In 2023, the Can-Am brand is mostly known for three-wheelers like the Ryker and Spyder. Its parent company, Bombardier Recreational Products, is also a significant player in the realm of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and personal watercraft. It’s been a long time since new Can-Am two-wheelers were sold in showrooms, but if a newly-published patent points the way toward one possible future, that could potentially change.
Back in 2020, Bombardier Recreational Products applied for a patent with the very simple title, “Front Suspension Assembly for a Vehicle” with the US Patent and Trademark Office. It was officially published by the USPTO on December 29, 2022—and while the title itself is as understated as many patent applications typically are, it appears to show an interesting potential future development for Can-Am motorbikes, trikes, and potentially other vehicles.
The design, which BRP has provided 20 total detailed drawings to illustrate, depicts the front of a motorcycle that does not use any type of fork, be it conventional or upside-down.
Instead, it features a single-sided swingarm, which is attached to a single shock that attaches that swingarm to the frame, just ahead of the handlebars. The rear end of the motorcycle similarly uses another single-sided swingarm and almost horizontally-placed monoshock. The wheelbase appears to be slightly lengthy, but it’s difficult to say for sure without any measurement figures (which wouldn’t typically be provided at this stage in development, anyway).
Gallery: BRP Hub Center Steering Patent Application
BRP’s reasoning for the development of this design is that elusive thing that motorcycle OEMs have been trying to combat for decades now: Brake dive. By swapping out a traditional telescopic fork design, BRP says, the type of front suspension geometry in play in this design would better be able to account for anti-dive characteristics. (Just take a look at the complex anti-dive systems that the Japanese manufacturers came up with for certain of their telescopic fork bikes in the 1980s, and note that none of them lasted beyond a few years at most.)
While all the drawings that BRP filed with this patent application depict a two-wheeled motorcycle, the text of the patent application indicates that BRP also considers this design applicable to vehicles with more than two wheels. It reads, in part, “the present technology will be described herein with respect to a motorcycle. It is contemplated that at least some aspects of the present technology could also be implemented with vehicles that have three, four, or more wheels."
"It is contemplated that at least some aspects of the present technology could also be implemented with vehicles having ground engaging members other than wheels, such as in a snowmobile or snow bike, where the one or more front ground engaging members is/are ski(s) and the one or more rear ground engaging member is/are endless drive track(s)," the section concludes.
In 2023, one thing that BRP isn’t currently well-known for is snow bikes. This patent indicates not only a potential interest in new designs for two- and three- (or more) wheeled road bikes, but also potentially snow bikes of its own. As Timbersled’s growth since it was founded in 2010 has shown, there seems to be a decent amount of interest in snow bikes in areas where winter weather might otherwise put a damper on motorbike-related fun for part of the year.
Could BRP be planning to launch a competing system any time soon? Patents are an important first step, but they’re no guarantee—so as always, we’ll have to wait and see.