Bike reviews

CCM 404 DS

CCM are a British manufacturer who are keen to develop a range of high quality, top fun bikes. For years they have used the Austrian Rotax engine in their road and enduro bikes, but now they have a new machine powered by Suzuki’s DRZ400 motor.

Alastair Walker went along to try out the moderately fast `n’ furious CCM 404 Dual Sport, in exotic Preston.

CCM have been quietly making motorcycles in Blackburn, Lancashire, for the last 30 odd years, mainly off-road machines. But the company is expanding fast with new models in the line-up, plus the prospect of a second factory unit opening up on Merseyside next year.

The £4 million package is expected to deliver another 50 manufacturing jobs over the next few years, as CCM gear up to produce a range of brand new bikes, using Suzuki engine units, rather than the old Austrian Rotax motors. A significant export drive is also planned, especially in mainland Europe.

So here we have the very first motorbike of the new CCM generation; the 404DS – DS standing for Dual Sport – which utilises the engine from Suzuki’s DRZ400 model.

The big news is that the motor is a vast improvement on the old Rotax 644, which CCM used to slot inside their spartan, yet high quality chassis. It may only kick out around 35bhp, but the 404 Dual Sport weighs just 124 kilos dry – which is about the average weight of a 125cc commuter scooter. If you like popping the odd wheelie, then CCM have the job covered, plus the low weight makes it perfect for enduro, as you’re bound to end up draggin’ it out of some Welsh swamp at some point. If you fancy doing both types of biking fun, with the one machine, then CCM do a special `all-in’ deal which includes a spare set of wheels, so you can choose dirt or tarmac riding at the weekend.

A couple of laps around the Supermoto test track was all it took to discover that the CCM404 makes plenty of steady, easy-to-use power, without the `on-off’ characteristics that the old Rotax lump had. The gearbox is much better too, although neutral could still be tricky to find sometimes once you came to a halt.

We tested the new bikes up at TRAX, the karting/supermoto/MX facility, located on the wild fringes of Preston in Lancashire. Although the twisty little tarmac circuit was damp, the Pirelli tyres gripped extremely well, even when I got the hang of locking the bike’s back tyre up, whilst going sideways.

I’m a bit of a novice at this Supermoto lark to be honest, but the Suzuki 400 is perhaps one of the best engine’s in motorcycling to learn a new riding style on – it hasn’t got the sudden snap that say a KTM 640 has, or – God help you – an old CR500 delivers. Older bikers should try a CCM Supermoto day, if only to gain confidence in handling a bike that’s slipping around a little bit, yet feels secure.

So, I soon had a big daft grin under my helmet, as I got dicing with another bike journo in my next session, trying every crazy move I dared to just stay ahead. The CCM was lifting its front wheel coming out of turns and flicking sideways under drive, but it was actually pretty controllable, once you got used to having the bike moving about underneath you.

If this sounds like the usual bike magazine bull****, then all I can say is that the 404 is a bike which gives you loads of confidence, forgives your errors and still offers an intense riding experience. It is a high quality hooligan bike. In fact, just a few seconds watching the CCM sponsored French Supermoto racer/mentalist, Stephane Mezard in action – sometimes 15 foot in mid-air – made me realise I was actually riding like an old woman, on her way to a WI sponsored `flop-em-out’ nude calendar shoot…


Thing is, the CCM is built to take this kind full-on biking lunacy; huuuge 48mm diameter WP front forks keep the bike feeling stable, no matter which way the wheels are pointing, or how hard you squeeze the Brembo brakes. CCM’s own aluminium alloy swingarm at the back of the bike is a work of art in itself, firmly fixed to a multi-adjustable monoshock. The tubular cradle frame also doubles as the oil tank and the gas tank is see-thru plastic, which is handy as it only holds 11 litres, so the 404 only has a range of around 90 miles. It’s a compact Swiss Army knife of a bike.

At around £5500 on the road, the 404 Dual Sport is an expensive motorcycle, considering how single-minded the rider has to be – only someone with `special needs’ would buy this bike for touring, commuting, or sedate Sunday runs to biker hangouts.

This is a max strength fun bike, with a distinctive edge. Anyone who buys one, instead of a big sportbike, hoping that they are going to avoid getting points on their licence is dreaming – there’s only one way to ride this bike, which is like a total headbanger. The best plan is to do loads of trackdays at smaller circuits, just to get the mad stuff out of your system.

There’s no compromise with CCM machines, which means the 404 is fantastic fun, but very narrow in terms of customer appeal. It isn’t a first timer’s bike, it will never be any sort of long distance tourer, but the brand will probably always have a cult following. It also looks the part in its patriotic Union Jack paintwork – it’s great that this small scale British motorbike manufacturer from the North of England, is determined to carve out its own niche in the market, with a little bit of help from Suzuki.


Get CCM motorcycle insurance for the 404 DS.


Vital Statistics
Engine Four stroke, water cooled, single cylinder
Capacity 398cc
Gears 5 speed
Frame Oil bearing, tubular
Forks WP 48mm, multi-adjustable
Rear suspension WP monoshock
Brakes Single 260mm front disc, 2 piston caliper. Single 220mm rear disc
Wheels 17 inch diameter
Dry weight 124kgs
Fuel capacity 11 litres
Top speed (est) 100mph
Buying info
List Price £5350 (September 2003)

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