According to dictionary.com – mo·tor·cy·cle – noun – a motor vehicle similar to a bicycle but usually larger and heavier, chiefly for one rider but sometimes having two saddles or an attached sidecar for passengers.
A Can-Am Spyder, “That’s not a motorcycle,” I thought.
If you have ever seen a Can-Am Spyder on the road, chances are you stared. How could you not? It stands out. It looks like a backwards trike, with two wheels in the front and one in the rear, and you can’t help but double take if one passes you.
Most riders have their own pre-conceived notions about Spyders and I was no different. Banner Recreational Products, offered up two units to review and make an educated opinion.
Even though the Spyder technically does not comply with the ‘motorcycle’ definition, it is considered a motorcycle in Canada and you must have a motorcycle licence in order to operate one. If, however, you live in Quebec, a short seven-hour course will earn you an operator’s card for the Can Am Spyder and it is rumoured that other provinces are trying to negotiate the same sort of rules.
There are two basic classifications for the Spyder. The Can-Am Spyder Roadster Sport (RS) and Tour (RT) – each with optional bells and whistles in its class and each offering two completely different rides.
The sport version ‘Is as close to a motorcycle as I get,’ said NHL’er Ryan Getzlaf when we bumped into him picking up a sport unit he had just purchased. The Tour version is to the Spyder collection as the GoldWing is to the Honda lineup. Complete luxury, heaps of cargo space, full fairing front and back and all those little extras like independently heated seats, heated hand grips, independent volume control for rider and passenger on the am/fm surround sound stereo etc.
At the first traffic light, I roamed the radio stations. When the channel finder stopped, Metallica’s Enter Sandman was blaring and I laughed out loud as that just seems wrong riding the Spyder.
It’s true, riding the Spyder does not give you the same bad ass rebel feeling that riding a chrome loaded rumbling cruiser does but each satisfies your senses with the outdoor experience that only motorcycling can provide.
For all those people out there that have been afraid to try motorcycling or have been afraid to be a passenger, I recommend the Spyder. You will love the secure feeling that the touring edition will offer you with the full support back fairing and the stability of the unit on the road, those pulses of adrenaline delivered at that the slightest wobble on a motorcycle will be eliminated on the Spyder.
I rode as passenger as well on the RT, rear suspension adjustments were made at the touch of button. The adjustable rear air suspension can be altered on the fly to suit the cargo load.
Each unit has a 12 gallon front trunk, and the tour model adds two additional side bags and a rear trunk, as well as an optional towable trailer so two people could hit the road for weeks with a total of 41 gallons of storage.
Engine is 998 cc, liquid cooled V-Twin engine producing 106 HP with Sport and 100 HP with Touring – definitely packing power. The five speed transmission comes with reverse. However, trying to remember the sequence of button pushing to get to reverse presents a bit of a memory game.
Manual or clutchless with a semi-automatic shifter at the thumb tip on the handle bar sets the two rides apart. With manual transmission you definitely feel like you are riding a motorcycle. With the tiptronic style shifting, it is definitely a Spyder. When coming to a stop, the machine automatically gears down without any input from the rider.
Arriving at red lights takes some getting used to as all ABS braking is delivered by right foot peg with distribution to the front 70/30 and when you come to a complete stop, you don’t have to put your feet down.
Lighting on the vehicles is quite different. The RS offers two halogen headlights that look like a Star Wars Droid’s sight. The RT is more like the ship that the Droid will ride in with two large halogens, fog lamps, front cargo lights and just a wider spread all together. Lighting options are available for both.
Should you decide to ride a Spyder, knowledge up before you leave and be prepared to answer questions from admirers, supporters, critics etc.
Is it stable? Does it tip? How does it corner? What is that like to ride? That’s cool. That’s ugly. I have always wondered about those. You won’t catch me riding one of those. Just a few of the many questions and comments I got.
Does it tip? The Spyder will not tip. I was told that it wouldn’t tip but visually that concept is tough to wrap your head around so in a controlled setting, I tried my best to get a wheel up and couldn’t.
I got dizzy long before I even came close to a speed high enough to lift a wheel and if I could have, I think I would have been ejected from the unit not to mention that should a rider get remotely close to a wheel lifting off the ground, the built in traction control system kicks in and restores balance.
Naturally, the next item on the agenda for testing was to try to get the unit to slide as cornering feels synonymous to that of a sled or quad with power steering. The unit goes effortlessly in the direction you wish to go but does require a tight grip on the handlebars and of the thighs on the tank with a bit of lean to be come one with the unit. A rider has to think cornering of a sled, leaning as though on a quad but operation like a motorcycle.
I got caught in a torrential 20 minute downpour while riding and decided that would be the perfect time to test the stability of the unit on wet surfaces. The stability control system with the Spyder is fantastic. It didn’t slip or slide at all in the rain and getting soaked wasn’t so bad with music. I sat in bumper to bumper gridlock in the pouring rain, the radio on and music playing.
The RT, with its electronic adjustable wind screen offers more protection in the rain than the RS does.
MSRP for the RS (Sport) – base model hovers around $20,000 before any sales and the RT (Tour) around $30,000. All in all – a fun, exciting alternative to two wheels.