I have received some of updates on two bikes that are being rebuilt.

The first is from Fabrice Guitard, a TnT 250 that I originally helped source and ship over to France. Fabrice has done some great rebuilds previously, including a 370 powered ’77 Qualifier rebuilt as a Jeff Smith ISDT replica.

The second is from Dave Hurling who is nearly complete his own ’77 Qualifier.

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Portsmouth to Portugal on a Can-Am

There are a number of poor decisions that I can often blame on too much wine (and normally involving Ebay), but I made this one when completely sober, stood in WH Smiths reading a classic bike magazine. I decided to join Jack Lilley’s Portsmouth to Porto 2T Challenge. Dreamed up by the guys at Jack Lilley Triumph Motorcycles, this challenge is to ride a sub 250cc 2 stroke motorcycle from their showroom in London to Porto, Portugal. A distance of nearly 1,300 miles. All in the aim of raising some money for Riders for Health, a charity that provides motorcycles to aid workers in Africa.

In a flash of madness I figured if Jeff Smith can hustle a Qualifier for 7 days around the ISDT and get a gold medal, then surely I can ride one on the B roads of northern Europe? Can’t be that hard could it?………………………………..

Not sure which bike yet but either my ’77 Qualifier 250 or the ’79 Qualifier 175. Time for some shakedown rides and make some decisions.

Fancy joining me and the others, then check out the challenge at

Stay tuned for updates and calls for donations to support the ride………….

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The Mini-Bike Saga

My newly acquired mini-bike (see below) has caused me to research a bit more of the early history about how Can-Am came into play. Whilst there is very little published information about the early days of Can-Am , the history of how Bombardier developed a mini-bike is well recorded due to some rather ugly legal proceedings.

According the published legal notes surrounding the court cases, the story goes something like this:

Bombardier was interested in developing a summertime product which its extensive distributor and dealer network could market during the off seasons. Starting in 1969, it began to explore the possibility of entering the minicycle market and developed a minibike called the “Fun-Doo.” However, since Bombardier was not entirely satisfied that the Fun-Doo would do well in the marketplace because of the type of transmission it had, Bombardier in 1970 corresponded with Czech, Taiwanese and Japanese manufacturers with the aim of arranging the foreign manufacture of minicycles for Bombardier. In August, 1970, Agrati met with Bombardier in Canada and discussed various proposals for the distribution and/or manufacture of minicycles. During this meeting, Bombardier informed Agrati that a decision would have to be reached quickly otherwise, Bombardier would consider manufacturing a product of its own.

On September 13, 1970, Bombardier and Agrati (who owned the Garelli brand) entered into an agreement. In return for Bombardier’s abandoning the manufacturing and selling of its own ‘Fun-Doo’ minicycle, Agrati agreed not to manufacture or sell a new 50-100 cc motorcycles.  This meant that Agrati would have to terminate its exclusive distribution agreement with Engine Specialties and to grant Bombardier exclusive distribution rights for Agrati’s ‘Broncco’ minicycle in North America.

Engine Specialties were the then current North American distributor for Agarti and who had contracted with Agrati for them to manufacture and sell mini-cycles to ESI for distribution under ESI’s trade name “Bronco.” Under the new agreement Engine Specialties effectively had its business wiped out in a single stroke. Not willing to accept this, Engine Specialties headed to the courts for resolution. Although mini-bike seems like small business, the court records show that Engine Specialties had sold more that $130,000 worth of bike in Massachusetts alone in 1970. At $350 average cost for a bikes that’s 370 bikes! Incidentally Bombardier sold $5.2m of Ski-Doo’s in the same state and time period

The case was heard by the courts on 03 November 1971 and Engine Specialties gain a court injunction again Bombardier and Agrati causing the distribution and selling of the mini-bikes to cease. So in less than 9 months Bombardier’s first foray into bikes ended up in a rather messy legal case that would take nearly 10 years to sort. The injunction may also explain why the mini-bikes appear in abundance in Australia. With a ban in North America, did Agrati dump the stock in Australia?

Jeff Smith had told me previously that in November ’71 he got a call from Bombardier wanting him to join a team to develop a new MX bike at a record pace. Can-Am was born

And if anyone know what a Fun-Doo looks like I would love to see a photo. And if you have an actual Fun Doo, the cheque book is waiting………………….

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South Africa Can-Am

You just have to love those old photo’s from the ’70′s? In the age of Photoshop, a true  untouched photo conveys so much about the times.

This photograph comes from South Africa  at an 1974 MX event just outside Cape Town. The rider is Gary Jones riding a 500cc prototype MX2 bike and the bike seems to be drawing the attention of the crowd more than the champion.

According to Bob Fisher, who rode for Can-Am in the early seventies, the bike was a one off built for Gary as Can-Am wanted to compete in the Open Class and need a +300cc to do so.

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Before the Can-Am…………………was the Bantam

Bombardiers first foray into dirt bikes was with rebadged Garelli’s. In 1971 they introduced three models – the Junior Cross which was identical to the Garelli model with the exception of the Bombardier tank decal.  The Trail and Cross models were based on the Broncco mini bike, but came in unique orange and yellow colours respectively.

I’ve been after a Cross mini bike for a while (no I don’t why) and when I spotted a complete bike on Canada EBay, I just had to buy it. Problem was it was 5,000 miles away. Jason of 219 Cycle Salvage went out of his way to assist, with an offer to crate and help with the shipping. Rod Taylor of Pack & Send Newbury joined in the madness with an offer to ship it. Once we got DHL to act (very poor service), the bike enjoyed a personal flight to the UK.

Its now been disassembled and spread through the country as various people undertake the powder coating, blasting, painting, part sourcing and rechroming. I hope to have it together for the Telford Show in February.

As there is very little information about these bikes, if you have one, drop me a line.

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