It might seem strange to us to see these funny, backward trikes, but they really aren’t anything new. In 1884, Edward Butler debuted plans for his Butler Petrol Cycle. It was a three-wheeled motorcycle — two front steering wheels and a single rear drive wheel — powered by a liquid-cooled, 600 cc flat-twin four-stroke engine.

Starting at $22,399, the Spyder ST-S is a far cry from Butler’s design — for starters, the Spyder ST-S has brakes, the Butler Petrol Cycle didn’t — but I’m sure he would be impressed with what Can-Am has done with his concept.

Continue reading for my review of the Can-Am Spyder ST-S.

  • 2015 - 2016 Can-Am Spyder ST-S
  • Year:
    2015- 2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Rotax V-twin, liquid-cooled with electronic fuel injection and electronic throttle control
  • Displacement:
    998 cc
  • Price:
    22399
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2016 Can-Am Spyder ST-S
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Sports bikes usually lack storage space and touring bikes can be storage bags on wheels. The Can-Am Spyder ST-S is a compromise between the two, marrying sport performance with touring comfort. Can-Am touts the Spyder ST-S as "sport and comfort with attitude." With 12 gallons of storage capacity — the lion’s share in a watertight storage compartment up front — it is spacious and answers the call for adequate touring-bike storage. Okay, it’s not big enough for a body, but that’s what Cadillacs are for.

Add to that a 6.6-gallon fuel tank and a comfortable suede seat and I’m thinking touring trike. Now look at the Rotax 998 cc V-twin, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine that produces 100 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and I want to think sport-trike.

Steel Black Metallic wasn’t available on the ST-S in 2015, but it’s here for 2016. I called last year’s color combos — black-and-white or blue-and-black, both with the red accents — more like clown-car colors, and I’m glad to see that has been changed. Alongside basic black, the ST-S comes in Magma Red — just plain glossy red with no stripes or colorful accents — plain, elegant, grown-up colors.

It looks like my comfort ride is shaping up when you add an adjustable windshield with wind deflectors and lots of tech goodies like cruise control, traction control, stability control anti-lock brakes and power steering. Because I’m short, I appreciate the adjustable features — especially since the ST-S has a 29-inch seat height — and a standard-size bike without adjustable features can make me feel like Lily Tomlin’s character, Edith Ann, sitting in that big chair.

Chassis

2015 - 2016 Can-Am Spyder ST-S
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The Spyder ST-S features a double A-arm front suspension with an anti-roll bar, similar to what you might find in an automobile suspension, whereas bikes usually use hydraulic front forks. No real surprise, since the front end on this trike is more car-like than bike-like. The rear is no surprise either, with a six-inch monoshock on a swing-arm suspension.

I have to give a nod to the foot-operated, three-wheel anti-lock electronic brake system. The front wheels have Brembo four-piston fixed calipers and the rear wheel has a Brembo single-piston floating caliper. Similar to a car, you apply all three brakes with the pedal, which makes it easier for new riders and more agreeable to the touring folks; but old-timers and sport riders may miss the feel and control of separate front and rear brakes.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2016 Can-Am Spyder ST-S
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Sharing the same mill with the Spyder RS, the 998 cc Rotax engine — the smaller of the Rotax engines in Can-Am’s lineup — is a two-cylinder, four-stroke, dual-overhead-cam engine, which means less reciprocating mass in the valve train and reduces the chance of valve float. Anything done to replace reciprocating mass with rotating mass is good for reducing maintenance and mechanical noise in the engine. The 60-degree engine has smooth power pulses resulting in less vibration, which is great for the touring riders.

Where last year you had the option of five-speed transmissions — the manual, which is nice for the riders who like the sporty side of the ride; and the five-speed semi-automatic that it shares with the Spyder RS — for 2016, the ST-S only comes with the five-speed semi-automatic. Both transmissions have transmission-based reverse, which almost seems like a necessity — it seems to me that it would be hard to sweat the trike backward using leg-power alone.

I really like the hand-controlled paddle shifter with the five-speed semi-automatic transmission. A flick of the thumb upshifts and a press of the finger downshifts for smooth and amazingly fast shifting. When you come to a stop, the transmission automatically shifts to first gear so you’re ready to go.

Price

2015 - 2016 Can-Am Spyder ST-S
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MSRP on the 2016 Spyder ST-S is $22,399; quite a jump from last year’s $20,549. Your new Spyder is covered by a two-year BRP limited warranty that includes two years of roadside assistance. You can extend the warranty from 12 to 36 months.

Competitors

Trio Of Safety Bulletins Issued For Slingshot
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1955 - 1962 BMW Isetta
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no article
- image 668515
2016 - 2018 Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
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I recently learned that a trike with two wheels in the front and one in the rear is called a tadpole configuration. Most of us would call it a reverse trike, and when looking at a Can-Am Spyder, I can’t quite see calling it a tadpole but there it is. Finding a competitor for such a vehicle presents a dilemma. Without going to the aftermarket for trike kits or hitting a customizing shop, there really isn’t much to choose from in the motorcycle market.

The Slingshot? No. It isn’t a motorcycle, no matter what Polaris wants me to believe. It’s cool and sporty — a guy near me owns one — and it’s a hoot to drive, but therein lies the rub. You drive it. It has a steering wheel and you sit side-by-side with your passenger, so it isn’t a competitor for a Spyder.

I wish I could use the Isetta from BMW as a competitor. That wouldn’t do, because first, it’s old, not even on the market let alone being current; and second, it has a steering wheel and didn’t I just poo-poo away the Slingshot for that reason? It’s just a really cool tadpole, and yes, I am perfectly comfortable calling that a tadpole.

I think the closest thing that I can find at the moment is the Neowing from Honda. If you get right down to brass tacks, it’s actually a scooter, but with a 400 cc engine, it’s a big scooter. And if we’re going to talk scooters, let’s look at the MP3 from Piaggio with the 492 cc engine. No, scooters just can’t compete with the Can-Am Spyder; it’s not apples-to-apples.

So folks that are looking for reverse trikes, what else are you considering that you stack up against the Spyder ST-S? My inquiring mind wants to know.

He Said:

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, "Although I prefer two wheels, the trike owners I’ve talked to say they really like the Can-Am Spyders, including the ST-S. They corner like they’re on rails."

She Said:

“I like the Spyder ST-S for its compromise of sport and touring. Being a short person and a woman with not as much upper body strength as a man, I like the fact that I can’t drop it and the transmission-based reverse is a blessing. With the 29-inch seat height, I don’t think I could use leg-power to roll it backward. I also like that it looks so Batman.”

Engine:
Type: Rotax® 998 cc V-twin, liquid-cooled with electronic fuel injection and electronic throttle control
Bore & Stroke: 3.82 x 2.68 in. (97 x 68 mm)
Power: 100 hp (74.5 kW) @ 7500 RPM
Torque: 80 lb-ft. (108 Nm) @ 5000 RPM
Chassis:
Front Suspension: Double A-arms with anti-roll bar
Front Shocks Type / Travel: Gas-charged FOX† PODIUM† shocks / 5.1 in. (129 mm)
Rear Suspension: Swing arm
Rear Shock Type / Travel: SACHS† shock absorber / 6 in. (152 mm)
Electronic Brake distribution system: Foot-operated, hydraulic 3-wheel brake
Front Brakes: 270 mm discs with Brembo† 4-piston fixed calipers
Rear Brake: 270 mm disc, 1-piston floating caliper with integrated parking brake
Electronic Brake: Foot-operated, hydraulic 3-wheel brake distribution system
Parking Brake: Electrically actuated
Front Tires: MC165 / 55R15 55H
Rear Tire: MC225 / 50R15 76H
Aluminum Front Rims: Black Chrome 6 blades-spoke front wheels, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
Aluminum Rear Rim: Deep Black, 15 x 7 in. (381 mm x 178 mm)
Features:
Instrumentation: Premium color digital gauge : Digital speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip & hour meters, gear position, temperature, engine lights, electronic fuel gauge, clock
Running Lights: 2 halogen headlamps (55 / 60-W)
Cruise Control: Electronic
Windshield: Sport touring – manually adjustable
Seat: Sport touring
Trims and Parts: Carbon Black: Rider footboards, adjustable passenger footboards and support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shocks springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
RT-622 and Freedom trailer capability: Towing capacity of 400 lb (181 kg)
Safety & Security:
SCS: Stability Control System
TCS: Traction Control System
ABS: Anti-lock Braking System
DPS™: Dynamic Power Steering
Anti-Theft System: Digitally Encoded Security System (D.E.S.S. ™ )
Dimensions:
L x W x H: 105 x 59.3 x 52.4 in. (2,667 x 1,506 x 1,332 mm)
Wheelbase: 67.5 in. (1,714 mm)
Seat Height: 29 in. (737 mm)
Ground Clearance: 4.3 in. (110 mm)
Dry Weight: 877 lb (398 kg)
Storage Capacity: 12 gal (44 L)
Maximum Vehicle Load: 458 lb (208 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 6.6 gal (25 L)
Reserve: 1 gal (3.8 L) approx.
Fuel type: Premium unleaded
Warranty:
Factory: 2-year BRP Limited Warranty with 2-year roadside assistance
Extended: B.E.S.T. available from 12 to 36 months
Details:
Colors: 2016:Steel Black Metallic, Magma Red
Price:
2015: $20,549
2016: $22,399
What do you think?
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