While everyone was raving about Green Eggs and Ham; my favorite book was Marvin K Mooney – that’s just who I am. I guess I was a bit different when I was a kid, so that must be why I read what I did. It’s a story about Marvin who wouldn’t go NOW, so the narrator presents different options that would allow, Marvin to leave or just take a hike and one of the options was actually a Zike. A three wheeled vehicle that reminded me of a CanAm Spyder – so this review is about being a Spyder… Rider.
Three wheeled choppers have had their place in biker’s gangs for quite a while now, and it’s easy to see why. Two huge wheels at the back, grunty engine in the middle, hang arm handlebars and a single wheel at the front – topped off with a leather clad ferocious looking gang member straddled over the seat. This type of Chopper is an accepted mode of biker transport (even some of the leader’s ride them), they look powerful, command respect and more often than not car drivers move to one side when they roar up behind them. The CanAm Spyder has some of those attributes, well one for sure – it has three wheels!
Rather than the two at the back one at the front configuration the CanAm F3 is around the other way. Under the double saddle to the rear sits a very wide back tyre, up front are two 6 spoke alloy wheels, low and splayed out offering stability and quite a unique look. Turning the configuration around like this seems to have put the bike in somewhat of a no-man’s land, almost a state of confusion for all involved. It’s not a motorcycle that leans in corners or can whizz through traffic so the biker brotherhood gives it a wide berth and of course it doesn’t have four wheels and a protective outer shell so it certainly isn’t a car.
I picked a few days that had forecasted sun (yes I am a fair weather rider) and took a trip to JFK Powersports in Mt Wellington, to collect the bike, trike, alright the CanAm. They gave me the rundown on the controls, push button start, twist accelerator, single foot brake, thumb control gears and it even had a reverse – the bike, trike, CanAm rides like a quad bike (of which I have some experience) and that apparently was about all I needed to know, you don’t even need a bike license – your car one covers it. So I was kitted out in biker gear – Jacket, Gloves and Helmet and given the keys it was time to hit the road, well ok; JFK’s carpark to get a feel for the ride first.
The Spyder R3 has a Rotax 1,330cc in-line 3 cylinder 86kW/130Nm engine, that will go from 0-100 in around 4.8 seconds and up to an estimated top speed of 205kph (rest assured I did not attempt this). It has a manual 6 speed transmission (but it automatically downshifts when slowing down to stop), stability control, Traction control, Anti-lock Brembo brakes and dynamic power steering in fact a lot of the driving aids you’d look for in a car PLUS the open aired freedom (behind a helmet) that you get on a motorbike.
I honestly think the Spyder has quite a cool look about it, not ‘out and out bad boy’ for sure but a road appeal that certainly turns heads. However, with the amount of stick I received from peers when I posted a picture of the Spyder on my social page with the caption ‘does this mean I’m a biker?’ I actually thought I’d be shunned like a rabid dog when I took to the road – but the opposite occurred. I received a few nods and waves from motorcyclists – not the ones on hugely powerful (or at least very noisy ones) but acceptance from other riders was appreciated and cars seemed to give me much more room than I had expected. Maybe they sensed I was a bit of an amateur, or maybe they understood I was a little more venerable – maybe, just maybe I looked a little cool? Whatever the reason, I appreciated their attention too.
The ride position is generally upright and chopper like, which in turn offers visibility for you and other vehicles on the road viewing you. In a straight line, the Spyder feels comfortable and stable but I have to admit that in the corners or at motorway speed it made me uncomfortable (read terrified) certainly at first, it took me a while to realize that the foot pegs are wide for a reason – there for you to stand on hard when taking corners and also by leaning forward as the speed increased meant less wind resistance and a less of a scary ride. Being in amongst the fast flowing motorway traffic took A LOT of getting used to but around town or in slow moving regular commuter traffic I think the CanAm Spyder really comes into its own.
As I looked across the lanes of back to back traffic and in through the windows of mundane and bland compact cars at men (and women) on their way to work I started to feel a little sorry for them. I imagined them leaving their families at home (as I did) tired but grabbing a travel mug of coffee as they took to the road and joined the back of the long queue of traffic headed into the city. Watching the fuel gauge as it slowly burned gas and cash under idle speed and knowing that a $20 parking fee awaited them upon arrival. Probably tuning in on the morning chat show and listening to some inane chat from some radio announcer attempting to ‘entertain’ the rush hour audience. Meanwhile, I was out in the freedom of the open air with only the sound of the bikes engine below me. Adrenaline level increased as I still felt venerable even amongst the barely moving traffic. Nothing to interrupt me as my mobile phone was off and hidden somewhere deep inside my padded jacket and burning miniscule amounts of fuel on the way while safe in the knowledge that I can park for free in the bike areas of the city lots.
Now I’m sure that there are days when riding the Spyder F3 to work would be just horrible. Such as on cold and rainy days where you are stuck behind a truck spewing fumes under your helmet visor but those are the times you join the rest of the world and take the bus or the bland compact I talked about earlier. The Spyder F3 is an addition to your fleet, a vehicle that can be used for everyday but is better used on sunny days and weekends or days when you just need a little sense of freedom.
For me, it’s easy to see where this bike/trike fit’s in and it would be great to have one of these sitting in my garage ready for the sun to come out. Basically the CanAm Spider is a Trike bike – that I like – Dr Suess would be proud!
Great pics Tez
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