How to Identify Your Can-Am
To identify exactly what Can-Am you have is critical for not only rebuilding it, but to make sure parts are sourced for the correct model. As Can-Am’s are now nearly 40 years old, and with parts interchangeable across several models/years, the only real way to identify the bike is through the serial numbers. Confusion is also added that after 1983 when Armstrong’s and Can-Am’s were identical and made on the same assembly line. Can-Am also made a number of models, such as the Fun Machine and other combinations of engine/frames that were never designated as official models.
Many thanks to Brian Taylor for supplying this handy guide (click on the link):
First: Check the frame
All Can-Ams have a unique serial number stamped on the headstock. It should be a vertical number on the left side of the headstock which has been wire eroded into the metal. The number should consist of 10 digits, the first four digits giving the model number and last 2-4 digits giving the build number. The bike in the picture is serial number 3841000010, meaning 3841- it’s a 1973 TnT 125 and 0010 making it the tenth bike made. This also corresponds to the date stamp of 06/73 – bike made
Check the first four number of the frame against this chart:Frame Serial Number Identification
Second: Check the plate
After about 1977, Can-Am switched from stickers to small aluminium plates, with the frame number appear alongside the plate showing the same serial number. The plate in the photo gives the serial number 853100018 making it a 1984 240 trials bike
The number on the headstock should correspond to the plate.
Third: Check the engine
On the rear of the engine, there should be a serial number stamped just behind the oil filler/crackcase vent, 5-6 numbers long. This is a Rotax serial number and difficult to decipher. The number only relates to Rotax and is generally related only to date of manufacture. You need to consult your local Rotax specialist, such as Peter Knight or Tony Murphy who can then look up the number on a Rotax database.
Fourth: Look underneath
Fifth: Look for features
The differences between models and years can often be identified through features such as:
- MX models, except 125’s, are normally 5 speed. Check the
specification sheets of the model
- Early models, generally 1973 /1974, used cast aluminium engine
cases instead of magnesium
- Military frames have a much higher filler neck for the high
- All models generally used 6 pole stators with Bosch
ignitions. Early MX models could be ordered with Motoplat ignitions.
- Premix models used one piece clutch covers. Oil injected
motors have a small D shaped removable panel on the clutch cover to access the
- Swing arms – on the early models the shock location varied
on the swing arm. Generally the later the model the further back the shocks are
- MX-6 models should have the air scoops on the side of the
headstock with a six bolt seat. MX-6B’s should have an aluminium swing arm.