The CCM is like one of those deep sea fish that’s all head and teeth – only in this case it’s nearly all engine. The enormous, 20 year-old, aircooled Rotax 600 dominates the R30 from either side. Add the bark from the noisy Remus can (an option at £130), a titchy tank and whippet-skinny dimensions and you start to suspect things are about to get very silly.
The trouble is, they don’t.
The first worry is the seat, which is 30-miles-max hard. The next is a stiff gear change, heavy throttle and barely-functioning rear brake. But the big shock is the engine performance: a short rev range, the worst vibration of the bunch and disappointing top end power which isn’t disguised even by ultra-short gearing. To give you some idea, at the 7000rpm redline our testbike did an indicated 84mph – that’s less than half throttle downhill. Oh dear. CCM’s Danny Wise reckons the engine is safe to 8000, and in the end MCN tester Dave Hill revved the bike onto 8500rpm and an indicated 115 down a long hill, but such behaviour is not good. Whenever the R30 stopped (reserve comes in just 50 miles) there was a smell of burning synthetic oil.
Happily, Rotax motors are famously tuneable. " The 600 gives around 38-40 at the rear wheel, " says Mick Keown of Sportax in Plymouth (01822 841063), tuner of club championship-winning Rotaxes since the 80s. " Sort the compression, change the cam and end can, and you’ll see 50bhp for around £400. Owners can’t believe the difference. " If you want more, the same work plus some porting takes the price to around £600 and, according to Keown, 58-62bhp at the rear wheel, still with a better spread of power than stock.
Despite the synthetic aroma, Keown is adamant that Castrol GTX is the right oil for the roller-bearing engine. " It’s basically a car engine. Modern multi cylinder engines run largely plain bearings, and need the film strength of synthetic; the Rotax needs the higher viscosity of a mineral oil to prevent oil being flung out of the rollers. "
Back on the road, the testbike (which, to be fair, is a much-thrashed pre-production example) sometimes has trouble using all the power it’s got. The WP forks are choppy to the point of spoiling turn-in and, while they’re fully adjustable, you expect better out of the crate for five-and-a-half grand. The rear shock, in old-tech cantilever style (and also fully adjustable) does away with the need for a linkage, and performs adequately.
Rather less adequate are the wheels (the same heavy, cast Grimecas fitted to the MuZ Skorpion – last year’s R30 had high quality Talon spoked hubs) and Dunlop Rideen tyres. These look like the kind of thing you see on Japanese import 400s and have so little wet grip Kev Smith could spin them sideways into top gear. When the whole point of a supermoto is supple, high quality suspension, accurate brake control and daft lean angles, the R30’s setup is not good enough. Even the £1400 cheaper MuZ could leave it behind on a twisty road.
The CCM does have a few gems. The white-faced clocks are like gas bottle dials, and gorgeous, while the Brembo front brake has a feel, power and precision that beats even the Duke. The green anodised Magura bars bars can fit into one of two fork clamp positions on the top yoke (depending on the length of your arms). We loved the tiny indicators, and the resin R30 logos on the bodywork attract admiration. Options include a rear hugger, 13.6 litre tank (£300) and 640cc kit (£455). Aside from that, CCM are known for their cheap parts prices.
Other details need to be better. The Zadi ignition key and steering lock have no place on scooter, let alone a five grand motorbike. You can still see the original tubing and plate that have gone into the sidestand, exhaust heat guard, brake pedal and brake line guides. Worst of all are the hideously exposed coil, regulator/rectifier, horn and loom. One month’s road salt would punish the electrics.
The CCM bills itself as a limited-production connoisseur’s bike. It’s British, and everyone wants it to do well. But the truth is, after four years it’s not as well-developed as a modern bike needs to be. Engine, wheels, tyres and finish need serious attention if it’s to compete with the best. In this test it was left gasping.