2016 Can-Am Spyder F3-T & F3 Limited - FIRST RIDE REVIEW

These premium new three-wheelers are best ridden adagio, allegro (enter corners softly and then exit fast).

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited on-road action
2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited on-road actionBRP Photo

We rode the new 2016 Can-Am F3-T and F3 Limited through the crusty, crispy, San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles, re-testing the familiar Spyder chassis and first-testing the sound system, windscreen, cruise control, floorboards, and bags. To meet the desires of touring riders, cruiser-touring riders, three-wheeling touring riders, Can-Am has added these premium models so that you can carry more stuff in more comfort, and with music.

Rather than repeating all technical details of the new F3-T and F3 Limited, please see this earlier story. But we add a few notes below.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited
On-road cornering actionBRP Photo

The Can-Am Spyder F3-T is available with the manual or semi-automatic transmission, but the F3 Limited comes only with the semi-automatic. The thinking is, people don’t tend to want manual when ordering top-of-the-line. Also, Can-Am recognizes that a significant number of its buyers are not motorcyclists adding a wheel, but outdoor-adventure people subtracting a wheel, and looking for an open-air experience.

The new saddlebags are incorporated into the bodywork of these models, and carry the taillights and rear turnsignals. With the addition of saddlebags, these F3s have a 21-gallons of luggage capacity, about half of what the total-touring RT has with its larger side bags and family-sized top-box.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited, saddlebags
SaddlebagsBRP Photo

Besides being MP3-ready, the new sound system provides the choice of an eighth-inch jack or a USB port. With the USB connection, the MP3 player can be operated with controls on the left handlebar, but scrolling through a playlist or song list requires hitting a button for every item; you can’t simply hold the button down and let it scroll. It can be a long way from Adam Ant to Zappa, in more than musical taste.

The semi-automatic and the manual transmissions are geared transmissions with the same ratios, but they’re not identical. The semi-automatic uses electronically controlled actuators for shifting gears and operating an electronic clutch controller.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited
Static side viewBRP Photo

Although the F3 and RT Spyders are both powered by the same 1330 cc three-cylinder engine, the performance of the two models purposely differs. The F3 has a fewer teeth on its rear sprocket than the RT, so that its engine is at a higher rpm for the same wheel speed, providing faster acceleration too. Additionally, the stability control for the F3 and RT are programmed differently; the RT has “softer” settings for less aggressive riding, which includes initiating stability control by limiting power first, while the F3 has less intervention and first applies braking so that the engine’s inertia isn’t unnecessarily compromised.

Front and rear shocks are preload adjustable, the front with a spanner and the rear with air, which is accessed under the passenger seat. It’s important to make these adjustments when the load varies a fair amount to get the most out of the F3’s performance, otherwise it can understeer if the rear is too low or oversteer if the front is too low. There’s also a passenger detector that causes the Spyder to use different stability-control parameters to address the added weight. The swingarm is reinforced for pulling a Can-Am-branded trailer, which, of course, doesn’t void the warranty. The trailer package includes an auto-self-leveling feature, so that control and comfort are uncompromised.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited
Cockpit viewBRP Photo

Cruise control is standard, and the F3-T and Limited both have a glovebox just below the standard tinted windscreen. The MP3 hook-up for the audio system, optional on the T and standard on the Limited, is in that glovebox. The Limited also has heated grips and floorboards for the rider (driver?). Cruise has easy thumb operation, and the audio system works great if you’re stopped or a lover of audio systems on open vehicles; road noise just doesn’t enhance any listening experience. But a Can-Am playlist was created for testing, and it’s always fun to blast the innocents at traffic lights, from ELO’s “Do Ya” to Jamie T’s “Zombie.” Or maybe Motion City Soundtrack’s new Panic Station album. Nonetheless, the F3 can be used as a three-wheeled boombox next to the picnic blanket, unhampered by the highway.

The side bags provide a total luggage capacity that’s half of the RT’s, so the F3 might be more of a touring-for-one machine, or for weekend trips for couples who don’t change clothes often. Only half-helmets fit in those, but a full-face does fit in the front trunk. The windscreen, below eye level, excellently keeps the wind from the rider, with no in-the-face or even over-the-head buffeting. Audio quality is improved by the reduced wind noise.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited
FloorboardsBRP Photo

Although “floorboards” might sound too touring, they actually add to the experience of riding these F3s like you’re a secret agent. The F3 can be a sedate, stable touring platform that just plain won’t fall over, or it can be ridden in a sporting manner that results in much fun. We’re not lying.

Whatever you want to call the three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder F3—auto-cycle, tricycle, popsicle, three-wheeler, thing, not-a-motorcycle, motorcycle (please, no), summertime Ski Doo, land-locked Sea-Doo, Street-Doo, Hair-Doo, WhatHaveYou—it’s an interactive vehicle to ride for getting the most fun out of it. Proper corning requires pushing hard with the outside leg and leaning deeply into the turn. Floorboards allow a firmer, wider push.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited
Static overhead view.BRP Photo

The F3 has sophisticated stability control that some have tried to find fault. That has resulted in some pretty embarrassing and idiotic riding. Yes, you can get a front wheel to lift on one of these if that alone is your mission, but only by purposely yanking really hard on the bars and surprising the system for an instant. Even so, the stability control immediately brings that wheel back to the ground and all that is proven is that even grossly stupid riding can be adequately controlled by the F3’s electronics.

The system monitors a number of factors to keep the machine stable, such as wheel speed, engine speed, yaw, throttle position, and steering position. An engineer from Can-Am confirmed the feeling that riding the machine hard into a corner is not as much fun as entering while slowing and then cornering fast and hard. Braking and turning alerts the system to intercede, while turning-in without braking allows maximum power throughout the rest of the turn as you roll on the throttle. Just like a good concerto, the F3 is best in a soft entry followed by a hard throttle: adagio, allegro. Shutting the throttle while cornering causes a bit of understeer, which is designed into the machine. Keeping the gas on squirts the thing through the chosen arc. So, as you can see, jamming a turn entry totally destroys the fun.

The short of it: You don’t have to wait until a certain age to get grinning on a Can-Am. Really. It’s an outdoor, interactive riding experience that’s fun—a road-legal snowmobile on tires, if you will.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited
Rear view action.BRP Photo

CAN-AM F3 PRICING

F3: $19,499: Available only in Black.

F3-S: $20.999: Added features include a black suede seat with red stitching, trim upgrades, gloss-black wheels, added color choices and cruise control.

F3-S Special Triple Black Series: $23,549: Additional features are black-on-black-on-black, and even the chrome wheels are black.

F3-T: $23,099: Additional features include integrated saddlebags with a 21-gallon capacity, console with a glovebox, tinted windscreen, rear air-adjustable suspension, trailer-ready, and color and audio options.

F3 Limited/Limited Special Triple Black Series: $27,249: Features include those of the F3-T plus an MP3-ready four-speaker audio system, heated grips, floorboards, upgraded trim and seat, chrome wheels and trim, three color choices or triple-black.

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2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited action.BRP Photo
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2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited static.BRP Photo
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2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited details.BRP Photo
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2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited static.BRP Photo
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2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited details.BRP Photo