People who ride Can-Am motorcycles know that they're a quality bike, but how much do they really know about the company that made them. While a few rare enthusiasts do the research, others don't really think about the origins of the machine or its manufacturer. We're here to let you know that the company has an interesting story and here are 20 things that you didn't know about Can-Am Motorcycles.
1. The company has been around for nearly 80 years
Can-Am was first developed in 1942. It's been around for a while and their designs just keep getting better and better. From day one they've made a commitment to delivering innovation and quality to their customers and that is precisely what they have done since the 1940s. The company isn't showing any sign that they intend to slow down either.
2. The name of the founder is Bombardier
The company was founded by J.A. Bombardier. If the name sounds familiar it's because it is the name of a famous aircraft company. If you ask a dyed in the wool Can-Am motorcycle fan if their bikes can fly they're likely to tell you that they do. It's the truth, at least in part when the fast and rugged bikes catch some air on a jump.
3. Can-Am Motorcycle is a division of a larger company
Building motorcycles were just one of the many things that Can-Am does. The motorcycle manufacturing plant was only a small part of the gigantic operation. The parent company for Can-Am is actually called BRP, short for Bombardier Recreational products. It's a large corporation with its headquarters in Canada. The company has extended branches throughout the world and is behind Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, and 6 more iconic brands, including Can-Am.
4. Can-Am is known by a few different names
Some people refer to the company as Can-Am and others call it Bombi Can-Am. It depends on who you're talking to and which division of the big company they regularly deal with. Motorcycle enthusiasts generally call it Can-Am though.
5. They make high-speed trains.
Here is a fun fact that many Can-Am motorcycle owners didn’t know about. BRP, the company behind the Can-Am brand, used to be part of Bombardier Inc. Bombardier well-known throughout the world for its manufacture of high-speed trains. They produce the Acela Express, the Jet Train and the LRC Zefiro. In all fairness, it’s likely that the people who know about their manufacture of these trains probably don’t realize that they also design and build motorcycles too.
6. Locomotives are also Bombardier's wheelhouse
There is a huge difference between locomotives and high-speed trains. While they do share quite a few similarities, the locomotives have a different design and they’re not built for the incredible speed that is achieved by their relatives, the high-speed trains. Bombardier (Can-Am) builds them all and they’ve been successful in marketing them throughout various parts of the world. Some of their locomotive designs include the ALP-45DP, the ALP-46 FS Class E464, and the HHP-8 HR-616 Iore TRAXX. Now you know they built all kinds of trains and locomotives as well as motorcycles.
7. bombardier builds passenger carriages
Bombardier is well-known for the high-end passenger carriages that they build. They have to their credit the BiLevel Coach, the Double-deck Coach, and the MultiLevel Coach Horizon Superliner. The next time that you’re using public transportation and you notice that the vehicle is a Bombardier build, you’ll probably know more about the company than anyone else traveling the route.
8. Can-Am partnered with family subsidiaries to produce their motorcycles
It as an American named Gary Robison who worked with Californian and Canadian development technician teams to begin the development of Can-Am motocross and enduro bikes. They started the work in 1971 and they used engines for the bikes which were developed by another of BRP's subsidiaries, the Austrian Rotax company.
9. They only trusted a champion to test their bikes
After Can-Am developed the prototypes for their new lines of enduro and motocross bikes in the early 1970s, they were wading into unfamiliar waters. Known for their excellent reputation for delivering quality in everything they produce, the company wanted to have one of the best experts test their new motorcycles so they brought the former motocross World Champion Jeff Smith on board to test them and to validate the prototypes of each bike that they had designed and built. He was also charged with establishing the Can-Am Motorcycle race program. When they were satisfied with the results, Can-Am began the serial production of these motorcycle lines in 1973.
10. Can-Am is known for its huge line of ATVs
In addition to producing some amazing racing motorcycles, Can-Am diversified into the ATV arena. They got into the production of side-by-side vehicles. These ATVs became immensely popular and in high-demand. Once again, Can-Am showed the world how capable they were when it came to redefining any kind of market that they decide to tackle. This was yet another impressive milestone in the ever-expanding universe of the Can-Am company.
11. Can-Am was a leading innovator in the 1990s
During the late 1990s, the engineers and designers at Can-Am were the first teams to successfully equip their ATVs with a uniquely new rear suspension that was labeled TTI. It provided riders with the maximum in comfort and it did so in all track and road conditions because of the way that they placed two well-thought out pivot points.
12. They maintained their edge at the turn of the century
In 2002, Can-Am secured another record-breaking first for the history books. They pioneered the way in developing the first manufacturer-approved ATV that was designed for two people. This was before the development of the side-by-side. The new vehicle offered the maximum safe amount of power with excellence in handling and traction. The manufacturer was lauded and endorsed by both enthusiasts and professionals.
13. Can-Am bikes set a powerful precedent
The machines that were being rolled off of Can-Ams production lines made one hell of an impact on the world. Riders began winning Gold Silver and Bronze medals taking the top 3 podium positions at the International Six Days Trail. This was a highly anticipated off-road motorcycle competition and it was the perfect setting for Can-Am to really show their stuff.
14. Can-Am made first in Sweeping the AMA championships
During the middle 1970s, Can-Am became the first motorcycle brand to make an absolute sweep at the American Motorcyclist Association 250cc motocross national championship. The Can-Am riders representing were Jimmy Ellis, Marty Tripes, and Gary Jones who took the three top positions. Tripes had previously been a Husqvarna rider but he came on board under the hire of Can-Am for the last race of the season. This was just one of the examples of a rash of victories taken by Can-Am riders. The high power outputs had earned the brand and their bikes their stellar reputation in motocross and enduro sports.
15. BRP makes aqua and snow vehicles too
BRP also has a good reputation for their aquatic vehicles. They’re the company responsible for not only motorcycles but also for their Evinrude outboard motors for boats, the Sea-Doo XP and the Sea-Doo GTX. The also make snow vehicles for winter sports. If you’ve ever ridden on a Ski-Doo snowmobile then you’ve experienced a taste of BRP's innovation at its finest. They provide lines of recreation vehicles that will keep you in full all year round.
16. The name BRP/Can-Am is associated with quality and performance
Even though there are thousands of Can-Am motorcycle enthusiasts who don't know a lot about the company itself, the brand is associated with positive reviews. Their innovative spirit and creativity along with thorough testing and attention to the smallest details have been the signature hallmarks of the brand that have placed them in such a good position in their global marketing. A perfect example of this in action is the Rotax Engine design that featured a unique style of intake and a compact rotary disc system that provided a power curve not seen in any other automotive innovation at the time. In 1977, Can-Am was at the pinnacle of success with the MX3 that featured a 36 horsepower motor that overshadowed the nearest competitor by a higher rating of 6 horsepower. The engineering and design team fulfilled their commitment to maintaining a leading edge in their automotive innovation and creative spirit.
17. They produced a rocking three-wheel roadster
One of the most novel and unique vehicles that the brand has produced to date has been the Can-Am Spyder. The roadster was produced in 2007 and it was a big hit. You couldn't open an ATV magazine or website without reading positive customer reviews or an expose on their new vehicle. It made big news in a way that few new vehicles have done. Part of the hype over the new Spyder was because of the brand name associated with it. When you have innovation, creativity, and quality as a foundation for every single vehicle that you produce, you can expect that anything of this nature that is new and different is going to catch a lot of attention from the press.
18. BRPr and Can-Am are a global phenomenon
Currently, Can-Am vehicles as a product line of BRP is one of the most respected and trusted brands by enthusiasts as well as by professional riders. The company has spread throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas with their production plants and retail outlets. BRP employs more than 10,500 workers worldwide and they are helping to keep the Can-Am spirit of innovation and creativity alive in their recreational vehicles and top notched engines.
19. BRP delivers the ultimate in power sports
For those of you who didn’t already know, BRP, the company behind Can-Am, is leading the pack with a diverse line of vehicles that are designed for the ultimate riding in the powersports vehicle manufacturing industry. The Ski-Doo, as well as Lynx snowmobiles, are in their lineup in addition to the Can-Am brand Spyder roadster for a little street fun. You can tear up the track and throw mud for yards on their enduro and motocross bikes(we haven't produced motocross bikes for almost 30 years). Land and Sea are their specialties with Evinrude outboard motors and Sea-Doo watercraft. The one thing that all of these product lines have in common is that they are each inspired by BRP’s mission to “deliver the ultimate powersports experience to our customers.” It doesn’t take a lot of research to confirm that Can-Am is a brand that definitely lives up to its promises and well as too its reputation as one of the most dependable, reliable and highly desired brands on the global market today.
20. BRP maintains a lasting legacy of quality, innovation, and versatility across multiple markets
There are few companies in the world that can boast the multi-faceted market dominance that BRP has achieved in its nearly 80 years (Can-Am was born in 1982) in the business. From the first Bombardier factory in 1942 to the bustling and busy production centers of today.
They launched the Can-Am Commander side-by-side, the most versatile of its kind industry-wide. They’re responsible for the powerful Rotax 1000 V-Twin engine, some of the most revolutionary enduro and motocross bikes, and more. They contributed to the betterment of the rail industry with their locomotives, and in their typical innovative style, high-speed trains that went yet one better.
There seems no end to the ongoing sea of creativeness that BRP pours forth yet newer and better innovations across multiple industries. Their diversity is unmatched and the quality stands on its own. Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about Can-Am is the fact that there was a period of time when Bombardier shifted its focus from the manufacture or innovative recreational products to vehicles designed for the transit equipment industry. After several years, they entered the aircraft manufacturing industry for which the Bombardier name is so prominently recognized.
The company had gone on a hiatus from their subsidiary Can-Am division with substantial reductions made in the financing of new ventures in motorcycle development and production as well as their other recreational vehicle lines. It wasn’t until 1983 that Bombardier decided to outsource the production of the Can-Am branded motorcycles to Armstrong-CCM Motorcycles headquartered in Lancashire, England. Can-Am Motorcycles produced their last bike in 1987, but the strong desire to own these vintage bikes perseveres. The parent company, however, is thriving in other industries throughout the globe.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker