Three is the magic number

May 4, 2016

Twice British Rally Champion and owner of KNE (Karting North East) Guy Wilks test drives a Can-Am Spyder from the new range of sports touring three-wheel motorcycles that you can drive with a standard UK driving licence

“What is that?” was my initial reaction on first seeing a Can-Am Spyder about a year ago, in a fleeting glimpse on the road.

From the moment you see one of these weird strange vehicles in the ‘flesh’, your imagination is racing. A lot more questions then ran through my mind. Who makes it? Is it good to ride as it looks?

Can-Am Spyder is a range of luxury three-wheel motorbikes aimed at offering something different to motorists. Crucially, you don’t need a bike licence to use one and instead can use your standard UK driving licence. You don’t need a helmet, either, but as these machines can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph, you’d be silly not too!

When I was a young boy, the most commonly seen thing with three wheels on the road was a Reliant Robin, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to be pleased that they are now a thing of the past.

Not many three-wheel vehicles grace our roads now but when they do, they are usually laid out in the reverse formation to a Reliant Robin, with the single driven wheel at the back of the machine and for good reason … stability!

Is it a car? Is it a bike? No… it’s a trike.

So what is the Can-Am Spyder all about? Practically, it has no doors, no roof, no seat-belts and you’d be struggling to find anywhere substainial to put the family shopping. But it does offer about as much legal fun you can have outside, in public, with your clothes on!

It’s provider of pure natural highs.

Can-Am’s parent company, BRP, has a history of building things that put a grin on people’s faces: the Sea-Doo watercrafts, the Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, and the powerful Evinrude outboard boat engines to name a few.

I test drove the Can-Am Spyder F3-S in Magnesium. As soon as you get your leg over this beast and sink on to the hot seat, you can feel the roadster riding style which can be custom-fit to your exact body size in a way that makes it more natural a position than driving your car. Yes, this version lacks some creature comforts than you can get on different models, like a windscreen, a back rest for the rear passenger and radio – but this is the roadster after all.

The front of the F3-S, as with all of the Can-Am Spyder range, is flat-fronted, low, and squat in stance. The aggressive look is tempered slightly by the level of finish but there’s no denying that this is a serious piece of kit.

BRP also owns a world-renowned engine company called Rotax, where each engine is tested to the max in all potential environments: sea, snow, mud and track, etc. The technologically advanced engine in the Can-Am Spyder range follows suit and the F3-S offers 1330CC V Twin of pure grunt.

The Can-Am Spyder range can reach up to 110mph, which most bikers will turn their noses up at, but pure joy on the open road can be achieved in so many different ways as this ‘trike’ clearly proves.

The range of the Can-Am Spyder is about 220 miles, obviously depending on how you drive, and it even has an Eco mode for the ‘green’ bikers out there who just want to enjoy the cruise.

There are also plenty of extras, too, from tri-axis adjustable handlebars, passenger footboards and a sport touring 2C silencer.

You can also walk into a dealership and come out wearing a Can-Am jacket, cap and t-shirt, and holding a Can-Am keyring – which indicates to me that there a keen desire to make the Cam-Am Spyder an iconic brand like Ferrari or Harley Davidson.

Drive time

The Spyder’s Y-frame design may be reassuringly stable but its controls are anything but standard.

The throttle like a motorbike, I rode the semi-automatic which is controlled electronically by your left index finger and thumb like a mini car paddle. It has the same kind of technology developed in motorsport as I have in my competition cars and it’s awesome, allowing quick and smooth gear shifts.

As for the brakes, they are controlled by a foot pedal that operates all three, maximising all-round stability while decelerating. The lights and indicator control are as on a traditional bike.

You may not have operated anything quite like the Can-Am Spyder, before, but it doesn’t take long to get your head around everything.

I test drove my Can-Am Spyder for four days and, having not been on a road bike for 15 years, had to engage my brain fully; but this was no chore as this thing naturally heightens your senses. After 20 or so miles I was confident to overtake lorries with a little lean of my body weight forwards and a wide open crack of the throttle; although it’s wide, the pull from the motor wont leave you hung out to dry on the wrong side of the road for long.

The Can-Am Spyder’s drive coming from the rear tyre is akin to any decent sports car. The power in the F3-S didn’t struggle to get put down in the dry or in the wet, as I found out: its traction, ABS brakes and anti-roll technology providing more confidence compared to most two-wheeled vehicles.

The other thing is that everyone looks when you’re driving and when you stop, many people ask you questions. The biggest praise I got was when I popped down into Durham to place a £2 bet on the Grand National. I passed a busker who was holding a decent crowd. He stropped serenading the gathering to exclaim loudly into his microphone: “Wow, look at that, it’s awesome.”

Who will be converted to a Cam-Am?

Will the Cam-Am range convert the unconvertible biker or, indeed, the non-biker? It doesn’t really make a difference. It will put a smile on your face from ear to ear, whatever you drive at the moment.


How could you not want one?

Can-Am Spyder 

F3-S spec:

Engine: Rotax 1330 ACE in-line three cylinders, liquid-cooled with electronic fuel infection and electric throttle control.

Power: 115 hp (86KW) at 7250 RPM

Torque: 96 lb-ft. (130 Nm) at 5000 RP

Transmission: 6-speed semi-automatic with reverse

Dimensions: 2642mm (L) 1497mm (W) 1099mm (H)

Safety features: Stability Control system, Traction Control System, Anti-Lock Braking System, Dynamic Power Steering, Digitally Encoded Security System

Storage capacity: 24.4 litres

Fuel capacity: 27 litre (premium unleaded)

Price: Starting from £15,995

Can-Am North East, Parklands Cars, Parklands
Lanchester, Durham, DH7 0JE
01207 529246

Karting North East
Warden Law Motorsport Centre, Sunderland, SR3 2PR

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