How To Increase The Top Speed Of Your Can-Am UTV

Feb 14th 2021

Going fast in a Can-Am UTV is like a drug; the more speed you get, the more speed you want. And while you might be able to get your Can-Am Maverick, Defender, or Commander up to 95 mph on a trailer behind your pickup on the interstate, this doesn’t induce the same amount of fun and exhilaration. There are ways, however, to increase the top speed of your Can-Am UTV, and this is what we’re discussing today! 

Increasing The Top Speed Of A Can-Am Defender

One of the easiest things one can do to increase the top speed of their Can-Am Defender -- be it an XMR, an HD8, an HD10, or anything in between -- is to reflash the Electronic Control Module (AKA the Electronic Control Unit, ECM, or ECU). By reflashing your Can-Am Defender’s ECU, you’ll not only get more power at cruising speeds, but your rig will also accelerate faster and won’t lose as much speed when hill climbing. There are many ways to flash the ECM on a Can-Am Defender, and companies like MRRPMCycle, Monster Fuel Injection, and several others have specialty tunes to increase the top speed of Can-Am UTVs.

On the Can-Am Defender, an ECU tune will not only raise the rev limit to 9,500, but it will also raise all limp mode activations, increase the speed limiters in both high and low, and allow 100% throttle in high, low, and reverse. On top of all that, an ECU reflash can also add 4+ degrees of ignition timing, delete the axle / shaft saver feature, and turn the radiator fan on at 180 degrees. Each of these adjustments alone can make your Can-Am Defender faster. But when you stack them all together and optimize the fuel timing and air levels for aftermarket intakes and exhausts, you’ll turn your stock Can-Am Defender into a hyped-up Speedy Gonzales on steroids! 

Some ECU flashes for the Can-Am Defender are designed specifically for those who run 91 octane fuel, while others are created for standard 87 octane fuel. Although a portion of riders might try to use premium fuel to make their rigs faster, for stock motors, there are zero benefits to be gained from running premium fuel. In fact, using premium fuel in the Can-Am Defender might actually worsen carbon build up, and it also impacts cold starting negatively as well.

Increasing The Top Speed Of A Can-Am Commander

Like with the Can-Am Defender, you can tune your Can-Am Commander’s ECU to both gain HP and increase top speeds. Deleting governors and maxing out limiters on stock Commanders is an easy get-speed-quick scheme. But optimized ECUs will also be required if you add other accessories to make your UTV faster. Cams, ported heads, and true dual exhausts won’t function properly without a specialized tune.

Many Can-Am owners argue that if they wanted speed, the whole speed, and nothing but the speed, then they would have opted for a Can-Am Maverick X3. But we aren’t playing a zero sum game here. You don’t have to compromise on speed to capitalize on the functionality of a Can-Am Commander. You can easily hit 68 mph in a 2015 Commander 1000XT, and the 2016 1000XT can reach 71 without breaking a sweat -- both are limited to 72 mph by the ECU. Swapping out your stock rubbers and putting street tires in their place will improve your top speeds, and with the help of a QSC primary clutch, your rig will be much more zippy. 

For those with Commanders that are exceptionally slow, check to make sure that you didn’t get the grey valet key by mistake. On many Can-Am UTVs, the keys are electrically programmed. Without a performance key, you’ll be leaving a great deal of performance on the table! 

Increasing The Top Speed Of A Can-Am Maverick

If you want a lighting-fast machine right out of the box, the Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo RR is the one to choose. But even if you own a Maverick XMR, a Maverick RC, or a Maverick RS, there are still steps you can take to increase the top speed of your UTV. Using a performance key is a good start, and if you bought your machine used, you’ll want to check to see if the previous owner lowered the gearing in the trans, added a lift kit, or had bigger tires installed -- all of which will reduce your high-end top speed. 

The Maverick XMR comes with a 6x6 transmission and a speed governor, yet can still reach in excess of 70mph all day. Belt slippage can also cause speed reductions, and because you gain speed from the width of the belt, your vehicle’s top speed will suffer from a narrow, worn out, belt.  

ECU tuners and aftermarket exhausts with no catalytic converters and blow-off valves are a given for more speed in the Maverick. However, added horsepower is useless if you can’t transfer it to the ground effectively. And for this, aftermarket clutches and clutch kits like the QSC Rev X HD are fantastic. Not only will you get a smoother throttle response, but your Maverick will also be able to shift faster, thereby improving your accelerations when you punch it!