Posted On 24 May 2024
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This entry is part 20 of 28 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#32


Until Stuart suggested I pick up the new 2015 Spyder F3S model from Western Motorcycles in Penrith, my only encounter with a Can-Am three-wheeler had been heading down to Dalgety a few years back. I remember this journey well; in fact I still wake up screaming every now and then. The Bear and I nearly joined the Choir Invisible Coming the other way out of Cooma along the Monaro Highway, a Toyota Land cruiser towing a heavy wood chipper, jack-knifed. Had it not been for the gods to decide it was not our time to die, it would not have missed us by inches. We would simply have been splattered. There was nowhere to go. The journey back from Dalgety was also memorable as it rained stair rods the whole way back and I thought if I had to be anywhere right now, it’s riding pillion on the back of the Spyder, with its massive perspex screen and bulky chassis to keep us a modicum of dry.

Since that eventful journey back in 2010, the Can-Am Spyder has grown in popularity, Darren Moody from Western Motorcycles estimates that more than three hundred are sold across Australia each year.

They have also evolved into quite a mechanical/electrical masterpiece.

Keeping three wheels on the ground in that configuration is not down to the wonders of my riding, I might say. The Vehicle Stability System developed with Bosch delivers anti locking brakes, traction control and stability control. I might add here that on the way back from Western Motorcycles, I took a call from a mate of mine and we decided that you don’t ride a Spyder, you don’t drive a Spyder, you ‘dride’ (sic) a Spyder.

Before I get too technical about the Spyder, I will stick to anecdotes of my experience riding this machine around the Blue Mountains where I live. To be honest you won’t get more attention with your clothes off than when you are riding the Spyder. I live in a small hamlet called Bilpin and I decided to take the Spyder to my daughter’s primary school at pick up time on my way back from Western Motorcycles. I have never seen so many kids want to jump all over a bike in all my born days, getting their parents to take photos with their phones. The same thing happened when my mate Sam and I took our machines over to Blackheath for a Sunday morning coffee over the Darling Causeway.

My coffee was cold by the time I had finished explaining what it was and how it handled the road. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on the Sypder. Most folks were pretty impressed with its red chassis and machined mag styled wheels and unique design.

So what is it like to ride? Well, the answer to that question is “very different from a two-wheeled motorcycle”. Obviously there is no leaning into corners so the abstract feeling of steering with your body is absent. It’s all in the power assisted steering through to the handlebars.

The steering initially to me was very twitchy. I struggled to get the hang of it to be honest. In actual fact on the way back from Penrith I hated the whole experience, there I have said it! But as any new experience, it takes time and in the back of my mind, I was having a great time riding the Spyder, which seemed like a contradiction. Putting the “TO BE HONEST YOU WON’T GET MORE ATTENTION WITH YOUR CLOTHES OFF THAN WHEN YOU ARE RIDING THE SPYDER” steering issues aside for a moment, what really impressed me was the new in-line triple Rotax 1330cc engine. In the past Can-Am has used a twin cylinder engine but this new configuration for the 2015 model has a silky smooth delivery of power, transferring a maximum of 86kW to a six speed gearbox via electronic fuel injection and electronic clutch control. The experience is one of instant power and smooth gear shifting. With our speed limits however, I rarely pushed into sixth gear maintaining a good level of fuel economy and gear ratio in fifth. My few days with the Spyder had me calculating some figures and on an average it’s fair to say that you will get roughly 400km from the 27 litre tank. It may be more on a long direct route and less around town. There is an ECO button which will tell you on the dash when is the best time to change gears so the technology is there to help. Changing gears is so easy with a toggle on the left handlebar, away for up and towards for down, and as soon as you apply braking the gearbox automatically shifts down until you come to a standstill and there it will sit in 1st, however this can be turned off if you want to shift “manually”. When you are out on the open road there is cruise control for your comfort, enabling you to sit back and enjoy the scenery. When you need some power to get you away from the lights, there is plenty to blow off most four wheeled vehicles. The only thing that is going to slow your journey down is chin wagging with bystanders and tyre kickers every time you stop for a break.

The Spyder has a more sit up position than the past Spyder models. It suits me fine but the lack of a screen on my sporty F3S model might be regretted when on long journeys. I remember my journey back from Dalgety was made bearable in that driving rain with a windscreen, and I was the pillion! So back to the steering! One thing you will have to get used to is G-forces. May the force be with you as Darth Vader once said? Well, it could be true of the Spyder. I did notice a fair amount of G-force as I went round sweeping corners at a fair speed, especially around my midriff. I found in my experience that leaning slightly into the corner will have no effect on the bikes cornering but will save your stomach muscles from some moderate strain. Keep your eyes on the front wheel nearest the meridian strip and follow that through the corners, it helps to keep the bike on an even sweep. Let me tell you the steering is highly responsive and you will have to concentrate on your direction. My first ten minutes on the Bells Line of Road were a baptism of fire.

I would say this vehicle is not for everyone, but if you like speed and a certain amount of attention and have all the time in the world to chin wag about the attributes of a Spyder, go for it. It’s technically very advanced, as you would imagine from BRP.

It does offer a fair amount of road presence and you will still be ‘one of the pack’. You are more likely to get the ‘bike shy’ partner on the back of a Spyder due to its presence on the road. It has oodles of power and will keep most speed freaks happy. It has plenty of baggage space with loads of custom options for those long getaways with your better half. You will still belong to your riding group, even though your days on two wheels might be over. And going back to my derogatory statement, I’m prepared to take it back. After a week or so riding my three-wheeler, I had become accustomed to its eccentricities and found the experience highly enjoyable – be open to new things, I say.


PRICE: $25,790 (manual), $28,890 (electronic shift) (plus on-road charges)
WARRANTY: Two years, unlimited distance
SERVICING INTERVALS: Every 10,000km or 12 months
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled in-line three cylinder, 4-stroke
BORE x STROKE: 84 x 80mm
POWER: 86kW @ 7250rpm
TORQUE: 130Nm @ 5000rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed, wet multi-plate clutch
SUSPENSION: Front, Double A-arm with anti-roll bar, travel 128.9mm. Rear, monoshock, travel 132.4mm.
DIMENSIONS: Seat height 675mm, weight 386kg (dry), fuel capacity 27 litres, wheelbase 1709mm
TYRES: Front, 165/55R15. Rear, 225/50/R15
FRAME: Steel Y-frame
BRAKES: Front, twin 270mm discs with monobloc four-piston calipers. Rear, 270mm disc, single-piston caliper.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 6.10 litres per 100km, premium unleaded
COLOURS: Metallic Silver


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