The Spitfire Flies Again
Clews Competition Machines (CCM) has been a well-respected bespoke bike builder in the UK since 1971. Owner Alan Clews, flying the flag for Great Britain on the world’s motocross circuits, launched the company to build a competitive racer and put Britain back on the rostrum.
Building bikes from his garage, the Clews Competition Machines saw great success during the mid-70’s with his lightweight highly tuned dirt bikes breaking the 2-stroke domination and placing in the top five of the Motocross World Championships several times.
When BSA B50 engines became more difficult to locate, the company switched to Austrian made Rotax engines and production went through the roof, to a peak of around 4000 units a year. The highlights, coming with a lucrative contract to supply MT500’s to the British Army and a Queens Award for Industry.
Harley Davidson eventually bought the rights to produce the Armstrong MT500 and in 1998, CCM was sold. What may have been the end of a 30- year old success story however, did a complete 180 when Clews bought back the company that bore his name.
This year saw the diminutive bike builders break from tradition once again with the launch of their road-going 600cc Spitfire. The bike, designed by their elite in-house Skunkwerx team, will be part of a limited run of only 150 machines, which are almost all sold, say the factory.
The entire run of Spitfires will be hand built, and to cope with the welding on the complex trellis frames, CCM employed Ted Unwin, a veteran from the original Clews Competition Machines of the early 1970s. Commenting on the unique finish on the frames, which retain the bluing around the welds, Lead design engineer Christofer Ratcliffe said, “We kept the bluing because we were proud of our guys who build them, it makes every frame unique and each will come with its own signature.”
Sporting usd WP forks, fully adjustable shocks and 55 bhp on tap, the bike will weigh in at a mere 120 kgs, meaning it’s bound to be a real seat of the pants performer when it hits the streets in the spring.
So, what will the Spitfire find in terms of competition out on the street? Well not a lot really. Main contender would have to be Yamaha MT03, the KTM 690 Duke or maybe the Aprilia Pegaso. But realistically speaking the CCM is in a field of one.
And finally, why the Spitfire? Well, apparently, the frame and swinging arm of the bike is made from the very same T45 carbon steel as used on the Supermarine Spitfire, a British single-seat fighter aircraft of WWII. From one great British success story to another.