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 fall that if 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 during my first test. Though this movie-star-gorgeous machine is 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 is similar to the now-defunct Chrysler Prowler in that its two front tires and suspension are exposed, Indy-racer style, and it has 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 hp and 77 pound-feet of torque.
My maiden journey took me 100 miles round trip deep into rural territory. I’m not ashamed to say I felt every inch the beginner I was, white-knuckling it tenderly at 55 m.p.h. much of the 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.
I was far more confident on the return trip and realized the bike likes to be thrown, responding to sharp turns without any loss of control, 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 to trust 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 per 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-town ride, but it also works as a long-distance roamer and will satisfy anyone’s need for speed.