It was clear at the intro of the 2014 Can-Am Spyder RT-S that the machine was substantially different from its predecessor. The original RT-S used a 998cc Rotax V-twin that was derived from an Aprilia sportbike engine, and though our 10,000-mile test showed that 2010 Spyder to be enjoyable to ride, it suffered from relatively short maintenance intervals, so-so fuel economy and handling that was more minivan-like than sports-car like.
Powered now by a transversely mounted 1330cc Rotax inline-triple working through either a new standard-shift or sequential-electronic six-speed gearbox, the 2014 RT-S provides its riders a different experience altogether from its predecessor. Can-Am knew that the chassis and suspension of the original Spyders needed updating, so it did so with the 2013 models, which included a new frame, 15-inch (previously 13s) wheels, Brembo brakes and Sachs shocks, along with substantially revised suspension geometry. (Our 2010 long-term RT-S was improved considerably by the replacement of its stock shocks with Elka units, a fix that many Spyder owners made.) Along with these changes, Can-Am also moved the RT-S radiators forward to eliminate heat flowing into the cockpit area, a major turnoff for many previous RT riders.
The first thousand miles of riding has shown the 2014 Spyder RT-S to be a much more suitable mount for touring riders than its predecessor. Light off the triple and the growl it makes might suggest Racer Joe more than Long-Haul Larry, but under way, the growl goes away as speed builds. Twist the throttle and it builds satisfactorily quickly and smoothly. Follow the “Eco-mode” green upshift arrows on the digital dash gear display and you’ll find that shifting around 3300 to 3500 rpm soon grows familiar, and soon you’ll be cruising in 45-mph zones in top gear, with a seemingly bottomless well of torque on tap for effortless acceleration.
Can-Am claims the triple makes 115 hp and 96 pound-feet of torque at low rpm and the ride makes those numbers believable. Some current RT-S riders say the power delivery is turbine-like, but that doesn’t really capture its character; it’s more like the silky smooth Jaguar inline-six’s in torque and power peaks. Coupled with the new hydraulically shifted six-speed gearbox—with close ratios in the lower gears and in which sixth gear is a real overdrive—the new powertrain enabled us to achieve more than 36 mpg without trouble, meaning that the 6.9-gallon tank can easily take the rider and passenger more than 200 miles. This, alone, is a substantial improvement over the previous RT-S, and equally important is the much longer maintenance intervals for the new engine, which uses hydraulic valve lifters that never need adjustment.
The chassis and suspension upgrades from 2013 likewise give the RT-S a different character on the road. It’s easier to keep this Spyder on a desired line on any surface and in strong side winds, and it seems quicker through hairpins and sweepers, though only track testing would show how much, if any, faster and quicker it might be than its predecessor.
Revised bodywork doesn’t impede packing for a long haul and the four big cargo areas on the new RT-S swallow a huge amount of stuff, as did the original RT’s. The seat has been subtly changed too, and along with footboards featuring large, rubber-mounted platforms, the ergonomics and ride comfort of the new RT seem substantially better than the old. The end product is a machine that seems able to allow just about any rider to consider launching on a whim to ride from coast to coast or anyplace in between. Think of it as a three-wheeled Gold Wing.
The price for that ultimate-tourer potential is steep: MSRP for the RT-S with the SE6 sequential-electronic transmission is $28,049, but we added $1499.97 worth of accessories that our time with the previous model showed to be highly desirable: the Garmin 660 Zumo GPS on its new flexible mount, the 23-inch (shorter than original) vented Can-Am windshield, and clear, adjustable side wind-deflectors, which can act to keep wind from the rider or to funnel it into the cockpit on hot days. Thus equipped, our Timeless Black RT-S listed at $29,948.97. Available RT-S colors also include Circuit Yellow, Pearl White, and Cognac. Thus far, the 2014 Can-Am Spyder RT-S, a vastly improved long-haul touring rig with less costly maintenance, has impressed us in every way over its predecessor.
|2014 Can-Am Spyder RT-S|
|ENGINE||1330cc Rotax inline-three, liquid-cooled|
|BORE & STROKE||3.31 x 3.14 in. (84 x 80 mm)|
|CLAIMED HORSEPOWER||115 hp at 7250 rpm|
|CLAIMED TORQUE||96 lb-ft. at 5000 rpm|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||double A-arms with Sachs shock, anti-roll bar|
|FRONT TRAVEL||6.9 in.|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Swingarm with Sachs shock|
|REAR TRAVEL||6.0 in.|
|FRONT BRAKES||270mm discs with Brembo† 4-piston fixed calipers|
|REAR BRAKE||270mm disc with Brembo single-piston floating caliper|
|FRONT RIMS||aluminum, 15 x 5 in.|
|REAR RIM||aluminum, 15 x 7 in.|
|SEAT HEIGHT||30.4 in.|
|GROUND CLEARANCE||4.5 in.|
|CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT||1012 lb. (459 kg)|
|STORAGE CAPACITY||41 gal.|
|MAXIMUM VEHICLE LOAD||494 lb.|
|FUEL CAPCITY||6.9 gal.|
|FUEL TYPE||premium unleaded|