By the time our Can-Am “touring roadster” racked up 10,000 miles, we’d been riding it for almost 18 months, and we’d learned a lot about the $26,499 three-wheeler from Bombardier Recreational Products. In addition to riding it in all weathers and climes from desert to high mountains, we put it on the track to test its straight-line performance as well as how it worked in slalom and skid-pad testing.
Along the way, the Spyder was recalled three times, for replacement of its Dynamic Power Steering unit, to inspect its rear suspension, and to replace the semi-automatic transmission’s centrifugal clutch. Off-schedule maintenance included replacing the throttle body assembly, the rear shock (warranty items) and the rear tire, the latter two close to the 10K mark. The replacement clutch was also showing signs of slippage when we reached the end of the test.
Given that the RT-S was a new model in a lineup itself still new to the market, the recalls didn’t surprise us, and the worn-out rear tire, shock and clutch could be attributed to the pounding we gave the machine. In fact, we would have been even harder on the chassis had not the “nanny” software of the Bosch Vehicle Stability System inhibited the attempt to attack corners as a sportbike might. The software prohibits oversteer drifts, and it effectively thwarts tipping antics via automated power cut and brake application.
We pitted the RT-S against our long-term BMW K1600GTL touring bike in a dry-surface handling test. The 797-lb. (fully fueled) two-wheeler’s .72g skidpad and 90-mph slalom performance ran circles around the .56g and 52-mph results posted by the Spyder. The nearly 1000-pound RT-S posted a 14.92 sec.@ 88.85 mph pass through the quarter-mile taking 6.5 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph. Mashing the foot pedal, the anti-lock brake system produced a respectable stopping distance of 130 feet from 60 mph.
Designed more for touring fun than sporting performance, the RT-S impressed us with its cavernous and cleverly designed cargo areas, superbly effective fairing and electrically adjustable windshield, heated rider and passenger handgrips, and crystal-clear and vibration-free mirrors. Publisher Andy Leisner put more than 800 miles on the RT-S and noted that the seat was “very comfortable, even on six-plus-hour rides,” though the self-canceling turnsignal switch, he added, was “the worst in history” because it proved to be extremely finicky, demanding a precise push to manually cancel. Another common complaint was a momentary delay and slow shift action when upshifting with the paddle.
Contributing Editor Steve Thompson put most of the miles on the RT-S, running errands with it as well as doing long-haul tours with his wife. Being disabled with an inoperative left leg and therefore unable to ride any two-wheeler, Thompson found it easy to agree with Leisner’s realization that “I had to stop trying to compare it to a motorcycle and respect it for what it did well, and the fun that it could provide.”
That was seemingly most obvious to non-riders like the man who approached Thompson on the RT-S in a parking lot and asked, “Is that thing nearly as much fun as it looks?” Trying to be objective, Thompson replied, “It depends,” and explained to the man that because the Spyder can’t lean as a motorcycle does to turn, whether or not a rider translates its dynamics as fun depends on how addicted one might be to leaning as the primary enjoyment of motorcycling.
He’s not alone: In the few years since its debut, the Spyder has become a success story for Bombardier. Kregg Williams, owner of California Speed-Sports in Livermore, California, whose shop set up and took care of the CW RT-S, says that some 25 percent of his Spyders are sold to women. Can-Am’s ad agency says the Spyder “reinvents” riding. That’s overstating it, but there is no question that the three-wheelers are bringing many new people into the “riding” as opposed to the “driving” world. Our experience with the 2010 RT-S showed us why.
|Price as tested (2010):||$26,499|
|Current Blue Book value (not inc. options):||$20,340|
|Warranty:||2 yr., unlimited mi.|
|Engine:||liquid-cooled, four-stroke V-Twin|
|Bore & stroke:||97.0 x 68.0mm|
|Valve train:||dohc, four valves per cylinder, shim adjustment|
|Fuel injection:||57mm throttle bodies|
|Weight-Tank empty:||954 lb.|
|Weight-Tank full:||996 lb.|
|Fuel capacity:||6.6 gal.|
|Miles since last report:||4227|
|Average fuel mileage:||29.0 mpg|
|Maintenance costs (incl. rear tire):||$1263.39|