Classic CCM thumper revived

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With four-strokes once again dominating world motocross it’s easily forgotten that 40 years ago the last ‘four-stroke MX era’ was coming to an end prior to decades of dominance by two-strokes such as Honda’s CR500 and Yamaha’s YZ – and that a little-known British bike was the thumper’s last stand.

By the early ‘70s the days of the big four strokes seemed numbered. However someone forgot to tell Alan Clews of CCM, whose booming four-stroke, ridden by star works rider Bob Wright became hugely popular with the fans, among them young West Countryman Ian Grout.

Four decades on Grout is now the proud owner of one of these very rare ex-Wright works machines, believed to be the only 1973 example to survive. And although a rare – possibly unique – machine, it is a regular sight – and sound – at pre ’65 and classic motocross events. In 2010 ‘Grouty’ (as he is known) rode it to overall victory in the season long ‘Circa ‘74’ national race series and he’s currently preparing the big single for the new season.

“Back in the early ‘70s CCM were keen to break into the US so in June ’73, with some sponsorship from British Caledonian, a pair of race bikes plus Bob Wright and his mechanic Dave Jackson were flown to compete in that years important Trans-Am series,” Grout told MCN.

“The races attracted some of the world’s best like Gerrit Wolsink and Roger De Coster but Wright was regularly in the top ten. Over a three month period they covered around 12,000 miles to different events and at the end of the tour the bike was sold and over the next twenty years it went through several guises before it was bought by a Canadian - Costa Zarifi – who restored it.”

Meantimes, after beginning classic racing, Grout set about buying a CCM “And of course it had to be a ‘73 model.” Eventually the ex-Wright machine was located in Canada and after protracted negotiations turned up at its new West Country home.

Even today the CCM is clearly a thoroughbred and thanks to the use of lightweight magnesium on side cases and the brake plates it’s also extremely trim. Ready to race it weighs in at 220lbs a veritable sylph compared to older BSAs and Matchlesses.

At its heart is an uprated BSA B50 engine, which fits neatly into the beautifully crafted oil carrying, chrome plated frame. In the five seasons Grout’s owned it the big CCM has been extremely reliable but in an effort to keep ahead of the opposition the engine has been opened up to 520cc and it now sports one of Mark Cooks (CCM Britain LTD) three speed gearboxes.

Ian is full of praise for the service he receives from Cook – he can supply virtually every spare for any of the BSA based bikes made between 1972 and 1981 – and the pair have worked closely together on the ‘new’ works replica which is taking shape in the Grout workshop.

“I decided it would be great to make a clone of my ‘73 works bike so Mark has made me a one off bespoke replica of the frame – it’s slightly different to the production ones – and keeping as close to the original specification as possible I’ve built it into a complete rolling chassis.

"Mark is presently building me a new three speed 520cc engine which when completed will feature one of his lightweight crankshafts and special billet clutch; he races one of these himself and I can vouch it goes like stink!”

If all goes to plan Ian plans to give the replica its first race outing at the Dartmouth classic meeting at Harberton on May 6th. It took Ian over 30 years to fulfil his boyhood dreams but judging by the smile on his face I think it’s fair to say it was worth the wait.

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Andy Westlake

By Andy Westlake