Vintage Can-Am Motorcycles

Vintage Can-Am MotorcyclesCan-Am is a Canadian motorcycle brand from the 1970s and 1980s. While Bombardier began and ended producing machines for the dreary Canadian winters, they made quite a name for themselves in the motocross and enduro world, as well. Bombardier began producing Can-Am bikes in the 1970s, using Rotax engines, which was another division of Bombardier.

The first Can-Am motorcycles were 175cc and 250cc models. They had single-cylinder, disc-valve, two-stroke engines with a five-speed gearbox. In order to make the bikes more off-road-friendly, Can-Am mounted the carbureator on a passage behind the cylinder, feeding the mixture to the disc-valve, and keeping the engine more narrow. Long-travel suspension was another feature of the bikes, using telescopic front forks and twin rear shocks, drum brakes, wire wheels, and off-road tires. Not only were these bikes made for racing, but they were street legal, as well. They had a spark arrestor on the exhaust system, a speedometer, lights, mirror, and turn signals.

Word got out pretty quickly about these new Can-Am bikes, especially after Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the International Six Days Trial were won on Can-Am’s in 1973, and Gary Jones won the 250cc class of the 1974 AMA National Motocross Championship on one, too.

1978 brought about a larger five-speed 366cc model with a reed-valve engine with petrol lubrication, and all three of the models now had new rear shocks, Marzocchi front forks, and increased wheel movement. A six-speed gearbox was now standard for the 175cc and 250cc models. These changes essentially made them purely for enduro racing, and they were named the Qualifier.
Now that there was an enduro line of bikes, Can-Am needed a motocross line. They released the 250 MX-5 and the 370 MX-5. Their engines were the sizes given by their names, and they had more power than the previous Can-Am’s, and more wheel travel. In 1980, Can-Am added a 125 MX-5 to the motocross mix, and a 400cc to the Qualifier line. With the increase in emission regulations in the United States in the 1980s, Can-Am also began using four-stroke, single-cylinder Rotax engines with four-valves and an overhead camshaft.

Bombardier, feeling overwhelmed with all of their snowmobile orders, decided to outsource development and manufacturing of Can-Am’s to England’s Armstrong/CCM. They however did not keep up with it, and 1987 was the last year that Can-Am produced off road bikes.

Vintage Can-Am Motorcycles & Parts

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40 Comments

  • Dakota says:

    I have a 1985 Can Am 250 two stroke Bombardier I’m looking for a carburetor can anybody help

  • Dean says:

    Hi, I have just bought an 1978 250 ex military bike. I need a engine gasket kit as it has an oil leak and looks like there wasn’t a gasket fitted! Can anyone point me it the right place to get one. Thanks

    • Anonymous says:

      They did not use gaskets, all you need to do is clean both sides with brake clean and use a good engine silicone.

  • I have a 79 can-am 400 Qualifier, I ‘am looking for a flywheel. Don’t know if 370 or 250 will interchange? Does anybody know where I can find one? Thanks chas

  • Josh says:

    I’m looking for a starter shaft for my 86 ase 200.
    If anyone has one or a site that I can buy new or used.

  • Pete Johnson says:

    Just picked up a 1986 200 ASE project for my daughter and I this winter. Any info on where I can get a shop manual for it? Any help is appreciated!

  • Craig Fox says:

    What silencer is on the Can Am mx6 125 on your site? Looks like its aluminum!

  • Ace aka josh says:

    I have an 1984 85 500 mx but it needs a total restore.

    • Travis says:

      Would you consider selling parts from your 1984 mx 500? I need a cylinder head, air box, and exhaust if possible. Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you have. I buy all good vintage mx today. Call 5614275411 Kirby needs more bikes.

    • Bryan strait says:

      Ace can you part with a good rear frame section and swing arm from your can am MX 500 must be in good usable condition it’s going on a restoration. Thanks in advance . Bryan

  • jim heier says:

    What’s up Can-Am people. My name is Jim and i have come across a 1986 Can-Am 200 ASE needing some love. First thing on my list is a header pipe for this bike. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Scott Johnston says:

    Hello. I just had the privilege (or horror) of buying two Can-Am’s (’77 250 Qualifier & ’76 T’nT 175 O/R) at an estate auction yesterday here in western Colorado. Original owner who passed away and they came with the original (old) Colorado titles. I part out many old bikes to fund my restorations but these two “may” be worth restoring. I can send photos. In my research over the last few days, I see both good and bad comments on these. However, the ’76 vin# 6855000431 seems to be the most rare. I am not sure what the O/R stands for (off-road?) or how many were ever made. It seems like they were only made in phase 3 of this model for that year only. I have also seen the “VL” listed after them with something about being vintage legal to race. I need to get them running before I decide what to do but the carb slides seem stuck so I have work to do. Any info you have would be great. Thanks!

  • ed says:

    Does anyone know where I can buy a service manual for a 1985 can-am bombardier ase 250 dirt bike?

  • Bryan Strait says:

    I have a 84 Can-Am MX 500 in excellent condition, I took a spill and racked my rear frame section and can’t get it straight enough to use. Does anyone have a rear frame section for my bike? I would be very grateful. Please send a photo and how much money please. I’m located in North West Ohio up by Toledo, Ohio. Thanks to all you vintage Can-Am riders, collectors, and general keepers of the Rotax machines From Canada. And yes England for that short time.

  • Ricky Hofer says:

    All I can remember, is that the 250 had a pretty strong engine.

  • Scott T. says:

    @B.P 6: Are you still in the market for a Can-Am 500MX?

  • B.P 6 says:

    Does anyone know where I could find a repair manual for a 1984 Can-am MX 500 online?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Dan M – 38mm Mikuni 400cc Can-Am

  • Dan M says:

    Just bought a 1984 Can-Am 500 in New Hampshire with a 1986 500 ASE rolling frame with a 400cc motor in it. Can’t wait for spring! Anyone know what size carb the 400cc motor takes?

  • Kevin says:

    I have a 1980 Cam Am 250 MX6 and oil leaks out of the shifter shaft, can someone advise?

    • Anonymous says:

      In case nobody replied, there is an o ring that seals the shifter inside the motor. Yes, you have to split the cases to get to it. Sucks! I used a fat o ring between the Shifter and kicker. Works ok, slows the leak to a minor drip once in a while.

  • Mike F says:

    Had a 1980 MX 400 just like the first photo. I could keep up with my buddy who had a newer Suzuki 500 cc. It was a great Cal. desert bike and hill climber for its time. I read it had 42 horsepower in the owners info book.

  • dan carney says:

    Had a 1985 250 ase/lc. Seems to be a rare beast. Any comments? I’m 55 and would ride it daily if only I could!

  • KJ says:

    Looking for a 84 Can-am 500 MX or ASE.

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