Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Can-Am T’nT 250

Fri, February 5th, 2010

1975–77 Can-Am T'nT 250
Early rotary-valve Rotax MX motors notoriously traded a manageable power curve for raw power. Thankfully, the street-legal T'nT (Track 'n' Trail) models swapped a more sedately-timed disc valve for more predictable power. The top-of-the-line 250cc version still managed to put out 35 HP, a remarkable figure for an air-cooled single.
The chassis and suspension on dual-purpose T'nT models were nearly identical to their dirt-only brethren. While the MX'ers were criticized for handling on the track that didn't live up to their power output, the setup worked great at ordinary trail-riding speeds (at least compared to its contemporary dual-purpose bikes), and well enough on the street. Brakes, however, are horribly ineffective.
Though pretty typical looking overall, Can-Am bikes still possessed a sense of style in the minor details which the Japanese competition lacked.
Depending on who you asked back in the day (or even today), Rotary-valve Rotax engines were either unbreakable or rolling time-bombs. The truth is somewhere in between. T'nTs, which were not constantly run at redline, seemed to be less prone to seizing up. But use too much force while starting one and you could end up holding a broken kickstart lever in your hands.
Parts sources have largely dried up. All technical documentation has been hidden by the Illuminati in a secret vault beneath the Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré. Tuning the Bing carb is a black art. There are a thousand dual-sport bikes that make more sense.
'Can-Am' is either a curse word or a holy incantation, depending on your history with the brand. The fact remains they were (and are) impressively fast, rare bikes. The 250cc street-legal model was only made for three years, and remains one of the best.
Can-Am bikes are shrouded in myth and legend, both good and bad...a legend they largely live up to.