When the Can-Am Spyder hit the road in 2007, it garnered every type of opinion imaginable. Some were good, others bad, but none indifferent. Its Y-shaped wheel stance (two in front, one rear) is reminiscent of a snowmobile, or maybe a trike reversed. Well, like it or not, the Spyder has been a resounding success. As numbers increase, calls for more touring accessories have too. With a stable riding platform, ample room for two, and a trunk up front, the addition of saddlebags seems only natural. And not content to let the aftermarket guys have all the traveling fun - and profits, Can-Am answered the call with a brand new bagger, the Spyder RT. This past fall, we were invited to the company's headquarters in Valcourt, Quebec to sample a few pre-production models.
The first thing we noticed was the near warehouse level of storage capacity. A pair of beautifully integrated saddlebags and a topcase that also doubles as a luxurious passenger backrest, combines with the nifty trunk up front to provide 155-liters of storage. And if that's not enough, Can-Am also has the industry's first factory optional trailer that increases the Spyder's web to 777-liters! With that much potential weight on board, the issue of safety and stability is obvious. Thankfully, the engineers have that base well covered.
Even after just a few slow laps around the parking lot, one thing becomes very clear; this is not a motorcycle. It's bigger, much heavier, and it must be steered almost like a car. Because of this, the Spyder comes with an impressive safety network known as the Vehicle Stability System (VSS). The VSS, designed in conjunction with Bosch, is actually a number of systems that work in union to keep the Spyder RT rolling true. Included are the Stability Control System (SCS) that uses computerized controls over the brakes and engine torque to keep the machine on all three wheels in the event of sharp, avoidance maneuvers. The Traction Control System (TCS) keeps the rear, powered wheel in line by kicking in when excess spin is detected. Also, an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is part of the package. While the brain at the handlebars is obviously the true key to safe riding, the VSS is nice to have along for the ride. Hard as we tried, getting one of the front wheels aloft was an exercise of near futility.
While the VSS effectively kept all wheels safely on terra firma, the Rotax-made, 991cc V-twin certainly has no trouble scooting the Spyder RT down the highway. Granted, with 100 horsepower and 80 lb-ft of torque motivating a near-1000-pound rig, you're not going to be setting any land speed records, but this is a touring machine after all. The ample V-twin grunt makes it easy to dust cars at stoplights and provides respectable tractor-trailer passing verve when the situation warrants. The five-speed transmission with a mechanical reverse comes in two flavors: a manual, motorcycle configuration and a clutch-less, semi-automatic thumb/finger shifter. Braking is completely linked and controlled by a single, right side foot pedal. Reaching for that front brake lever really is a hard habit to break.
As for creature comforts, we found the luxury touring amenities and options quite impressive. Rider and passenger saddles were good for hours of hard riding, the windshield adjusts electronically, and the Roadster Electronic Command Center (RECC) is an intuitive set of buttons that allows the vehicle's functions to be monitored via the full color dashboard display. For a few extra beans, you can upgrade to the Audio and Convenience package that features an AM/FM stereo with iPod integration, and heated passenger handgrips. Then, for those that like all the bling, the top-of-the-line RT-S comes with all these goodies plus special edition chrome trim, a premium audio package, adjustable rear suspension, and a classy liner for the front trunk.
Overall, we were quite impressed with the touring potential of the Spyder RT. For those drawn to the idea of pushing three wheels toward the endless horizon, the RT is an extremely viable option. To learn even more about the Spyder RT, visit www.can-am.brp.com.