Following on from Can-Am’s continuing success at the ISDT, they launched their new Qualifier model, a purpose made enduro bike that replaced the trail bike TnT. The bike was generally similar to the MX-3, but featured a detuned Rotax engine, mainly through the use of a different rotary value that focused the engine on torque rather than outright power. The bike featured typical enduro type accessories such as aluminium skid plate, snail cam adjusters, quick release wheels, grab handles, leather tool pouch and centre stand. All typically found on modern bikes but quite a revolution when it was launched.
The key difference with the Qualifier was that it was a purpose designed enduro model. Whereas the TnT was really a street trail bike, the Qualifier was a machine focused on competition.
On many of the Qualifiers, the engine is identical to its MX brother’s, with only the gearing and some subtleties such as porting showing any difference. Qualifiers were typically 6 speed with MX’s having 5. Other differences are those even still found on modern enduro bikes, that is heavier flywheels and more restricted (quieter) exhausts.
On the launch of the Qualifier 3, Cycle Guide (February 1980) gushed praise: Avid endure riders like to think a lot about having the “ideal” off-road motorcycle – you know the One True Dirt Bike that can do it all. They conjure images of a rugged, lightweight chassis that manoeuvres with agility at the bottom of first gear yet handles with stability at the top of sixth. And it’s powered by a very satile engine that plonks through the very slow as well as it berserks through the very fast. But, you see, that’s not a fantasy at all. These parameters pretty much define Can-AMs 250 Qualifier III, a specialised endure /ISDT bike performs as though some of these dream images had served as it’s blueprints.
High praise from the bike press indeed.