2010 Can-Am Spyder RS Roadster – $16,499

SPEEDY, STYLISH THREE-WHEELER LOADS OF FUN

The Can-Am Spyder provides three-wheeled fun.

The Can-Am Spyder was at a slight disadvantage for its road test, but it wasn’t the bike’s fault. I just figured after testing another manufacturer’s lame, ugly three-wheeler last year that you’d seen one motorized trike, you’d seen ‘em all.

I was humbled, then, by the tough, expertly designed and speedily stylish Can-Am. Though this movie star-gorgeous machine’s officially classified as a motorcycle, it’s really a combination of bike, ATV and snowmobile, with all the fun of those rides and far less physical peril due mostly to the rider not having to balance and because it’s equipped with both ABS brakes and a stability system. Its sizzling front end’s similar to the now-defunct Chrysler Prowler in that its two front tires and suspension are exposed Indy-racer style, and it’s got a lot of features you’ll find on big motorcycles, including a much-welcome reverse that’s difficult to quickly shift to but which makes parking the 697-pound Can-Am a fun snap. You’re powered by a 1125-cc, Rotax V-Twin dual overhead cam engine making 107 horsepower and 77 ft-lbs torque.

My maiden journey took me 50 miles north of Manhattan and I’m not ashamed to say I felt every inch the beginner I was initially, white-knuckling it tenderly over Route 87 north at a mere 55 MPH the entire way. That’s because the Can-Am’s handling is so sharp that the bike takes the slightest hint of left or right very seriously, and I pictured myself—needlessly, as it turned out—sneezing and subsequently pitching into the brush in Hawthorne. I was far more confident on the return trip and realized the bike likes to be thrown, responding to sharp turns not with any loss of control, but actually encouraging you to do your worst. That’s due to a stability system which intervenes if one of the front wheels lifts off the ground—it cuts the engine and applies the brake on the opposite wheel. As soon as I began trusting the system, it became Great Adventure time and I jerked the machine around, severely leaning in when I pleased and probably blowing the 35 miles to the gallon the Can-Am gets under normal driving conditions.

There are a few things to get used to. There isn’t any hand brake and the one and only way of stopping is under your right leg. But since front and rear brakes are linked, you stop in a split second with a smash of the foot. There’s no topbox available, but a trunk up front will hold your helmet and small items. Like a scooter, the Can-Am makes a great get-around-the-city ride, but it also works as a long-distance roamer and will satisfy anyone’s need for speed.

– Josh Max, Auto Gigolo