The Can-Am brand was founded way back in 1971 as one of the most exciting names in off-road, with a serious lineup of dirt bikes that dominated competition. The company later grew to incorporate equally successful ATV, and snowmobile branches. Through the 1980s the motorcycle business wound down and Can-Am focused on its strengths, letting the two-wheel business wither on the vine. Now the Can-Am Motorcycle brand is making a comeback in a big way, with four new all-electric bikes set to launch next year for a 2024 delivery.
Back in 2018 the all-electric off-road startup Alta was rapidly burning through money at an enormous rate, but was widely regarded as the best electric off-road motorcycle on the market. It had attempted to work a deal for Harley-Davidson to purchase the brand, but the deal was delayed so long that Alta ran out of money and time, and when H-D allegedly pushed for a lower valuation for the struggling company, Alta brass backed out.
A last-minute last-ditch effort to save the company was floated to Can-Am parent company BRP and give it a much-needed injection of cash, but being on the verge of bankruptcy BRP wanted nothing to do with the gaping cash wound. It wasn’t until after bankruptcy that BRP finalized the purchase of what remained of Alta’s assets, including intellectual property, but it knew from the outset that could never actually use those assets to bring anything to market, what with the legal quagmire that might have ensued.
So instead of Alta continuing to exist as one of the best things to ever be powered by electrons, Can-Am was forced to engineer its own solution from the ground up, using what it learned from the Alta process. The result is a six year delay and four bikes instead of just one. Coming in 2024, Can-Am is back in the bike business, baby!
Based on this YouTube video launch, there will be four new electric Can-Ams. The two bikes on the right seem to be low-slung cruiser-like machines, which could potentially be a very North American take on a big electric scooter similar in concept to BMW’s CE-04, or maybe it’s the long-haul fast-charge 200-miles-of-range electric bagger bike I’ve been begging for (Say that ten times fast). The bike on the far left appears to be a mid-sized upright urban standard, which is awesome. That leaves the tall enduro/adventure bike second from the left, which is another awesome idea. Off road electric is the absolute jam, and I encourage more competition in that space.
So there you have it. Can-Am used to make two-smokers for off-road use, but now it’s changing to a new propulsion system, and it can’t come soon enough. With stiff competition coming in from Zero and LiveWire over the next few years, Can-Am needs to come out swinging.