2016 Can-Am Spyder RS
The funny backwards trikes in Can-Am’s sport stable for 2016 include the Spyder RS and the RS-S. Featuring the Rotax high-torque engine and 12 gallons of cargo space, these performance-minded siblings are a blend of motorcycle and car technologies to bring you a fun ride that corners like it’s on rails. No, they don’t lean, so it’s not exactly like riding a motorcycle, but not everyone is looking for the same experience.
For stability, you can’t beat three wheels. (Okay, you can beat it with four, but let’s stay in the motorcycle world here.) For riders looking for an in the wind experience but without the worry of wrestling the weight of a two-wheeler, these Spyders are the bomb-diggity. Add a little sporty performance and you can turn funny into fun in a hurry.
Continue reading for my review of the Can-Am Spyder RS and RS-S.
2016 Can-Am Spyder RS
The base model sets the stage for the RS line with dynamic power steering, anti-theft system and lockable front storage that gives you 12 gallons of watertight space to stow your gear. The RS comes with aluminum six-twin-spoke metallic silver rims as well as metallic silver bling on the handlebar, footpegs and footpeg supports, shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield.
Easy to steer and maneuver, the dynamic power steering kicks in as soon as you start moving with just enough assist according to your speed to make parking lots and turns from a standstill effortless.
The Spyder RS-S adds cruise control and premium color digital gauges to the mix in addition to a sportier vehicle stability system. The RS-S rolls on aluminum six-blade black chrome front wheels and a deep gloss black rear wheel. Keeping the black chrome vibe going, you’ll also find it on the handlebar, footpegs and footpeg supports, shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield — sort of the anti-bling of the RS version.
Can-Am’s Spyder is a creation between worlds; not quite a trike, and certainly not a bike or a car. Consequently, the frame borrows technologies and designs from all three sectors to lay the foundation for this hybrid creature.
Starting at the front, the suspension and steering is of the automotive sort with double A-arms complete with roll bar. A set of Fox Podium shocks support the front on 5.1 inches of travel, and the shocks come gas charged to prevent foaming and shock fade. The automotive DNA continues at the front end with a storage compartment that brings to mind the old front-end trunks on the VW Beetle.
From that point, the motorcycle influence becomes more apparent as the frame narrows down for the motor bed and bike-like swingarm in back. A Sachs shock buoys the rear end on six inches of travel, and suspension at both ends comes with preload adjustment.
The RS and RS-S, fully fueled and loaded with rider, passenger, cargo or some combination thereof, can easily top half a ton or more. This is a lot of weight to manage but Can-Am gives you the tools for the job in the form of all around, 270 mm disc brakes. A set of four-pot, Brembo calipers bind the front, and a single-piston caliper pinches the rear.
Tire design looks more suitable for a small car, but fits with the needs of this unusual ride. A pair of five-inch wide tires cap the front and a seven-incher caps the rear, with 15-inch, cast rims all around. Those big tires provide a large contact patch to work with, and the factory added some extra features that help you get the most out of the available traction.
First off is the ABS that helps prevent slippage if you stomp the foot lever that actuates all three brakes a little too hard. Kind of mundane, I know, but the cornering-stability function is another story. It monitors wheel speeds and works through the ABS and traction control to modulate braking effort and power output to prevent loss of traction and keep you from lofting a wheel during aggressive maneuvers. This is probably why the thing corners like it’s on rails. The RS-S stability system comes with “sport tuning” for the best the factory has to offer in stability.
Rotax has a good reputation in sectors that place high demands on engine performance and reliability — aircraft and personal watercraft to name a few — so it instills confidence seeing a Rotax set as the powerplant for the RS range. This particular mill comes in a V-twin configuration, and the 97 mm bore and 68 mm stroke adds up to a total of 998 cc.
Electronic oversight manages the fuel injection, and a ride-by-wire throttle takes care of induction. The engine also comes with a water jacket that helps dampen the mechanical noises from the engine, makes engine temps more stable and makes it much less miserable when stuck in stop-and-go traffic in hot weather. This oversquare mill cranks out 100 ponies at 7,500 rpm, backed up by 80 pounds of grunt at five grand, plenty of power even considering the weight involved.
One big benefit of a ride-by-wire system is it opens up the traction control option, and so it is with the RS family. When wheel slip is detected, the system reduces power to regain traction. This works on slippery surfaces as well as over-zealous throttle techniques, but it’s a safety net and no substitute for skill and prudent riding practices.
Another difference between the two models lies in the transmixxers. While the RS comes with a five-speed manual transmission as the default, the RS-S comes with the option of the five-speed gearbox, or a semi-automatic tranny with button shifting. Both transmissions come with a reverse feature, good thing too, because I can’t imagine trying to Fred Flintstone that thing in a parking lot.
MSRP on the 2016 RS is $14,999 for your basic Steel Metallic Black. The RS-S comes in a little more at $18,349 and you have the choice of Steel Metallic Black or Magma Red / Steel Metallic Black. The factory covers your Spyder with a two-year BRP limited warranty and throws in two-year roadside assistance. Extended warranties are available for 12 to 36 months.
Here we are at the Competitors section and I’m faced with the usual dilemma of comparing the Spyder to something. Finding a reverse trike is hard enough, but I’m looking at Spyder’s sport family so I want to find a performance three-wheeler. No, the Slingshot isn’t a good comparison. No matter what Polaris calls it, it’s not a motorcycle.
Toying with the idea of a performance trike, I’d have to look at what the folks at V8 Choppers are doing. They have some awesome performance trikes there at their Oklahoma factory, but let me stay in the mainstream here. Even though the Project Rushmore enhancements elevate the Harley-Davidson] bikes to a higher level, I’ll use the Tri Glide Freewheeler as my sport three-wheeler here.
Given the traditional trike setup of the Freewheeler, it’s no surprise the suspension on it comes in a more bike-ish form. Big, fat, 49 mm forks support the front with an old-school, chrome headlamp / tripletree nacelle and upper fork skirts versus the A-arm suspension tucked away under the RS models. The RS comes with electronic power steering, and while that’s impossible with the typical single-wheel setup, the Freewheeler does come with a steering damper to help mitigate kickback and improve stability.
Can-Am takes the cake for gadetry with traction control, ABS, cornering control and the like, but the Rushmore-infused Harley isn’t without charms of its own. Linked brakes work to proportion braking pressures and allow for safer stops and speed changes in the corners. No traction control as such yet from Harley, perhaps in the near future I suppose. Both rides feature cruise control for easy road trips.
Both rides run with V-twin lumps, but Harley wins in overall displacement at 1,689 cc, over half-again bigger than the 998 cc Rotax in the RS. Predictably, this is reflected in the performance numbers with a whopping 104.7 pound-feet from the High-Output 103 Twin Cam versus 80 pound-feet from the Rotax. Normally I would want to see as much as possible in the power department, but really, how fast do you need to go on a trike?
Spyder gets some back at the checkout counter. At $14, 999 MSRP for the base RS, and $18,349 for the sportier RS-S, there is quite a bit left on the table compared to the $25,499 starting sticker on the Freewheeler, but we already knew the Freewheeler was on a higher tier to begin with. Sure, Harley is the King of Paint, and carries plenty of name-weight, but folks looking at a Can-Am are unlikely to be steeped in “Harley mystique,” thus are unlikely to place much value on that aspect. As usual, it comes down to what you are looking for out of your ride.
My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “These things are really cool. Granted, they could be about 37-percent cooler if they leaned into the turns like the Honda Neowing for instance, but meh, what’re ya gonna do? I will offer that single front wheel trikes historically handle quite poorly, and I know for a fact the Spyders are a completely different animal. So, as much as I like the Harley trike, my money would have to be on the Spyder. I’m not trying to straighten out corners or roll over in a hard turn. There is a reason three-wheel ATVs were outlawed back in the ’80s, I’ve seen it firsthand, and so I have a healthy fear of any three-wheel contraption with only one front hoop.
“I really like the gaining popularity of three-wheelers. I’m seeing more and more conversion kits out there for trikes and reverse trikes from folks like Scorpion Trikes, Lehman Trikes and Tilting Motor Works. You can just about pick your favorite bike and trike it.”
|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|
|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|
|Front Tires:||MC165 / 55R15 55H|
|Rear Tire:||MC225 / 50R15 76H|
|Aluminum Front Rims:||6 twin-spoke Metallic Silver, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)|
|Aluminum Rear Rim:||Metallic Silver, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)|
|Aluminum Front Rims:||Black Chrome 6 blades-spoke, 15 x 5 in. (381 x 127 mm)|
|Aluminum Rear Rim:||Deep Black gloss, 15 x 7 in. (381 x 178 mm)|
|Instrumentation:||Multi-function LCD / Analog gauge: Digital speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip & hour meters, gear position, temperature, engine lights, electronic fuel gauge, clock|
|Running Lights:||2 halogen headlamps (50-W)|
|Trims and Parts:|
|RS:||Metallic Silver: Rider and passenger footpegs, footpeg support, handlebar, rear sprocket wheel, front and rear shock springs, exhaust tip and heat shield|
|RS-S:||Carbon black: Rider and passenger footpegs, 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. ™ )|
|L x W x H:||105 x 59.3 x 45.1 in.(2,667 x 1,506 x 1,145 mm)|
|Wheelbase:||67.5 in. (1,714 mm)|
|Seat Height:||29 in. (737 mm)|
|Ground Clearance:||4.5 in. (115 mm)|
|Dry Weight:||798 lb (362 kg)|
|Storage Capacity:||12 gal (44 L)|
|Maximum Vehicle Load:||440 lb (200 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity:||6.6 gal (25 L)|
|Reserve:||1 gal (3.8 L) approx.|
|Fuel type:||Premium unleaded|
|Factory:||2-year BRP Limited Warranty with 2-year roadside assistance|
|Extended:||B.E.S.T. available from 12 to 36 months|
|RS:||Steel Metallic Black|
|RS-S:||Steel Metallic Black, Magma Red/ Steel Metallic Black|