How Much CAN Can a CAN Bus CAN?

How Much CAN Can a CAN Bus CAN?

It seems everything has become increasingly computerized in the past decade or so. We have everything from network-connected refrigerators to pet feeders you can monitor from across the globe and cars that drive themselves (until they don’t).

Naturally, our motorcycles have followed suit. Gone are the days of cleaning your ignition points and your pilot jets to keep your ol’ BSA going.

Thanks to decades of engineering iteration, vehicles are more complex than ever. Instead of one or two computers, most modern vehicles are equipped with an array of control units that are individually responsible for systems such as engine management, anti-lock braking, traction control, and chassis systems.

These computer modules work in unison to conduct a symphony of ones and zeros, transferring information between each other to keep things running as intended.

It’s All About Communication

With some vehicles having more than 100 individual control units, manufacturers needed an efficient system for them to communicate with each other. Enter the CAN bus standard.

All these control modules utilize a standardized networking communication protocol called controller area network (CAN) bus to transmit and receive data in real time. The CAN system is able to link each of a vehicle’s computers over a network of just two wires.