Wolf 77 Customs builds a custom Spitfire for Motorcycle Live…
Clews Competition Machines, better known as CCM, was founded back in 1971 by Alan Clews, a successful off-road racer who began building BSA-powered motocross bikes in his own garage.
“It was only when his request to purchase a works BSA scrambler was rejected that he decided to build his own competition bike; such was the success of his efforts, that news travelled fast, demand for his services grew and Clews Competition Machines was born.”
Soon, his four-stroke machines earned a reputation for being able to compete with the dominant two-stroke motocross bikes of the era, racing in the 500cc Motocross World Championship — no easy feat!
In 1980s, CCM would produce Armstrong MT500 motorcycles for the British Army. In 2004, Clews bought back the company, which had gone out of business under new ownership, and unveiled a supermoto, a flat tracker, and a motocross bike that would win a British Indoor Motocross Championship.
“The letters CCM would become synonymous with multiple successes in motocross, flat-track, trials, supermoto and road racing competition at the highest level.”
In 2013, CCM introduced the GP450, a middleweight adventure bike, and in 2017, the CCM Spitfire was born, a stunning handmade single inspired by the legendary Supermarine Spitfire of WWII. The first batch of 150 Spitfires sold out in a week! Since then, CCM has released batches of variants: the Blackout, Stealth Six, Foggy, Flat Tracker, Scrambler, and more. Powered by a 50-hp air-cooled single borrowed from Husqvarna, these boutique-built British singles are some of the most sought-after modern classics money can buy.
Enter Garry Wolf, the 39 y.o. maintenance engineer behind Wolf 77 Customs of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Back in 2018, we featured Garry’s Kawasaki Zephyr cafe racer, which he built in his small shed at home while balancing a 48-hour per week shift job and two year-old son. Since then, he’s moved into a larger workshop alongside GC Custom Bikes and invested in equipment so that he can prototype, fabricate, and machine more parts in-house.
His work caught the attention of CCM, who wanted to showcase how dynamic and customizable the Spitfire platform is:
“I was approached by CCM to customise one of their CCM Spitfires for the 2019 Motorcycle Live Show at the NEC…I was given total creative freedom with the build…”
Garry says the folks at CCM were a dream to work with, and it was pretty incredible to receive a brand-new Spitfire straight from the production floor. Once he had the bike in the shop, he had only two months to have it ready for a Built magazine photo shoot and the UK’s largest motorcycle show. Garry decided to take a cafe approach with the bike, enhancing the already great lines of the bike:
“These CCM Spitfires look so good from factory it almost feels like a crime to modify them, but there were a few main aspects of the bike I wanted to change — all to do with the silhouette and stance. I knew once I addressed these points the rest would fall into place.”
To that end, he cut, lowered, and lengthened the rear subframe to fall in line with the tank, swapped the 19-inch wheels for a set of 17-inchers, and lowered the bars and headlight. Then came a ton of bespoke fabrication work, which Garry details in the interview below.
2020 was the toughest year on record for so many of us. Garry lost his father during the first lockdown, but he slowly found his way back to the shop:
“Bike building, but more importantly being creative, has allowed me to focus and remain as positive through all this. I’m so glad I have a creative outlet to anchor myself.”
CCM Spitfire Cafe Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m Garry Wolf, a 39 year-old Maintenance Engineer from Newcastle Upon Tyne who builds under the name Wolf77 Custom Motorcycles. I guess I would say I’m a part-time bike builder. It’s something I take seriously but for my own creative fulfillment. With every build I try to grow my skill set and understanding of the process with the aim to constantly improve.
I have heavily invested in equipment over the last couple of years so I can prototype, fabricate, and machine more of my own parts in-house. Hopefully this will translate into more bespoke items on my builds moving forward.
I love putting detail on builds, so I always try to add little touches where I can. I’ve progressed from building in my small shed to a larger workshop with the much-needed space for equipment.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
CCM Spitfire. New straight from the production line at CCM.
• Why was this bike built?
I was approached by CCM to customise one of their CCM Spitfires for the 2019 Motorcycle live show at the NEC.
The aim was to show how versatile and dynamic the Spitfire platform is to customise/modify for all the current and potential CCM owners. The bike was displayed alongside other builders invited to take part as well as CCM’s new range.
I was given total creative freedom with the build and I agreed to the project on that basis. CCM were great to work with. Communication with them along the way was effortless as we approached the deadline for the NEC show.
Once the new CCM Spitfire was dropped off at the workshop I had around two months to complete the build around my full time job, getting it ready for the Built magazine photo shoot and the NEC show. It was pretty tricky like most tight deadlines are, but we managed.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build
CCM and I agreed on a cafe racer build for this project and the rest was left to me.
Due to the tight deadline, I was limited in terms of what I could and couldn’t do. Time was the enemy on this project. I decided to try and enhance the already great lines and look of the bike. Try to give it more of a cafe stance, feel, and look.
With the Spitfire setup being a modular platform for their complete range of bikes, there were a couple of main points I wanted to change to pull the Spitfire further down the cafe route.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
These CCM Spitfires look so good from factory it almost feels like a crime to modify them, but there were a few main aspects of the bike I wanted to change — all to do with the silhouette and stance. I knew once I addressed these points the rest would fall into place.
Firstly the rear frame was cut and manipulated up enough to give a straight line from the bottom of the tank through the rear subframe and seat. A subtle tweak but I felt important visually. Then the subframe was extended to sit further over the rear axle centreline. Then 19” rims were replaced with smaller 17” custom-built ones direct from CCM.
Finally I wanted to lower the headlight cowl and handlebars to below the top line of the tank to give the bike a more aggressive stance. All this is pretty much cafe racer 101 stuff. This is before I moved on to all the other work and detail.
Further work that was also carried out to complete the build.
- Frame powder-coated white.
- 17” wheels and spokes detailed.
- Lower part of engine black-painted.
- Fabricated the extended seat base to accommodate the longer subframe.
- Fabricated the extended undertray for the longer subframe
- Seat upholstered in alcantara and embossed with CCM logo by the very talented Les Wood at Saddle Craft (northeast of England).
- Custom paintwork carried out by Adrian at Bulldog Customs to my design (northeast of England).
- 2-1 exhaust and collector unit fabricated with billet exhaust tip detail.
- Custom bellypan and all the machined/fabricated hangers to support.
- Designed and machined a one-off headlight and cowl lowering kit which incorporated the digital clocks mount as I wanted the clocks lowered also. All made in aluminium to drop height by around 60mm.
- Clip-ons sourced and machined to fit new headlight lowering kit.
- Start/stop relocation
- Front mudguard with integrated shock fly protectors fabricated using the English wheel with stainless supports.
- Small rear shock protector mudguard
- Rear shock spring powder-coated and detailed.
- Aluminium radiator surround fabricated with bead relief.
- Stainless bolts skimmed on lathe for added detail.
- CCM logo projector fitted with machined housing.
- Lots of parts sent off for black anodising.
- Various cables braided to match colour scheme of paint.
- Custom-made CCM embossed heat shrink for braided cable
- Red LED under chassis show lights.
I’m sure there were more smaller details I missed.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I would have to say completing the project in the time frame allocated and around work and family life. Designing, building, and project managing any project in life is difficult enough for one person, but I had a lot of support from my partner, Sandra, as always, which made the task at hand much easier.
I also had support as I always do from my mate Gary, whom I joint share the workshop with — he builds bobbers under GC Customs Bikes.