When Can-Am announced the Pulse and the Origin, its first proper two-wheeled motorcycles since the early 1980s, those bikes were both powered by electric motors. Even the factory those bikes will be built in is being constructed according to BRP’s Corporate Social Responsibility Plan. Does that mean we can expect a future of motorcycles being built with a marketing plan that revolves around social justice and environmentalism?
Maybe not. Over at Cycle World, Ben Purvis has unearthed some highly interesting patent docs from Can-Am, which show the company working on a gasoline-powered motorcycle with hub steering. See below:
While Can-Am calls its electric Origin a dual-sport, this bike in the patent images is obviously not intended for street-and-trail duty, and it seems unlikely any variant of this bike would be headed for the dirt. It appears to have been designed with considerable inspiration from the same team that designed the Ryker three-wheeler. And maybe that’s a path forward for Can-Am—inventing motorcycles that can be ordered with either a two-wheeled front end, or this oddball hub-steered front end?
Who knows, because even though we see this patent here, there is no guarantee that any machine like this will ever make it to market. However, it is most interesting to see what Can-Am’s skunk works team is up to, and that they’re not giving up on gasoline just yet. While legislation around the world pushes internal combustion to the margins, supposedly, there’s a good decade-plus before most of those rules come into effect, and Can-Am might have some interesting gasoline-powered motorcycles to come yet.
Or maybe not. Hub steering has a long history in the world of motorcycles, but that long history doesn’t equate to road-going success. Many designers have proposed using hub steering in order to reduce brake dive or avoid other undesirabilities of conventional fork layouts. Yet, despite the best efforts of Honda, Bimota, Yamaha and others who’ve played with the tech, fork-and-shock suspension is still the go-to for the vast majority of the world’s motorcycles. But if anyone can break out of that mold, it might be Can-Am; the BRP subsidiary has already been selling its three-wheeled machines for well over a decade; in a world that didn’t really ask for them in the first place, the Spyder and its successors have carved out a niche.