Is it a snowmobile with tires, or a motorcycle with snowmobile styling?
In February, Bombardier Recreational Products unveiled its new Spyder – an on-road vehicle with very non-traditional styling for the motorcycle market. It looks like a REV chassis snowmobile with wheels.
The three-wheeler not only presents a vastly unique look and a new industry segment — BRP calls it a roadster — but it’s also a gutsy move into the motorcycle market.
Gutsy because there is no history of retail sales success for such a vehicle. Gutsy to believe that a vehicle that doesn’t have the sheer turning ability of a sport bike and costs potentially more could generate enough consumer appeal to make it a retail success.
In a video presentation, BRP President Jose Boisjoli said building a vehicle as unique as the Spyder took a company that “had the guts to make it happen.
“At the end of the day, there is no study that can you tell you how many you can sell,” Boisjoli said in an interview with Ehlert Publishing’s Powersports Business. “It’s a gut feeling.”
Boisjoli said he has been riding different versions of the Spyder throughout its five-year development.
“For sure there is a risk,” Boisjoli said. “But I don’t think it is a bigger risk than when we launched the [Sea-Doo] watercraft in 1989.”
The Spyder is powered by a 990cc four-stroke V-twin that makes a claimed 106 hp at 8500 rpm off the crankshaft (motorcycle horsepower rating are generally rated off the back tire of the bike, so a direct comparison with current motorcycles is difficult). Aside from the styling and color choices, the Spyder also sports a snowmobile-esque dual A-arm front suspension.
Spyder will have more than its uniqueness and three-wheel makeup to entice consumers. The roadster carries a number of technological aspects that aim to make riding easier and safer, including a four-computer system that communicates with each other through CANbus, a vehicle network that is used throughout the auto industry.
The network “speaks” constantly with four onboard computers that control vehicle stability, power steering, the engine and vehicle security.
The vehicle stability system controls the vehicle’s anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control. Sensors measure a series of functions 25 times every second to provide needed feedback to the vehicle stability system. So if sensors pick up the wheels beginning to lock up, the vehicle stability system will activate the anti-lock braking system. Or, if the vehicle starts going sideways, the system will direct a specific wheel to cause the sideways movement to stop.
BRP calls its power steering system “dynamic” because the system constantly measures torque effort and how much steering is required at different speeds and different turn rates.
The engine management system controls the electronic fuel injection. The security feature uses the Ski-Doo DESS system.
BRP will role out Spyder in three phases, with 150 dealers primarily in the central and western parts of the U. S. getting the first shipment. Manufacturing, which will occur at the company’s facility in Valcourt, Quebec, is scheduled to begin in the fall.
“If demand is there, we might take two years” to get Spyder available to dealers throughout the U.S., Boisjoli said. “If we have some hurdles, it might take three years.”
Snow Goer Editor Tim Erickson will have a complete ride evaluation of the vehicle in our sister publication, Snow Week magazine, and on this Web site, snowgoer.com
Engine type: 990cc liquid-cooled V-Twin from Rotax
Engine displacement: 60.9 cubic inch
Valves per cylinder: 4
Maximum output: 106 hp at 8,500 RPM
Maximum torque: 77 pound feet at 6,500 RPM
Exhaust system: 2-into-1 with catalytic converter
Injection type: Multi-point EFI
Front suspension type: Double A-Arm with anti-roll bar
Rear suspension type: Swing-arm with monoshock
Steering: Dynamic Power Steering
Dimensions and weights
Dry vehicle weight: 697 pounds
Fuel capacity: 7.13 gallons
Overall height: 45.1 inches
Overall length: 105 inches
Overall width: 59.3 inches
Color choices: Full moon (silver and black) and Millenium Yellow; Instrumentation: Dual analog and LCD with speedometer, tachometer, electric fuel gauge, daily trip meters, engine temperature, ambient temperature and gear position indicator; Main options: Fog lights, xenon lights, mono seat cover, racing exhaust pipe, travel bags, cargo liner, passenger backseat, low and high windshields.
U.S.: Standard: $14,999; with SE5 transmission: $16,499
Canada: Standard: $18,499; with SE5 transmission: $19,999