It was one of those panic situations where all thoughts of how you are meant to do these things go out of the window. I just grabbed the biggest handful of front brake possible.
The forks dived, I pitched forward on the bike and the dog clearly had second thoughts about tangling with the tyre-screeching CCM R30 headed its way. Its legs were a blur of comedy cartoon-style scrabbling for grip as it tried to reverse its course.
The collision was inevitable. The outcome was far from certain and putting aside my concern for the dog’s welfare, the only other thought flashing through my mind, as I continued braking harder and harder, was of how I might be about to damage my 160-mile-old bike.
The front wheel hit the dog. A high-pitched yelp pierced the air. The rear wheel also crossed over the poor animal. An even bigger yelp emitted. I was thrown to the right, my foot dabbing the Tarmac to keep myself upright.
The dog looked remarkably healthy as it jumped up and sprinted off down the road.
As I desperately tried to get the bike balanced again, a very flustered owner appeared from the same small gap in the hedge her dog had dashed through.
" Have you seen my dog? " she managed. " Yes, I’ve just run it over, " was my helpful reply. " And it went that way, " I indicated.
Off she went in hot pursuit and I was left to park up, shakily retrieve my cigarettes from inside my leathers and try to regain some composure.
Legally, if you have an accident involving a dog (no matter who, or what, is to blame) you have to report it within 24 hours. The police record details of when and where the incident was. So I had that to look forward to. A serving officer told MCN it is very rare for any further action to result.
Even so, it was hardly the sort of start I was hoping for on my first proper day on the CCM. Unfortunately it was just for starters. Just 45 minutes later I was on the mobile to a mate asking him to bring me some fuel as I had managed to run out a seriously-tiring push from the nearest petrol station.
Twenty minutes later he arrived on his Blade with a five-litre can of super-unleaded which was more than enough to get me home. I could have done without him laughing quite so much though. You don’t have to be daft to run out of fuel – and get through the tiny bit in reserve – on this bike.
Mine is an early pre-production tank that will take no more than six litres. In real life that equates to around 55 miles between fill-ups and I have to brim it every day to make the 50-odd mile round trip to work and back. The new ones on all production bikes will take a full 10 litres which should be enough for 70 to 80 miles. Still a bit stingy.
CCM is also offering a " commuter tank " which takes a much healthier 13.5litres and should give you a usable 120-130 mile range. It will cost £150 on top of the £5250 list price of the R30, or £300 as an after-sales purchase. After my experience, I’m going for the 13.5 litre tank as soon as possible.
All this doom and gloom might make it sound like I’m not enjoying the bike. But that’s as far from the truth as possible.
I love it for the fun it offers at copper-friendly speeds, the individuality, the brakes, the looks, the handling and for the first time in my life I can wheelie and stoppie a bike with confidence (not quite so copper friendly). Compared to a Rotax-engined version I rode earlier this year the new 644cc Suzuki single-cylinder motor is a peach with far less filling-loosening vibration.
There are little annoyances as well. In this day of e-mail, satellites and cars that will do 12,000 miles before they even need a service, it came as a bit of surprise to find the CCM needs THREE keys to function. One for the ignition – which you can’t get to very easily because the braided brake hose goes right across the key hole. The second key is required for the fuel cap (that might be a result of my tank not being standard) and another for the side-mounted steering lock.
Pockets bulging with keys, I have discovered a new side to riding a bike. While all my mates disappear on the same old main road routes at speeds I can’t even match flat out, I seek smaller, twistier and bumpier back routes which suit the CCM to perfection.
Top rate WP upside-down motocross forks and a fully adjustable WP rear shock combined with sticky and predictable Pirelli Dragon tyres allow the CCM to blast along the narrowest bumpy lanes with indecent haste. Last year I took a Ducati 996 down one of these CCM routes and I regretted it within two miles.
The bumps, the camber changes and the crud spread all over the road meant I was reduced to about 25mph as I desperately scanned the road ahead with my wrists taking a pounding. Same road, same conditions on the CCM and it’s almost flat-out, smothering the bumps with ease.
Add in an awesome single-disc Brembo front brake and enough punch from the 644cc motor to spice up any ride and I realised early on it’s not the bike that needed changing but my riding habits and style.
Motorways are hell. Fast A roads tolerable but those little back roads you never really noticed before are where the good stuff is. And town – riding on a bike has never really been fun there before but now it’s like a Tarmac-surfaced motocross track. Speed-humps – I laugh in their faces. Bad surfaces – don’t even notice. Kerbs? What kerbs? Traffic? Wide bars and a high riding position allow you to zig-zag through.
I already have 700 miles under my belt and the first service is being done as this report is being published. I feel the motor has dropped out of tune a little so that will be checked. Apart from a speedo needle wedged against the bump stop, there have been no other problems.