owns and operates CCM, it briefly sold the company to the Robson family in the late ‘90s. CCM subsequently went through a rough patch in the early 2000s before the Clews family reacquired it. And today, CCM is “a player in the specialized motorcycle scene,” RideApart reports, focusing on limited runs of hand-built bikes. In a way, it’s almost like the British equivalent of Arch Motorcycles in the US.

A silver CCM Spitfire Bobber
CCM Spitfire Bobber | CCM

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Currently, CCM offers nine different models as part of its Spitfire series. Originally, there was just the CCM Spitfire, which features Brembo brakes and fully-adjustable WP suspension, Silodrome reports. And it has a Husqvarna-sourced 62-hp 601cc single-cylinder engine, MCN reports. While it rides a bit firm, the Spitfire only weighs 306 pounds fully-fueled. As a result, it’s a nimble and fun bike to ride, MCN reports. And it was so popular, CCM sold all of the 100 Spitfires within a week, RideApart reports.

Because of the Spitfire’s success, CCM used it as a platform to make its current lineup. You can now get the Spitfire as a bobber, a café-racer-style bike, and a flat-tracker. CCM also offers bikes designed like the race motorcycles ridden by Carl ‘Foggy’ Fogarty, VisorDown reports. And they all feature that Husqvarna single-cylinder engine as a stressed member in their TIG-welded steel trellis frames.

British rider Dougie Lampkin with a black-and-red CCM Spitfire Blackout on a road
Dougie Lampkin with a CCM Spitfire Blackout | CCM

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Plus, there’s also the CCM Spitfire Blackout, a scrambler-style motorcycle that features in the upcoming Black Widow Marvel movie, RideApart reports. And reportedly, the standard bike performed so well, there wasn’t any need to replace it in the chase sequences with modified dirt bike look-a-likes, Bennetts reports.

Can you get any CCM motorcycles in the USA?

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Given their relatively modest powerplants, CCM’s bikes aren’t necessarily cheap. The Spitfire Blackout is the cheapest model, with a starting price of $12,395. The other non-Foggy CCM Spitfires start at about $13,775.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, CCM doesn’t sell its motorcycles in the US. It briefly did in the ‘80s under the Can-Am name, though. And it reportedly tried to get its previous adventure bike US-certified, though that fell through, RideApart reports. However, CCM is reportedly trying to get its lineup Euro5 compliant, Cycle World reports. If that happens, that should open the doors to international sales, including in the US.

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Until then, you could always import a CCM bike that’s at least 25 years old. Although the racing models command a premium, it’s possible to find well-maintained examples for well under $10k, Hagerty reports.  

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