By on March 2, 2011

One hundred miles per hour. The once-fabled “ton” which my 1990 Volkswagen Fox struggled to indicate on its outrageously optimistic speedometer is now a commonplace, ho-hum event. Many modern cars will get there in ten or eleven seconds. Even heavy-duty pickups have no trouble pushing their Maximum Overdrive front fascias into the triple digits nowadays — and everything from the Fiesta to the F-450 feels rock-solid at that speed.

The magic, thrill, and terror are all gone from the one after ninety-nine… but if you want to bring it all back, and then some, it’s as close as a trip to your local Can-Am dealer. Driving the Spyder three-wheeler at that speed is, frankly, terrifying.

The Can-Am Spyder isn’t a three-wheeler in the same vein as the renimated Moggie trike, although it also has two wheels in front and one behind. No, this is very much a motorcycle-plus-one instead of a car-minus-one. The rider sits in a position very familiar to BMW touring-bike pilots and operates a motorcycle-style set of controls. If you don’t have some experience on bikes, the Can-Am won’t make any sense to you.

If, on the other hand, you do have some experience on bikes, the Can-Am probably won’t make any sense to you either. I’ve been riding street bikes since 1991 and I was immediately made quite uncomfortable by the way the Can-Am steers. Real motorcycles are steered by pushing down/away on the handlebar end in the direction of one’s intended turn. This causes the bike to fall to that side and to veer, er, steer, that way. The Spyder, on the other hand, is steered by turning the bars towards one’s intended direction.

Once the turn begins, the rider is forced to hang on to the machine by pressing his knees against the seat and pulling on the handlebars. It literally feels like the Can-Am is trying to throw its rider off. It takes an extremely vigorous (and extremely dorky-looking) lean towards the inside of the corner to preserve anything like cornering force. If you’ve ridden a snowmobile, you will be good at riding a Spyder — although the reverse is not true, as we’ll find out in another Capsule Review.

There are now several different models from which to choose in the Cam-Am lineup, from stripped-down monocrhomatic sportster to full-dress tourer. Two transmissions are available: a traditional five-speed clutched box or a clutchless five-speed operated by an electronic paddle shift. I took a Spyder rS which had 106 horsepower and the standard transmission to push 699 pounds dry weight. That’s about the same power-to-weight ratio as a base Corvette, and acceleration is similarly rapid…

…or similarly slow, if you’ve been riding modern sportbikes. Not to worry, because you wouldn’t want this vehicle to be any faster. On an open two-lane near the Road America track, I twisted the throttle and hung on for dear life as the Spyder zoomed to nearly 110mph. The front end started to wander — did I mention that each of the 165/65R14 tires at that end are inflated to just 15 psi? Consider it mentioned — and I was yanked back and forth as crosswinds tried to blow the trike out from under me. My motorcycle-trained steering responses were all wrong, actually pointing me towards a ditch. I oscillated helplessly for the approximately one minute I had determined would indicate that I was not an arrant coward before throttling down to a more sensible fifty-five. That’s a law I can live with, at least on this rig.

Oops! Time to make a fast turn. I hung my entire body off the Spyder and prayed. As the inside front wheel lifted off the mother-flicking ground I idly wondered what the effect would be of applying extra throttle, or any brake input, in midcorner. Probably death. That was the last corner I took at any speed much above the suggested limit. I can only imagine what a road like the Tail of the Dragon would be like on a Can-Am Spyder; most likely, it would be the long-non-awaited combination of a particularly vigorous P90X workout, one of the “Fry Guy” spring perches for children at a McDonald’s PlayPlace, and Russian roulette.

The rest of the test drive passed in kind of an odd haze as I wavered between going slower (to save my skin) and going faster (to make it come to an end sooner). Automobile drivers looked at me with open mouths, motorcyclists clucked in pity, and cyclists were ejected, screaming, into ditches as I wobbled left and right across the road. Twenty miles or so later, I was safe and sound in the parking lot, kneeling in what I hoped would look like genuine interest in the brake calipers while I thanked Almighty God for my survival.

I’ve operated a lot of fast machinery, from the Hayabusa and its compatriots to eight-hundred-horsepower Porsche GT2 tuner cars, but nothing has ever made me sit up in sheer terror like the Can-Am Spyder. It’s a true challenge to operate at speed and if you have no children about which you should be worrying I’d recommend giving one a shot. For the fifteen grand or so it would cost to buy one, however, I think most of us would be better served with a Yamaha R1 and some PTSD therapy to forget the test ride.

As a tourer, the Can-am probably works very well. As a sporting machine, it’s mostly notable for the way it delivers thrills at all speeds, even if those speeds are well south of the modest 100-mph mark.

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82 Comments on “Capsule Review: Can-Am Spyder...”

  • avatar

    As an avid motorcyclist I don’t understand the appeal of these things. They don’t lean, so you don’t get the same fun out of them as you would a two wheeled bike. Sure, you can’t fall over on one so those motorcyclist up in years might think it’s a good alternative. But I’ve taken test rides on them and on anything except a perfectly smooth road I hated it. You’re tossed from side to side on bumps and turns want to toss you off the bike. (And as Jack points out you have to hold on for dear life in the turns so it’s not for the weak.) I didn’t find it fun at all. My brother on the other hand, who has quite a bit of saddle time in quads didn’t hate it as much as me or our motorcycle savvy companions.
    Bottom line, it costs as much as a miata, gets worse gas mileage and has less storage room. Unless your real goal is owning a conversation piece buy a convertible.

    • 0 avatar

      “Bottom line, it costs as much as a miata, gets worse gas mileage and has less storage room. Unless your real goal is owning a conversation piece buy a convertible.”

      mikedt: I do have a Miata, so 100% agreed – BTW, I’m old, too, and not a cyclist.

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t lean, so you don’t get the same fun out of them as you would a two wheeled bike.
      My friend and I were talking about this thing and decided that it had all of the dangers of a motorcycle with none of the fun.

      • 0 avatar

        For a Disabled Veteran that would love to ride a bike again, but no longer has the balance to ride a real bike anymore….this thing is plenty fun….so I gotta differ with that decision!

    • 0 avatar

      I believe that these do have some sort of leaning mechanism. Could just make it feel that much more artificial.

    • 0 avatar

      “As an avid motorcyclist…”  Thats the entire point… you understand motorcycles.  Obviously, so does Jack.  This is aimed squarely at people who dont/cant/are afraid to ride.  The general population cant figure out how to ride a 2-wheeler.  Hell, even I get confused when I read about that whole “push down and away” to turn description!  I ride, I turn, I dont even think about it, its intuitive thanks to growing up on dirtbikes.  I do not remember at any time on the dirt or the street turning the handlebars in the opposite direction of where I want to go, I just dont get the logic there.  I am sure its just some misunderstanding of the wording on my part, but still.  My point is, the CanAm is for guys (or girls) who want to ride but are afraid of falling over.  They cruise around, like a chopper, which doesnt handle any better than these.

    • 0 avatar

      “I do not remember at any time on the dirt or the street turning the handlebars in the opposite direction of where I want to go, I just dont get the logic there.  I am sure its just some misunderstanding of the wording on my part, but still.”

      No, you understood Jack’s description quite well. Riding is probably so instinctive to you that you don’t even think about how you’re getting the bike to turn, but you are in fact turning the bars the opposite way as the direction you’re trying to turn, ie: countersteering. The amount that the bars actually move is minimal, so it’s hard to notice, and some riders think that they’re “leaning” the bike to make it turn, but what is actually happening is that their “lean” puts pressure on the inside handlebar/clip-on, thereby turning the front wheel in the opposite direction of the turn.

      If you don’t believe me, ride down a straight road and remove your left hand from the handlebars. Push and pull the steering left and right with your throttle hand and see what happens.

      Or read any sport-oriented riding book or MSF material. It sounds wacky, but it’s real.

    • 0 avatar

      @JuniperBug: thanks for spelling that out, because I’ve not ridden a motorcycle in about 20 years and I was sitting here at my desk with my hands in the air (on my virtual handlebars), leaning over in my chair trying to visualize this — and it was NOT happening.
      Thank goodness I work from home, so only the dog witnessed my idiocy.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t ridden a motorcycle in years but I do a fair amount of cycling. Years ago a bike racer explained to me that the fastest way to do an emergency turn was to counter steer the bike sharply. This forces the bike to lean in the other direction, i.e. the direction you want to go.
      Try it next time  you’re on a two-wheeler of some kind. Steer the wheel just slightly to one side and you’ll notice that the bike will immediately try to correct that by going in the other direction.
      I’m interested as to how the Morgan three wheeler manages to generate high cornering speeds without lifting the inside front wheel. Possibly it’s due to a low center of gravity. I was thinking about the MTW and decided that if I wanted a three wheel project, I’d start with a Subaru 4 cyl turbo AWD drivetrain. It’d be interesting to see how an AWD 3 wheeler would drive.

    • 0 avatar

      I love the Y life. You do you and I’ll do me.
      I’m a Can Am Spyder fan

  • avatar

    If I ever see Mr. Baruth in my rear view mirror as I merrily motor along in my Impala, I’ll very respectfully pull over and let him fly by! Wow! ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar

    I’m a motorcycle guy too.  I never understood the Can Am.  What are you trying to accomplish with this thing exactly?  It’s not as much fun as a regular bike.  It’s expensive.  It looks dorky. 

    To Can Am guys out there, we’re not laughing with you…

    • 0 avatar

      I’m all for bringing the terror back to 100 MPH, but if the price of entry is one of these things, I’ll stay jaded, thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      And anyway, if you want terror, the new generation of literbikes can serve that up.  I remember that the BMW S1000RR can hit 150mph in under 10 seconds, and it costs the same amount as this Can Am.  And the S1000RR looks sweet and handles great too!

    • 0 avatar

      The intended market is for those who want to be “in the wind” but are terrified that a motorcycle may fall over on them.  I lived with a pre-production model for a day (everyone at the dealership got it for 24 hours), and almost rear ended a car at the first traffic light when I reflexively went for the front brake lever – which doesn’t exist.  All brake actuation is linked and off the foot pedal.  Just the way motorcycle riders were taught not to brake.
      Now, I’ll admit, I wished this bike had been available back in 2003 when my wife and I went to Maine to take my then 88 year old father-in-law’s Indian 101 Scout from him before he killed himself.  I hated looking at the tears in his eyes as we drove off with the bike, knowing I had nothing to give him to replace it.

    • 0 avatar

      For a Disabled Veteran that would love to ride a bike again, but no longer has the balance to ride a real bike anymore… just accomplishing getting back out on the road is sufficient for me. It may not be “as fun” for me as a regular bike was prior to becoming disabled….but it is more than “fun” for me now. As for expensive…less than a cage & that’s my only other choice nowadays…looking at my options (traditional trikes are much worse in cornering)…I don’t think it looks “dorky” at all…it looks very functional actually!

  • avatar

    I work for a Honda/Yamaha/Can-Am/SeaDoo dealer.  I’m the bookkeeper, in charge of handling all warranty and recall reimbursements.
    Don’t ask . . . . . . . .   How they could take the V-twin from the Aprilia (which was a fairly reliable motorcycle) and turn it into something that’ll make a Volkswagon Jetta look like an incredibly well made Toyota Corolla in comparison is beyond me.
    It does make one bit of sense:  I’m 60 years ago.  In about 20 years I’m probably going to have to sell my motorcycle collection.  This is a possible replacement, although I’ll probably go for an Electra-Glide combination instead.

  • avatar

    I have test-ridden both versions of the Can-Am. The “Sporster” is a handful and pretty well described in the write-up. The tourer on the other hand makes no pretensions at sportiness and is thoroughly satisfying for what it is.
    As for pricing, they’re not expensive when compared to other touring motorcycles. The 2012 Goldwing starts at $23,199 – $28,499 plus freight, set-up, tax and license. Don’t even think about buying a Goldwing trike for under $30K

  • avatar
    N Number

    Thanks for the review.  I’ve always wondered how these curiosities handle.

  • avatar

    This is the worst way to build a trike. You get none of the typical trike advantages (higher G-loading than either car or bike, can’t fall off, some weather protection) and all of the disadvantages (heavier than a bike, less cargo/passenger room than a car, dodgy rear suspension).
    What amazes me more is that no mass-produced trike to date has a properly articulating rear suspension. It’s always either a bike tire, or a very fat car tire with low air pressure and super-stiff front suspension. Sticky tires and a full contact patch on all 3 wheels would let you take turns fast enough to black out, but we’re yet to see a machine like that, unfortunately.

  • avatar

    I never thought these WERE intended to raced.
    The niche this fills is for somebody who is a cyclist who has an wife/friend/kid that is afraid of 2 wheels.  I’ve always wanted to try one but there is NO WAY I’d take corners on this thing like I do on my 5 year old FI 600 (and I’m a pretty conservative rider…I don’t go that fast!)
    If you don’t trust the person you are carrying with you to not upset the balance, and don’t want a cage, this is a good alternative.

  • avatar

    I think if you’ve spent some time on high-performance quads, the Can-am’s handling is a bit more accessible. The body english is quite similar. Don’t ever expect it to feel planted, though. That said, I’ve seen a couple of them absolutely tearing up Deal’s Gap. Given that I’m a member of the ten-minute club myself, I could see that they obviously had figured how to get the most out of their machines.

    Check out the Scorpion P6 for the state of the art in this form factor:

    It uses a 600cc sportbike engine of about 125hp in a 725lb chassis. Looks like a LOT more fun. Call them and see if you can get a ride on that one, Jack.

    I’ve spent large parts of the past thirty years on two wheels, and used to feel smugly superior to folks on three wheels, as if their commitment to the sport wasn’t quite sufficient. I understand now, after watching a number of friends age out of two wheeling, that not everyone can hold up a two-wheeler, whether it’s from infirmity, lack of balance, or even congenital disability. I no longer feel like it’s up to me to question their choices.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow. That is one of the best / most insightful one liners I’ve read in memory. Well said !

      I no longer feel like it’s up to me to question their choices.

  • avatar

    The title made me think about this

    Needless to say, I was a bit dissappointed.

  • avatar

    Fantastically evocative review. I am reminded of the first (and so far, only) time that I got a horse into a gallop. I thought for sure I was going to die as I had an overwhelming sensation that I was going to be thrown over the head of the beast.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    If Baruth says its crazy, it must be totally insane!  Funny, in the bicycling world, I’ve ridden the equivalent . . . and had the same reaction.  A recent surgery in . . . um . . .  a part of the body directly impacted by the seat on a road or hybrid bicycle lead me search for alternatives to the two-wheelers, I’ve ridden for decades.  One alternative is the “tadpole” tricycle, which has the same form factor as the Can-Am . . . single rear wheel driven.  The pilot sits very low to the around (about 10″) with legs horizontal and feet in pedals out in front.  The front axle is mid-thigh and the whole business is steered by two handgrips, linked with a Pitman arm.  At much lower speeds than Mr. Baruth, I lifted the outside wheel while struggling to keep my butt in the mesh seat.  The whole business feels rather “darty” if you try and drive a straight line down the road.  See for some examples.  The more expensive models have a swing arm suspension for the rear wheel.  With the greatly reduced frontal area, as compared to a traditional bike, or even a recumbent, they offer the potential for great speed.  However, the way they go around corners is very un-bicycle like.
    In the end, I found a trick saddle for my two wheeler that avoids putting pressure in the critical area.
    I can’t imagine putting 100 hp into a vehicle like this.

    • 0 avatar

      DCBruce, you might want to see if you can find a used BikeE recumbent. Unfortunately, they do’nt make ’em anymore, but it has the mesh seat that leaves your anatomy alone, the seating position is like that in your car, and it is just a whole lot more sensible than most recumbents. It IS a bit slower than a regular bike, probably because the position gives you less leverage, but there’s also less wind resistance.

    • 0 avatar

      Baruth has made the common error of assuming that because he is accomplished with other motorized vehicles, he’s automatically qualified to evaluate any of them.
      What I read here was the musings of someone who really had no idea what he was talking about, because he hadn’t first learned how to operate the item he was evaluating. Despite their obvious similarities and shared technology, trikes and sidehacks are not like motorcycles, and ability to handle one may actually end up being a detirment to learning how to operate the other.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You will notice that I don’t review motorcycles on these pages; although I’ve been riding them for twenty years, I don’t have any competitive experience on them.
      This review was plainly and deliberately written from the point of view of a novice. I don’t know anything about trikes. I know less now about trikes than I knew before I rode one. Note than I never compare it to other trikes, nor do I offer a serious evaluation of its prospects in the trike market.
      Seriously, you’ve hit a nerve with me. I don’t claim to be a qualified reviewer of these items. This is entertainment only.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d have to agree. If you title it “Capsule Review” and then run and hide behind a “i don’t claim to be a reviewer” – geeze? which is it. Pick one, but not both.

    • 0 avatar

      “I don’t claim to be a qualified reviewer of these items.”
      “Capsule Review: Can-Am Spyder”
      If you don’t want your writing to be interpreted as a review, I would recommend not publishing it titled as a review.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    And now, it’s time to hand the CanAm Spyder over to TTAC’s tame racing driver. Some say…

    That as a child, he set the ‘Ring time record…on his Big Wheel. And that the instability of the CanAm is entirely due to the top-heavy nature of his passenger, the well-endowed Ms Vodka McBigbra. All we know is, he’s called the Jack.

  • avatar

    The dealer by me who sells these admitted to me that he hated them. It’s friggin snowmobile for the street. Are they crammed on dealers with a Polaris franchise? He’d rather sell me a Yamaha, any Yamaha. The only thin I’m curious about is whether these have a reverse gear. But I’m not curious enough to go to the website and find out.
    FWIW, I think the Piaggio MP3 is way cooler. For the elderly, there’s trike conversions…even Harley has an OEM trike now.
    Personally, 80-110 on a motorcycle is fast enough for me to have all the fun I need.
    And, finally, Baruth needs to right an article entitled, “200 Is the New 100.” Discuss.

  • avatar

    My 50 (this year) old mom used to love riding on the back of my dad’s bike, or occasionally driving with him behind, because she never worried about the bike falling over. She is somewhat short, and that has always been a real concern.
    She has been emphatic about getting one of these this year – last fall my brother and I “test drove” a pair of the tourers around town when there wasn’t a lot of interest at the dealership.
    I like that there is a vehicle that caters to this niche – especially since the alternative is a $30k trike.

  • avatar

    Real motorcycles are steered by pushing down/away on the handlebar end in the direction of one’s intended turn. This causes the bike to fall to that side and to veer, er, steer, that way.
    A bike guy told me, as most folks switch from 4 wheels to 2 have this problem.
    When some car tries to cut into your lane, your instinct will be turning away with steering wheel, but a bike yield opposite effect, therefore u nail the car/ truck much faster than u would.
    Also read somewhere the Titanic’s steering was also opposite, as it was the new design then, when the wheel man  saw iceberg his instinct was the same steer away but ended up nailed it as if it was the bulls eye, real sad.
    So as people who flies fixed wing aka a plane with wings should not fly a copter, upon emergency u revert back to something u have ingrained in your mind since day 1.  Whatever u were taught for u do exactly that!

  • avatar

    Same idea as how folks can switch from ( LHD ) Right side up aka North American way driving Vs UK, Japan whose steering wheel  on the right ?
    I find it hard when i am back to Fragrance Harbour aka Hong kong, middle kingdom.
    I was even scared just to try cross a street, as cars coming from your derriere end now.

  • avatar

    The only thin I’m curious about is whether these have a reverse gear.
    They put the reverse into big jap bikes IE Gold wing etc.
    A HOG is 900 lbs. is not going to be fun if one of the wheel dropped in a slightly deep manhole or pot hole!

  • avatar

    and almost rear ended a car at the first traffic light when I reflexively went for the front brake lever
    a friend rode a bicycle, somehow the brakes had switch sides, he almost came off the handle bar in a hurry. i suppose a motor bike has front brakes on right.
    a bicycle should have rear brake in the right. u grab with your instinct!

    • 0 avatar

      Having spent plenty of time on both motorcycles and bicycles, I can’t remember ever having a problem knowing which brake to grab. YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      To a motorcyclist, a bicycle has the front brake on the wrong side. A good many motorcyclists that I know, swap sides on the brake levers of their bicycles to avoid this problem.

  • avatar

    So, I guess it would be dangerous to admit I owned one?  I’ve been riding for 30+ years, and still have a BMW, 2 Vespas, a quad, and a snowmobile.
    Overall, it’s interesting.  Many of the comments made by others are well deserved, but I can’t say I hate it.  The things I like about it is it’s good in traffic (don’t have to hold it up), the frunk (front trunk) makes it good for work, and it’s very fast.  Still kinda rare, so you don’t see one every 5 seconds.  It replaced my old Ural hack, which while visually cool, was tragically slow.  Anyone who thinks the Can-Am has a stability problem hasn’t accidentally flown the sidecar or had a trike tip in a sharp corner.  It’s waaay better than you think, but disconcerting in high speed corners, until you get used to it.
    Jack — the traction control system (aka the Nanny) prevents you from doing anything as untoward as lifting a wheel.  You get some burnout capability, but only in certain situations.
    @Guzzi – yes, it has a reverse.  Pity is the normally 6 speed gearbox on the Aprilia has to get reduced to 5 to accommodate it.

    • 0 avatar

      How many of the recalls have you had done?  Got your DPS unit replaced yet?
      Our dealership sells three-year prepackaged service with the units, so far all our customers have taken them up on it (and I’m discovering we’re not charging nearly enough for it).  Given what it costs to have a regular service done, I’m wondering how many 2008 owners are going to keep their bikes after next year, once they actually have to PAY for a service.
      Oh yeah, the mechanics hate them with a passion.  First question: Why did they have to do all that computerization on what’s essentially a three-wheeled motorcycle?

  • avatar
    Rick Korallus

    Thanks Jack, when I can no longer hold up my Goldwing, I’ll get a convertible. 

  • avatar

    I don’t have kids, but I don’t have any desire to try this thing. I’d rather try parachute jumping.

  • avatar

    Give me a Carver (or even a BMW Clever) any day over one of these. At least they won’t invalidate my years of riding sportbikes.

    One day last summer I was in the middle of a beautifully banked  freeway turn at extra-legal speeds when I passed an older dude on a Can-Am. Thanks to his non-full face helmet, I was able to enjoy the look of sheer terror on his face, as he struggled to hang on.

    He was going about half my speed.

  • avatar

    Machines like the Can Am, Piaggio mp3 and Quadro scooters are just at the beginning stage of development with better designs on the way to address:
    Higher gas prices, aging baby boomers and the new transportation consumers in the industrializing third world.

  • avatar

    The persistent myths surrounding countersteering never fail to amaze me, given that the truth is easily ascertained by anybody with access to a bicycle or motorcycle, and the ability to ride it. No less authorities than Reg Pridmore and Keith Code had a prolonged public pissing match over it, primarily fueled by each of them refusing to acknowlege that they were using the term “steer” to mean distinctly diifferent things, and thus arguing against points that the other had never attempted to make.
    Real motorcycles are steered by pushing away in the opposite direction of the intended turn. Period. Pushing down has zero effect. This is easily demonstrated with an old 10-speed with drop handlebars. A good way to illustrate what the steered elements are doing is to affix a long pointer to the center of the bars, pointing backwards. This will exagerate the sometimes very subtle movements, and make them far easier to see.
    All single-track two-wheeled vehicles turn by leaning in the direction of the turn. The lean is initiated by countersteering, at all/any speed(s). There is no magic crossover speed below which countersteering stops working. At extremely low speeds, or on extremely light vehicles, it’s possible to initiate a significant countersteer by weight shifting. Anybody who has ever riden a bicycle with no hands has done it. But whether initiated by a weight shift or a deliberate push to the bars, the front wheel must outtrack to get the bike leaned over.
    The sequence of a turn is as follows:
    a) vehicle is traveling straight and vertical.
    b) rider initiates a lean by pushing the handlebar in the direction of the desired turn.
    c) front wheel out tracks (travels in the opposite direction of the intended turn) causing the vehicle to fall toward the opposite side.
    d) [this is the part where people get very very confused] once the vehicle reaches the desired lean angle, the rider relaxes the steering input to arrest the lean, and allows the front wheel to swing around to track the direction of the turn. Let me repeat that. After the turn is in progress, the front wheel is turned into the the turn for the duration.
    e) to complete the turn, the rider again applies opposite pressure to the bars, and the same forces pull the bike back to vertical.
    Repeat until you run out of curves or gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      My second response :)
      On a motorcycle or bicycle with steering rake, pushing down will push the bars away as well, thus “down/away” in the review.
      As noted before, I don’t claim to be a motorcycle expert, but as far as bicycles go, I held an “A Pro” license in the NBL and ABA from 1991 to 2003 and I’ve done everything from elbow Gary Ellis in a corner to clear the coping at Woodward’s Lot 8. :)

    • 0 avatar

      On a motorcycle or bicycle with steering rake, pushing down will push the bars away as well, thus “down/away” in the review.
      Wanna try that one again? To the extent that any downward force might be converted to rotation, it would be the the wrong direction. Go ahead. Visualize it with a 45° rake angle, and think about which way the steering would turn.

      As noted before, I don’t claim to be a motorcycle expert, but as far as bicycles go, I held an “A Pro” license in the NBL and ABA from 1991 to 2003 and I’ve done everything from elbow Gary Ellis in a corner to clear the coping at Woodward’s Lot 8. :)
      Being good at something and knowing how it works are profoundly different things. I’ve known plenty of expert riders who had convinced themselves of nonsense when it comes to steering a bike. Their bodies knew things they refused to allow their brains to understand.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      A rider seated on a motorcycle who pushes “down” on one side of the handlebars will find that side moving away from him.
      Hanging a weight on a handlebar end is a different thing, and I believe it’s what you’re discussing, but you are having that discussion with a straw man.

  • avatar

    I can relate.  I rode motorcycles for many years and the concept of “counter steering” to turn became part of my subconcious.  I went on a skiing trip to Colorado with some friends and we all rented snowmobiles one day.  I had never driven one before that experience.  The rental guy explains how they work and sends me on my way.  I start to drift left, and reacting as a bike rider I put more pressure on the right handle bar.  Bad idea.  The snowmobile goes even further to the left and before I know it I’m headed off the road and down the side of the mountain.  I bailed off and the machine ends up some 200 feet down the very steep hill.  Fortune let me grab onto a bush and I was saved.  Never rode one after that.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      My experience with a four-wheeled ATV – after years of riding and racing motorcycles – was not unlike that. I made it about 100 metres before just about piling the thing into the side of a van. Got off the thing … not doing that again.
      As for the Spyder not having a brake lever in the normal position of the front brake lever on a motorcycle, that’s another deal-breaker. As a life-long sport bike rider, that lever is the brake lever. The rear one is only for low speeds on slippery surfaces, nothing else.

  • avatar

    I’d been riding motorbikes for years before I ever read a proper description of the steering process. And I promptly refused to believe it too–until I proved it to myself by paying closer attention to what I was actually doing.

  • avatar

    That…thing…is, IMHO, simply a device to separate a fool from his money.  As noted, the way to turn comfortably, and enjoy the ride, on a motorcycle…is to lean into it.
    The Can-Am LOOKS like it would be a safe, practical alternative to a cycle for novices and people who think they have balance issues (as any cyclist knows, the cycle mostly balances itself.  The trick is to learn to communicate with the chassis).  So wealthy women whose husbands have midlife crises and Harleys, will be drawn to this to share the experience.
    It doesn’t lean; ergo, the saddle riding position is impractical, dangerous even.  Because it’s rigidly upright, it’s not going to have sporting pretensions through switchbacks.  Because it’s steered, not leaned through, crosswinds will hit it hard…as JB noted.
    It’s the kind of mechanical abortion that winds up taking up space in the garage.
    Now I know the sidecar riders are going to hit on this.  Hey, whatever floats your boat…but a sidecar, to me, seems like a crude compromise and a real hindrance on a cycle.  Yeah, I know they’re raced…people race school buses, too, at county fairs.

    • 0 avatar

      Depends what you mean by ‘compromise’.  The main reason I can see going from a 2 to 3-wheeler is added stability in some circumstances, mainly at rest/low speeds, or on treacherous surfaces.  It’s doubtful you’ll get any speed/performance benefit from the extra wheel.
      I have both a solo motorcycle and a sidecar rig, and frankly I think this sidecar has this thing beat as a 3-wheeler.  The sidecar let’s you carry 3, possibly 4 passengers, has a decent sized trunk and luggage rack, and can be dismounted with a little effort if needed.  Plus the retro looks!  Plus reverse!
      I’d be interested to see a 3-wheeler comparo – trike vs. sidecar vs. Cam-am or Morgan layout.  
      I’m surprised the sidecar isn’t getting more popular, if the aging population comment upthread is true.  Maybe it’s the price, but you can get a Ural rig for $10K or so, which is half the price of the Spyder.  I’m pretty sure you can hang a sidecar on your Electra-Glide for the price of a Lehman trike conversion.  And it’s reversible.

      • 0 avatar

        Great responses from folks here, lot of talk about how motorcycles are better, push down to turn, lean, don’t lean, sit, better handling…good points for all. However, the Can-Am is not a motorcycle nor is it supposed to be in the same category as a motorcycle. The debate I see here is the same debate my great grandfather told me about when he bought a car…back in 1909. (No I don’t recall what he bought but you can bet it was a bumpy ride) He had to constantly debate horseback riders and there were lots of them. The riders could not see the worth of buying a car since the roads were meant for horses. The horse could carry you where you wanted to go and it was reliable. The horse didn’t require much, it had proven its value for centuries and well, that is the way it should always be! My great grandfather silenced the horse people by telling them that he already has a horse. “This isn’t a horse, it’s not meant to be a horse, the horse is a grand animal but this isn’t a horse…its an automobile. If you want a horse then ride your horse its all the same to me, I still think you are a good person and you are quite the rodeo expert but the automobile should no way be compared to a horse.”

        The bottom line is if you want a Can-Am then get one. A person who rides a motorcyle is a good person but they aren’t a better person. A motorcycle is a blast and if you operate it stupidly then usually the only one getting hurt/killed is you. If you want a motorcycle then get one, if you want a Can-Am Roadster then get one but don’t compare them…its not a horse!

  • avatar

    Bicycles/Motorcycles will steer in the same direction as the handlebar is turned, but only at very low speeds. From a dead stop, the bike will steer this way, transition through a window of instability, then be in the countersteering condition. Three or more-wheeled vehicles don’t exhibit this characteristic; it’s one reason kids have a hard time learing to ride bicycles, particularly if they have training wheels first. Many riders have no clue that this is happening. Just above the speed for the steering transition is what’s called a weave mode: it’s why riding hands-off the bars is impossible to do slowly, the bike will start to swerve back and forth with increasing severity until intervention or crash. At highish speed, there is also a wobble mode. This is why street/race bikes tend to have heavy steering and occasionally hydraulic steering dampeners – to push that mode to an unattainable speed, or to dampen the wobble enough to allow passing through the mode without consequence. Trail bikes have much lighter steering, so the wobble mode ocurrs at lower speeds – if your trail bike comes with a steering damener – for god’s sake, don’t take it off. It’s an interesting set of dynamics in any case.

  • avatar

    Okay to all the so called legacy two wheeled guys who keep trying to apply the logic of apples to the logic of grapefruit.  They might as well say that they don’t like their cars because it doesn’t handle, have the same brakes or turning dynamics as their bikes.

    I actually OWN a Can Am Spyder RT (the touring version).  I’ve had it for over a year, put 6800 miles on it. I didn’t spend 10 minutes to 24 hours with half or more of the time standing next to it spewing lofty, unqualified opinions how it’s different than a two-wheel motorcycle … wherein some of the critics don’t even know what countersteering means. I Toured on the Spyder to Tennessee, done The Dragon and a myriad of other rides on other road types ranging from street to rural to freeway.  It wasn’t the Spyder’s fault that somebody “almost rear-ended” someone else because the writer FAILED to appropriately pre-flight and practice on the machine.  Did that rider learn to ride a two-wheeler with that kind of ignorance?  I think not.  

    The seat/saddle position is not dangerous (another non experienced comment). Once one learns the physical dynamics of the Spyder and how the ‘Gs’ apply one adapts his or her riding position, balance, preparation for turns, etc. to the characteristics of the machine. As to being a vehicle that just fills up a garage, I invite the kibitzers to visit, and note the thousands of enthusiasts on the forum and the major Spyder events in Gatlinburg, TN, Cuba Missouri (ongoing) and Lake Placid, NY that thousands of Spyder owners will attend. 

    Noting “Syke’s” comments, well, as a rep of a Can Am Dealer, I hope he lets us know who that dealer is so they can ‘can-am’ him when they find out what he’s doing to affect their bottom line.  Moreover, his hyperbole knows no bounds.  There have been five recalls on the Spyder since the first RS/GS series arrived on the market in 2007.  There has been one voluntary DPS recall offered for free from BRP for those who want a bit more ease in steering, while handling a line better.  Nothing drastic; but we Spyder owners do take them seriously. The Syder line in its entirety is now in its fourth year of production.  There has not been a required recall since August of last year.

    I have ridden two wheel motorcycles, from the MSF course to now.  I like two-wheel bikes alot.  The Spyder may be someone’s who has little to no two-wheel experiences choice; but I also know Wing and Harley riders that came over to the Spyder.  I also note no one is comparing trike to trike … e.g. the Can Am Spyder, compared to the Harley Tri-Glide or Goldwing Trike. Can Am even says in their advertising that the Spyder is not a motorcycle; it’s a roadster. It has open-road similarities with Trikes (eh-hem … trikes don’t lean or countersteer either and no one’s dissing them), except the point of least stability on a trike is the point of greatest stability on a Spyder. So how a kibitzer would say a Spyder is dangerous when it is actually more stable and safer than most trike configurations is indeed a mystery to ponder.  I joke with others that it’s like driving a Miata sitting on the transmission hump with the doors off.  And so, I will leave you with my appreciation of the couple of posts from folks who were moreso information seekers than purveyors of drek. 

  • avatar

    First, I thank all the posts above me for the comments, both positive and negative.

    The woman wants a Spyder. I think this works because she has no previous experience on a motorcycle, so she won’t have the “countersteering” issue or mistakenly grab a handful of front brake.

    My R1 is about 10 years old now and I’ve had it since 500 miles. I have trouble riding bicycles because I improperly try to countersteer them. Therefore I think it would be best for me to stay off the woman’s vehicle, because I’ll try to countersteer that too instinctively.

    She could easily buy a convertible instead… but whats the fun in that? Just another car, nothing to see here folkes.

    • 0 avatar

      Bicycles countersteer (at all speeds) just like any other two-wheeled single track vehicle. The only meaningful difference from a motorcycle is that the weight is so slight it’s far easier to influence with weight shifts.

      This is easy to test for yourself. Ride in a straight line. Get up enough speed to easily maintain balance and coast. While coasting (to keep your weight stable and unshifting) push gently forward (not down) on either side of the handlebar. Do this on both the bicycle and the motorcycle. Report back on the outcome.

      You’d be well served to learn to conciously understand how your motorcycle and bicycle steer, rather than depending (as you appear to) on your subconcious taking care of it for you. Your subconcious seems to be seriously misleading you.

      • 0 avatar

        Bicycles, IE BMX bikes traveling under ~10 miles an hour or do not countersteer and behave like a motorcycle. When you turn the handlebars the bicycle steers in that direction in which you turned them. You get exactly what you steer.

        The R1 countersteers with the exception of 5mphish turns, U turns or turning around in the garage or gently down the driveways curb. I fully understand how my R1 steers. I am “well served” sir. But I didn’t post here to welcome your debate. I posted about the Spyder. I also think this review overall is unfair to the spyder, simply because the operator was used to a different type of vehicle.

  • avatar

    Clearly, you don’t. That confusion will potentially get you hurt some day, but suit yourself. If you’d rather cling to your misconceptions than perform a couple of simple tests, it’s your ass on the line, not mine. I mostly point this stuff out for the benefit of onlookers who might still be open to learning something.

    • 0 avatar

      There is not enough centrifugal force at those speeds to generate the gyroscope effect at the wheels that contribute to how countersteering works. Its not that I’m closed minded, its that you randomly trolled me your third para, after copy pasting what you already babbled *two months ago about countersteering.

      • 0 avatar

        Centrifugal force has nothing to do with it. Gyroscopic forces are what provide balance, not steering.

        Go ahead. Do the tests. PROVE I’m wrong.

        Or stop spouting your misconceptions as facts in public where other people might be misled and hurt themselves.

  • avatar

    Centrifugal force has EVERYTHING to do with it. Thats why the bikes initial lean is in the opposite direction, countering the forces you put on the handle. Just like a spinning top or a gyroscope on a string. It wants to keep its alignment due to centrifugal force. My review comment wasn’t spouting misconceptions. It said I dont think I can get used to riding a Spyder. I didnt expect you to pop in and pick apart such a simple comment, or comment at all. Claiming people will get hurt because of my comment is nonsense. Telling me its my ass is nonsense. I’ve been riding for over a decade. Seriously, keep it trolling bro. Keep up the good fight, that E-war over your countersteering theories.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve been riding motorcycles since 1980. Bicycles since 1969. And my dick is a dead-standard 6″. Now that we’ve got the meaningless “argument from authority” out of the way, DO THE DAMNED TESTS.

      Your theory is that force vectors change based on velocity (they don’t) and that the physics is different based on the power source. And you want people to think I’M the one who doesn’t understand how it works?

      See, what I try to do is get the attention of newbies before people like you fill their heads with nonsense. And give them the tools to figure it out for themselves. You are clearly a lost cause.

    • 0 avatar

      My background:
      Started riding motorcycles in 1976. Got my auto license 5 years later. Steyer-Daimler-Puch 125. Suzuki 400. ’76 Gold Wing 1000. Yamaha 750. ’83 Gold Wing 1100. Triked it in 2000. 2008 Can-Am Spyder.

      First, centrifugal force, countersteering, and all that:

      Your bike is stable at speed because of the wheels acting like humongous gyroscopes. That has nothing to do with countersteering. All steering past “getting your feet off the ground” on bikes and motorcycles is countersteering, every bit.

      (I proved countersteering to my brother by having him sit behind me and hold my elbows as I drove.)

      I think countersteering can be easily envisioned by this: Hold up one hand as a fist. Hold the other flat under it, thumb up, pinky down. The fist is you, your centre of mass. The flat hand is your tires. Your pinky is your ground contact. Let’s do a RIGHT turn. When you make a miniscule LEFT turn of your hand (your tire), your ground contact immediately moves out from under your centre of mass. You are now falling to the RIGHT. You respond by turning the the handlebars back towards the RIGHT. Your ground contact now tries to get back under your centre of mass. As long as you don’t “catch up”, you continue to turn to the RIGHT. Once you catch up, you straighten your handlebars, your ground contact is once again underneath you, and you are going in the new direction.

      When I switched from tweeler to trike, I ran myself off the road, very first thing. The reason was the countersteering I described above. On a tweeler, if you’re not vertical, you’re falling, and your immediate, instinctive response is to get your wheels, your ground contact, underneath you. You turn the handlebars to do this. However, with a trike, this is EXACTLY the wrong thing to do. On a bike, you come upright. On a trike, as it’s a stable triangular base, it simply turns in the direction you’ve told it to, and it keeps on doing so as you run yourself off the road. It took me weeks to get used to my trike and to get used to me being upright while the trike’s canted underneath me.

      Similarly, it took weeks to get used to the handlebars jerking back and forth as the rear wheels hit different potholes or rocks, changing the angle of the trike instant by instant.

      As for the Spyder. I’ve got 25 years on 2 wheels, followed by 11 years on a Gold Wing trike, now followed by 30 hours (1 month) on a Spyder.

      The Spyder DOES NOT handle like a tweeler, nor does it handle like my GW Trike.


      1) Power Steering. It responds very fast to any motions you make. Especially going around corners, every little twitch you make, it responds.
      2) Because of that, your weight on the handlebars (leaning forward) cause changes. You need to keep your weight OFF the handlebars, because you cannot keep exactly balanced weight on both, especially with it twitching as the wheels hit dips, rises, and rocks.
      3) Also because of that, no front brake handle. Trying to grab a front brake handle CHANGES your pressure on the handlebars, which again causes steering reaction. You also notice this when grabbing the clutch, but you don’t do that as often.
      4) Again because of the highly reactive steering, wind grabbing your arms and buffeting you makes the bike react. You get buffeted, your arms move, the steering moves.
      5) Because it’s a reverse trike, your “you point” is very close to the steering point, the point directly between the two wheels and directly in front of you. The result is that you feel very much more “forward” than you do with a normal trike.

      Unlike Mr. Baruth, I AM a coward; it’s what keeps me cautious on the road. (I also rode my GW on the Deerfoot 500 in winter, so I’m also certifiably insane.) It took me 2 weeks before I had the bike up to 100 KPH, and another week before 130 KPH. I haven’t gotten near 100 MPH yet, and won’t be for quite a while.

      Mr. Baruth seems to have approached riding the Spyder as “it’s just another bike, how different can it be?”. The answer is VERY different. His problem with crosswinds was as I described above; the wind buffets him, he twitches the handlebars, and the trike responds. Like me, he’s got too much weight on the handlebars.

      I am still uncomfortable with the Spyder, but I’m getting there. I expect it’ll take another 30 hours or so before I’m minimally confident.

      As for those who say “they want Spyders because they’re too old / too uncertain / too whatever to ride a real bike”, well, two years ago March 14, my trike paid for itself. All the effort, all the pain, all the scares, all the cost, it all paid off. I got T-boned, but kept both my legs because I was shoved sideways down the road instead of being ground into hamburger between the road and the Jeep that hit me.

  • avatar

    I just wanted to leave a note for anyone else reading these comments who were as completely confused by the idea of “countersteering” as I was. Doing a quick search, I found this youtube clip that helped me understand it and realize that I did this without knowing it:

    Seeing it in action (and described on whiteboard) was much easier to comprehend then reading about it in text. Hope this helps!

  • avatar

    Well there is some interesting comments. I’ve road a few different kinds of bikes but not very much but I have been riding ATC’s and ATV’s for more then 20 years and I’m looking forward to getting one of these. I like the color schemes of the 2012 and most likely will be the one I get. I think it’s all what you are used to and to say this is a wild unsafe ride well maybe it is but I think riding any bike has it’s moments of being a safety issue. I’ve seen high speed steering shakes on 2 wheeled motor cycles that would scare even the most advanced rider. Can this be a dangerous ride well sure but if you understand it and how it works any condition can be compensated for.

    So the moral of the story is if your a 2 wheel rider you’ll probably not like this, if you enjoy snowmobiles or ATV’s you’ll probably be more comfortable on one of these.

    I like my ATV’s and mine is a 90+ MPH modified monster and it’s a blast, it’s only a problem if you stop respecting your equipment and not being aware of your surroundings.

    Ride safe all

  • avatar
    big Don

    When I first saw a Spyder I flat out belly laughed….this machine proves that people will spend their money on anything! I recently saw one up close, with the obese owner sitting on it – it’s a snow mobile with wheels – but a snow mobile DOES lean because it is in the snow – this thing is a joke that has to be wrestled with in the turns.
    Buy this thing and you are a poser – all the motorcycle gear – tough guy expression…..and you are sitting on top of a convertable car less one tire——8>D — it is good for a laugh tho. Plus all I hear is problems with the machine breaking down and then you have to go to the dealer?stealer because thats the way they made this thing – only they can work on it.
    This guy pulled into a parking lot full of bikes, if he could hear the responses of the group in general…he would have left with his tail between his large arse cheeks. Sorry for the rant but these things are not bikes and are dangerous – if you wanna ride get a real bike with 2 wheels..want to drive get a Miata….way cooler ride. bD

  • avatar

    its the people who ride these big hd bikes with their antique two cylinders lopped of of basically an early 1900s design radial engine that are laughable. They try and make up for their bikes lack of power by running straight pipes. What a joke!!
    Then these same people try and mock and belittle anyone who buys a machine that is fun to ride and very high tech.
    Most sport bike riders get the spyder and while it is maybe not their preferred ride, they are friendly toward people who ride them, not like big don who from his post has only showed his ignorance and bully like character.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m 63 years old, I’ve ridden for 40 years and ride an Electra Glide because I like the look, comfort and the fact that it’s made in America. My wife rides (drives?) a Spyder because she likes the way it handles and is controlled mostly like a car and it’s made in America. She wants the open air feel that she got on the back of my bike but she wanted her own ride. Couldn’t agree more that the Spyder is not a motorcycle, it isn’t meant to be.

    • 0 avatar

      Bravo Gerdog,

  • avatar
    bone crusher

    I’ll gladly comment on all the ‘interesting’ thoughts here.

    First of all, for those who do not understand physics, the Spyder is far safer to ride than any traditional trike. The bike has a VSS, or Vehicle Stability System..this incorporates anti-lock brakes, traction control, and more. In fact, the Spyder has the same Bosch system as BMW and Mercedes…enuf said!

    Regarding cornering…the Spyder is a more aggressive ride than a two wheeler…this means that yes, you need some strength to corner…it’s more like an ATV than a bike. However, if you hit some oil, a bumb, or some gravel, you’re not going to end up in a guardrail like you would on a two wheeler. This is a very comforting thought. Steering is easy enough and you DO lean on the Spyder (mikedt…if you’re getting tossed around, you just can’t handle the bike or you’re unfamiliar with its differences from your two wheeler)…if you don’t, you’ll be in trouble. Although the leaning is different than on a two wheeler, if you don’t lean into a turn, you’ll be in trouble! Oh yeah, as far as Miata goes, I don’t think it goes 0-60 in the low 4s…and I’m willing to bet with some Givi bags put on, you can get plenty of luggage space on a Spyder! :-)

    As far as our reviewer here goes, I do not understand how he could not control the bike at 100 mph. This bike is smooth as butter and really hugs the road. Period. Most of us do inflate the tires a little more (18 front, 28 rear)…even if we didn’t, the additional friction would hold you to the road, not pull you off. There’s a little too much bias in this review to legitimize many of the points he tried to make…don’t be afraid to test ride one…you might just buy it!

    For everyone who has said it’s more car than bike, or, it has no positives and only negatives, etc…everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is a great thing. It’s funny that whenever I ride, and with whomever I ride with, my Spyder still gets more looks and generates more interest whenever I stop as compared to any other bike I’m with. My buddies crack up over this but even they realize that the Spyder is an amazing feat of engineering.

    BRP continues to grow in a down economy when most motorcycle manufacturers are having serious issues. Why is this? The Spyder appeals to a broader array of people. It’s not just for ‘sissys’, disabled people, etc…it’s for people who are intelligent and want the open air feel while limiting their exposure to danger. It’s nice to ride safely in any road condition and be visible. When you’re 5 feet wide and lit up like a Christmas tree, you won’t get those ‘I didn’t see him/her’ as you and your bike are splattered all over the road.

    What you ride is your business. This is a great thing as there are plenty of choices out there. I love going to bike conventions and riding in Rolling Thunder…all the amazing bikes are great to look at…however, I wouldn’t trade my Spyder for anything…

    The Spyder is a viable option and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to ride. Look for the ‘Y’ configuration vehicles to continue to gain market share over the next decade. It only makes sense that people want to ride and feel the open air while reducing the risk inherent to riding a two wheeler.

    If anyone has any specific questions about the Spyder, its performance, etc…feel free to ask. Don’t knock something until you try it…

    • 0 avatar

      “First of all, for those who do not understand physics, the Spyder is far safer to ride than any traditional trike. The bike has a VSS, or Vehicle Stability System..this incorporates anti-lock brakes, traction control, and more. In fact, the Spyder has the same Bosch system as BMW and Mercedes…enuf said!”

      You mean the same system as cars? That might explain it!

      I had one of these monstrosities for a while. I’ve spent my share of time on snowmobiles and ATVs, but I’ve never ridden bikes. When I was young I saw I car cut off a MC’ist and send him flying. I could never get that out of my mind and feel safe on one. I thought this contraption might be different, but I was wrong. There are some quirks you have to figure out about it, so you need at least 10hrs on one to become comfortable, but then you quickly learn the limits.

      I started pushing it hard through some corners and was lifting the inside front wheel quite a bit. I didn’t flip it, but I’m sure I would have if I had pushed it as hard as I push my Solstice though corners. VSS be damned… I also once hit a patch of sand while going around a turn. The front wheels straddled it, but the rear tire hit it and spun out. I damn near got pitched like a lawn dart. Also, 0n the sport version (the RS) your body will ache all over after riding for more than ½ hour. The touring might be better, but its so big, ugly, slow and expensive – who cares?

      I guess these machines are fine if you intend to just cruise around town, keep your speed under 50mph, and take the turns nice and slow. Sure you’ll look like a tool, but if you’re having a good time, screw it. After all, their target market is women and old fat guys who want to pretend to be motorcyclist.

      • 0 avatar

        You said: Also, 0n the sport version (the RS) your body will ache all over after riding for more than ½ hour.

        Judging by the above I must assume that you are not a long-distance rider.

        I’m 54 and fat. As stated earlier, I bought a second-hand RS (sport version) Spyder May 16. July 2 I ran from Calgary to Penticton, 420 miles. I did that in a bit under 8 hours as I wasn’t particularly interested in pushing it through the mountains.

        (Note that I do not consider the above long-distance riding; that’s just a nice day ride.)

        July 4, about 10:00 AM I left Penticton and rode to Las Vegas. 1,400 miles (I went through Montana) in 3 runs. I arrived around 7:30 AM July 6. About 46 hours all told. I left Vegas 9:00 AM July 11 and arrived in Calgary around 7:00 PM the next day, about 35 hours for the 1,300 mile return.

        At the end of it I was tired, but not particularly sore.

        The top speed I hit was somewhat higher than your “under 50mph”. We shan’t discuss exactly how much.

        If you’re lifting the inside tire on curves you’re either not leaning enough or you’re going a lot faster than I do on the curves. Admitted, I’m pretty slow on them.

        As for big Don’s comment that I’m a poser because I now ride one, well, maybe so. But I’m a poser with 36 years’ experience riding motorcycles and I’m a poser who’s ridden highways at 140 KPH at 19 degrees below 0.

  • avatar

    This so called “Capsule Review: Can-Am Spyder” is the most uninformed and negative trash I think I have ever read. Then in the comments he comes out and says he doesn’t consider it a review. I guess he doesn’t realize that is what he called it in his title!?!

    At any rate he has so many inaccurate statements that any one can tell he did not do his home work before riding a Spyder or writing his “review” that isn’t really a review. He is confused about everything I guess!!

    I have a 2008 Can Am Spyder that I bought in April, 2008. I have over 55,000 SAFE miles on it and have pulled a trailer for at least 10,000 miles with absolutely no problem. I have been to Canada, Michigan, Illinois, Tenessee(3 years in a row) and of course all the other states in between these destinations. I have done the “Tail of the Dragon” at least 5 times (with a group of Spyders) and all of them with no accidents or problem which is more than a lot of 2 wheelers can say judging by the “Tree of Shame” at Deals Gap. We were hauling a a– through the twisties and even had a lot of 2 wheelers pull over to let us go by. I have had my Spyder to 113 with 2 up and still had more throttle but backed off for fear of getting pulled over. We have ridden in torrential down pours many times especially coming home from Tenessee( 2 full days of heavy rain) and had NO problem. We were still on the road when we would see groups of 2 wheelers stopped under brideges.

    I had at least six 2 wheelers over the years and never put more than 5000 miles on a year. I am logging around 15000 miles a year on my Spyder and all safe miles. I usually travel 80 to 85 MPH when travelling and always 2 up and usually pulling my trailer since last year when I bought it. All SAFE miles. BTW I had no problem adjusting to just a foot brake with no hand brake, but I never have a problem going from an automatic to a standard shift car either. I really don’t see thast as a problem when you discover that this machine will stop quicker than a lot of 2 wheelers.

    I could go on and on about the merits of the Spyder…. but I won’t. It just makes me upset when I read this article of nonsense and then other self styled experts chime in with their negative thoughts and responses. If you don’t like the Spyder or you think it is ugly so be it…..but that is your OPINION. Let me just say if any one is even considering a Spyder, don’t let this uninfomred “review” or whatever he calls it, sway you from at least going to a dealer and talking to them and then taking a good long ride before you make any decision.

    The comments by “Bonecrusher” are really well said and he has been a Spyder rider for some time also. He went into some of the high tech points that really help to make the Spyder absolutely SAFE!!

    Enough said except….I would not go back to a 2 wheeler for anything!!


  • avatar
    bone crusher


    You’re funny.

    I’m sorry to hear you had problems handling the bike. For those of us (and the number is growing quickly) who ride them, we absolutely love them. As far as being a woman or a fat guy, that doesn’t apply to me. ‘Pretending’ to be a motorcyclist…does this title mean anything? I’m a little more mature than to worry about labels.

    The Spyder is the perfect vehicle for those people (yes, all of them) who want to feel the open air and are a little more safety conscious as compared to our two wheeled buddies. There are more and more Spyder enthusiasts every day…the bikes are selling at a prolific rate…for a reason…they’re fast (0-60 in 4.5 seconds out of the box), fun, and safe.

    As far as riding under 50 mph, I guess you’re not that coordinated…even the women and fat guys have no problems go faster than that! 10 hours on the bike? That explains it. The first time I was on the bike was for a 70 mile ride home from the dealership…I now ride with my two wheeler buddies and have no problems keeping up in the twisties. Hey, there’s something for everyone and this is a great thing.

    Oh, if you’re going to make up a story about lifting a wheel, at least get the proper wheel described…when in a turn on this bike, you might be able to lift the outer wheel, but the inner? Not possible. Also, if you were on a two wheeler and hit sand, you would’ve been in a hospital or worse…lucky for you (if you really did try the bike), your nanny took over so you couldn’t hurt yourself.

    • 0 avatar

      BC: I will admit that I was in a bit of a bad mood when I wrote that… drinking and watching a sporting event where I didn’t like the inevitable outcome. I was feeling like a prick and trying to flame things up a bit.

      To be honest, I had the Spyder up over 110mph going straight and felt fine. Very sureal, actually. And it does have acceleration to rival a supercar. Also, I will admit that if you want a trike, it is 10x better than any other trike on the market.

      However, you are completely wrong on the wheel lift. I guess you have never driven yours very aggressively. The first time I lifted a wheel I was surpised myself to see the inner wheel lift. But after I thought about the physics of it, it all made sense. It’s centrifugal force: when cornering aggressively, all the weight is shifted to the outside wheel, so it won’t be the outside wheel coming off the ground! The inside one lifts. Just think – if you could flip one of these things by cornering too aggressively, are you going to flip to the inside of the turn or the outside? Outside, obviously, which means that it’s the inside whel that lifts. Please don’t accuse me of making stuff up that you have never experienced.

      Bottom line: it’s a decent machine for cruising or going fast in a straight line, but don’t trust ‘the nanny’ to save you skin if you like to tackle the turns at high speed.

  • avatar
    bone crusher


    No biggie…hope you’re not a Red Sox fan! If so, I can more than understand your displeasure.

    I do ride aggressively and LEAN in hard with the turns. Many say you don’t need to lean, but if you don’t, your scenario can occur. The company has run extensive tests and the nanny is pretty darn good. I have heard of other who have lifted tires off the ground (both sides), but the nanny has taken over and steadied the machine. Remember, if you have centrifugal forces acting upon you, YOU become the centripetal force to balance out the bike. I do concede that this takes a little getting used to…the Spyder is easier for people who have never ridden before…harder for those coming from two wheelers. The ride is more physical…

    As far as flipping over goes, there really isn’t a lot of talk about that on the bike. is the biggest board for Spyders. I ride a lot with two wheelers and they are not shy about the twisties. I really enjoy hitting the sharper turns…but, again, I do have to lean in a lot. I have added stronger shocks to help with this…many have added a stronger sway bar. That might be an upgrade for me sometime soon as well…obviously, the stiffer the suspension, the better…not unlike a sports car in this capacity.

    I think we see a lot of anti-Spyder bias…this is really a shame. There are many on Spyderlovers who have been seriously injured in bike accidents (two wheelers) and can no longer ride…with the Spyder, they can get the thrill again. This is a great thing! Of course, from what I see, the demographics of ‘Spyder Ryders’ is quite vast….all types of people…this is great to see…the Spyder has penetrated a lot of markets.

    When you consider that up to 40% of all bike accidents are single rider, you basically eliminate all of these when on a trike, and the ‘Y’ configuration is obviously safer than the traditional layout.

    The issue is then what are you giving up when you get on a three wheeler? Purists would say it’s not a bike, it’s a whatever, and, of course, the rider is a wimp, sissy, etc…well, purists are purists and the next time they drop their bike (it’s always a matter of when, not if) they’ll more so see the value of the Spyder.

    I’ll betcha if you got on some of the more modified Spyders, you’d change your opinion. Like any vehicle out there, they can be easily modified and many do so to fit their riding style.

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