On behalf of the entire BRP team, we are delighted to be recognized by our peers in the Canadian motorcycle industry for the role we have played in establishing the only commercially successful motorcycle to be designed and manufactured within Canada. Being awarded the Bar and Hedy Hodgson award acknowledges the significant contribution Can-Am made to the Canadian motorcycling heritage. We also recognize the that two members of the team from that era, David McLean and Bob Fisher, who have been equally recognized for induction in the CMHoF.
As Can-Am moves into the exciting prospect of its new fully electric motorcycle, we saw an opportunity to reclaim our motorcycle heritage and re-enter the market. We are looking at changing the power dynamic and opening the road to a whole new generation of riders and electric vehicle enthusiasts.
In 2023, we celebrate our 50th anniversary. Commenced in 1973, after an incredibly short development phase, Can-Am was launched onto the world motorcycle scene with a bike, which was not only innovative in its design, but instantly became synonymous with success. Under the leadership of Laurent Beaudoin, the son-in-law of the company’s founder Joseph Bombardier, a small, largely Canadian based team, assembled in Valcourt to design a motorcycle from scratch. Realizing that they could not compete against emerging superiority of the Japanese manufacturers, the team decided to focus on off-road competition bikes, a market in the 1970’s that was mainly being catered to by small European manufacturers.
In less than three years from inception, the team achieved unparalleled success. This small Canadian team, within the first 12 month period, had set two land speed records that stood for nearly 50 years. They won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the 1973 ISDT; took the first three positions in the American Motocross championship in 1974 and won a further seven medals in the 1974 ISDT. No other motorcycle brand achieved such success before or since. At that time, BRP had limited experience developing a competitive motorcycle and requiring the whole project to be established from scratch; from design to manufacturing workflow, market development to a dealer establishment and distribution. It is testament to the people of BRP and the resulting product as to how Canadian product development can lead the field.
We acknowledge the considerable role that Dave McLean and Bob Fisher had within that formulative time in designing, testing and even competing on the bikes to ensure a successful product could be delivered to the market. In the 1973 ISDT, Bob Fisher became the first Canadian born rider, to not only win a gold medal, but to do so on a Canadian bike.
Can-Am’s focus on the off-road market meant we had played a key part in supporting grass roots motorcycle competition. This is demonstrated through the previous inductees to the CMHoF, such as Blair Sharpless, Michel Mercer, Ross Pederson and Ron Keys, along with many others. The versatility of the bike design allowed Can-Ams to compete in several sport disciplines, a direct result of the innovative design.
The story of Can-Am is not simply a story of motorcycles. It is a Canadian success story that tells of world success in design, engineering, competition, and product delivery. It should serve as an inspiration to young engineers, designers and entrepreneurs that Canadians play a key role in product development.
In 2022, Can-Am announced their return to the motorcycling industry with the planned launch of electric motorcycles, commencing with the Origin and Pulse models. They have drawn upon their heritage, taking design cues from the early MX and TNT models with such features as the adaptable frame, modular power plant and off-road ability of the Origin model. The first Can‑Am motorcycles will hit the road before the end of 2024. In the meantime, the team is conducting testing in all possible usage conditions.
Since its creation in 1973, Can-Am has challenged the norm, set new standards and changed the game entirely. Today, with its groundbreaking product lineups designed with many different riders in mind, Can-Am has established itself as a powerhouse brand. Its all-terrain (ATVS) and side-by-side (SSVs) vehicles have had the fastest-growing market share in the category in North America since 2015. Earlier this year, Can-Am also made history by winning its sixth consecutive Dakar Rally.