Can-Am has always marched to the beat of its own drum. A subsidiary of Bombardier (the Canadian business jet manufacturer), the company invented both the Ski-Doo snowmobile and the Sea-Doo watercraft. When it rolled out the innovative three-wheeled Spyder in 2007, many of us in the motorcycle community didn’t know what to make of it. Over the years, the Spyder has found favor with a large number of enthusiasts who ardently embrace the unique three-wheel platform, growing out the segment exponentially.
The idea for a planted road-going trike evolved from the Ski-Doo. Can-Am engineers transformed the snowmobile chassis’ base Y-architecture to accommodate wheels and the concept was born. The Spyder moniker reflects the vehicle’s wide stance. The result has been a surprising success in attracting people who desire the experience of riding a motorcycle without the sometimes intimidating aspect of balancing on two wheels. It is this accessibility that has won Can-Am scores of followers and created a wholly autonomous category for open-air riding and touring.
In the years since its release, Can-Am has continued to refine the Spyder and broaden the product line-up. For 2023, the company has introduced the top-of-the-line RT Sea-to-Sky (the name inspiring alluring notions of explorations from the coast to the mountains) which represents the pinnacle of three-wheeled luxury touring.
You can’t talk about the Spyder RT Sea-to-Sky without first mentioning the impressive aesthetics. The Green Shadow paint and 16-spoke Prosecco wheels give the RT a dynamic presence, while the integrated side bags, top case, glove box with USB, and electronically adjustable windscreen (with memory) speak to luxury and comfort. The wide floorboards have a floating top for added cushioning. Both the rider and passenger seats are constructed of adaptive foam for exceptional comfort. They also offer lumbar support. A stylish Sea-to-Sky stitching augments the seats and gives them an exclusive touch. The pillion seat has a backrest incorporated into the top box that wraps slightly, making it secure enough that your passenger can doze off without you worrying about losing them. The rider and passenger seats, grips, and grab rails are heated.
The RT is powered by an electronically fuel-injected, liquid-cooled Rotax 1330cc in-line three engine. There’s 115 hp on tap at 7,250 rpm to push the Can-Am’s dry heft of 1,021 pounds. Operating the machine is simple with a traditional right-hand twist throttle grip, a left-hand paddle shift with semi-automatic transmission (no clutch, with manual upshifts and either manual or automatic downshifts), and a right-foot brake pedal.
The Rotax engine moves the RT along just fine. It has plenty of punch to get you onto freeways and into traffic flow without having to scream the engine. However, if you want to feel the power, the motor has a nice, throaty sound as it pulls through its torque curve with shifts unfolding relatively smoothly, with or without cutting the throttle. Because of the nature of its planted stature, centrifugal force is exerted on the rider in corners, and you’ll naturally find yourself leaning into turns to offset some of the effects. If you ride the Spyder aggressively on winding roads, you will feel it in your arms. That said, just cruising, the Spyder bops along quite contentedly. Traction control limits wheel spin smoothly and efficiently.
In the stopping department, three independent disc brake units, one per wheel, are fitted with 270mm rotors each. The front units utilize Brembo four-piston calipers, with a single-piston caliper for the rear. All are mated through ABS. The relatively large surface area of the three tires grants an enormous contact patch, with the 225 rear tire providing a very solid hold of the road for both braking and power application. The RT is incredibly stable under aggressive braking and can be brought down from speed very effectively—as I discovered when a car on the freeway decided to enter my lane and slam on the brakes for who knows what reason. An electronic parking brake is easy to set with just a light touch of the handlebar switch. A warning bell at engine shut-off reminds you to engage it.
I tested the RT as a solo rider with minimal luggage, but the overall performance of the machine appears more than capable of adding a passenger and everything you need for a weekend getaway. Speaking of luggage, there are an astonishing 47 gallons of storage available front and back, which makes you want to load up and head out.
The nighttime silhouette of the RT is impressive, with premium LED lights front and back for maximum visibility. The machine certainly makes it seem there’s something large looming in car rearview mirrors. Additional features include cruise control, adjustable wind deflectors, and an audio control keypad for the premium six-speaker sound system to add a soundtrack to your adventure.
Born to Explore
Riding through the San Gabriel Mountains, the Spyder revealed its true essence. I was able to comfortably take in the scenery and savor the tall pines without the demands of balancing. The Spyder would make an exceptional national parks explorer. Its planted stance removes any concern about control at low speeds while offering unobstructed views, all the while being able to easily converse with your riding partner.
Another unexpected aspect of the Spyder was heading home after a long day in the saddle. The three-wheel stance was wonderfully accommodating of my fatigued state of mind—which would be a real asset when touring long days in unfamiliar places.
+ extremely comfortable, easy to operate
– long wait time for screen to boot-up before allowing starting
Engine: Rotax ACE, in-line 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled, electronic fuel injection
Power: 115hp @7,250rpm; 96lb-ft @5,000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, semi-automatic (paddle shift), reverse
Weight: 1,021lbs (dry)
Seat Height: 29.7in
Fuel Capacity: 7gal
Fuel Consumption: 52.3mpg
Fuel Grade: premium
Colors: Green Shadow