Yep, I understand that some love them, some hate them, and some don't quite know what to make of them, but they're interesting none the less, so here goes.
One of our local dealerships - Woods Cycle Country, in New Braunfels, TX - hosted the Can-Am traveling demo team yesterday for which we signed up for a demo ride. We have to say it was both interesting and a good deal of fun though we didn't know ahead of time what it would turn out to be. Answer - worthwhile.
The demo team's effort was impressive. There were probably a dozen Spyders - both versions of the RS "sporty" model and at least one of each variation of the RT touring model. The well organized iPad sign-in was followed by a two lap ride around a familiarization course in the parking lot to see if each rider (driver?) could manage simple start, turn, slow, stop, and start maneuvers. Oh yes, the first statement on the iPad "I understand" screen was, "This is not a motorcycle." We decided in the end to agree with Can-Am that it's a "roadster." Whatever.
The demo ride itself was about 10 miles long and covered city and rural roads allowing us to reach between 55 and 60 mph. No interstate riding unfortunately but we imagine that was a safety-related decision on the part of the demo folks.
So, what did we think? Actually, it took a lengthy converstation over a great Mexican dinner to voice our opinions and I don't think we're done yet. My wife chose an RT Limited (all the bells and whistles) and I rode an RT-S (not quite as many Bs & Ws) though for all intents and purposes they're the same basic machine and were equipped with the double clutch, semi-automatic, flappy paddle gearboxes.
Without going into tedious detail we were rather pleased with the machines. The absence of levers at the hand grips took a bit of getting used to, as did the all-brakes right foot pedal, but that disappeared in a mile or so. The gearbox, though only five speed, was pleasant. No need to roll off the throttle (in fact, don't roll off) when shifting up. And, unless you choose to do so, there's no need to downshift because that's done by the computer (which probably whispers snide remarks about rider involvement in French Canadian). Still, downshifting is as seamless as upshifting and makes the ride more fun. The 998 cc Rotax twin redlines at 9000 rpm, and makes most of it's power above 5000 rpm so downshifting makes the ride more "spirited." Engine is smooth and unobstusive though not as silky as, say, a Triumph triple.
The most "uncomfortable" aspect is that it doesn't lean so countersteering is a no-no unless the driver wants to shoot off in the wrong direction. Variable power steering helps but it also results in a tendency to oversteer while riding in a straight line. Just takes a little time to adapt. The next most "uncomfortable aspect is that, with three separate wheel tracks, steering around the nasty parts of the roadway becomes much trickier and in some cases impossible. On the other side of the coin, the suspension is decent and the electrically-adjustable rear suspension is worthwhile. Anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control are nice features as well though neither of us did anything to cause those systems to have to rescue us. Rider and passenger comfort and wind protection (electrically adjustable wind screen) are, in our opinions, first rate and are in the "all day, day after day" riding category.
As we both grow older - or is that more mature? - the idea of extending our riding experience as long as possible, and traveling in comfort with enough storage capacity to satisfy even my spouse, has appeal. That makes the Spyder an alternative we think worth considering. Having two wheels in the front (think Morgan three-wheeler) has much more appeal than the traditional trike with two wheels in the rear (think the now-history Honda three wheel ATVs).
The price of the RT versions can cause a prospective buyer to risk a terminal wind-sucking event but, in fairness, they're not out of line with a full blown Gold Wing, and you don't have to worry about your $28,000 machine falling over.
Bottom line is that, although we're not going to rush out and buy a pair - or even one - the ride was enjoyable and the machine will probably remain on our dream list - at least for now. I'm not ready to give up my Versys and my wife isn't ready to give up her Suzuki S40 just yet.