#321 No cheap cure for Second Bike Syndrome

“I want this and this and this and that.” Ah, the evils of going to the local motorcycle show and finding precisely what you want—everything.

Here we are again, looking longingly at spring. Morning sun shines in my kitchen window. But it’s still cold outside. What have we to do but dream? I dream of bikes! I want something that’s big enough to get me comfortably to the Ganaraska Forest but small enough to navigate the tightest trails. I’ve got Second Bike Syndrome. Heard of it? What I saw at the bike show got me distracted yet again.
My new crush is a CCM. And no, it’s not a bicycle. It’s a new 450cc 130-kilogram/287-pound wet dualsport made in England. Yep. I saw it, hidden at the back of the bike show dressed in flat black plastic with a curious aluminum bolt-together frame. I had one question after another, and still have more.
CCM is a company in England that has been making bikes with knobby tires since 1971. The GP450 is now their only product, and it comes in ‘adventure’ or ‘supermoto’ packages. The hand-built dualsport just passed certification for Canada. A father/son company, Motorsports Canada Ltd. is importing the adventure version. And the independent, Old Vintage Cranks in Acton, Ontario will be the first to sell it. I can’t help but wonder how many people will deviate from the norm when they see what they can have that’s not like all the rest.
It’s a dream machine! Designed to fill the gap between too small and way too large, this bike is meant for long distance adventure riding, street, dirt, desert and jaunts around town. The 450cc is incredibly light when compared to a 1200 heavyweight. It’s light compared to the new Suzuki DR-Z400S, which is 143 kg wet, with a seat that’s prohibitively high at 934 mm. The Kawasaki KLR 650 is 195 kg with a 889mm seat—too tall for me in the dirt. The GP450’s standard seat is 889mm but they offer a 787mm stock, for the same cost, which would be my choice. You can also buy a taller seat.
The CCM’s super light frame is made with aerospace technology, using 6061 T6 aluminum. Its forged components are glued, bolted in place, and then baked overnight. They say this method is stronger than conventional welding. The frame weighs only 9.5 kg! That’s unheard of.
The five-speed bike carries 20 litres of fuel in its tanks. Yes. Tanks, plural. Fuel is distributed about. Perhaps this will be the way of the future? You fill the bike from the rear. There’s a 10-litre rear tank that feeds two five-litre ‘pods’ in the front. It has a 400-kilometre range, cruises comfortably between 104-120 kmh, and burns as little as 4.3 litres per 100 km. I’m intrigued.
For $13,499, gulp, there’s a two-year warranty and a score of high quality components including Marzocchi fully adjustable inverted front suspension, Supersprox rear sprocket, Rinehart Fat Bars, Brembo disc brakes, spoke wheels with Excel rims and Talon hubs, and a 40-hp single-cylinder liquid-cooled BMW engine! There’s a list of accessories like specially designed luggage you can add to the price. Hand made in England, this is truly something new.
Want to see it built? Visit www.CCM-Motorcycles.ca and watch the video. It’s really fun and educational to see the pieces of this bike go together.
I’ll have to ride one to know how it feels. Bikes are like that. A picture is nice. Sitting on a bike at a show is a start. (I did that!) But nothing beats the tactile sensations that we get from a ride. The first bikes should be on Canadian soil before summer hits.
For those with a taste for the unusual, the same importer supplies Old Vintage Cranks with something called the SYM, a bike I saw in Honduras last winter. The model Wolf Classic retails for $3,399. It’s a 150cc solid looking 1970s style machine that burns as little as 3.3 litres per 100 km. With its metal tank, chrome fenders, disc and drum brake combo, and wire wheels, it looks like what the hipsters are after, but brand new. This bike would be perfect for around town and with its upright posture and 762mm seat height, it’s an interesting choice for new riders. It comes in red/white, black, red, white or green. It’ll get attention on the street. SYM is made by Taiwan’s Samyang Motor Company, which has been around since 1954. Remember when the first Honda hit the market and everyone freaked? Oh, right, you’re not that old! Well, it might be time to make room for something new.
Dreaming aside, I’m about to upgrade my vintage Gelande/Strasse to handle better in the forest, because I just can’t manage paying for two bikes on the road. The cost of insurance is the biggest deterrent. And you have to pay it every year. But there is a 10 per cent discount for a second bike—as if you ride both at the same time!
For my one bike, I’m going to try Race Tech springs and emulators, which I’m told will make a big difference, because Casper isn’t gliding over bumps like she used to. But part of that is the “no standing” law here in Ontario.
Every time I go over speed bumps, which are common on side streets in Toronto, or when I hit any imperfection in the road, I must sit, well behaved, and take it in the bones. I’d hate to lose my bike and licence because of “stunt riding.” Our new law gives any officer full authority to charge anyone with reckless stunt riding if they are caught for a moment while riding standing up. Who can’t tell the difference between reckless and common safe riding practice? I don’t want to meet that person in authority, because I would lose. And here I must add that there are brilliant stunt riders who we see at shows and on movies, who had to practice somewhere—just not on the streets of Ontario!
Next are Heidenau tires, recommended by Andrew Charters, BMW Toronto’s service manager who I called for advice. They’re the choice of big adventure bike riders these days. Made in Germany, the Scout 60 is rated 50/50, meaning 50 per cent street, 50 per cent dirt. That should be exciting! They look smooth enough to handle roads without too much vibration, and they’re knobby enough for the dirt, which is what I really want.
There is a light ahead. It’s green. I’m thinking about destinations. Friday the 13th in Port Dover this May? Up north to a cottage? The Ganaraska? I’m privileged. I’ve got a great bike. Wherever I go, I’ll be enjoying the ride.