CanAm Spyder: 3-Wheel Cruiser Or Roadgoing Snowmobile?

A Ski-doo For The Street!

Three wheels, 1 litre V-Twin, an alphabet soup of electronic anti-tip safety features. It all equals one amazing ride!
Three wheels, 1 litre V-Twin, an alphabet soup of electronic anti-tip safety features. It all equals one amazing ride!

Turn More Heads Than Driving A 24K Gold Escalade With Paris Hilton Strapped To The Hood

Old timers like me recall the Can-Am motorcycles, Canadian snow-white off-roaders with hell-for-leather rotary-valve two-stroke Rotax engines that for a short time in the '70s owned motocross tracks around the world, teaching the Japanese how it's done. In the face of the MX invasion of the Asian behemoths Can-Am was retired by Bombardier and they returned to focus on their core "doo" businesses: Ski-doo and Sea-doo.

Three decades later, Bombardier seems interested in returning to the motorcycle business... sort of. The new Can-Am Spyder is not really a motorcycle, and it's not really a car. The closest I can come to describing it is a roadgoing snowmobile with wheels.

It's wild. Really wild. You couldn't get more attention cruising down the boulevard in a 24K gold Escalade with Paris Hilton strapped to the hood. The seating position and front fuselage is very Ski-doo-ish and as you look towards the rear, it seems to morph into a motorcycle again.

The front end is balanced wide outboard by two custom 165/65R14 tires, mounted to massive spoked aluminum wheels. The suspension curiously does not allow the Spyder to lean so the tires maintain their full contact patch during cornering unlike a motorcycle. The road is rotated by a single Kevlar-belt driven 225/50R15 rear tire mounted on a matching wheel. The combination of up to 600% more rubber on the road than a Honda GoldWing alongside the triangulation of the chassis results in a ride that can only really be compared to a snowmobile. But much cooler. Not in temperature. In "cool" factor.

The Spyder is no slouch. The Surrounding Spar Technology (SST) frame is wrapped around a BRP-Rotax 990cc V-Twin fed by 57mm throttle body multi-port fuel injection and cranking out a claimed 106 hp at 8500 rpm and a Harley-like 77 lb-ft of torque at 6250 rpm. It's no Suzuki Hayabusa, but that power-to-weight ratio should allow the Spyder to snare Dodge Viper V10s into its web and feast on them at the dragstrip.

The Spyder is available either with a 5-speed manual gearbox or... wait for it... a 5-speed automatic clutch version! Both trannies have reverse. And it has power-steering! Mind-blowing. And when it's time to downgear and hit the binders, you'll be glad that Bombardier engineered three 260mm rotors with 4-piston calipers on the front and single-piston on the rear with full Antilock Brake System (ABS) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) to work with the Dynamic Power Steering (DBS), Vehicle Stability System (VSS) and Stability Control System's (SCS) roll-bars. It's an alphabet soup, but the ABS/EBD/DBS/VSS/SCS works in conjunction to keep you from sliding down the asphalt wearing a tipped three-wheeler. If you overcook it into a corner the inside wheel lifts to a point where the SCS kicks in and automatically brakes the other wheel to bring the inside back down. You'd really have to be doing some outrageous stunting to tip this rig. I believe the biggest problem for bikers making the Spyder-Switch is that they will instinctively reach for the brake lever on the handlebars in a panic situation and will find... nothing. The only brake lever is foot-operated like a car. Again, a bit strange and it will take some getting used to.

But there are more initials in the Spyder's repertoire. The Traction Control System (TCS) senses if the rig is starting to head down the road sideways and cuts out the ignition long enough to eliminate the yaw. All of this electronic wizardry is starting to sound like a hot three-wheeled version of a Segway!

Golden Oldie riders like me will really appreciate the fact that we don't have to balance 700 lbs. of metal on one arthritic foot at stoplights, or try to keep the shiny-side up and the rubber-side down on slippery roads. I still wake up in cold sweats remembering the day that I got caught in a snowstorm in the mountains 100 miles outside of Las Vegas on a Kawasaki Voyager XII. Ploughing through the snow-covered curves while balancing over 1300 lbs. of steel and flesh is not for the faint-hearted!

What don't I like about the Spyder? The colour combinations are awful. One looks like a Ski-doo bumblebee and the other like a cheap Batmobile toy. A six-coat lacquer black, silver or dark blue would work wonders. It might even look great in a '79 Pontiac TransAm "Smokey & The Bandit" Black & Gold but please leave out the screaming chicken! Although I love the idea that there is a 44 litre "trunk" upfront, the creases are too noticeable and should blend more neatly into the bodywork. The rear backrest is appreciated but the pylon interferes with a handy flat rack that could be used as a carrier platform for a rear trunk. The handlebars are wide enough but far too low for buckhorn-handlebar veterans like me. The exhaust is too much boy-racer bulky can for my tastes. The rear seat is really only suitable for picking up 16 year old cheerleaders at the high school and wider derrieres need not apply (which is not necessarily a bad thing!) I also am a little wary of the price. Around $15,000 for the manual and $17,000 for the automatic may be pocket change for the "I'm having the Teutuls build my chopper" set, but it's a sizeable chunk of change that could buy a new Ford Five Hundred. I'm pretty sure that anyone attracted to the Spyder wouldn't be caught dead in a Five Hundred, but you'd have to admit that one is a solid, versatile vehicle and the other is really a glorified weekend toy.

Regardless of my reservations, the bottom line is: I want one! Dear Bombardier, kindly inform me when you set up a long-term test-drive review program for bloggers. I'll be the first to apply!



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Comments 25 comments

Misha profile image

Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

It looks great, and definitely will turn heads! But I don't want to ride it, and I doubt many do...

manitobagold profile image

manitobagold 8 years ago from Canada

I wouldn't mind taking that baby for a ride. I remember my 250 Can Am and waiting for the pack to catch up.

James 8 years ago

Great blog! I'm orderinging my Batmobile-toy today. They're selling more of these things than BRP can produce so there's now a waiting period.

Romeo 8 years ago

when is the can-am spyder coming out and how much,where can i get it if its already out

Bike Web Guy profile image

Bike Web Guy 8 years ago

Interesting rig from the watercraft masters.Rick

papamike69 profile image

papamike69 8 years ago

Great thing the CanAm Spyder. I own Steel horse Motorcycle News and I will be featuring an article with a video demonstration and photos about the CanAm with in the next month or two. A friend of mine and local dealer Reynolds MotorSports has just gotten his CanAm Spyder demo. He invited me over to check it out. I have to tell you I am impressed. It rides so cool, almost like a formula 1 racer or something. I don’t know about the colors as well. However, the ski-doo thing has got to go. The only comparison to one in my book would be the look. I can get past that. Hey if you want a traditional trike, that’s cool. But if you want a really cool, fantastic riding experience check it out. I have to admit it’s not going to be for every body.

Henry E Knutson 8 years ago

Please tell us where we can buy one.1-604-374-9272

Henry E Knutson 8 years ago

Tell me where I can buy one and I wikk issue a chegue

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Henry, the closest dealer to you that I know has one is RTR in Kamloops, BC. Let me know if you get it from there!

RON RAULSTON 8 years ago

i live in denver colorado where can i go and see one it looks great i have a bad back will it work for me is the seat real compfy let me noi thanks ron r

joaojeronimo profile image

joaojeronimo 8 years ago from Maputo, Mozambique

Oh it looks like a snow motorcycle lool

ohohdon profile image

ohohdon 8 years ago from Yakima

As a motorcyclist, myself, I find this contraption.....interesting. Would I own one? Probably not. Mostly, because I'm not the type of person who likes to attract a lot of attention towards myself. My comment, in summary.... "Hmmm..."

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

There's one running around my town and it couldn't get more attention if the guy was tossing $100 bills in his wake. In that respect, it's a real success. As for whether or not I'd cough up nearly twenty grand for it, I think I'll hold off and wait for Harley Lehman's similar but leaning trike.

easegiri profile image

easegiri 8 years ago from Bangalore

Licino are there solar powered motorcycles? Your knowledge about bikes appreciated.

eugie17 profile image

eugie17 8 years ago from online (everywhere)

I agree with Misha, it seems cool when watching but I don't trust it

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

easegiri, yes there are, but the state of solar powered motorcycles is not exactly what we'd hope it would be. I've just written a Hub that looks into it:

eugie17, I've noticed that there are now two in my area, a silver and a yellow one. They do look like fun, but the leaning trike is the hot setup in my humble opinion.

Erick Smart 8 years ago

This is one interesting looking bike. The snowmobile seat is a good idea since they are so comfortable but the 3 wheel thing is just not for me.

Mack C. 7 years ago

I own one. I love it. They are a blast to ride. I have the Manual shift.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Mack C. I envy you. There is one guy who blasts around my town all the time, rain, sun or snow. It's a great ride!

malco profile image

malco 7 years ago from All over, travels a lot.

Beats my first 3 wheeler....Reliant Robin! Great student car

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

The Spyder is to the Reliant Robin what a Bentley Continental GT is to a Trabant! :)

malco profile image

malco 7 years ago from All over, travels a lot.

Absolutley, it used to be referred to as the plastic pig. It was made of fibreglass on a ladder chassis, and was inherently unstable as it had one wheel at the front. I remember there were lots of crashes, until they strengthened the front steering with an extra bracket.

However as a student, with a budget of £200 it was all I could afford! Cheap to run though with a 600 cc engine.

malco profile image

malco 7 years ago from All over, travels a lot.

Actually found this ...

Has your trike been into space?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I think that the Reliant needed more than a bracket. More like a mandated trip to the scrap yard! :)

As for the space travel, I wouldn't put it past Jeremy Clarkson to actually do that! :)

adorababy profile image

adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

Sitting on the Spyder’s expansive seats feels akin to straddling a Ski-Doo.

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