2016 Can-Am Spyder Review
The Can-Am is a blast to ride and unlike any motorcycle. It has its supporters and detractors yet passing the 100,000 units sold milestone in 2015 attests to its popularity. Riding the Can-Am Spyder initially confounds most of what the rider has experienced over his years of riding two wheels, and it does take some time to get acquainted with the different geometry, and attendant forces, before one can turn it loose in the canyons.
Can-Am, and its parent company BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products), have fully committed to the Spyder. Can-Am proves it by unveiling an even larger range of models for 2016. Can-Am has embraced the bagger as well as touring versions, and the 2016 Can-Am Spyder lineup and options list is long and well thought out.
2016 Can-Am Spyder Review – the Range
Prior to 2016, the Can-Am Spyder range consisted of five similar machines – the F3, F3-S, RT, RS and ST. All featured a similar configuration except for the pannier and top case equipped RT. This year Can-Am designers have concentrated on the cruiser and bagger segments, adding the fixed pannier-equipped Spyder F3-T and F3-Limited to the mix. These side cases, when combined with the front trunk space, offer the rider a total of 21 gallons (78 liters) of easily accessible cargo space and the cases lock with the ignition key.
These new models evolve from the Can-Am Spyder F3 and are differentiated by the included options. The F3-T retains all F3-S goodness but is upgraded with Sachs Big-Bore shocks, integrated side cases, console including a glove box, tinted windshield and integrated rear-view mirror, machined front wheels, and color digital dash. The F3-T also is trailer ready with an optional 4-speaker audio system with a USB Port.
The top of the food chain is the 2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited. This includes all F3-T options along with a 4-Speaker audio system with USB port, heated grips, rider footboards, Limited Trim Signature Seat, chrome front wheels and even more chrome.
To all of these models and options, Can-Am now offers a multitude of color and wheel choices. The gray with orange framed F3 is still in the lineup that now includes black metallic, magnesium metallic, black satin, white, red and combinations thereof. Looks, as always, are subjective, yet I found the 2016 Spyder to be an attractive vehicle, and every color combination was pleasing to me.
Adding to this impressive 2016 Can-Am lineup is an equally impressive catalog of parts and accessories. I found that my iPhone, when plugged into the jack in the glove box, was fully integrated automatically with and controlled by the sound system. My songs, artists and playlists were displayed beautifully on the color screen and sounded great on the 4-speaker system. There is no provision for integrating a Bluetooth headset into the mix but there is also an AUX line-in cable, alongside the USB cable, allowing the integration of just about any device with a 3.5mm audio-out jack but control of those devices will not be through the Can-Am’s audio system.
Can-Am continues to employ its U-Fit system. By offering different size handlebars and shift linkages every Can-Am can have five different foot positions and three handlebar positions to allow tailoring the bike to just about any body size, inseam or arm length. Changes can be made in a matter of minutes if you share the bike with someone of different stature.
2016 Can-Am Spyder Review – The Ride
It does not take much experience to get moving and start negotiating corners through hill and dale – actually, that’s easy. It only takes a few minutes to become acquainted with the controls of the 2016 Can-Am Spyder I mostly rode – the F3 Limited. I learn to operate the semi-automated transmission controls, engage and dis-engage the reverse gear and parking brake. I am also reminded that the foot brake pedal is the only brake and operates all three brake units. Braking forces are strong and well proportioned, front to back, with excellent initial bite and follow-through. I did, often, find myself reaching for the non-existent front brake lever, only to keep reminding myself to use my foot exclusively.
The Spyder F3-Limited’s six-speed manual transmission needs no explanation. Clutch engagement is linear, gear ratios are close and operation is smooth and strong. The six-speed semi-automatic is easy to ride, too, and is engineered along the same principles as those in Porsche’s PDK transmission. In this iteration, it requires that the rider do all up-shifting manually through its left-handlebar paddle shifter. The rider may choose to downshift or let the transmission downshift automatically when it senses the vehicle going too slow in a given gear or coming to a stop without the rider downshifting.
I preferred to shift it myself in both directions but it’s nice to have the transmission reset to low gear upon making a stop and forgetting to paddle-shift down. For this vehicle I would, personally, favor the semi-auto box and BRP reports that 65 percent of its Can-Ams are sold with this transmission.
Negotiating my way out of the parking lot and onto the street becomes second nature in only a few feet – simply turn the bars like the steering wheel in a car and you’re on your way.
2016 Can-Am Spyder Review – Making Speed
The trick is to decode the feelings, responses and forces involved with the rider and chassis when one attempts to start going fast on the machine. One doesn’t lean into the turn like a two-wheeler nor does it counter-steer. On the contrary, the vehicle leans away from the turn and requires a bit of muscle from arm and leg to put it through its paces, even with its Dynamic Power Steering unit.
Simply transferring body weight into the turn and sailing through the apex, as most riders are accustomed to doing, will do nothing for you on the Can-Am. It’s all about turning the handlebars. I found it enjoyable but it did take most of a day’s riding to begin to feel comfortable riding quickly through the twisty bits on and around the famous Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles.
Getting to the point where the freeway meets the canyon felt natural. Just steer the machine and stay in the lane. The feeling is quite alien at first but becomes second-nature in a matter of miles. The left-right undulation of the two front tires as they ripple over uneven pavement stops being a concern and the feeling is unique. The responsive nature of the Rotax-sourced, 115 hp (claimed) 1,330 cc inline triple (unchanged from 2015) coupled to either a six-speed manual or six-speed semi-automatic transmission, both with reverse gear, is smooth and powerful.
When entering a fast turn the rider sets up and commences braking as he has always done. Once turning, the rider will brace the leg opposite the turning direction to give more leverage to the handlebars. The Can-Am is designed to under steer slightly and as the machine moves through and finishes the turn the rear tire will slide out to stay in line.
All this happens while the rider gets a feeling that the inside front tire might want to lift off the pavement yet all the forces in play during these maneuvers is under control of the computer stability system which, like many automobiles, may apply a dab of brakes to one wheel or another or slightly cut power to keep everything in shape. The rider feels little of this computer intervention and I, for one, enjoy the feeling of that rear-wheel drift at the end of the turn.
The chassis and suspension feel tight and the machine goes where it’s pointed. There is no slop or flex and, once accustomed to the nature of the beast, it offers a very stable platform. I did not get to ride 2-up but I sense that this will make an excellent cruiser or touring rig for those riders attracted to the benefits of three wheels.
While not every rider will be attracted to anything with more than two wheels, the Can-Am has found its place in motorcycling and its buyers, for many reasons, are committed to and enthusiastic with the brand. BRP is even toying with the idea of building a police vehicle. They have built one and are currently trotting it around to certifying agencies to begin the acceptance process. I’ve seen the photos and it is a pretty cool looking rig.
Whatever your reasons to like the Can-Am, 2016 will be a year filled with new choices and opportunities for riders and new market segments to fill.
- Helmet: Shoei GT-Air Wanderer TC-5
- Communication: Sena 10U with handlebar remote
- Eyewear: Persol PO3021S
- Jacket: Joe Rocket Classic 92 jacket
- Gloves: Joe Rocket Classic glove
- Pants: Levi’s 501 jeans
- Boots: Dainese TR Course Out boots