The last time I drove a three-wheeler I didn’t wear a CSA-approved motorcycle helmet nor sign a five-page waiver.
But unlike my SuperCycle tricycle of long, long ago, the 2010 Can Am RS Spyder is packing a106-hp, 990-cc V-twin engine and is actually allowed on the highway. So helmet use is not only prudent, it’s the law. And I’m totally OK with waivers. Believe me, if there was some way I could “waiver myself” on occasion, to protect myself from myself, I would.
Notwithstanding the waiver and the helmet requirements, the good people running this ride and drive event, tell me that this three-wheeler is safe, safe, safe.
“The entire purpose of this three-wheel design is its inherent stability,” says Ben DaPonte, a district sales manager with Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP).
“It is designed to give you the same wind in your face motorcycle experience, but with the safety features of a sports car, such as ABS, stability control, and traction control.”
Yes, this is the same Bombardier firm from Quebec, which brought us the Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo. BRP has been making the Spyder at its Valcourt (Quebec) facility for three years already. (The very first Spyder RS was sold to Jay Leno.)
But you’re not alone if you are suddenly more aware of them. For one thing, the company is currently running its first print and TV advertising campaign. The campaign was precipitated around the arrival of Can-Am’s new touring model, the Spyder RT.
“For the first couple of years, we never ran a singe ad,” notes DaPonte.
For those initial Spyder RS years, the firm’s publicity efforts centred on press functions, and ride and drive events. It continues to use the “ride and drive” lever to get the word out. I participated in their Toronto event in late May, but they’re doing these right across North America all summer long (see tryspyder.com).
Business so far “has far exceeded our expectations,” said DaPonte.
The Spyder RS I took out, was my first (powered) three-wheeler. If you’re used to motorcycles and their leaning ways, the Spyder will feel oddly “level” around corners. Make no mistake, however, that it rips around corners, though a lot of that happens through computer-controlled technology.
The controls differ slightly. My tester had the optional semi-automatic transmission. No clutch. Gears are selected sequentially, via a thumb-activated selector on the left handlebar. One brake pedal, by your right foot, activates all three brakes. Simple as pie.
I’m even warming up to the styling, which I initially thought was “too Ski-Doo” and seemed always to look better when there was no rider sitting on it — not quite as integrated as the rider/motorcycle oneness.
But I'll leave you with this: I'm definitely intrigued and interested, and want to take one out for a long ride.
Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for over 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.