We’ve learned to expect great things from BRP, whose products can be purchased in more than one hundred countries, covering three continents. History is and should be interesting to all in the motor vehicle industry. This past decade, BRP’s design and innovation team has won many design awards, from globally recognized design institutions, and their Can-Am products are renowned worldwide, for their bold concepts and inspiring innovations. As Canadians, we should all be proud of those accomplishments.
BRP employs more than 6,000 people across Canada, the United States, Austria, Finland, and Mexico. Among these are a particular bunch of snazzy gearheads working at The Laurent Beaudoin Design & Innovation Centre in Valcourt, Que. where 70 years ago, in 1942, founder Joseph-Armand Bombardier manufactured the Auto-Neige Bombardier, the first tracked vehicle designed to travel over snow. People at Bombardier all keep Joseph-Armand’s passion and devotion alive. Every one of them passionate about all that is motorized, dressed in clean-cut clothing and blessed with ideas that find their way to us, as we thrive on motorized vehicles to enhance our enjoyment of life. Their work environment is one that has become a coveted destination for some of the best designers in the world. Almost 15% of the personnel at Laurent Beaudoin CDI (Centre for Design and Innovation), only one of BRP’s three state-of-the-art research and development facilities, come from all over the world. They deserve our thanks for providing us with fun to operate innovative vehicles, for exploration on water, snow, dirt, or on the road.
When it comes to off-road play toys, Can-Am has got pretty much any need or taste covered with a very complete line of products. Joseph Armand would have been proud of the people who keep the same curiosity for different means of transportation . They have outdone themselves with really sweet innovative rides like the Spyder roadster, winner of a Catalyst Design Case Study from the Industrial Designers of America (ISDA) and Commander Side by Side, winner of the Good Design Award in 2011. These are the kinds of vehicles that have the potential and are changing many people’s lives for the better. Just like the first snow car and the cool snowmobiles inspired by it.
ATVs and Side by Side vehicles offer the means to better explore every small beautiful corner of this fascinating planet we live on. BRP engineers aim to please as many of those who are already out there in the trails, but also encourage new people of all trades to join in on the fun, by making the off-road experience a safe one, with more and more comfortable and user-friendly vehicles. No model year passes without a considerable amount of changes for the better to the Can-Am line, and although some might have wished for a new and more race-oriented Side by Side, the modifications made on the ATV are most welcomed.
BRP’s 2013 Can-Am ATV line-up is led by the next generation Outlander MAX family, a new Outlander 1000 X mr ATV, an added Dynamic Power Steering (DPS) package and other key models and upgrades including completely new Outlander 500 and 650 ATV lineups. Yes, like you, we were sort of expecting a little more, even if there are a lot of novelties and improvements to talk about, in the 2013 Can-Am line. This is usually a very active manufacturer from one model year to another. Still, the changes made to the Outlander MAX are very important ones, that ensure even more safety for enjoying passengers and riders wanting to share the therapeutic joys of trail riding.
BRP designed and marketed the first ATV especially made for two people, with an ergonomic backrest and hand-holds that aimed to improve safety and the passenger experience in general. The most important aspect of this new ATV format though, was the longer wheelbase, placing the passenger’s weight forward of the rear wheels, which significantly improves stability in turns, and of course, while climbing. Despite this, it is still recommended to let the passenger off before you attack any steep hills. Even if the Max is specifically built for Two-up use and is a much safer option than adding a King/Queen seat to a normal ATV, responsible riding remains a necessity all the time, even more so when carrying a passenger.
We all know there is always room for improvement, and BRP engineers are the first to think that way, so they put a big magnifying glass over the Outlander Max for 2013. The most significant change is the switch to the sturdier second generation, or as they call it; G2 SST (Single Spar Technology) frame and newly-shaped plastics put forward in 2012 on the many single rider versions of the Outlander. The four light design of the facia, obviously inspired by the beloved mean look of the Renegade, is what first jumps at you, with an effective wow inducing effect. More important, in my opinion, are the small, but important changes made to the rear passenger’s ergonomics, namely the improved seat, handholds and footrests. Although these might seem like small things, paying very close attention to them is necessary, if this vehicle format, which remains pretty young in a manufacturing sense, is to continue to have more success, and hopefully convince as many people as possible that the extended frame, and not having any obstructions on each side, is a far safer and more comfortable choice for two-up riding, than just adding an aftermarket rear cargo box / passenger seat. Although these seats, which many choose to install on single rider only quads, are legal and even popular in some places, they are only a good choice if the rider has a lot of experience and is very familiar with the effects of the significant change in the centre of gravity’s position, and the different behaviour of the machine in all riding aspects. More important to consider, is how most of these cargo box / seats, imprison the occupant. That is the last thing you want to do! Luckily, great attention to detail was put to these elements on the Outlander Max quads, insuring a very quick escape when necessary. The comfort factor was actually heightened at the same time as the backrest became more efficient in letting the passenger roll out of the seat, when the ride goes beyond its tipping point for one reason or another. Simply put, this new backrest has more flexibility towards the rear. Its new shape better supports the entire back from top to bottom and the footrests are now angled at 45 degrees, which is better adapted to how the passenger’s feet naturally fall on the pegs, with toes pointing outwards. We tested escaping by rolling off to either side and truly found that all of these small details put together, truly made getting off quicker and easier.
The new generation Outlander MAX, now graced with the same improvements put forward on the 2012 single rider Outlander, and a new dual-room design air box, relocated higher in the vehicle, which seriously improves clean air flow to the engine and better avoids water infiltration, comes in 1000, 800R, 650 and 500 choices. Women in the group Clo particularly liked the new Pearl White painted finish on the MAX LIMITED model; which might very well be the most comfortable quad ever built. That unit seemed to be the most enjoyed riding, mainly because of this high comfort level, even surpassing that of a Commander 1000. I totally agree, The comfort level on this particular model is very impressive, and maybe even higher than when sitting in a Commander over certain obstacles. The added ACS (Air Controlled Suspension), a rider-adjustable suspension system, almost makes the trail under you disappear. A particular 4 inch log, obviously left lying there on purpose, perpendicular to the trail, prompted a little comparison. A bit of an angle to attack it and we rolled over it, while keeping a steady 20 km/h on the Outlander MAX LIMITED, to then conquer the same obstacle with a Commander Side by Side. Surprisingly enough, we actually felt the small log a lot more in Can-Am’s fun Jeep feeling buggy. Set at the number 3 setting, out of 6 choices, the ACS felt spot on for the semi-tough trails surrounding the Wastelands MX-Park in Parksville B.C. That particularly beautiful-looking unit, truly felt luxurious and more technologically advanced than any quad we had ever ridden in the trails.
The 2013 Can-Am Outlander 500 ATV got significant upgrades to the engine calibration, to render it 15-percent more powerful than last year’s model. To be very honest, we didn’t feel the need to test that model in order to confirm the veracity of that claim. We totally trust it to be true and are already more than satisfied with the power output of any sized Rotax engine. Besides, the Can-Am team had much more appealing toys lying around for us to enjoy and the showroom was kept clean. As usual, the bigger vehicles caught my attention a lot more, and once I was done playing around with the mighty X-mr, I was naturally drawn to hop on a 1000 Outlander, outfitted with all of Can-Am’s state of the art accessories for ultimate terrain-conquering. On top of this impressive list of goodies, the Apache all-season track system; an element to render an already impressive conqueror into an unstoppable winter trail opening tank. I’ve never been a huge fan of tracks, for few different reasons. First and foremost, I cringe at the thought of people not using these properly and uselessly destroying vegetation or ruining the view of a pristine- looking area, beautifully untouched. Then there are as well all these factors to consider, like power sufficiency, taxing of the machine’s main components in the long term, and last but not least, the added effort to steering. This particular unit was to totally change my appreciation of such track systems on a quad. The all-season Apache Track System, is the only one that comes with a module that simply plugs in to allow the strongest assistance from the dynamic power steering system, as well as speedometer recalibration. Needless to say, with this lightweight and advanced track system, the Outlander can go places! Almost any for that matter! For once, I just couldn’t feel any of the disadvantages normally caused by such a radical modification.
Extended to 150 cm (59 in.) and engineered using Geometric Contact Control principles, the mud-ready Can-Am Outlander 1000 X mr model was my favorite ride of this big presentation to the media, which might be obvious on the cover photo of this issue. I find, it truly wears the new Can-Am dress the best and truly fits my size and riding style. Based on the new MAX chassis, meaning it is also updated to the G2 SST frame, the X mr is the biggest and meanest ride in the business and packed with features that aim to render just about any obstacle conquerable. Among other things, it has a larger and relocated radiator, ITP wheels, larger and restyled analog / digital gauge and rider-adjustable six mode air-controlled suspension. Oh and those 30-in. (76.2 cm) Gorilla Axle Silverback tires, man those tires! How could you not fall in love with this thing? If you get into the sport of mud splashing, please try and respect the environment and not destroy the landscape outside of trails. As with a track equipped quad, this ride can have a heavy fingerprint when pushed in performance. With the raw power of the 1000 Rotax, we suggest you be mindful of your drive belt and use the low gear as often as possible. I know, it is more fun to just gun it in High and laugh your way through a mud hole for a second or two, but the proper and more environmentally friendly way remains to let the torque of the motor and grip of the tires work their way slowly through everything. Doing it this way, you get more of a chance to feel it when it seems to want to bog down, and have time to react, maybe to accelerate and moving your feet to the big solid Gorilla Axle angled rear pegs for a bolder approach, or stop and maybe back up but I rarely see guys use that option. You can, also, just not care too much, and at worst use the included powerful 1,361 kg (3,000 lb.) capacity factory-installed winch, equipped with a wired remote control stowed in the underside of the front storage compartment cover, to get out of a mess. Strangely is it may sound to some, we actually enjoy all or any of these ways to enjoy life.
The list of exclusive technological feats that has already come out of BRP’s Laurent Beaudoin Design & Innovation Centre remains long and impressive and greatly contributes in making the Can-Am choice an appealing one. There is the no-weld, all-aluminum frame of the DS 450 sport quads that uses a twin pyramidal structure. The TTI system, the only independent rear suspension design that completely eliminates scrub and camber changes, as well as being inherently more durable as it necessitates a lot fewer parts than a more conventional double A-arm system, remains a very significant and appealing feature on all 4×4 Can-Am’s. As you might have heard from us before, we feel a need to reiterate the fact that power is of no use if not complemented with a good enough suspension system. It is important to point out that Can-Am’s Rotax engines are the most powerful in the segment and we find that these guys have done a good job of providing suspension systems that are of sufficient performance for this high power output factor Rotax engines are known for. Other cool stuff about Can-Am off-road vehicles include their exclusive D.E.S.S., a digitally encoded security system, which makes certain that your ATV will not start unless the coded microchip in the key matches the code embedded in the engine control module, the Visco-Lok auto-locking 4×4 front differential, the LinQ quick-attach accessory system, and much more…
Also new, are DPS (Dynamic Power Steering) packaged 500 and up Outlander ATV models, which means you won’t have to buy a fully-equipped and maybe out of your budget XT labelled Outlander, to enjoy this great feature. These DPS models include Visco-Lok QE (the quicker engaging version of Can-Am’s automatically locking front differential) and pretty cast-aluminum wheels. Last but not least in the improvements presented to us, are the new Fox float x Evol front shocks with dual-speed compression and infinitely adjustable air spring and 10.7 inch (272 mm) of travel shocks installed on the DS 450 X-mx, which I simply had to make time for, to have my fun with, on the beautiful Wastelands MX Park track.
A sportier version of the Commander, or simply another brand new full-sport Side by Side model, or maybe even a four-occupant version, or both, would have been nice. Other manufacturers are having quite a bit of success with such cool machines and the Side by Side segment is fast expanding and enjoying great success despite tough economic times. The fact is this passionate bunch is not one to rush designs through to production. We just know we are in for a treat when we finally do get to see what BRP engineers are working on right now. Trust us; they are working on something big, to soon come out. With its three state-of-the-art research and development facilities, BRP aims for and is well-equipped to maintain leadership in the power sports industry, and we consider ourselves very lucky to be along for the ride.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Can-Am Off-Road Website