Can-Am Motorcycles by Bombardier

Can-Am Photos by Mike Rydman

My Personal Pics: Bikes, Amateurs, and Pros

This was Jerome Heiberger's factory support 250. The factory support program was a factory/dealer collaboration to sponsor promising riders who could demonstrate CanAm performance at both local and National levels. If you could convince Can-Am that your rider was worthy of the program, a bike was sold to the dealer at a very low cost (between $400 -- $800). They also gave each rider a complete clothing package (including helmet and boots), and a generous parts allowance. In 1980--81 Can-Am support MX riders (that I'm aware of) were Jerome Heiberger, Juan Benavidez, Karl Taylor, Randy Warren, Bobby Williams, and Kevin Welch. The Fox air shocks shown in the photo were a short lived suspension experiment. Fox subsequently gave us a pair of their remote reservoir gas shocks which worked great.

Jerome Heiberger on his f/s 250 MX6 at Sears Point California. This is the predecessor to the "b" model. We eventually changed the swingarm to the newer aluminum type. If you want to discover the "weak spots" on a motorcycle, just let a professional ride it for a season. Conversely, the engine lasted almost 2 seasons and required surprisingly little maintenance.

Heiberger racing at Fremont California.

Still another shot of Jerome riding at Fremont.

MX-5: This is Dave "Ironman" Drawdy. He wasn't a professional rider, but was an extremely fast (and tough) amateur. Dave had 2 Can-Ams and usually rode both the 250 and open class on the same day. He's pictured here on his MX5 250.

MX-4: Don Walsh (amateur) on a 250 MX4 at Fremont.

This is me on a 175 Qualifier III at the Virginia City Grand Prix in 1981. The 175's had 24hp that was spread over a very wide rpm range, with a top speed of about 80mph. The only changes I made for racing this bike were Works Performance shocks and dampening rod modifications. I liked the 175's for desert racing. They had plenty of horsepower, yet didn't seem as physically exhausting as a 250 on a long event.

This is my dad, Ron "The Tank" Rydman. He's pictured here on a 250 Qualifier II at the Virginia City GP in 1980. He raced this bike for about a year and then switched over to a 350 Qualifier III. Like myself, my dad owned a variety of Can-Am's. We called him the "Tank" because he always rode at one speed. It wasn't lightning fast, but it wasn't slow either. Because of this he never seemed to get tired, no matter how long the race was. This strategy generally paid off at the checkered flag. It's very humiliating to get passed by an "old timer" on the last lap of a 125 mile race -- especially when it's your dad :-)

My first CanAm, a 175 MX-2, pictured here on its maiden voyage across the Nevada desert. The difference between the MX-2 powerband and the enduro models was like night and day. These bikes screamed! The 175 MX-2 pumped out 30hp @ 8700rpm but it still had enough bottom end to let me ride a couple of enduros. For those events, I ran a custom made hi-pipe which sacrificed a bit of HP in exchange for more ground clearance

My "250 Qualifier I" at VCGP in the snow (circa 1978). The CanAm's I've owned for personal use are: 175 MX2 -- 250 Qualifier I -- 250 MX3 * -- 175 Qualifier II -- 250 Qualifier II * -- 175 Qualifier III -- 350 Qualifier III * -- 175 Qualifier IV (* shared with my dad)