Can-Am is making a comeback! Decades after making its last two-wheeled motorcycle, the Canadian company (a subsidiary of Bombardier Recreational Products) confirms that it will bring new bikes to market in the coming months, by 2024, according to the company. And, these new machines will be fully electric. Watch the video below.
Right away, you should notice two things about this video. First of all, it doesn’t give us a lot of information. Second, watch the video’s “featured image” – there are four bikes lined up, and one of them is an adventure bike! If that’s more than just an empty promise, we’re expecting an electric adventure bike soon, bearing the historic Can-Am badge.
Building on history
Still, despite the complete lack of juicy details (no specs, no model names), we do have some information from Can-Am in the company’s press release. José Boisjoli, president and CEO of the company, says the launch is a way for Can-Am to get back into an industry it once dominated, capitalizing on driver nostalgia while embracing modern technology.
With the motorcycle industry shifting to electric, we saw an opportunity to reclaim our motorcycle heritage and re-enter the market. This new product category is extremely important to us, and we are thrilled that Can-Am motorcycles are the first electric vehicle models in BRP’s electric line to be confirmed to consumers. Many of us have fond memories of riding early model dirt bikes, and now we look forward to building on the rich history of the Can-Am brand to inspire and impress a new generation of riders and enthusiasts. electric vehicle enthusiasts.
It’s been about 50 years since Can-Am first introduced motorcycles to the off-road market; the first machines arrived on the market in 1973. The bicycles were immediately successful. As the Canned Ham website says:
Talk to older off-road enthusiasts and you’ll hear lots of fond memories of their old Can-Ams. Although they won many races in the 1970s, the bikes had shortcomings, but then, what manufacturer didn’t, back then? Japanese and European manufacturers were still figuring things out. Can-Am took inspiration from both of these scenes, studying their opponents’ bikes very carefully. Can-Am also used Euro engines, running Rotax two-stroke engines. Bombardier, Can-Am’s parent company, had bought Rotax a few years earlier, in the 1970s, so this arrangement made sense. To this day, other Can-Ams (side-by-sides, etc.) still use Rotax engines.
However, as the 70s turned into the 80s, Can-Am moved further and further away from the motorcycle market. Instead of doubling down and building reliable four-stroke dual sport bikes like the Japanese did, Bombardier gave up. First he licensed the Can-Am motorcycle business to CCM-Armstrong in 1983, then CCM-Amstrong itself broke away in 1987 and stopped making the bikes. Since then, we’ve seen the Can-Am name on BRP-built three-wheelers, but not on bikes.
Even though it’s been 35 years since anyone made Can-Am motorcycles, there’s still a lot of interest in the brand from vintage enthusiasts. The Canned-Ham website is full of information on these machines, and you can get a much more complete picture of the company’s history there.
I can tell you, this announcement comes as no surprise—I heard very strong rumors of an electric Can-Am revival years ago, long before COVID-19 hit. Then, in early 2019, Bombardier bought the remains of Alta Motors, which built what was probably the best electric motorcycle on the market at the time. We actually saw concept bikes from Can-Am at one point, and then the chatter kind of died down. Of course we would see Something from Can-Am; it wouldn’t waste that kind of money and effort for nothing.
Perhaps if we hadn’t just gone through a two-year period of sanitary restrictions, we might have already seen more of this project. Maybe not. Either way, Can-Am may have felt compelled to confirm the electric motorcycle project, as we recently saw patent drawings showing a new Can-Am modular electric motorcycle platform.
Can-Am’s original motorcycles were mostly off-road only. The new bikes will be street-legal, however; the latest press release states that “the new products have been developed with many different riders in mind, more specifically for those who crave adventure, seek the thrill of the open road, yearn for a leisurely ride in the countryside or want to liven up the city of the streets. Riders can expect these new, state-of-the-art Can-Am electric motorcycles to be perfect for daily commuting and, for staying true to the track and trail heritage. of the brand, recreational driving on and off the road.
Something for everyone, then? Costs. We can’t wait to see what’s next, and we’re excited to see the adventure bike that Can-Am is teasing. While we’re sure there are still issues to be addressed with battery range and charge times, this could be a big step forward for Can-Am and the electric motorcycle scene in general.