Is it still a motorcycle — or a bike — when it has three wheels? Is it really worth an argument? I don’t think so. The touring stable at the Can-Am farm includes the Spyder RT, RT-S, and RT Limited for the 2017 model year. All the rides feature the Rotax high-torque engine and 41 gallons of cargo space. They are tourers, of course, so think of them as full dressers: saddlebags — each big enough for a full-face helmet — and top case, heated handgrips, big adjustable windscreen, and full passenger ensconcement with adjustable floorboards.

For someone new to the wind (usually I’d say “new to two wheels” but that doesn’t apply here), you have a very stable riding platform; and for experienced folks, you have a ride that is comfortable and it’s easy to adapt to the differences. It’s a heavier ride than you’re used to so you might feel like you really have to crank the throttle, but it’s really a nice, comfortable and relaxed ride.

Continue reading for my review of the Can-Am Spyder RT lineup.

  • 2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
  • Year:
    2016- 2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Displacement:
    1330 cc
  • Price:
    23449
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
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Setting the stage for the RT lineup, the base model RT has all the features that establish it as tourer. Cruise control makes for a relaxed ride up the highway. The entertainment system isn’t extraordinary, but adequate with an AM/FM system that is also satellite-radio-ready and a USB port as well as the weather band. Touring assumes you are taking a friend, so rear speakers with an independent audio control for the passenger makes you look good.

Spyder RT

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
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Rider position is upright with your feet in a vertical position knee-to-foot as opposed to the Spyder F3 that puts you into more of a cruiser position. Think of the position like sitting in a chair: back straight and feet down. Steering is effortless, even at low speeds because the power steering kicks in as soon as you start moving.

The front feels heavy, as you’d expect, but not prohibitively. There’s a little more body sway, though no leaning in the turns and you don’t countersteer. If leaning needs doing, lean forward to put your weight more toward the front contact patches and lean into the turn to counter centrifugal forces. See? Easy to adapt if you’re experienced on two wheels.

Wheels on the RT are 15 x 5 metallic silver 12-spoke rims on the front, and even though the rear is covered, it gets an 15 x 7 metallic silver rim.

I don’t usually get to talk about towing capacity when reviewing bikes (no argument, remember?), but this is one of the few times I can. The RT can tow up to 400 pounds with the Freedom or RT-622 trailer. The Freedom trailer adds 150 gallons of storage, so if you have to move a body, make sure you get the trailer. Okay, you probably aren’t moving a body, but think of all the gear you can stow in that towable trunk. Crash-in-the-grass, here we come! A plug-in module adds the trailer to the Vehicle Stability System, so your Spyder knows what’s happening back there and how to handle it.

Spyder RT-S

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
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Building on the base model, the RT-S adds floorboards for the ride — only with the SE6 tranny for 2016 — and heated grips for the passenger. Fog lamps and LED accent lights increase your ability to see and be seen; and while you’re being seen, lets add 12-spoke carbon black front wheels to increase your oogle-ability quotient.

A big feature on this step-up model has to be the adustable-on-the-go rear air suspension system. Buttons on the dash let you soften or firm up the rear suspension as you ride. That’s a nice feature.

Spyder RT Limited

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
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Building on the RT-S, the Spyder RT Limited is the plush model moving deeper into the luxury touring range and available only with the SE6 tranny. The Limited edition seat has fancy-schmancy embroidery to enhance that luxury look. The front wheels are chrome 12-spoke rims and the RT Limited gets more bling than the rest of the stable, including chrome footpegs, footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield.

Inside the front trunk, you’ll find a fitted rolling travel bag to carry everything you need in the hotel overnight; and to help you reach your destination, the RT Limited comes with Garmin Zumo 660 GPS .

Spyder RT-S Special Series

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
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The 2016 Spyder RT-S Special Series has all the features of the RT-S with the addition of the very limited Triple Black appearance package and embossed Special Series seat. The package includes the Monolith Black Satin paint and Triple Black graphics for a dramatic, Batman look. The front wheels are 12-spoke black chrome and the windscreen is low and tinted to add to the black-out theme. Like the RT Limited, you can only get the SE6 tranny on this ride.

Chassis

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
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The burgeoning funny-backwards trike movement is a few years old now and starting to gain momentum, but still niche enough that you won’t be cracking open your favorite aftermarket dealer catalog for a direct knockoff. With that in mind, you have to appreciate the engineering that went into building the Spyder RT family. True, it could be even more impressive if it had the leaning front end, but until that technology gets out of litigation, perhaps a fixed front end is the way to go for the time being at least.

Since the ride doesn’t lean into the turns, certain parts of the frame and suspension more closely resemble an automotive frame than a traditional trike would. The front wheels ride on double A-arms that come with an anti-roll bar for additional stability in the corners, but the single rear wheel rides in a motorcycle-type swingarm. SACHS Big-Bore shocks support the suspension members, and provide 6.9 inches of wheel travel — certainly enough to swallow up most of the bumps and jolts on the road — and an air-adjustable SACHS monoshock floats the rear on 6 inches of travel, numbers that place the RT family well within comfortable touring territory.

Each front wheel comes with a 270 mm disc and a four-pot, Brembo caliper, and the rear wheel also gets a 270 mm disc, but with only a single-piston caliper to bind it. Spyder’s Vehicle Stability System (VSS) includes a Bosch ABS that improves safety by reducing the chance of wheel slip due to overbraking or poor conditions.

An electronic brake-distribution system manages the brake inputs at the single foot pedal, so there is no need for multiple brake levers or having to figure out how much of each brake to use for some built-in safety and security. One last brake safety device I want to mention would be the electrically actuated parking brake. One flip of a switch and you can be confident that you will find your ride where you left it and not at the bottom of the hill.

Drivetrain

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
- image 668504

You may recognize the Rotax brand name from personal watercraft and small aircraft applications, and with good reason. Rotax has been in the business for many moons, and it has a reputation for building long-lived and reliable plants. Spyder tucks a Rotax 1330 ACE away in the frame to drive the RT family. This three-cylinder mill gets electronic fuel injection and a ride-by-wire throttle that opens the door for the traction-control feature in the VSS that monitors wheel speed and intervenes to prevent loss of control. Granted, it’s no replacement for skill and situational awareness, but it is a nice safety net to have under you.

The liquid-cooled engine comes slightly oversquare with an 84 mm bore and 80 mm stroke, and it puts out some fun numbers. With 115 ponies at 7,250 rpm and 96 pounds of grunt at an even five grand, the RT family should provide a thrilling ride with a decisive roll on, even given its greater than half-a-ton weight.

Now for a few differences between the models. Though you see it less and less anymore, auto dealers used to frequently offer models with an automatic transmission as standard, with a stickshift available as a sort of downgrade option. So it is with the RT family. You can get the RT and RT-S with a six-speed manual transmission or with Spyder’s semi-automatic, push-button tranny. This changes when you get to the higher tiers of the RT stable, as the RT Limited and RT-S Special Series are only available with the semi-automatic transmixxer.

Pricing

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
- image 668505

MSRP on the 2016 RT family is $23,349 for the base model in Steel Black Metallic; $26,799 for the RT-S in your choice of Pearl White, Orbital Blue or Intense Red Pearl; $30,949 for the RT Limited in Pearl White, Steel Black Metallic, Orbital Blue or Intense Red Pearl; and finally, $29,399 for the RT-S Special Series in that sexy Monolithe Black Satin.

For 2017, MSRP goes up just a tad on the RT — $23,449. The RT-S sees a bigger jump at $28,449 and the RT Limited sees a small bump at $31,049. Colors are a little different for 2017. Pearl White for the RT and a choice of Pearl White, Orbital Blue, or Champagne Metallic for the RT-S and RT Limited.

Can-Am’s parent company, BRP, gives you a two-year limited warranty with two-year roadside assistance and the option to extend the warranty from 12 to 36 months.

Competitors

Trio Of Safety Bulletins Issued For Slingshot
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2015 - 2016 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
- image 668514

Coming up with a competitor for these Spyders is such a pain. Reverse trikes in scooters, sure, but not so much in the full-sized bike arena. When I say that, someone always brings up the Slingshot from Polaris. My position on that is if it’s a side-by-side and the driver has a steering wheel, it’s not a motorcycle. No matter what they want to call it to avoid having to comply with auto-safety standards, I’m not buying that it’s a motorcycle.

The Neowing from Honda comes to mind, but until that actually comes to fruition in North America, I’m not considering it. Aftermarket companies out there like Scorpion Trikes – who won second place in the 2014 custom trike category at the 2014 Harley-Davidson Museum Custom Bike Show with a reverse trike V-Rod — are into reverse-trike kits which always makes things a bit more interesting. For now, I guess that leaves me comparing the RT Limited with a traditional trike, albeit a luxury one: the Tri-Glide Ultra from Harley-Davidson.

Both rides come with engines that enjoy good reputations. The Rotax 1330 ACE certainly qualifies as a reliable mill, and the Twin Cooled, High-Output Twin Cam 103B shuts down detractors of the brand with a lump that’s both reliable and powerful. Yeah, Harley haters are still gonna hate, but the AMF years are long behind us, so get over it.

The Rotax in the Spyders cranks out 96 pound-feet of torque, not bad especially for a touring model, but Harley manages to come out on top with ten more pounds of grunt at a whopping 106.2 pound-feet. Granted, both rides weigh in at over half-a-ton, but the Tri-Glide Ultra weighs in at 1,180 pounds dry, where the RT Limited is a little lighter at 1,012 pounds dry, a difference that should soak up some of that extra power the Twin Cam puts out.

Since the Tri-Glide and RT-S are both touted as top-of-the-line touring models, they both come with a plethora of creature comforts too numerous to compare here. Bottom line is; I don’t see any particular features that look better than its competitor, and both should be considered to be champagne on wheels.

Prices are comparable, with Harley typically coming in a little high at $33,499 for the Vivid Black sheet metal, and on up to $35,249 for the custom paint packages. The Spyder Limited rolls out a bit cheaper at $30,949, and while the color selection in the RT lineup isn’t quite as cartoonish as some of the Can-Am products, they come off as a bit one-dimensional and boring compared to Harley, the King of Paint.

Normally the Harley would be my favorite because of lots of reasons, but given what I know about the handling characteristics of three-wheeled vehicles, I would have to go with the Can-Am product here. True, neither lean into the corners, but trikes have a reputation for dangerously stiff cornering, and I happen to know for a fact that the backwards setup on the Spyder makes it corner like it’s on rails.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Hopefully, I’ll never have to ride a trike for physical reasons such as losing a leg or whatever. If I do have to ride a trike, I don’t think it would be one with a fixed front end like this. Since the advent of the leaning front end, trike riders have had a more motorcycle-like riding experience than ever before. After riding a two-wheeler for years, I think it just wouldn’t be the same without leaning in the corners. So, while the Can-Am is an interesting machine and certainly looks like fun, I don’t think it’s my cup of tea.”

She Said

“My husband is such a two-wheel snob. I get it, though. A ride like this isn’t for everyone, but for folks interested in these funny backwards trikes, it is a fun machine and these tourers are so comfortable, as a tourer should be.”

2016 Specifications

Engine:
Type: Rotax® 1330 ACE™ in-line 3 cylinders, liquid-cooled with electronic fuel injection and electronic throttle control
Bore & Stroke: 3.31 x 3.14 in. (84 x 80 mm)
Power: 115 hp (86 kW) @ 7250 RPM
Torque: 96 lb-ft. (130 Nm) @ 5000 RPM
Chassis:
Front Suspension: Double A-arms with anti-roll bar
Front Shocks Type / Travel: SACHS† Big-Bore shock absorbers / 6.9 in. (174 mm)
Rear Suspension: Swing arm
Rear Shock Type / Travel: SACHS shock absorber with pneumatic preload adjustment / 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
Parking Brake: Electrically actuated
Front Tires: MC165 / 55R15 55H
Rear Tire: MC225 / 50R15 76H
Wheels:
RT Front: Aluminum 2-spoke Metallic Silver, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
RT Rear: Aluminum Metallic Silver, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)
RT-S Front: 12-spoke Carbon Black Satin, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
RT-S Rear: Deep Black gloss, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)
RT Limited Front: 12-spoke Chrome, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
RT Limited Rear: Deep Black gloss, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)
RT-S Special Series Front: 12-spoke Black Chrome, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
RT-S Special Series Rear: Deep Black gloss, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)
Features:
Instrumentation: Premium color digital gauge: Digital speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip & hour meters, gear position, ECO™ mode smart assist, temperature, engine lights, electronic fuel gauge, clock
Running Lights: 2 halogen headlamps (55-W)
Windshield: Touring – Electric adjustment
Wind Deflectors: Standard
Cruise Control: Electronic
Seat: Ultra comfortable with lumbar support and passenger backrest
Rider Heated Grips: Standard
Audio System: AM / FM audio system with USB port and 4 speakers
Power Outlet: USB plug
RT-622 and Freedom trailer capability: Towing capacity of 400 lb (181 kg)
Trims and Parts:
RT: Metallic Silver: Rider footpegs, adjustable passenger footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
RT-S: Carbon Black and Satin Chrome: Rider footpegs, adjustable passenger footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
RT Limited: Chrome: Rider footpegs, adjustable passenger footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
RT-S Special Series: Carbon Black: Rider footpegs, adjustable passenger footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
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 61.9 x 59.4 in. (2,667 x 1,572 x 1,510 mm)
Wheelbase: 67.5 in. (1,714 mm)
Seat Height: 30.4 in. (772 mm)
Ground Clearance: 4.5 in. (115 mm)
Dry Weight: 1,012 lb (459 kg)
Storage Capacity: 41 gal (155 L)
Maximum Vehicle Load: 494 lb (224 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 6.9 gal (26 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:
RT: Steel Black Metallic
RT-S: Pearl White, Orbital Blue, Intense Red Pearl
RT Limited: Pearl White, Steel Black Metallic, Orbital Blue, Intense Red Pearl
RT-S Special Series: Monolithe Black Satin
Price:
RT: $23,349
RT-S: $26,799
RT Limited: $30,949
RT-S Special Series: $29,399

2017 Specifications

Engine:
Type: Rotax® 1330 ACE™ in-line 3 cylinders, liquid-cooled with electronic fuel injection and electronic throttle control
Bore & Stroke: 3.31 x 3.14 in. (84 x 80 mm)
Power: 115 hp (86 kW) @ 7250 RPM
Torque: 96 lb-ft. (130 Nm) @ 5000 RPM
Chassis:
Front Suspension: Double A-arms with anti-roll bar
Front Shocks Type / Travel: SACHS† Big-Bore shock absorbers / 6.9 in. (174 mm)
Rear Suspension: Swing arm
Rear Shock Type / Travel: SACHS shock absorber with pneumatic preload adjustment / 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
Parking Brake: Electrically actuated
Front Tires: MC165 / 55R15 55H
Rear Tire: MC225 / 50R15 76H
Wheels:
RT Front: 12-spoke Metallic Silver, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
RT Rear: Metallic Silver, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)
RT-S Front: 12-spoke Carbon Black Satin, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
RT-S Rear: Deep Black gloss, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)
RT Limited Front: 12-spoke Chrome, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)
RT Limited Rear: Deep Black gloss, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)
Features:
Instrumentation: Premium color digital gauge: Digital speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip & hour meters, gear position, ECO™ mode smart assist, temperature, engine lights, electronic fuel gauge, clock
Running Lights: 2 halogen headlamps (55-W)
Windshield: Touring – Electric adjustment
Wind Deflectors: Standard
Cruise Control: Electronic
Seat: Ultra comfortable with lumbar support and passenger backrest
Rider Heated Grips: Standard
Audio System: 4 speakers (2 – 5 1/4" in front + 2 – 4 1/2" in rear) comes with USB port located in the rear top cargo and aux. plug (Jack 1/8) for cell and MP3 player
Power Outlet: USB plug
RT-622 and Freedom trailer capability: Towing capacity of 400 lb (181 kg)
Trims and Parts:
RT: Metallic Silver: Rider footpegs, adjustable passenger footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
RT-S: Carbon Black and Satin Chrome: Rider footpegs, adjustable passenger footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
RT Limited: Chrome: Rider footpegs, adjustable passenger footboards and footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield
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 61.9 x 59.4 in. (2,667 x 1,572 x 1,510 mm)
Wheelbase: 67.5 in. (1,714 mm)
Seat Height: 30.4 in. (772 mm)
Ground Clearance: 4.5 in. (115 mm)
Dry Weight: 1,012 lb (459 kg)
Storage Capacity: 41 gal (155 L)
Maximum Vehicle Load: 494 lb (224 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 6.9 gal (26 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:
RT: Pearl White
RT-S, RT Limited: Pearl White, Orbital Blue, Champagne Metallic
Price:
RT: $23,449
RT-S: $28,449
RT Limited: $31,049
What do you think?
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