So what do a couple of ATV and snowmobile editors do on a day when not riding ATVs or snowmobiles? Ride on motorcycles that largely simulate ATV and snowmobile experience, of course!!
Wednesday afternoon, Associate Editor Tom Kaiser and I had the chance to go for a 50-mile ride aboard the spectacular Can-Am Spyder motorcycles in rural Quebec. The riding conditions were near perfect, the traffic was relatively light, and the experience was truly epic.
For those unfamiliar with the vehicles, the Spyder is a three-wheeled reverse trike – with two wheels in front and one wheel in back. The base RS model looks very much like a REV chassis Ski-Doo snowmobile, except with tires where the skis and track normally go. The high-end RT touring model is the latest generation – it looks less like a snowmobile due to its elongated chassis. It also features more high-tech gadgetry than you’ll find on most sports cars these days.
The ride itself is a lot more snowmobile than motorcycle – that is to say, you steer the machine through turns instead of leaning it like a bike. That said, you can’t back it into turns and slide the rear end like on a sled! Also there’s no such thing as inside ski/tire lift, thanks to a Vehicle Stability System that include a Stability Control System, Traction Control System and Anti-Lock Brakes. Bottom line: The machine is super stable, automatically cutting back power or doing other things to keep the front end planted.
For that reason, the Spyder actually may appeal more to snowmobile and ATV owners than current motorcycle owners. As a motorcycle owner myself, I found riding the Spyder bikes is somewhat uneventful – the bike doesn’t lean in corners and power out of corners like a regular motorcycle.
And that’s really the intention – the Spyder is being marketed as much as a roadster as a motorcycle. It is meant to appeal as much to the crowd that was intrigued by early Mazda Miata convertibles as those who own a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, for instance.
Power on the Spyder bikes comes from a 990cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected Rotax twin that is controlled by a five-speed transmission – foot shift on some models, push button on others. The seating position is wide, but comfortable – again, the ergos are a lot more like a snowmobile than a current motorcycle.
The new RT model is incredible – a 2-Up touring mega-cruiser that features five – count ‘em, five – computers on board that control everything from the adjustable, load-leveling suspension to the audio/stereo system. Heated grips for the driver and passenger, electronically controlled windshield height, cruise control – this buggy has it all.
The Spyders have been selling great – according to BRP, they have already passed companies like Polaris Victory, Ducati, BMW and Triumph in new motorcycle marketshare in the U.S., and are No. 2 in Canada overall – trailing only Harley-Davidson. The biggest problem they are facing is that many states require folks interested in getting a motorcycle license to take their test on a two-wheeler, yet this particular bike really appeals most to people who don’t want to ride a two-wheeler. Hopefully they get that ironed out, because we have many, many friends and relatives who are big ATV and snowmobile riders who would be perfect candidates for this vehicle – motorheads who don’t want to balance a two-wheeled vehicle.