Moto-cross Africa  
England to South Africa .  
...and back. . .




When I started planning the trip, I had a two-stroke motocross bike which wasn't road legal or suitable for Africa. I therefore bought my bike especially for this journey, and have chosen the CCM 404. Although I haven't found anyone who has taken them overland before, I believe the 404 suits me, my trip and my budget best - this off-road, lightweight bike should be great in the desert or on mud tracks. Watch this space to see how it copes on the journey!


CCM (Clews Competition Motorcycles) is a small British bike company based in Bolton. The 404 has a dry weight of only 119kgs which will be a massive advantage off-road. The frames are manufactured by CCM, with a single cylinder, 400cc, 4-stroke Suzuki DRZ engine. The bike comes with a range of high spec components including White Power (WP) suspension, Acerbis plastics, Brembo brakes, Pirelli tyres and an Acumen digital display. They are about £4,000 new, I picked this up 'nearly new' for about two grand. To read more about these bikes, visit the CCM website.  

I looked at a variety of bikes, including Suzuki DRZ400's, Honda XR650R's, BMW F650's and KTM 640's. BMW's tend to be quite popular with overlander travellers but I ruled them out mainly because I thought they were far too heavy (c200kgs) and not off-road orientated enough. I'd owned a KTM before and was keen to try the 640. Although it was great fun I thought it was too big for what I needed and not worth the extra weight. At this point I considered the lighter CCM 644, which have air-cooled Suzuki engines in them. At the Horizon's Unlimited bike meeting last year I tried a few bikes, including a Yamaha 250TT. This made my mind up that smaller and lighter was definately the better option, and I settled on the CCM 404.




Being an enduro style bike, the CCM's don't have a lot in terms of rear subframe. I've therefore had a rear rack built for my bike which will house my topbox, and also offer some support for the panniers. An exhaust guard has been added so the heat shouldn't melt my panniers and luggage. I've also had an aluminium 'tray' fixed onto the rear of the seat which can hold two 5 litre containers for water or petrol when neccessary (although my main water will be held in two, four litre ortleib water bags that fasten over the seat and hang alongside the panniers).

Chris' bike in the workshop

I've also made a few smaller changes such as putting a larger footprint on the stand (for in sand) changing the original chain (to D.I.D. X-ring), changing the sprockets (to JD steel ones with a higher gearing ratio of 15:38). I've put engine case guards on as the rear brake or gear lever have been known to puncture through the original magnesium casing in a fall. I have also added an accessory socket to the battery so that I can charge batteries to run camera equipment, phones or a gps unit.

CCM with Topbox and Jerry Cans

I was unable to get a larger petrol tank to fit the bike. I swapped the 404 enduro tank for the 404 dual sport tank which notched it up to 11.5 litres from the original 8 litres. I have then added a 5 litre Acerbis auxiliary tank to the front forks. This should give me a range of about 200 miles. The Acerbis tanks are designed for motocross bikes without headlights so I had to extend some of the wiring and fasten the headlight unit back on in front of the tank (using zip-ties!).

Acerbis Tank

I've added an aluminium front fender support because some of the weight from the 5 kilos of petrol will be on top of it, as well as a small fender bag which carry some heavy tools. I have also fitted a small camera mount in front of the headlight unit which can hold the helmet camera to film the view or the roads.

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