- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 30 June 2011 05:00, Updated 23 November 2011 11:34
Motorcycle riders complain that if they had $1 for every time they heard the phrase “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”, they would quickly have enough to buy their own insurance company.
The opposite is true when you’re on a Can-Am Spyder – everyone sees you and that, too, can be a problem.
Driving around in peak hour in Sydney, it provoked more head rotations than reruns of Linda Blair’s green pea scene in The Exorcist.
People were more interested in the Spyder than the road – “Sorry mate, I just saw you. What is that thing?”
“Well obviously it’s a three-wheeled roadster.”
“But why are the two wheels at the front?”
Ah-ha, that’s really at the heart of the fascination. The first impression of the Spyder – once you get past its sex-on-wheels good looks – is that it actually appears safer than a trike or a motorbike.
As the marketing material trumpets, you understand intrinsically the benefits of having two wheels at the front.
At rest it sits on the road like a bulldog, daring you to try to push it over and tickle its tummy.
When it’s moving it’s agile and quick, like a sports car without a body.
Cornering is far safer than a traditional trike as it has greater lateral stability.
Add in a stability control system integrated with an anti-lock braking system and traction control system and you have a solid and safe machine. Inexperienced pillion passengers no longer fear the worst.
The stability control system compares the direction of the handlebars and the throttle position to the actual direction of the vehicle and if they are not the same, it backs off the power and/or brakes the wheels individually to correct the course.
In fact, the closest comparison to how it feels to ride it is to imagine you’re on a sidecar outfit. You push and pull the handlebars – it has power steering – and lean into corners but unlike a sidecar, you have to try really, really hard to lift a wheel.
The two main versions are the tourer – the RT – and the sport – the RS. The RT S is comfortable and easy to like, while the RS S snarls and bites like a streetfighter motorcycle.
The tourer, priced at $38,649 on-road, has all manner of creature comforts, including 155 litres of storage – a big bin at the front, panniers and top box – that can be converted into 777 litres with the addition of its specially made trailer.
The RT S is comfortable and easy to like.
It also has a four-speaker stereo with automatic volume that increases with speed, a GPS, cruise control, push-button suspension, heated handgrips front and back with intensity controls and an electrically adjusted, decent-sized windscreen.
This is aimed squarely at the cruiser market and is a very easy way to put some kilometres under the wheels.
One of its attractions is that because of the size of the unit, both people have plenty of room and you really can’t feel the pillion behind you. On long trips, that’s a definite plus.
Both versions are powered by a Rotax 990cc electronically fuel injected V-twin that generates just over 71kW (100hp) with 104Nm of torque at 5000rpm. The sport version, priced at $25,549 on-road, has sharper suspension and quicker response than the tourer and is a whole lot of fun.
The gearbox in the high-end versions is a push-button, five-speed electronic semi-automatic with reverse, so you don’t have a clutch and the machine changes down by itself.
The brakes are activated by a single foot pedal, which can leave you grabbing for a non-existent front brake lever if you’ve done any motorbike riding, but they are outstandingly efficient.
However, you may find yourself at the petrol station more often than you want with an official fuel economy of 8l/100km and 25 litre tank, which gives a range of 310km. Push it harder and you may be lucky to get 250km. Honda’s 1800cc Goldwing is not that thirsty.
In all states except Victoria it is registered as a motorcycle and you need a bike licence to drive it. In Victoria it is registered as a tri-car.
But getting noticed so much is good for the soul. I suffered attention deficit for days after I gave the RS S back.
I even missed the cheeky bugger who asked when the training wheels were coming off.