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Monday, 19 September 2011

CCM FT35 Update

I don't know about you, but every bike I buy, whether old or new, seems to need a couple of days of sorting before I feel confident enough to start using it in anger. I always change the oil and filter (if it has one) irrespective of any previous owners insistence that it has just been done. So the little (and it really is little) CCM was treated to a couple of litres of Silkolene fully synthetic 10/40 and a new genuine Suzuki filter. The DRZ400 engine in the CCM runs a dry sump and there is an oil tank in the frame. Checking the level involves starting the bike from cold, running it for a couple of minutes and then using the dipstick in the tank. A short time after this, the oil runs back into the engine and the level is gone. Norton owners would be right at home here, the only difference being that Suzuki manage to keep it in the engine and doesn't make its way to the floor.

The next job was to replace the 'off road' style handgrips for black Oxford Supergrips. These are probably the nicest grips available, having almost a gel type feeling and doing a good job of isolating some of the tingling vibration through the bars.

Then came a tricky bit. As mentioned earlier in this blog, it's not a good idea to put stainless into alloy without copaslip on the threads and since I can't believe that CCM don't know this, I can only assume that they must have run out when they built this bike. It took a few hours to gently persuade about 25 assorted fasteners out of their corroded holes, clean up the threads and replace them with nice new lubricated screws and bolts.

The following day, a nice new NGK Iridium plug arrived via ebay and this was promptly fitted. I really don't know if they are better than the standard range, but I like the word 'iridium' and they are about four times more expensive, so they must be good. The K&N air filter on the bike was a bit bashed and bent, so despite its everlasting nature, I recklessly spent £32 and bought a new one. Adjusting the chain came as a bit of a shock as I don't have much experience of off road bikes and the supermoto parentage of this bike means that it requires 50-60mm at the centre of the top run. Seems really slack to me but there are plenty of rollers and guides to keep it steady.

At this point I felt pretty happy with the bike and the time for a decent run had arrived. Starting on full choke causes the engine to jump instantly to about 4000 revs so it's not a bad idea to just hold it out a little to give the oil a chance to hit the cams. The bike seems very small and is really light (115kg). It feels more like a 125 than a 400, and for me, this is a great part of its appeal.

The engine is surprisingly revvy and really doesn't like plodding. Fifth gear needs at least 50mph to avoid snatching. This takes a bit of getting used to after old Brits, and is not helped at all by the absence of a rev counter. There is a rev limiter, which is all too easy to hit since you don't have any visual idea of how fast the engine is turning.

Acceleration is very quick and from memory it seems to be similar, if not a little better than a well sorted Yamaha LC350. Brakes are Brembo front and rear, and they stop the bike in devastating fashion, helped by the distinct lack of bulk. Fitted with Avon Distenzia tyres on the end of White Power suspension, the handling is way better than I am, and once you get used to riding what initially feels like a 50hp trials bike, you can rag round country roads in the safe knowledge that not much will ever come past you. These bikes cleaned up in National Short Track championships in 2006-7 and it shows.

Good points:
Dainty alloy tank
Very quick
Superb handling
Very good brakes
Very light
Top quality components
Spoked wheels (lovely)
Simple, classic appeal
Build quality (with some exceptions)

Bad points:
Dainty alloy tank doesn't take much petrol
No rev counter
Frame paint falling off after 3500 good weather miles
Seat not very comfy
Not a motorway cruiser (a bit frantic at 70mph+)

All in all it's great fun, and nice to look at.  I think that this may be a keeper.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks i really enjoyed reading that. I also have a FT35 and have also fitted an iridium spark plug and new K&N. I fitted Renthal full waffle grips but that's just down to preference. By the way, how do those air filters get so tatty just sitting there under the seat?
    Fun bike isn't it?