Can-Am Road Racer

In 1983 Can-Am sought another string to its racing bow by releasing a 250c road racing bike. Using two 125cc Rotax motors with a conjoined crankshaft, the bike featured a bespoke frame with aluminium swing arm.

Engine Spec Report

Road Race Report

But before that……………

Before Can-Am officially looked into going road racing, amatuers had already understood the potential of the Rotax motor to provide some useful power. Michael Moore recently sent me information on  two of those bikes;

Ken Rosevear’s Water Cooled Special

Ken was an original Can-Am development engineer working on MX bikes who decided to borrow a few parts and add some water to go road racing. The Cycle article tells the story:

Glenn’s Hub Centre Steering Racer

When you really want a challenge, go for hub centre steering:

The photos were taken in June ’80, so you can understand that some of the details have been long forgotten.  I had been quite impressed by Nessie and the ELF project and was kicking around the idea of centre hub steering with a friend and one thing led to another.

The engine is a Can-Am 125 (MX-*, the rotary valve model).  The frame is 5/8 (I think) 16ga. CREW tubing, with larger diameters for the front and rear suspensions.

The front end is something I designed myself, but I saw a sketch of something very similar a couple of years later in Foale and Willoughby.  Heim joints throughout the front end for adjustability and alignment.

The one-piece bodywork is .050 aluminum, gas welded. The bike weighed 155 lb., including the fairly heavy Can-Am rear hub and Honda CB500 disc setup on the front.

Picture 1 is the right side, under construction.  There wasn’t much more to the chassis than this.  The curved steering link at the top of the upright was (quickly) replaced by a straight link at the wheel centre.

Picture 2 is the bike nearly completed, with the body work almost finished.

Picture 3 is me fastening on the body, taken at Shannonville Motorsport Park. It gives a good sense of scale of the complete bike.

I’d change a few things if I was to do it again: the steering linkage and the one piece body among others.  I’d use a different type of ball joint at the bottom (wheel centre).  First, though, I’d have to get the kind of machine shop access I had back then!

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