Canada is not a country you normally associate with motorcycles, but in the early 1970’s a then small company, Bombardier (pronounced Bom-bar-dee-ay (or eh! as its Canadian!), launched the MX-1 a 2 stroke motocross bike that in its inaugural year captured gold, silver and bronze medals in 1973 ISDE and 1st 2nd and 3rd in the 1974 AMA motocross championship. The world sat up and suddenly associated Canada with dirt bikes.
In a small sleepy town in French Canada – Valcourt, Quebec – Joseph Armand Bombardier in 1937, had the unique idea of taking a flexible rubber tank type track and attaching a car engine, to create the B7, then the world’s first snowmobile. By 1970, this small company had captured 90% of the worlds snowmobile market and had become a leading manufacturer of recreational products. Bombardier had already developed a successful business by focusing on niche markets. Through the success of their Ski-Doo brand, they had built up a dealership network of over 4,000 in North America, but these same dealers had little to sell in the summer months In an effort to expand the business further, and make use of the recently acquired company Rotax and its existing recreational product dealer network, a decision was made to diversify into motorcycle manufacturing.
Realising that they could not compete against emerging superiority of the Japanese manufacturers, Bombardier decided to focus on off-road competition bikes, a market in the 1970’s that was mainly being catered for by small European manufacturers.
Enter Gary Robinson and Jeff Smith. No one can criticise Bombardier for not starting with a bang. In Gary and Jeff Bombardier has secured the skills of one of the leading motorcycle engineers and a two times world motocross champion. Although the bikes were design from scratched, Jeff’s influence can be seen in that the frame for the early MX’s and TnT’s are almost identical to the AJS Stormer. And the oil-in-frame injection system was pioneered by CCM, although in their four strokes.
Gary Robinson was initially christened Vice President and Director of Motorcycle Research and Development. It is understood that he was give a clean sheet of paper to develop the bike, with the only stipulation that he produced a monthly progress report. Being responsible for design as well, Gary recruited Jeff Smith who later became Director of Engineering. Other key people include Bob Fisher as engineering manager, Scotty Sader as enduro manager, Ken Rosvere as motocross manager and Bob Barker as racing managers. Project managers included, Geoff Burgess, Jim Allen, Ron Matthews and Dave McLean. Dick Lague, Robert LeBoeuf and Lars Goodman were marketing/sales directors over the years.
The following press releases from Bombardier announced the commencement of Can-Am and the signing up of the key people.
- Launch Press Release
- Gary Jones Press Release
- Gary Jones Photos
- Gary Jones Reprint LR
- AMA Press Release