Alans Clews CCM

Trial Magazine - - TRIAL MAGAZINE - WORDS: JOHN HULME AND THE CLEWS FAM­ILY PIC­TURES: CCM AR­CHIVE, DAVE DEWHURST, BILL LAW­LESS, TMX, YOOMEE AR­CHIVE, MAURI/FONTSERE COL­LEC­TION AND THE GIULIO MAURI COPY­RIGHT. We are not al­ways able to give credit to pho­tog­ra­phers for the im­ages used due to the

When we heard the sad news that Alan Clews had passed away in May, my im­me­di­ate thoughts were just how for­tu­nate I was to have lived through the en­tire ‘Rolling Thun­der’ years. A true ‘Bri­tish ‘Bull­dog’ spirit had lived with him dur­ing his long life. He came into my life when I first wit­nessed Alan Clews and his Clew­stroka in the flesh at the North­ern Mo­tor­cy­cle Show at Belle Vue, I would imag­ine around 1972. My fa­ther com­mented, “That’s some ma­chine, born off the back of the demise of BSA in the mo­tocross world”. I was as shocked as ev­ery­one when, the day af­ter the Bri­tish Mo­tocross Grand Prix in 1971, BSA had an­nounced they were clos­ing their com­pe­ti­tion de­part­ment and one of the ca­su­al­ties would be the mo­tocross team. Alan Clews had rid­den mo­tocross for years and looked on this as an op­por­tu­nity to ful­fil his am­bi­tion of build­ing a ma­chine to chal­lenge the world; the years of ‘Rolling Thun­der’ were about to be­gin in earnest. The four-stroke noise and the aroma of Cas­trol ‘R’ ham­mer­ing around the mo­tor­cy­cle world in mo­tocross, road rac­ing and tri­als would leave a last­ing im­pres­sion on ev­ery­one who wit­nessed it.

The Dream

As true a mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast as you can get, Alan Clews, as with so many good mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers, started off-road with both tri­als and mo­tocross where he be­came suc­cess­ful. Ei­ther en­joy­ing the home-based events or trav­el­ling around Europe with his wife and young fam­ily he was very com­pet­i­tive, not just as a com­pe­tent rider and racer but also in his dream of build­ing his own ma­chines. He had grown up amongst the once mighty man­u­fac­tur­ing of mo­tor­cy­cles in the UK but he wanted to build not just repli­cas of the mighty BSA works ma­chine but his own, with bet­ter han­dling and more power to com­pete with the ‘Big Boys’. This op­por­tu­nity came along off the back of the BSA com­pe­ti­tion de­part­ment clos­ing. His chance had come and he pur­chased all the parts he could af­ford, 100 tonnes in to­tal. En­gines, sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, front forks, wheels, seats, mud­guards, you name it — he wanted it.

The orig­i­nal Clew­stroka emerged from his small work­shop at home, made from mas­sive im­prove­ments to the four-stroke BSA en­gines. Word soon got around of the ma­chines he was build­ing that could chal­lenge and com­pete with the new and more dom­i­nant two-strokes. This would be the start of the ad­ven­ture that would take him to CCM mo­tor­cy­cles and the world mo­tocross cham­pi­onship.

Com­pe­ti­tion Time

The new ‘Rolling Thun­der’ CCM ma­chines were rac­ing at the very cut­ting edge of the sport in mo­tocross, and with his sheer grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion and a strong work­force he would take on the mas­sive ‘Big Four’ from Ja­pan, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. The proud Bri­tish crowd would get be­hind the CCM rid­ers and, boy, did he rattle some cages as the likes of John Banks, Vic East­wood, Nor­man Bar­row, Bob Wright and Jimmy Aird to name but a few gave Clews and his fac­tory some ex­cel­lent re­sults in the 500cc World Cham­pi­onship. Al­ways look­ing for new ar­eas to sup­port the busi­ness, it would be a re­turn to tri­als in the late sev­en­ties.

Dur­ing the quiet win­ter months when the mo­tocross sea­son was vir­tu­ally over he needed some way of giv­ing his ex­pe­ri­enced work­force some work to do. The CCM brand was well es­tab­lished in the mo­tocross world so why not tri­als?

When Sammy Miller had split from Honda af­ter Rob Shep­herd’s win­ning year in 1977, he had ap­proached Clews with re­gard to pro­duc­ing a new four-stroke tri­als en­gine as Miller wanted to build his own ma­chines. Clews knew it was pos­si­ble but not fi­nan­cially vi­able. The mo­tocross ma­chines were sold through a net­work of en­thu­si­as­tic deal­ers and so why not put the tri­als ma­chines in with them as well to ex­tend the model range and hope­fully bring in more profit!

A Re­turn to Tri­als

Pre­vi­ously, hav­ing rid­den for Honda, Nick Jef­feries was con­tacted by Alan Clews, and he made a visit to the CCM fac­tory and agreed a con­tract to use all his four-stroke tri­als ex­pe­ri­ence to de­velop a new four-stroke tri­als ma­chine. The Honda tri­als ma­chine made a ‘se­cret’ visit to the Vale Street fac­tory oc­cu­pied by CCM and Clews went for a hy­brid B44/B50 with a bore and stroke of 79mm x 70mm giv­ing an en­gine ca­pac­ity of 343cc, which was the same as the old B40.

From the ini­tial dis­cus­sions about what was re­quired in late 1977, the new ma­chine was pre­sented to Nick Jef­feries on Satur­day the 4th Fe­bru­ary 1978. He took it away to test and re­turned with it on the Mon­day with a list of changes he would sug­gest to Clews. The new ma­chine made its de­but at the open­ing round of the world cham­pi­onship, which was a very proud day for Alan Clews and Nick. This was a mas­sive ef­fort by any stan­dards, and the pad­dock in­ter­est was in­cred­i­ble.

With the Scot­tish Six Days Trial get­ting closer by the day a new ma­chine was built for the event, with all the new mod­i­fi­ca­tions in­cor­po­rated which would be the pro­duc­tion pro­to­type. The SSDT was a real test and by Wed­nes­day Nick was up to twelfth po­si­tion but, on day four, it all went wrong in a very short space of time. First, the fuel tank split and then, un­known to Nick, a valve cap had come off al­low­ing all the High­land dirt into the en­gine which wore it out in min­utes, and the trial was over as he was forced to re­tire.

Suc­cess

Clews de­cided to start a pro­duc­tion run to­talling 105 ma­chines. The 350 CCM tri­als models were priced at £1,280 and went on sale in Septem­ber, and were sold out by Christ­mas. With the BSA sup­ply now vir­tu­ally nonex­is­tent Clews would turn to both Ro­tax and Hiro en­gines to power his range of ma­chines.

In tri­als the Hiro-en­gined Arm­strong/CCM took both John Lamp­kin and then Steve Saun­ders to their first ever world cham­pi­onship points, Saun­ders would also win two Bri­tish Cham­pi­onship ti­tles. The pro­duc­tion tri­als models proved a suc­cess amongst rid­ers of all abil­i­ties.

Dur­ing the eight­ies and nineties, pro­duc­tion reached a peak of 3,500 ma­chines an­nu­ally. Be­tween 1983 and 1985 over 4,000 CCM mo­tor­cy­cles were ex­ported to North Amer­ica badged as Can-Am ma­chines. In 1984, the com­pany se­cured a con­tract to pro­duce the Ro­tax-en­gined Arm­strong MT500 model for the Bri­tish Jor­da­nian and Cana­dian Army, and through over­seas sales won a Queen’s Ex­port Award.

In 2004 the com­pany ceased op­er­a­tions, and its as­sets were bought back by the orig­i­nal owner Alan Clews. The ‘new’ com­pany was soon once again in pro­duc­tion with new models in 2005 and, in 2009, they re­turned to mo­tocross in the FIM World Cham­pi­onship. In 2010 the com­pany be­gan work­ing with the mil­i­tary once again to sup­ply 3,500 ma­chines, headed by his son Rus­sell Clews. Suc­cess also came with their first ACU Bri­tish In­door Mo­tocross Cham­pi­onship with Tom Church on board a CCM.

Proud

Alan, Austin and Rus­sell Clews were very proud of the CCM brand, and quite rightly so. As the mar­ket changed di­rec­tion so did CCM with an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture mo­tor­cy­cle emerg­ing as the place they wanted to be.

In 2013 CCM an­nounced plans for a GP450 ma­chine to meet mar­ket de­mand for a road-le­gal mid­dleweight ad­ven­ture model. The frame was fab­ri­cated from ‘Bond-Lite’ alu­minium which CCM claimed was a world first. Us­ing BMW power with a four-stroke sin­gle-shock, it was very well re­ceived. Alan was still in­volved in the new devel­op­ment models, in­clud­ing the Spit­fire, right up un­til his un­timely death. The CCM years added a new di­men­sion to the once proud Great Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try. Alan Clews was al­ways ready to ad­dress any is­sues with the pro­duc­tion of the ma­chines, in­clud­ing their devel­op­ment and the tough busi­ness world.

Alan left the com­pany with over 1000 UK or­ders for its new Spit­fire range on 2nd May 2018. His legacy has been recorded in the his­tory of mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing, and long may it live on in the new models emerg­ing from the com­pany he orig­i­nally formed all those years ago.

The proud Bri­tish crowd would get be­hind the CCM rid­ers and boy did they rattle some cages as the likes of John Banks, Vic East­wood, Nor­man Bar­row, Bob Wright and Jimmy Aird to name but a few gave Clews and his fac­tory some ex­cel­lent re­sults in the 500cc World Cham­pi­onship.

This CCM pro­duc­tion pic­ture cap­tures the true ‘Bri­tish Bull­dog’ spirit of the proud com­pany based in Great Bri­tain.

From the pages of the su­perb Rolling Thun­der book by Bill Law­less: the CCM en­gine as­sem­bly line.

Stand­ing proud: the 350 CCM tri­als models were priced at £1,280 and went on sale in Septem­ber 1978, and the 105 pro­duced were sold out by Christ­mas.

Al­ways look­ing for new mar­kets this is the Honda XR500 en­gined CCM En­duro model from 1980.

The CCM on dis­play at the North­ern Belle Vue Show in the early sev­en­ties.

In Au­gust 1981 a new two-stroke gen­er­a­tion of tri­als models was in­tro­duced us­ing the Sammy Miller de­vel­oped Ital­ian Hiro en­gines.

Af­ter win­ning al­most ev­ery in­ter­na­tional event in 1981 with the 250cc rac­ing model, in 1982 they went a step fur­ther and pro­duced this two-stroke 350cc in-line disc-valve twin.

Look­ing very con­fi­dent in the rain in Spain John Lamp­kin made Arm­strong CCM very proud when he scored the com­pany’s first ever FIM World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship points on the Hiro-en­gined CMT 310 model.

Look­ing ‘bru­tal’ even though it’s stand­ing still, this fourstroke 620cc CCM mo­tocross ma­chine is from May 1980.

The Arm­strong CM36 350cc road rac­ing model was full of en­gi­neer­ing in­no­va­tion.

Alan left the com­pany with over 1000 UK or­ders for its new Spit­fire range on 2nd May 2018. His legacy has been recorded in the his­tory of mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing, and long may it live on in the new models emerg­ing from the com­pany he orig­i­nally formed all those years ago.

Steve Saun­ders ar­rived at the com­pany in 1983 and won two con­sec­u­tive Bri­tish Solo Tri­als Cham­pi­onship ti­tles as well as con­tin­u­ing to score world cham­pi­onship points.

It’s a very busy Arm­strong fac­tory in Fe­bru­ary 1984 af­ter the com­pany se­cured a con­tract to pro­duce the Ro­tax-en­gined Arm­strong MT500 model for the Bri­tish Jor­da­nian and Cana­dian Army, and through over­seas sales won a Queen’s Ex­port Award.

Us­ing the World Tri­als Cham­pi­onship as a true test of any ma­chine this pro­to­type Ro­tax-en­gined 350cc tri­als ma­chine was rid­den by John Lamp­kin in 1985.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.