Can-Am Spyder Demo Ride - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Can-Am Spyder Demo Ride

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.

Arion

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 02:23 PM
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I completely agree with you that you can only describe it as different. I test rode a Spyder RS before buying my V and found it to be a blast and loaded with power. Just don' t expect it to be like a motorcycle as the driving experience is completely different in my opinion. Being that I'm a lifelong snowmobile rider, I found the Spyder easy to adapt to. I love both the experience of riding a true motorcycle and the Spyder. Someday (in the distant future) when I'm ready to trade the V, Spyders will still be in condieration along with the other bikes on my wishlist.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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I completely agree with you that you can only describe it as different. I test rode a Spyder RS before buying my V and found it to be a blast and loaded with power. Just don' t expect it to be like a motorcycle as the driving experience is completely different in my opinion. Being that I'm a lifelong snowmobile rider, I found the Spyder easy to adapt to. I love both the experience of riding a true motorcycle and the Spyder. Someday (in the distant future) when I'm ready to trade the V, Spyders will still be in condieration along with the other bikes on my wishlist.
Yep, it's completely different. But the design isn't really surprising given that BRP also builds Ski-Doos and Sea-Doos. What a surprise.

If Can-Am described the Spyder as a Ski-Doo (or Sea-Doo) with wheels they'd be pretty close to the truth. A few years ago, after a couple of days riding a Sea-Doo all over Moosehead Lake I changed my mind about a sea kayak being the most fun a person could have on the water. It was a blast. Picture a 65 year old grey beard tearing around on a jet ski laughing insanely and looking for wakes to jump. Then again, perhaps you shouldn't.

I'm hoping that by the time we consider a Spyder seriously it will have a 6 speed gear box and tilting front wheels like the Piaggio MP-3. Remember that old TV commercial, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 10:02 PM
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Since I cant tuck it in the corner of my garage, I can't have one. I love snowmobiles but if the traction control can't be disabled you might as well get a Convertible Beetle.

Last edited by chitownpete; 04-13-2012 at 10:03 PM. Reason: Improper sentence structure, remember that?
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 06:57 AM
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Nice description. A friend of mine I ride with about once a year has one and I am hoping to get a little ride this summer!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 07:56 AM
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The Spyder would not be my choice under any normal circumstances. Seems like a cool movie prop to me. But, it can fill a need for many riders who want or need the stability of a three wheeler. And, if I ever had to go on 3 wheels, I would take the Spyder over standard fat-trike any day.

I saw this guy at Port Dover yesterday for Friday the 13th. He can roll his wheelchair onto the side ramp of the Spyder, and then ride. That's a pretty cool thing!

Always trust your cape.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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The Spyder would not be my choice under any normal circumstances. Seems like a cool movie prop to me. But, it can fill a need for many riders who want or need the stability of a three wheeler. And, if I ever had to go on 3 wheels, I would take the Spyder over standard fat-trike any day.

I saw this guy at Port Dover yesterday for Friday the 13th. He can roll his wheelchair onto the side ramp of the Spyder, and then ride. That's a pretty cool thing!
I agree. The wheel chair carrier is pretty cool.

I can remember when people actually looked at the camera when having their photo taken rather than staring at their smart phones. Ah, for the good old days.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 08:09 PM
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might as well get a Convertible Beetle.
that's where my head is with these things. i drive a miata, which costs the same as the RT.

with Sypder, i see all of the drawbacks/hardships of motorcycling combined with the drawbacks of driving, but without the main benefits of either.

good point about preferring the two wheels to lead instead of follow, as on a trike; i hadn't considered that. i figured these machines would appeal to people who want to ride but are afraid to, or people who used to ride but whose bodies aren't as able as their minds, as pictured above.

maybe i ride would change my mind. but i'd rather just drop the top.

In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 09:05 PM
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Yeah, kevrider expressed my thoughts as I was reading down the thread exactly. The Spyder has all the disadvantages of a motorcycle, but none of the advantages. When I get too decrepit to ride a motorcycle, I'll buy a little sports car and have the advantage of a top when it rains and maybe even better fuel mileage.

To each, his own.

George
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, kevrider expressed my thoughts as I was reading down the thread exactly. The Spyder has all the disadvantages of a motorcycle, but none of the advantages. When I get too decrepit to ride a motorcycle, I'll buy a little sports car and have the advantage of a top when it rains and maybe even better fuel mileage.

To each, his own.
That's certainly a good point or two.

Maybe its a good idea as well - my wife certainly likes the Miata and, as you say, you can put the top up when it gets nasty. It would sure be more reliable than our '74 TR-6.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-15-2012, 07:53 AM
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Yeah, kevrider expressed my thoughts as I was reading down the thread exactly. The Spyder has all the disadvantages of a motorcycle, but none of the advantages. When I get too decrepit to ride a motorcycle, I'll buy a little sports car and have the advantage of a top when it rains and maybe even better fuel mileage.

To each, his own.
You beat me to it...I was thinking the same thing....I switch back to my Jeep when I'm too old or decrepit to ride a two wheeler.

" I don't care about shinny chrome or loud exhaust, I don't ride to be seen, I ride because I want to disappear"

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-15-2012, 12:32 PM
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Just my opinion on the convertible vs. Spyder thing. We own a 97 BMW Z3 and it's a blast but still a significantly different experience from the Spyder. Again, just my opinion.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-15-2012, 02:02 PM
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Just my opinion on the convertible vs. Spyder thing. We own a 97 BMW Z3 and it's a blast but still a significantly different experience from the Spyder. Again, just my opinion.
i imagine it would have to be different from both sportscars and motos, as are trikes or and sidehacks. to me, the thing that separates motorcycles form the rest is risk:reward ratio. relatively few people ride because the penalty for mistakes can be severe; nonriders are well aware of this aspect. whereas flawless execution of the perfect line thru a series of corners, which requires both technical competence and some degree of artistry, will put those goofy underhelmet smiles on our faces that nonriders will never know about or understand. i think most of us, on some level, take satisfaction in being good at something so many are afraid to try.

otoh, any knucklehead and ride a spyder. fun? no doubt. my car makes me giggle too. but it's different on the bike. that's why, for me, the spyder is compared to cars and it doesn't offer anything worth the added cost and risk of sitting outside.

In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-17-2012, 02:21 PM
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I can't seriously consider the Spyder as the price is relatively high and the gas mileage (at least from my research) is atrocious. If I'm going to ride something with three wheels, it'll likely be an MP3. 29MPG average (per fuelly) is just crap for something so small (relative to a car) and expensive (relative to... Just about any other form of transportation).

To each their own, of course, but one of the things I've really enjoyed about motorcycling is being able to laugh at the gas pumps. With this, I'd only be able to muster a modest chuckle :-(

2008 Versys - 37k miles
Givi - V35 Monokey Saddlebags - Large windscreen - Tail rack with v46 trunk
Speedy's - 1" Handlebar risers - Footpeg Lowering blocks
Osram 65W Bright replacements
Kawasaki Handguards
... And the all important gremlin bell, courtesy of my wife.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-13-2012, 01:23 PM
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If you want some good reading, check out all the issues these rolling abortions are having. One of the guys on stromtroopers.com bought one for his wife last year and it saw more shop time than it did road time. He said he would take that one in to get fixed and there would be a couple of them apart in the shop needing new engines with very little miles on the odo.

He was never so happy when his wife took off on his S10 and came back and asked him what he was going to ride. He bought another new S10 and promptly dumped the Can-Am.
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-08-2012, 08:37 PM
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I test rode one and decided once they build the Spyder that leans like a motorcycle I may be interested.
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