You can’t say Can-Am didn’t throw everything at motorcycles in the early days. Flushed with their initial success, they attempted entering the road bike market, but neither went beyond the prototype stage.
The attempt was in 1975, with the use of a 500cc snowmobile engine in a unique chassis. The rest of the bike was assembled using the TnT front end, cast wheels and a monocoque tank and seat assembly similar in design to Yamaha’s RD series.
Only a couple of prototypes were constructed, and were distinct for their unique exhaust system combining expansion pipes with a typical conical silencer to look like twin pipes. Unfortuneatly the effective ban on 2 strokes by the US Government due to emissions, cause the project to be scrapped.
I know of two examples still in existence. One in Alberta, Canada and the other in North Carolina, owned by Gary Robison himself, which was featured in the August 1989 issue of Classic Bike magazine.
And on a lighter note:
Ernest Buckler, a mad cap inventor has recently sent me some photo’s of the Can-Am road bike which he took while visiting Valcourt in ‘70’s when they were developing the road bike..
Ernest picks up the story: Jeff Smith probably would remember me…the young dorky American inventor driving an old Valiant station wagon, who showed them sketches of a bike with cargo bin above a horizontal engine. My design used a Norton Featherbed frame with the down tubes shortened and lower engine cradle raised enough so that a McCulloch 3 cyl. 2-stroke outboard engine fit w/normal ground clearance. The carbs mounted to the crankcase off to one side, so there was room for a Burman gear-box. It was early enough that the required liquid cooling would’ve been a big deal. Fuel tanks on my design were side tanks, giving the obvious advantage of being easily changeable from year to year. Top hatch covered a sizeable cargo bin, into which I’d stuffed a sleeping bag, Primus, 2 qt. canteen, 35mm camera, misc. extras – all on paper but drawn carefully to scale. When I saw the Can-Am street machine, I had to go make my pitch, but even if they’d been open to the idea, once I told them, they didn’t need me anymore – If they’d been able to produce the bike for sale – which of course was banned by the restriction on 2-stroke street machines. I had been teaching motorcycle mechanics in an early trade school in Kansas City, Missouri, designing and drawing within my limited untrained (at the time; I went back to school to learn drafting, retired as a machine design draftsman 15 years ago) ability. The idea was proven on paper but certainly didn’t impress them.
My latest experiment can be seen on YouTube, “Ernest Buckler’s Magna #5″, still in process of becoming fully road-worthy – the outriggers need a LOT of air and the bike alt. is not up to the task, so an acc’y drive is being fab’ed off the V-65 alt. with outboard support bearing for the front pulley.