By on June 15, 2015

canamspyder 036

Let the record show that, on the morning that I rode one hundred and seven miles each way to ride the new Cam-Am Spyder F3-S, I nearly dropped my motorcycle.

I’m still not quite sure how it happened. Something like this: I was turning my VFR800 Anniversary Edition around on the slope of my driveway. My left foot slipped on a bit of oil or maybe just water and the whole 539-pound machine fell as my foot continued to slide. About a tenth of a second before it would have been too late, I caught some traction with the outside of my heel and then all I had to do was arrest the slide with my left arm. It felt like deadlifting twice my weight and, for a moment, I thought my thrice-broken left wrist was going to snap again and add a medical bill to the cost of a replacement fairing.

When everything came to a halt and I’d yanked the VFR to vertical, I paused for a moment to consider the following: I’m forty-three years old, I’ve broken eighty-plus bones, and the day that I drop a motorcycle is coming fast. So with that in mind, I clutched in, grabbed first gear, and headed north to meet what I was now quite happy to think of as an un-droppable motorcycle.


canamspyder 031

This is my cellphone shot of the F3-S, but because the trike has so many edges and curves, and because there were so many other trikes around, it’s not easy to see what it actually looks like. Let’s use a PR photo, shall we?

spyder

It’s really quite handsome in an odd way and very different from the Spyder RS that I absolutely hated when I rode it a bit over four years ago.

canamspyder 034

Fox shocks…

canamspyder 033

Brembo brakes. What else can you get for $20,999 that has this kind of equipment? Oh, and it had cruise control, apparently. The contrast-color trellis frame has the same appeal here that it has on a Ducati or KTM sportbike. You can see plenty of the engine, which is not the case with the other members of the Spyder family.

To push the Spyder’s 850-pound dry weight, Can-Am offers a Rotax-badged 1330 cc triple capable of putting out 115 horsepower and 96 pound-feet of torque. That’s as much motor as you can get in a Spyder, and it’s the same one that pushes the full-dresser RT tourer now, but we live in an era where most sport-touring motorcycles have over 150 horsepower. Even my conservative old-man VFR has 110 horsepower. So if you’re expecting to keep up with your neighbor’s Beemer K1600GT or Kawaski Concours-14 as they rip to 10.3-second quarter miles, you should walk right past the Spyder and ask for the Yamaha V-Max.

canamspyder 035

Before I was allowed to ride the Spyder F3-S on public roads, I had to complete a small autocross course with it. Really just an oval with a small chicane down the back straight, intended to be taken at about 15 mph. I negotiated it easily, remembering that the Spyder doesn’t steer like a motorcycle. The fellow who was coaching the novices gave me a solid piece of Can-Am advice I wish I’d gotten back in 2011: “Push the outside end of the handlebars away from you to turn instead of pulling on the inside handlebar.” This also gives you some leverage to get your body moved over to the inside of the turn, which is absolutely necessary if you don’t want to just roll over into a ditch.

Having completed Spyder School without incident, I was then allowed to choose my Spyder. I picked a grey one with the six-speed manual transmission. The majority of Spyders, I am told, are sold with the electronically activated semi-auto. I had no fear of stalling it as I headed down the road for my lead-follow thirty-minute test ride. Only a moron could stall this thing. It’s all torque and no action. I was the second rider of a four-trike group in which both the lead and last rider were Can-Am employees, but the fellow in front wasn’t inclined to take it easy on me and I soon found myself using full throttle to keep up.

The back roads around Lodi, Ohio are rather beautiful. There’s a lake and there’s some elevation change and there are a bunch of great curves and, in short, it’s a completely fucking terrifying place in which to ride a Can-Am Spyder. To begin with, the roads have heavy crown and they’re narrow. On a motorcycle you’d deal with this by riding the centerline unless there was traffic; in a car you’d just deal with it period. But the Spyder wanted to fall into the ditch all the time and my instinctive countersteering motions just helped it in this goal.

With that said, the new seating position in the F3 really helps matters compared to the Spyder RS I rode in Atlanta. You’re sitting in the trike, not on it. The footrests are ahead, not under. It’s much like a Harley V-Rod in that way and the footpegs are adjustable to make sure you can stretch out as you like. The lower seat really helps you lean in the turns and, as a result, the F3 never feels quite as ornery as the older Spyders. The swept-back bars are similar to the ones found in the newer touring bikes, and they’re chock-full of controls, including a button that you must press in order to be allowed to start the bike. “Pressing the button signifies that you’ve read the owner’s manual,” I was told.

“I can in no way see that holding up in court, especially since the button is labeled ‘ECO’,” I replied. Nevertheless, you have to do it.

There’s an electric parking brake. But there’s no hand brake lever. Only a big rubber pedal for your right foot. This alone was almost enough to cause me to crash the Spyder no fewer than four times. I don’t use the rear brake foot lever on my motorcycles. Maybe once a ride to clean off the machinery, but that’s it. My VFR has linked brakes, so squeezing the front brake applies the back brake a bit, and my CB550 has a near-totally useless drum back there that I only activate when it’s raining. Time and again I found myself squeezing air when it was time to stop. If you want proof that the Spyder is meant for “cagers”, there you go. No hand brake. How hard would it be to add one as an option? Well, the Can-Am has ABS to go with its ESP, so maybe pretty hard.

My next beef with the trike was this: In a car, you only need to find two smooth lines in a bumpy rural road. On a bike, you only need one. But a trike needs three. If there’s a pothole or a pavement wave out there, a Spyder can find it, and the steering geometry seems ideally suited to following grooves in the road. So I was constantly struggling to keep it going straight on the frost-heaved Ohio two-lane. Now were you to find yourself on a freeway, you’d appreciate the stability of three wheels against wind and fatigue – but ripping down a twisty backroad, it’s miserable.

I also noticed that applying full throttle on said backroads with pavement waves and ripples was quite exciting, causing me to hang off the thing left and right like I was in the original version of Mad Max. Luckily, the F3-S isn’t a Hayabusa and the same amount of twist that gets the VFR to 110 or more only shoves the Spyder to maybe 65-70. If a modern V-6 Camry wants to run you for pink slips, be aware that you’re in what the old hands at the dragstrip call a “driver’s race.”

On the positive side of things, the transmission could not be easier to use. I found myself bumping past neutral into first a lot, but that just speaks to

a) me being a cack-footed moron who rides a 1975 CB550 in traffic
b) the excellence of Can-Am’s synchros.

Less fun is the difficulty I had operating the throttle smoothly while still using the handlebars for leverage. This is where you’re spoiled on a motorcycle because unless you’re in the middle of the Isle of Man TT you really aren’t leaning on the bars very much. I can operate the VFR with fingertips only on the bars at well over 100 mph but you’d be a fool to do something like that on the Spyder. So in left turns I kept over-throttling. This is called “whiskey throttle” by experienced trike riders, apparently. And when you do it, the front end gets light because hey, you’re accelerating HARD. Which reduces the front end’s ability to turn. Scary as hell.

Several times I thought I was going to get the Patrick George Award For Crashing A Vehicle During A Lead-Follow Event, but each time I managed to huck my big ass off the seat in the right direction and calm things down. I got not a single bit better at this during the course of the half hour.

The end of the test ride came not a moment too soon for my personal satisfaction. I respect this machine, but I don’t enjoy riding it and I think it would take me a long time to learn how to operate it safely. “You sure liked that center line,” smirked the Can-Am fellow who was leading the ride.

“Well, being away from it, toward the white line on the side, scared the shit out of me.” He smirked again. I felt like telling him that I’d driven the Zanardi line at Laguna Seca to take first in a race, then realized I didn’t care what he thought of me and neither did he. At that point, I was 100% done with the whole idea of the Spyder.

But as I walked around the Can-Am tent and saw the people who were showing up for the next lead-follow ride, I noticed that most of them were not what I think of as “bikers”. They were older, they were female. More than a few of them didn’t have their “M” endorsement. There were two different African-American couples that were interested in the Spyder RT full-dresser, and they shared with me that they liked the idea of it being stable on the freeway.

canamspyder 039

As I got back on my Interceptor 800, which to my immense relief steers in the direction I’m leaning and responds to my wishes without any particular force on my part, I thought about how much longer I could ride something like this. My wrists hurt a bit from the hundred-plus mile ride up and my hands had been a bit numb when I arrived at the demo-ride area. With one more serious joint injury I’ll be done with motorcycling as I know it – or maybe another decade’s worth of arthritis and joint degradation, to say nothing of my right ACL’s refusal to magically reappear, will call time on my riding aspirations. At the age of 23, I could ride my Ninja from dawn till dusk. At 28, I could ride my YZF600R five hundred miles then go for a mountain-bike sprint. Today, at 43 years of age, I can still ride three or four hundred miles in a day if I’m careful. Where will I be when I’m sixty? Confined to my 911 or Boxster or maybe a Corvette droptop? How will I feel about the Can-Am Spyder’s freeway stability and relaxed riding position and relatively modest pace then?

On Route 71, heading down a tree-lined section that I’ve long used as a free-fire zone of personal irresponsibility, I leaned over the tank and twisted the Honda’s throttle from my 85 mph cruising pace. One hundred. One ten. One twenty. One thirty. I felt good. As the end of the wooden section approached, complete with a crossover where the Ohio Highway Patrol loves to sit, I crossed into the middle lane and sat up, using my Fieldsheer-clad bulk to airbrake down below go-to-jail speed. Not a problem. I’m not too old to ride this thing, not too frail. Not yet.

But a few miles later, as I alternated the pressure of my weight between my hands to keep the tingles out, I saw a fellow on an old GoldWing conversion trike heading the other way, across the median. He saw me. And he didn’t just do the little nod that bikers do, or the dropped-two-finger cooler-than-thou salute. He actually waved. With his whole arm. It was hopeful, it was friendly, it suggested that we were brothers of a sort, pursuing the idea of being out in the elements and doing our own thing, albeit in different fashion.

I looked up, saw the sun illuminating the white clouds, then I, too, raised my whole hand. And waved. As I will to Spyder drivers, the next time I see one.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

60 Comments on “2015 Can-Am Spyder F3-S Review...”


  • avatar

    I’ve been seeing a lot of “trikes” here lately. I kinda like them because of the 3 wheel stability – and the flashy designs, but I’d only want to buy one if I lived in a temperate climate with very little traffic.

    Many of the people I’ve known with motorcycles have been killed on them.

    Traffic is just too dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Trikes have got stability backwards. They’re stable at standstill, and then get progressively less so as speeds increase. Cars do that as well, but their envelope is large enough that it is less of a problem. While well designed and executed bikes get more and more stable as speeds climb; the way things should be. The trick to make the bike’s compromise work, is to keep it light enough so that your legs can supply the required stability at standstill. Otherwise, things do get a bit troublesome. Which is probably why trikes seem to mainly sell to the full dresser, 900 lb Goldwing/E-Glide + 300 lb rider + 200lb mama + 150lbs junk crowd.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    When my uncle got to where he couldn’t ride his Goldwing any longer he had it converted to a trike and he enjoyed riding that up to he death. I think they ride and drive much differently than the Can-Am and that may be why it was an easier transition.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      They do ride much differently. Those Goldwing trikes, as well as the the Harley ones are all delta layout (vs the tadpole layout of the the Can-Am and Polaris Slingshot). Turn in and handling on the deltas is much more fun and motorcycle-like, but they trade this off for stability in turning and braking. I doubt Polaris or Can-Am would ever go to this design, purely for liability reasons. Delta style trikes are still illegal where I live due to their propensity to tip over in highspeed/emergency maneuvers.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Awesome visibility.

  • avatar
    Toad

    The Can-Am may not be for everybody but I am glad the option is out there for people who want it. The number of choices we have in vehicles today is truly amazing; it is great to live during what really is a golden age of car and motorcycle design.

    Great and informative review.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Jack you dont need a g-d damn trike, you just need a bike with dirt bars instead of clipons.

    These trike things seem to combine the worst of a motorcycle and a car. Steering sounds awful, and dangerous if you have motorcycle motor patterns. Ergos don’t give you good leverage. Width forbids easy parking in the city. Weight severely blunts performance. Sounds like the chassis is not well sorted either. They also look ridiculous. Motorcycles generally look pretty cool and make some level of sense controls wise. Something like an Ariel Atom just takes the car concept and pushes it to the raw extremes. I don’t see what benefits of both trikes serve.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      What benefit do trikes serve? Baby Boomers.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        I have a boomer elder brother who was an early Can-Am adopter. I’ve heard his enthusing about trikes for years now. But I still don’t see many out there.

        I also know many Harley riders in their 60s. You’d think they’d be prime fodder for this approach but not one of them plans to ever ride on anything but two fat wheels. I think they consider trikes to be the equivalent of having to use a walker.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I am not sure they would be necessary if people took care of themselves and maintained their balance. Plus a lot of it is about just making smart choices. I am turning 32 in September… I can balance on a fixed gear bicycle sitting still with no hands, but I just dropped my motorcycle making a u turn in a gas station last week. It was an easily avoidable mistake, like most low speed drops are. Once the bike is in motion, it balances itself (Youtube it), and only changes direction on your input.

        To be fair to Jack, he has had a ton of injuries, largely as a result of staying active, as he should be doing. But I still think he can keep riding, if he just makes better choices on what bikes he buys. I ride a Ninja 650 now, and after a lot of self reflection will probably move up to a Ninja 1000 or the new faired Suzuki 1000 standard (if it ever comes out). I’m probably never going to track my bike, and clip ons kill my lower back. You just have to make changes.

        Not to mention, if that Lit Motors ride is any indication, bikes will be self balancing by the time folks like me n Jack hit old age anyway.

        Bottom line, for me, trikes seem to scream “Ive given up but dont have the heart to walk away”. At a gym I used to go to, there was a dude in his mid 60s who rode a fixed gear bicycle and would bang out set after set of weighted dips, chinups and squats. I want to be that guy, not the guy trying to salvage his pride and image on a trike.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          Life choices have a lot to do with it. My college-baseball-playing father has a lot less joint paint at 70 than his skatepark-riding and high-school-football-playing children do at 43 and 37.

          I’ll ride a sportbike until I break my neck again or until I can’t hold it up. But it’s not my only motorcycle.

          • 0 avatar
            izzy

            I am hoping it is the latter for you. So, that will be about when you are in your late sixties. Plenty of time to get in some rides with your son.
            I am 50 and am hoping my son will be mature enough to ride a motorcycle when I am in my sixties.

          • 0 avatar
            racerxlilbro

            I’m 47, and just fed up with clip-ons. I, too have a VFR I adore. Mine is also a sixth-gen like yours. The single best investment I’ve made on mine was a Spiegler/LSL handlebar conversion. I’m not as tall as you are, so the reach to the bars I’m sure was a bigger problem for me. But, it was a pretty easy swap, and made the bike much more enjoyable for long rides.

            In CA, where lane splitting is not illegal (as differentiated from being “legal”), I just imagine I’d be whistling along on my new Spyder as traffic slowed quickly. The next image in my imagination is a Spyder with both front wheels cleaned off, as I tried to take the gap between the 1 and 2 lanes.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          For what it’s worth, apparently Boomer women, who’d otherwise be intimidated by something this size with two wheels, are one of the biggest markets for these.

        • 0 avatar
          AoLetsGo

          trikes seem to scream “Ive given up but dont have the heart to walk away”
          In the cycling world the recumbent is in the same category.

          At 55 I can still bang out 100+ mile rides with only minimal discomfort its the 3 day 300 mile rides that really start to get to my hands and wrists. That’s when the recumbent starts to look better but I hope I am a long way off from that day. After all on the Horsey Hundred this year I was talking to a guy on a regular road bike who was fit,trim and fast and he was freaking 87!

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I believe that people should be able to buy whatever they want if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, but trikes seem to me to be as dangerous as a motorcycle and no more fun than a decent convertible, perhaps less based on Baruth’s reviews of two.

      I was going to say it’s no fun if you can’t lean in, but maybe it is, I just can’t see how it could be more fun than a souped up Miata or kit 7 or something.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    If I were to buy something from Bombardier it’d be a Sea-Doo. These are interesting though, thanks for the review, Jack.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I hear you on that aging thing. When I was 35, I took a long motorcycle trip, from Chicago to Brooks, Alberta, and then to Atlanta, on a Honda Hawk GT with a plastic windshield. It was a bit tough on the shoulder and wrist, but it was doable, and 500 mile days were the norm. Five years later, some fool turned left in front of me and that was the end of the bike, and three days later we found out that my wife was expecting, and that was the end of my cycling career. Today I’m 57, and while I’d always promised myself another motorcycle when my children were grown, I’m not sure I have the vision or reaction times to deal with a motorcycle in Atlanta traffic. (Cue Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days”) I’m thinking a boat’s more my speed, hey, at least I can still wakeboard.

    One thing I’ve wondered about on those trikes is that they seem so low. If you’re that vulnerable, I liked being higher up where I could see and be seen.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Now make it amphibious and tracked, and you have a deal.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Whiskey throttle, eh? I guess that explains why snowmobiles have the thumb levers. I never thought about how the exaggerated steering motion would affect the twisting of a throttle. Sledding does tend to involve whiskey, so the foolproofing is desirable.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    54 and still ride a motorcycle as often as possible – although I prefer a more upright riding position a la adventure bike. The day I don’t feel like I can hold up a bike at a stop sign or parking lot anymore is the day I trade it in for a permanent miata. Cheaper, better gas mileage and as much trunk space as most of the OEM trikes out there. Trikes seem to have all of the disadvantages of a motorcycle with little of the fun/advantages of riding on two wheels. The sole reason for moving to a trike is to keep the acceptance of SOME of the motorcycle crowd. And if that is that important to you, well then you’ve got other problems.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      Agreed. I ride a Yamaha Supertenere. The ride position and suspension travel is so much nicer on this “broken down jalopy of the man I used to be” (Waits.) I sold my Honda ST1300 after deciding I just couldn’t bear long punishing trips on it anymore. Last year I drove from Pa up to NY finally to Michigan in one day. The trip was about 800 miles and at the end my ass hurt so bad there were literally tears flowing down my cheeks over every Michigan pothole. Problem is the Supertenere weighs about 650lbs dressed out with Jesse alloy bags and gear. Slow dropped it last year in a Philly rainstorm, and about tore up what was left of my back to get it upright again. I also have a Miata and it just isn’t the same kind of acceleration fun or open air feel as a bike.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    You all should review a Slingshot, different kind of trike but priced the same.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I just can’t see the point of these overpriced three wheelers. Nothing will take the place of two wheel riding and don’t tell me they are safer. When I see them, I fail to be impressed. People will buy these at 25k and drive them 500 miles a year and then fire sale them. Just another fad passing by. I’ll take the real thing.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    As a longtime motorcycle rider, I don’t see the problem that a trike solves that is not better addressed by a roadster if you want open-air motoring.

    The ace every two-wheeler has up its sleeve is that it can lean. Take that away by adding a wheel and you just have a less functional, less comfortable, more expensive alternative to a Miata or S2000 with bizzaro-world dynamics to boot.

    This goes double for the “make a trike by adding dual rear wheels to a cruiser or Goldwing” approach.

    Seems like the whole trike concept is just a ploy to sell doughy Boomers expensive and shoddy vehicles by playing to their Steve McQueen motorcycle fantasies. It’s adorable and sad that these poor goons think of themselves as motorcycle riders.

    Special exemption: Most of the above applies to sidecars, but they are cool enough to justify existing. Especially 2WD Uzbekistani-spec Urals.

  • avatar
    Midnight DeSoto

    All the weather and crash protection of my Triumph Bonneville, with almost all the social tax (*must* be a compensating d-bag) and passenger/cargo limitations of my 911. Where do I sign?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I want to try one of these even though I don’t think I’d like it. There seems to be too many compromises and not enough motorcycle feel.

    I’m glad that people have choices even if they don’t particularly appeal to me.

    I recently demoed a BMW S1000R. Excellent motorcycle and though I still want to throw a leg over a Ducati Monster 1100 and an Aprilia Tuono, the S1000 just might find a space in my garage.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My former second in command bought one gently used taking advantage of the depreciation. Good thing to have to de-stress and not have to worry about balancing the bike. She’s just on the backside of 50 years old BTW.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Mrs DougD and I were driving in the country this weekend when we passed a fellow on a touring Harley being followed by a woman on a Spyder. The Harley guy looked relaxed, the woman looked grim.

    My good wife (who is also 43 and likes her VF500 Interceptor just fine) turned to me and said “you know, why doesn’t she just get a Miata or one of those little BMW’s?”.

    I myself would have no problem being followed by a sports car on my motorcycle trip, then perhaps I could ditch the “Ballistic Packhorse” C10 Concours and get something a bit sportier.

    At any rate I’ve never ridden a Spyder but they still appear to combine all the disadvantages of two and four wheeled vehicles with few of the benefits… Nice review.

  • avatar

    Interesting review. There’s a useful contrast between the Morgan 3-wheeler (and similar designs like the Campagna T-Rex) and trikes like the Spyder or typical conversions: centre of gravity.

    I’ve played around on both sidecar rigs (flipped one, didn’t die, long story) and quad ATVs on the road (amazingly, totally legal in Greece, which my relatives keep telling me is a first-world EU-member country). Both have the problem you note: wrong way steering and awkward top-heaviness that makes them sketchy as heck in corners (the quad ATVs add the fun of what I’m pretty sure was a no-diff solid rear axle). Sidecars at least have the clown-car benefit of looking amusing.

    (As an aside, sidecars have an excellent real-world safety record, and the reasons are likely to apply to the Can-Ams too: the demographics of the typical sidecar rider are the opposite of thrill-seekers, and the intrinsic dangers are telegraphed so strongly that only a fool would try to approach the performance limits of the vehicle.

    I think you’ve rightly identified the niche for these trikes: folks who like to cruise on a motorcycle, but don’t particularly want to drop one on themselves. I think you have to try too hard to have fun on these if your goal is taking a windy road at speed.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Jack, I didn’t start two-wheel riding until I was 50. At that point, I decided that a little scooter in the big city (San Francisco) would work, but soon graduated to a Burgman 650 (a Suzuki 650cc scooter with CV automatic).

    I’ve ridden since 2003, including several trips up and down CA-1 along the coast, and a 2300-mile loop around California. The bike was bullet-proof, but after my most recent Palm Springs-to-San Francisco run, the concrete highway felt harder than ever. I figured there would be one of two things that would cause me to stop riding – an accident or a conscious decision – and I took the second option by abandoning any more long-distance rides.

    Turns out there was a third way, when my bike was stolen last month. I’m now 62 and am out of the two-wheel riding game after twelve years. It has given me some of the greatest memories on the road, including a 40-mile run from Big Sur to Gorda with the sun above, the ocean to the right and not a single vehicle in view ahead of me. I hope you have a similar happy conclusion to your rides.

    • 0 avatar
      carr1on

      My wife and I both have Burgman 650s and take long road trips on them. Since we both started riding in our 40s we wanted something easier to learn (my wife refuses to shift cars or bikes). The Burgman is a good tourer for people like us that just want to have fun and enjoy the open road. In fact, I tell people it is good couples therapy,

      As for the Spyder, I’ve taken two test drives and just can’t sell myself on them. They’re visually pretty, with decent power (which is relative from my current 650cc), and lots of amenities if you’re willing to pay.

      But I gotta lean. And I don’t like the feeling of sitting on top of the bike.

      I tried a friends Goldwing trike conversion and had similar thoughts.

      As other commenters have said, I’m glad there are lots of options for people. Different strokes for different folks!

  • avatar
    Dirty Dingus McGee

    If/when I get to where I can’t manage 2 wheels anymore (currently pushing 58), I might want to give one of these a test ride. Seen a couple of them out on the road, there are other manufacturer’s, and the rider said they are close to a regular bike. Said the only drawback was the lean angle stops, so you had to watch your speed into corners.

    http://www.tiltingmotorworks.com/

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    I think the target market is definitely those who have issues with riding a 2 wheeler safely or comfortably and that explains why most of the Can-Am owners I see are some combination of older, shorter or disabled.
    I demoed one of the full dress models with the semi-auto transmission and a passenger and it was a strange trip. First of all the brakes were pedal only, the shifter was on the left bar and there was no clutch. Then the handling, turn the bars the opposite way you are used to and the “OMG we’re going to tip over” feeling in the turns. Overall the dynamics are more like a slightly more predictable sidecar, since the 2 wheels in the front reduce the chances of putting one in the air.
    Personally I’ll go old school with a sidecar before I get a trike.

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    I’m 43 too, and just last fall did a 1000 mile in 24 hours ride on my old BMW K1200RS. I can easily do 700+ miles in a day, with stops for good meals and photos sprinkled in.

    Most of the riding I do is on two lanes (the RS) or on dirt fire trails in the many national forests in the area on an old R1200GS that I recently picked up.

    I’ve got a little bit of arthritis sneaking into my knuckles, and quite a bit of carpal tunnel in my right wrist from my day job in IT, but both of those bikes treat me pretty well, and I don’t mind too much that they’re seen as old dude bikes.

    Barring a mishap, I can easily see myself riding them both for many years to come, and I plan to.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    I’ve seen a lot of lower limb amputees that like trikes. The younger ones I’ve seen are on the Can-Am’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      And, regrettably, as long as our young men are running around in the desert at the whims of our corporate betters, there will be no shortage of amputees to ride Can-Ams.

      William Gibson notes something similar in “The Peripheral”.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        “as long as our young men are running around in the desert at the whims of our corporate betters, there will be no shortage of amputees to ride Can-Ams.”

        This is why I do not return calls from Academi or Aegis.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I guy I served with is a lower limb and below elbow arm amputee and he rides a Harley. I guess it depends on where the amputation is located and if it’s one or two amputations. One thing I do know is that my buddy is one of the baddest mammer jammers to ever walk the earth. I was done with the service after my original contract was up, but he went back to get his Special Forces tab.

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    I’ll concede the point that I’m no engineer. but I can’t believe that someone can’t build a three-wheeled powered vehicle with some sort of mechanical joint in the middle which will allow the rider to experience the lean-in turn of a motorcycle while simultaneously experiencing the stability of a three-wheeled platform. Something like the Dyson-ball vacuum cleaner. <>

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    you guys are masters of the craft. Thanks for writing these articles.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    Jeez you guys act like when your 62 its all over. Im 62 and dont have any aches/ pains at all. I still weigh the same and can do the same shit I did when I was 30. I think the keys are dont be careless and break bones, and dont live a sedentary lifestyle. People get in trouble when their normal activity is sitting down and then try to get physical overnight. It doesnt work that way.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      “I think the keys are dont be careless and break bones, ”

      NOW you tell me!

      But how do you get through life without crashing a race car or a race bike or punching anyone (or anything, even) hard enough to break your hand?

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        Big tough bones I guess. Every time Ive hit someone they break before I do and I dont hit walls. Ive had fractures but only one broken bone…my collar bone when I was 4. I have made it through some brutal jobs though. Worked crab fishing in the Bering Sea like on deadliest catch, worked on the construction of the Alaska pipeline for 3 years, and multi family construction for many more. I survived having a drunk Dr in a wagoneer who literally drove through my VW squareback. I headed for the ditch at the last second and escaped with just a fractured pelvis. I skied both downhill and cross country from the time I was a kid until I left Alaska at age 35, so its not like I did much sitting around avoiding danger.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I raced bicycles as a kid, even crashed hard enough to be in the hospital for a week once. But I never broke anything. Still never have, just lucky I guess. Otherwise I never was one for sports, so at 46 things mostly still work just fine despite being overweight and out of shape from a couple decades of road-warrior living. My football player now landscaper kid brother on the other hand, is a total wreck at 37.

        I’ve never punched anyone hard enough to injure myself, but did stake a kid’s hand to the lunchroom table with a fork in the 8th grade after he called me the N-word one too many times. Never had to fight anyone in school after that, for some reason. Word got around. Totally worth the one-week suspension, and my folks simply said “good, he had it coming”.

        As for motorcycles, they call to me. But my Dad died on one (thanks to a careless car driver, of course), and once you have all the safety gear on, the wind in the hair is kinda gone. So I will stick to little British and Italian convertibles I think.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    The main thing this article did was make me miss my departed ’09 VFR with hard bags.

    To me, the natural progression from a sport touring motorcycle continues to be a small sports car. Although it’s a risk to judge before trying it, the trikes do nothing for me.

    • 0 avatar
      stevelyon

      I’m the same way – if the day comes when I can’t ride two wheels anymore, I’ll switch to a Miata and be happy. Three wheels, to me, are all of the disadvantages of two wheels, with none of the advantages.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    Jack, you should definitely consider an adventure bike or a naked bike with a more upright driving position and more suspension travel. That makes a world of difference on the body. At 54, I’ve moved to a Yamaha Supertenere which has 7.5 inches of suspension travel. It eats up Michigan potholes in a way my ST1300 never could. The big ones are still a bear to get back up if you tip them over though.

  • avatar

    As I understand it, Bombardier has to use electronics to keep the Spyder stable. Center of gravity has been mentioned, but the main reason why reverse trikes like the Morgan 3 Wheeler or the Elio prototype that I drove can be made to handle is because they have so much weight on the front end. If you don’t bias the weight forward enough, a reverse trike will naturally want to lift the inner front wheel on turns.

    When a 4 wheel vehicle lifts the inner front wheel, a la Jim Clark’s Lotus Cortina, it still has three wheels on the ground so it’s stable. When a trike (either conventional or reverse) lifts a wheel, it’s effectively a two wheeler that’s counter-steering opposite the lean. When you counter-steer a bicycle, it will respond by turning and leaning quickly in the other direction. With all that weight shift, you’re lucky if you don’t roll.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Shame about the Can-Am, do see them out and about but suspected they had some motorcycle driving dna in them. VFR’s are drop prone as their center of gravity is a little higher than many bikes. Replaced my mirrors a couple of times over the years (EBay incidentally). At the ripe old age of 61 I have reluctantly given up on my bikes, frankly my hips weren’t even happy with the R1200RT I replaced my CBR with. So yeah, the convertible is in the garage now. One nice thing about the convert., if we get somewhere and I decide to have that second beer, I toss the keys at the wife and let her drive home. So yeah, but you still should get at least another ten years of the wondrousness of leaning over and hitting the gas. That and being able to pass someone in about 75 yards of space. Seriously, the acceleration of a $12,000 litre bike is extraordinary.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Seems to me that this would be an awkward machine to ride with any sort of aggression at all through the twisties, having to steer it the “wrong” way (without twisting the throttle), and hanging on for dear life (since it doesn’t lean, it wants to throw you off, and on bumps like a bucking bronco.) Not having a brake lever on the bars is icing on the cake.

    I hate to say it, but the Elio makes more sense as a trike than this, unless you’re a snowmobile/jet ski rider.

    Jack – as a former owner of the oft venerated ’83 Honda Interceptor – I like your ride… When I bought my Kaw Z750S in 2006, the VFR 800 was $3500 more – couldn’t get there.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    Keep riding the Honda. I got rid of my 1994 VFR750F just before I turned 66. I had a 122,000 miles on it at the time. I got rid of it because I could not take it out of the country when I left. Enjoy the Honda. A real beauty of a bike. I don’t like training wheels.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Time to go light, Jack. Check out a cb500x or an nc700x. Upright ergos, great control. I have had about a dozen Honda V4s, from vf500s to an ST1100, including a few V65 Sabres. I do love a 180-degree V4 but miss the gear driven cams and the relative light weight of the earlier VFRs.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I get the feeling that the CanAm Spyder behaves more like a sled or quad. Plenty of sled riders out there with deep pockets.

    Every test I’ve read where the rider was a rider i.e. sport/mx/woods hated it.

    I doubt I’d like it. There is a demo ride coming to town. Maybe I should give it a go.

  • avatar
    tiger260

    As another who spent many happy hours on Motorcycles in my youth I’ve always struggled to see the point of the trikes – but as others have commented, they must serve their purpose for a niche market at least.

    Just as my old dad used to say about the motorcycle-sidecar combinations that were popular when he was a young man (back in the UK)… they had all the disadvantages of a motorcycle – vulnerable to other road-users in an accident, lack of carrying capacity, and you got wet when it rained! – and few of the advantages of a motorcycle – like light weight, nimbleness in traffic, acceleration, maneuverability, handling etc. His opinion was that if you need more carrying capability than a two-wheeled motorcycle you might as well skip the 3-wheeled option and just get a small car?

    I guess the niche for the modern trike exists around the demographic of folks that want to be around the whole biking scene but can’t handle a two-wheeled cycle for whatever reason.
    I think part of the cause these days is the style of motorcycle that the ‘boomer’ set go for… Full-dresser Gold Wings and Harleys are huge and heavy. I remember much discussion in the motorcycle magazine back when I started riding (early 80s) about whether the big sports bikes of the day like Yamaha XS1100, Honda CBX, and Kawasaki Z1300 etc were just getting too big and heavy. Had it all got a bit too crazy when the owner of one of those bikes would not be able to actually pick it up again if it fell off the stand? Next to the sort of Gold Wings and Harleys we see today, those old Japanese superbikes would look pretty lightweight so I guess you can understand how someone of advancing years may no longer consider themselves safely able to handle a heavy two-wheeler?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I am NOT a biker, but whenever I see these I’d joke “Looks like someones kept their training wheels”.

    I don’t have anything against Spyders as much as I prefer cars over three-wheel bike things.

  • avatar
    FredG

    08/31/2019 Every word Jack Baruth wrote on his 2015 Can Am F3-S Spyder review has been my own personal experience as a 3 week owner of that very same bike. So far, I’m not impressed. It’s squirrely, scary as hell at times (not enough brake sources in times of tricky need), there’s no way to enjoy leaning into the corners on a back road, so different that every ride has been tense, uncomfortable, alot of scary/surreal feelings many times, not the kind of enjoyment that leaves the rider wanting more. Every time so far, I’m just glad to have made it back home and get the hell off. To say this thing is deadly and dangerous is an understatement I now know, that just one big wrong move, will be my last on this machine. I’m one of those 71 year old grandpas who has always been safety, safety, safety, defensive drivers 24/7 from a life time of bikes. At about $13K+ in, I’m hoping to get liking this crazy vehicle a whole lot better pretty soon? I waited to get the 1330 115 hp 3 cylinder and now know that a one lunger that might top out at about 60 or 70 was all that I really needed. I can already tell that a 2-3 hour long stress filled ride will probably be my limit? Vespa’s and mopeds are starting to look appealing to grandpa. NOT FUN so far.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: @mcs, Do you think he got the promotion because he drove the “right” vehicle? If...
  • mcs: Well, with the money he’s saved by driving the jeep, maybe in the holiday spirit, he could spring for some...
  • BobinPgh: Did the fact that according to Chrysler, it was “Suddenly 1960!” have anything to do with the...
  • ToolGuy: Re: XJ Cherokee This individual (current CEO of Amazon) has a net worth of something like $400 million and...
  • olddavid: I agree. I live where most electricity is generated by hydro and/or nuclear at Hanford. In my travels I see...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber