Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

CAN-AM Spyder Demo Day at Reno's Powersports KC - Kansas City, Missouri

Written by  May 30, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014 was a beautiful day, and as the 25th Annual Bikers With a Mission Ride was winding down, I decided to give Cycle Connections Editor Mike Schweder a call to see how things were going at Reno’s Powersports KC. He informed me that plenty of people had come out to take advantage of the opportunity to test ride their demo ride fleet of Can-Am Spyders. Since it was a relatively short ride to Reno’s, I decided to head that way and possibly take a Spyder for a spin. Since I had not pre-registered, I would have to wait a couple of hours for an opening. Mike had already left due to a prior commitment; however, there were lots of other folks around to chat with, and I had the opportunity to take some photos of the Spyder fleet while others were riding, so I decided to sign up and wait my turn.

The registration process was accomplished by providing pertinent data using a tablet computer. Riders were assigned to groups that would stick together throughout the demo process. The first step was to watch a short video pointing out various characteristics of the Spyder and describing differences (other than the obvious wheel count) from a conventional motorcycle. Riders were cautioned that a Spyder is more stable than a motorcycle, but less so than an automobile, and violent maneuvers can cause a rider and/or passenger to be thrown off. Obviously, the safety of the participants was the most important consideration in conducting the demos.

After viewing the video, the group moved to an area of the parking lot where the riders would get their first hands-on experience with the three-wheeler. Everyone gathered around the Spyder and listened as a staff member pointed out the various controls and explained step-by-step the process of starting the vehicle and safely riding it. A short course marked by orange cones had been set up so that each rider had an opportunity to get the feel of the throttle response, steering, and braking of the machine. The instructor made sure all of the riders were ready before sending them out on the road course.

When the demo vehicles returned from the preceding ride, I selected the one immediately behind the group leader. There was a strong wind blowing, and I thought the windshield would provide some additional comfort. My choice was the RT Limited model powered by the Rotax 1330 Ace in-line three-cylinder engine and equipped with a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission. The first stretch of the demo course was straight and was ideal for getting the feel of the power steering which is somewhat sensitive due to a quick ratio that causes small movements of the handlebars to generate significant movement of the front wheels. Braking for all three wheels is controlled by a pedal operated by the rider’s right foot, so there is no lever on the right handlebar. Also missing is a clutch lever. The semi-automatic transmission is shifted using a paddle switch on the left handlebar. Upshifts are always manual while downshifts are automatic or manually controlled. Although not needed on the demo, the transmission also has a reverse gear. When shifting, it is not necessary to retard the throttle. As with a conventional motorcycle, the throttle is controlled by twisting the right-hand grip. It operates electronically rather than using throttle cables, a setup described as fly-by-wire, and seems quite sensitive at first but is not so noticeable after a short time on the road.

The course included left-hand and right-hand 90-degree turns and a stretch of hilly, curvy road. As mentioned in the training, turns are accomplished by turning the bars in the direction of the turn with no motorcycle-style counter-steering. As with a conventional trike, the vehicle does not lean into the turn, so the feel is completely different from a two-wheeler.

Due to the additional width, Spyders are ridden in the center of the lane, so a group travels single file rather than in a staggered formation. The route used for the demo rides covered about 20 miles and took a half-hour or so to complete. It was well designed to allow the riders to become accustomed to the Spyders before experiencing the more difficult terrain.

I enjoyed riding the RT. I found it to be smooth, comfortable, and quiet with predictable handling characteristics and plenty of power. The styling is attractive, so they stand out in a crowd of motorcycles for more reasons than the unusual two-front wheels and one in back arrangement. Our thanks go out to the demo staff including Lucas and Mike who handled registration and training and Kevin and Jay who rode the lead and trail machines on the course. We also appreciate Reno’s for hosting the demos. It was fun!

Photos by Stripe and Mike Schweder

Stripe

Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at stripe@cycleconnections.com 

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