Back in 1977, having previously acquired the tooling and stock of the BSA competition shop at Small Heath, Alan Clews decided to create a trials machine. It is believed that Sammy Miller had already approached Clews to supply him with BSA motors to power a trials machine of Millers own design. Clews’ CCM (Clews Competition Machines) brand was by then already well established, having risen from the original ‘Clew-Stroka’ motocross concept from 1971, by using BSA B50 motors as the power-plant, but with the capacity increased from 498cc to 600cc.
Clews had built a reputation of making high quality motocross machinery which performed as well as they looked. In the hands of Lancastrian, Bob Wright; Cumbrian Mick Barnes and later Vic Eastwood and Scot, Vic Allan, the CCM was a serious racing motorcycle.
Based in Bolton, Lancashire, England the company had grown considerably from modest beginnings. Mike Eatough made the frames, before setting up his own venture called EMC.
There seemed to be a market for a four-stroke trials machine and Clews was eager to fill the void and to produce one, Made in Britain! Honda had already launched their TL125 and for the US market, the TL250 trials models, developed with the help of Sammy Miller and the company’s ‘Bials for Trials’ programme.
The eventual CCM production run of their 350T machine was very modest, with just over 100 machines ever produced by the factory. It utilised a variant of the BSA B40 – 343cc unit single, which CCM claimed the capacity as 345cc by using a bore of 79.25 mm and stroke of 70 mm, with compression ratio as 6.2:1.
Quality components were sourced from European manufacturers, From Italy, Marzocchi supplied both front forks and remote reservoir rear shocks, German ‘Magura’ controls, the Italian, ‘Grimeca’ hubs and brakes and gold anodised Spanish ‘Akront’ wheel rims. With American-made Preston Petty motocross red plastic mudguards also fitted front and rear. This particular combination, with the chromed chassis made for a ‘good looking’ machine, this in itself did not make a 100% competitive trials machine however.
The B40 motor was treated to an Amal MK2 concentric carburettor and a revised primary drive alloy casing, finished in black with the CCM motif in relief, with a novel little oil breather/catch bottle fitted to the nearside crankcase. But at heart it was still a BSA B40 which had been developed from the 1959 C15 design.
Given the more modern riding position, the gear pedal was fitted in such a way that it was accessible by the rider standing up on the foot-pegs. The gear pedal passed behind the kick-start lever.
Backed by Castrol Oils UK, riders of the caliber of Dave Thorpe, (who left Bultaco to ride the CCM prototype) and Nick Jefferies were employed to develop the CCM 350T for the factory.
Jefferies entered the 1978 Scottish Six Days Trial riding number 220 on the 400cc CCM prototype, backed by Castrol, but failed to finish the event.
Thorpe entered the 1979 SSDT on the 360cc CCM factory machine with riding number 250, with Thorpe shadowed most of the week by motocross rider, Dick Clayton whose riding gear had been rumoured to be literally stuffed with spare parts.
Dave Thorpe did finished the 1979 SSDT in 95th position on 397 marks lost, which was not a good day at the office for him, having been 11th position the year before on a Bultaco!
V. R. Moyce from Wickham rode a production CCM 350 in the 1979 SSDT and finished in 190th position on 597 marks lost.
Many of the Bolton built CCMs were bought by private riders who wanted something different.
In 1979 Honda launched their own British built four-stroke trials machine, the TL200E (the ‘E’ stood for ‘England’) made by Colin Seeley in England, but ‘adopted’ by Honda UK as their own model and marketed through their comprehensive motorcycle dealership network.
The frame was made from Reynolds ‘531’ tubing, argon brazed and finished with chrome plating to both frame and swinging arm.
The wheelbase at 51.5 inches followed almost the same dimensions as the Bultaco Sherpa it was designed to beat in competition.
Whist the CCM 350T was never destined to become a trials ‘world beater’, the machines did sell reasonably quickly. They were not produced in significantly high numbers, hence now they command extremely high prices for their rarity value alone.
CCM later became part of the ‘Armstrong-CCM’ brand, but that is another story!
The annual Highland Classic Two-Day Trial for 2016 will be held on 11/12 June and will pay homage to Yamscot, the competition part of Shirlaws Motorcycles, Aberdeen back in the 1970’s.
The brainchild of the late managing director, Leslie Shirlaw, it was created to promote Yamaha off-road and racing in Scotland. At the time Shirlaws were a Yamaha dealer, nowadays they are main Kawasaki dealers.
It is hoped that a glittering display of Yamaha trials machines will be at the event as well as some of the original Yamscot supported trials riders.
Yamscot were involved in trials, motocross and racing over a ten year period.
The event, promoted by Inverness & District Motorcycle Club Ltd will be held on the Alvie Estate, near Aviemore and the identity of the Guest of Honour will be announced nearer the event.
The trial itself was over-subscribed in 2015 and entry forms will be released for the 2016 event on 20th February.
2016 will be the 11th time the event has been run as a two day trial, the first year, 2004 was a one-day affair.
Previous Guests of Honour at the Highland Classic include Yrjo Vesterinen (2013), Dave Thorpe (2014) and Bill Wilkinson (2015).
The event is open to ACU,SACU & MCUI trials licence card holders and cater for both Pre’65 & twin-shock trials machines.
During the ninteen-seventies, Honda Motor Company decided to create a purely ‘Racing’ division, separate from their normal motorcycle production activities and core businesses. This saw the advent of Racing Service Center Corporation or ‘RSC‘ for short. Later, in September 1982, they developed from RSC, Honda Racing Corporation or HRC for short, which exists to this day and controls the racing activites of Honda. HRC produce and sell racing/competition motorcycles and spare parts. The parts, although well made and of high specification, are by their nature, not warranted for street use as they are for ‘racing applications only’. HRC European headquarters are based in Aalst in Belgium. The world HQ is at Asaka, Saitama, Japan. Below we can see some of RSC & HRC’s creations over the years.
The RTL250SW was for factory Honda riders only, not available for general sale and had the single down tube frame with offset exhaust port.
The 1982 Honda/HRC RTL360 shown above was once the factory machine of World Champion, Belgian, Eddy Lejeune.
Jean Caillou, a French trials enthusiast who has a passion for the Honda brand was fortunate enough to meet with Lejeune at his home in Belgium. It was during this meeting that Eddy revealed that he still had the 1982 ex-factory machine in his possession. The RTL360 was disassembled, but all the parts were there at Eddy’s house.
Jean Caillou: “I met with Eddy Lejuene at his home and he explained that he had just bought his daughter a horse. So he presented me with the invoice for the horse and said that if I paid him the same figure that he had just recently paid for the horse, then I could have the Honda. I did not hesitate further and the deal was agreed. I had effectively paid for Eddy’s daughter’s horse, but I now owned the Eddy Lejeune 360!”
Eddy Lejeune from Verviers, Belgium was three times FIM World Trials Champion (1982-1984) and seven times Belgian National Champion (1980-1986). He rode Honda for the majority of his trials career, switching to the Spanish Merlin in 1988 and then to the Honda owned Montesa for 1989/90 when he retired from top flight trials.