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A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Can-Am Spyder - A Quick Peek Today


I stopped in a large multi-brand "powersports" dealer in the Phoenix metro area today looking for a few bits and pieces. As we walked through the parking lot there on a trailer sat the new Can-Am Spyder three-wheeler just like the yellow one in the photo above. I was surprised to see one so soon, they having just shown up in the press two or three weeks ago. The sales guy immediately accosted me and proceeded to tell what he knew about the trike and much to my amazement he actually knew a little bit.

I asked if I could get up on the trailer and sit on the trike and he said "Sure" so I stepped up, swung a leg over and settled in. First impression was the the ergonomics aren't bad at all, the handle bars foot pegs, etc. seem pretty much right from a motorcycle with the over all seating position being akin to a mild sport touring position. The seat had a bit of a crown to it, not unlike the seat on my Aprilia Caponord and I'll venture a guess that like the Capo seat, it looks nice, feels good initially, but begins to bite after about 75 miles.

The Wife climbed up and plonked herself down on the pillion seat and didn't immediately protest the comfort so that's a good sign. Then she asked if saddlebags were an option. I have no idea what the ride of the Spyder is like on the open road but no doubt someone will go touring if the gas tank and mileage are reasonable.


The fit and finish of the trike seems to be typical Can-Am ala their ATV line. It's decent but not at the same level as Honda or Yamaha products. Some of the body work seemed a bit floppy and I could imagine it rattling or fluttering as you go down the road. It could be too, that this particular machine was not a full production level trike but then why would the put it out in a dealership?

The other item I noticed was the length of the swingarm. I'd guess it's about twice as long as the typical motorcycle swingarm. It will be interesting to see further into the mechanicals to see what the swingarm bearing is like and what it's useful life is. That's a lot of leverage and a fat little car tire back there no doubt creating some serious loading on the bearings.

The asking price was "About $18k out the door" and that's getting into some pricey bike territory. One would have to be a brave early adopter or have lots of disposable income to risk that much on the new Can-Am concept. I enjoy machines that are different but I'm not sure I'm willing to risk $18 large on being different.

The sales guy admitted to being skeptical of the machine, said it looked like a snowmobile with wheels and indeed it does. Since Can-Am's parent company, BRP, has been in the snowmobile biz for decades the layout of the trike seems perhaps more natural to them than us motorcycle guys. Perhaps the snowmobile enthusiasts will latch onto the Spyder as their summer ride. I'm having a hard time imagining that motorcycle guys will latch onto the Spyder in preference to a bike although the well heeled amongst us might grab one as another garage goody or Saturday fun toy.

I'm a fan of anything powered, on wheels, and with a sporting look and feel to it. Motorcycle, car, ATV, whatever, if it's quick and fun I'm game to give it a try and the Spyder looks like fun. Sadly, there was no opportunity to ride the Spyder or even hear the Rotax built 990cc V-twin run. I believe the engine is similar to the Rotax motors Aprilia has used for several years so one could assume that the motor will be wonderful.

Whether or not Can-Am has launched a new market segment or another oddball idea like the Honda Rune or the Road Dog, only time will tell. I wish them well though as there are enough cruisers in the marketplace and setting off in a new direction, even on three wheels, is a very interesting move on the part of Can-Am.

The Can-Am website is here.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doug,

Interesting. Recumbent trikes (bicycles with 3 wheels, with the rider seated), have used this 'tadpole' design for years. The long swing arm is probably required to maintain equilibrium when cornering- if the wheelbase is too short, and the vehicle doesn't lean then it will want to lift the inside wheel. Pity this new 'bike' doesn't lean rather than steer.

Cheers,
Mark

Combatscoot said...

Might be something good for those who cannot hold a big bike up. I think it would handle better than a sidecar, and is less money than a trike conversion. Cool.
John

Anonymous said...

Try to hold any bike up on ice.

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