$2,895 is cheap. After all, CCM. could have demanded all the money you have including a second mortgage on your home and three years of indentured servitude from youy oldest child. If you’re of the kind, once you’ve tried a CCM these consessions will seem minor.
Hands down, the 500 CCM is the finest 4-stroke dirt machine ever produced. Yes, even better than a Goldstar. If you’ve been interested enough in four-strokes to read this far, then you might just as well believe that it’s the finest dirt bike made. We’re not prepared to argue.
Secretly, most people who have ridden a four-stroke in the dirt desire to do it again even If the thing was evil handling and overweight.
Some subliminal libidinal instinct makes a four-stroke more viscerally satisfying to ride than any ring-ding. There is simply more pleasure to be had from a four-stroke, be it artificial stimulation of hormone production, excitation of the prostate by vibration or a variety of other subversive stimuli.
Whatever the four-stroke single does to the motorcyclist, man and woman alike, it has led bikers to spend, tens of thousands of dollars pursuing performance and tons of ,hundreds of hours in beer-sodden excuse-making and prognostication. No sacrifice is too big for a competitive thumper.
We openly admit susceptibility. You might have read about the multi-thousand dollar Balances, but you should have seen the ones that didn’t work. Bruce still has a Triumph Cub. So anything you read here is from the minds of pure exhaust stroke maniacs. If you want an objective exploration of the performance capabilities of the CCM 500 motocross in comparison to a variety of excellent two-stroke motocrossers, then look elsewhere. We love it because it’s a four-stroke. The fact that at least half the Dirt Rider crew feel that they can go faster on the CCM than any other 500 motocrosser is incidental to our overall impression of the bike. Fact is, it’s a minor miracle that anyone except the first rider ever got a chance. It took a couple of days to pry him loose as it was. Nothing but the finest qualifications:
Our 500CMM test bike was never ad in a drag race. Big Maico’s Dig Huskies, Pardons, whatever. The CCM has as much horsepower as any of them, but puts it to better use On a motocross start line you leave the gate in second, shift to third with a slight hesitation on the throttle and you have arrived at the first corner. Set the front wheel back on the ground and turn.
The Jeff Clews revamped BSA 500 has two powerbands. It pulls with a 500 single’s tenacity from very low rpm and then rises onto the cam’s more desired profile between 3000 and 4000 rpm. The surge occurs in a standard four-stroke fashion: power and acceleration right to the limits of traction. If the power rise could be called explosive, then it would be more on the nature of a nice mellow atomic mushroom cloud.
Most parts of the BSA motor have been redone by Clews. The cylinder casting is entirely different, with alloy barrel, and the head is changed in firming and combustion Configuration, Both right and left side cases are Clews cast magnesium- and the clutch and gearbox have been strengthened and altered to be more suitable for motocross. Extensive gearbox foibles which plagued the B50 MX BSA are absent on the CCM. Our test machine has between 50 and 60 hours of hard running and the transmission is still among the very best. Only a few people complained that the effort required to shift it was too much, Any decrease In potent pressure might well result in the trans popping out of gear. so it is best left as is. As is means that the clutch is completely optional, but you must deliver a positive tug on the lover and keep your foot away from it when you don’t want a shift. The CCM gearbox is the very best application of the components that were available to the manufacturer, Of course, the best part is that you seldom have to shift.
Around Valley Cycle Park’s motocross track, once rhythm was established, the CCM required 11 shifts up and down. The Valley motocross track is the hilliest available to us here in SoCal, the land of T.T. For comparison, a 400 CZ 4-speed with Mikuni Carburetor required 23 shifts to negotiate the track at its greatest potential.
Attempting to describe the feeling of accelerating up the long uphill straight at Valley on the CCM is almost a waste of words. The CCM’s acceleration varies from awesome to thrilling depending on the rider’s experience. -None of us have ever ridden a bike that will reach as high a terminal velocity on that bumpy uphill straight. Two-thirds of It goes by in third and the last and steepest portion is taken in fourth. Over each of the several foot-deep whoops the engine gains a few rpm as the rear wheel leaves the ground and then the front end rises as the rear wheel touches down again. You must be standing and well over the bare to keep the bike from looping. Not because the CCM isn’t well balanced but because the four-stroke motor delivers so much torque to the ground through its 7 inches of Koni controlled rear wheel travel. instead of wheelspin there is acceleration. Anytime the throttle is rolled on the CCM accelerates. In corners riding style must even be slightly redefined because of It. Unless the bike is flat tracked through, it is advantageous to apex slightly later than would be normal on most twostrokes. Because the CCM picks up speed so quickly, what was plenty of room for a Bultaco or Maico to exit a turn becomes tight on the CCM.
Braking points become quite critical too. Two things happen and act to confuse a rider accustomed to two-cycle characteristics. First, the CCM will reach a higher speed than most two-strokes in the same amount of distance. There seems to be more difference in speed than in the time taken to get there. Second, you can brake later on the CCM because of the four-stroke compression and a superbly predictable front brake. You end up going faster longer. It takes practice to brake at just the right moment. But to make use of rho CCM’s full advantage it must be done.
A rear brake on a CCM is me’s to cute rider nervousness than to slow the motorcycle. Just roiling the throttle off will skid the tire on slippery surfaces. Best ignore the rear brake and use the excellent front in con, junction with the motor.
No cornering styles are available and functional on the CCM. The front brake and perfectly sprung and damped forks may be used to stuff the front wheel into the ground and pivot. In order to feel most comfortable with the front wheel, sit well onto the gas tank-it’s nearly as comfortable as the seat, which is quite firm. Forget about the rear wheel and look where the front wheel should go. The front tire will home in on the smallest pebble and when the throttle is rolled on the rear will follow in a slight drift. Once the throttle is on the chassis will want to tighten its line and the rider need only make slight body weight corrections to make the bike go wherever desired.
Or, come down the straight with the throttle completely tagged and wait until your eyes get big. At the last minute lean the bike and close the throttle in one motion. As the rear wheel starts to drift around, point the front wheel where you want the bike to go. As you drift farther in, you will want to change the direction so just point toward your new desire, As you begin to be able to see a path to the next straight, roll the throttle on. Again, the bike will want to tighten its line while the rear wheel starts to dig. Anytime you can
begin to transfer weight to the rear for more traction. Don’t worry about any pebbles or small ruts you might hit, the CCM won’t notice.
English chassis work is magic. Superb turning and superb stability. With as much speed as the CCM has and the confidence it tends to inspire in the rider. most of the people who rode it found themselves in what would have appeared to be a terminal disaster situation at least once. Yet no one fell off the CCM, not even a low side.
For an entire day of riding the handlebars were offset to the left almost an inch without anyone spying the problem. It was hard not to notice that the bike manufactured its own cross-ups without even trying. We initially supposed that the chain was twisting the swingarm or some such, but no one became particularly concerned because the whole thing ‘was great fun. Landing sideways, sometimes as much as 45 degrees from direction of motion, with the throttle on or off only caused the chassis to straighten itself in one smooth motion. It never ned because in the other direction, jerked or wiggled, just moved back straight.
Another fun antic that would be scary for most riders on most bikes was to start a most-of-the-lock, toedragging broadslide just before a dropaway jump and let the CCM fly into the air with the throttle on and rear end kicked out. Whatever attitude it left the ground in, it continued. Likewise, leaving the ground out of control meant an interesting flight. What looked like a catastrophe was nothing once it touched down. Incredibly, it always straightened out -no fuss.
Excellent chassis geometry must have equally good suspension to be useful. CCM front forks travel almost 71/2 inches, boast multiple damping and springing adjustments which we never used, move well on small bumps without being used up on bomb craters. They feel much like Ceriani, that is, you hardly feel them. Continual minor seal weeping never pushed enough oil out to make any difference in the forks’ performance.
Cantilevered Konis produce a little over 7 inches of rear wheel travel. The Konis are modified to work upside-down and have welded on spigots for hoses which feed from a remote oil reservoir housed in the rear subframe. Threaded plastic caps let you check the supply. One hose leaked slightly around the hose clamp, but neither shock leaked at the seal or faded any noticeable amount. Cantilevered Koni ride is very soft and comfy at the expense of some feel. The nature of the CCM goes well with their action.
We had no maintenance problems with the bike. It ran through two magazine tests on one spark plug, an oil change (nothing but Castrol R, check when warm) and a filter cleaning. Chain adjustment is at the swingarm pivot, but we never had cause to try it.
Part of the lack of maintenance and relative ease of starting is attributed to the ignition system. For the motocross bike CCM uses ‘an electronic constant loss ignition. A battery charge lasts roughly three hours. Battery and capacitor discharge unit reside under the seat in the top of the air box to remain dry and cool. Behind the left number plate is a switch, a plug for charging cables, a light to tell you when it’s charging and one to tell when ignition is on. An electronic hum is fairly obvious which prevents leaving it on unnecessarily. Sure, the ignition is a little hassle, but it is the lightest way to get high voltage spark.
Starting is easy . . . for a British single. Compared to anything else it’s a bitch. Because the CCM has so little flywheel and such high compression, it must be backed against the compression to be either kick or bump started. If you don’t, you can stand on the lever without the motor turning over. Back the motor against compression, tickle generously, no throttle or just a crack, and roll your whole body on the lever. It will fire the first time if you do everything right.
What you want to know most is how much it weighs, right? It’s been saved until the end hoping to tantalize you into reading the whole test, being entertained and buying many copies of Dirt Rider. With a little gas the CCM 500 weighs 232 pounds smack in the middle of its competition Every effort has been made to make the CCM as light as possible. No part is heavier than necessary magnesium hubs, outer cases, fork sliders; plastic tank, seat base, air box and fenders (an extra wide front fender is the best mud guard ever): chrome molybdenum steel frame handlebars, and pegs; alloy sprocket and triple clamps; and even English made plastic levers. Working against the very heavy BSA 500 motor as a base is all that keeps the CCM up to 230. And nothing you can do will make it lighter, it’s already been done1 done.
Even if you were to build a 175 pound four-stroke motocrosser. it wouldn’t feel like a two-stroke. And to do so would be defeating the purpose of a four-stroke. Compared to a new two-stroke motocrosser the CCM has a heavy feel about it. Well maybe not exactly heavy, more like the process of going fast happens in slow motion. Instead of the groundskipping feeling of a two-stroke. the CCM stays close to the ground. Instead of bounding off bumps, it tends to ignore them. Possibly the CCM is something like a fast, quick turning cushily suspended, thundering steamroller. When it comes on the cam you know it shakes the ground – the noise it produces (and it is definitely noisy) makes grown men sigh and spectators stand in reverence. There is nothing quite like it. The CCM stands alone in competition against the two-stroke onslaught and it succeeds.
To question whether a 500 CCM is worth nearly $3,000 is absurd. You don’t put price tags on the best, you pay whatever it costs to have the very best, The CCM is the only dirt machine built today that has absolutely no corners cut to save expense. it is to motorcycling as a Ferrari is to automobiles. $2,895 is cheap.
|Engine …||Four-stroke singleldry sump|
|Carburation||1 Amal 36mm|
|Gear ratios (:1)||2.18; 1.64; 1.24; 1,00|
|Lubrication||Dry sump, reservoir in frame|
|Wheelbase||57 5 inches|
|Ground clearance||10.5 inches|
|Peg height||12.5 inches|
|Seat height||34.5 inches|
|Running weight||232 pounds|
|Weight distribution||44.3% front/55.7% rear|
|Fuel capacity||1,6 gallons|
|Forks||CCM 7.5 inch travel|
|Shocks||Cantilevered Koni, 6.5 inch travel|
|Frame||Chrome moly steel single tube|
|Pegs||Steel, serrated, folding|
|Brakes||SILS cable operated|
|Rims||Dunlop trick steel|
|Ignition||Constant loss electronic|
|Tools||Jumper cables and the like|
|Sparking plug||N2G Champion|
|Number plates||3 plastic|
|Rim locks||1 front/2 rear|
|Throttle turn||90 degree Amal|