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2012 Can-Am Roadster Spyder RS and RT

April 02, 2012

Three's A Charm

By Jeff Buchanan

When Can-Am introduced the three-wheeled Spyder in 2007, it was met with—and continues to draw—a lot of head scratching from the motorcycle community. However, with five years of retail sales in the books—during a period of significant contraction in nearly all motorcycle categories—it’s clear the Spyder concept has some traction.

To see why, understand that Can-Am is targeting a broader customer base, not just traditional motorcyclists, according to Yves Leduc, vice president and general manager for Bombardier Recreational Products North America division.

“[The Spyder] is different,” he says. “It’s easy to access, and it’s your open door to open road riding. It’s the motorcycle lifestyle you’ve always aspired to.”

The out-of-the-box approach isn’t new to Can-Am’s parent company, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP). BRP has a history of innovation, starting with snowmobiles in 1958 and sit-down watercraft 10 years later.

“What we’re trying to do with the Spyder is that,” he says. “There’s an opportunity there for something new.”

In simple terms, Can-Am has built a machine to deliver an open-air, motorcycle-like adventure experience without the need to balance on two-wheels. The machine’s planted stance and presence grants a reassuring sense of security, which is what Leduc says attracts the core Spyder buyer.

The 2012 Spyder Roadster RS (sport) and RT (touring) are powered by an electronically fuel-injected 998cc Rotax V-twin mated with a five-speed transmission, available as electronic or manual. The electronic gearbox (which automatically downshifts) is operated by a left hand thumb/forefinger paddle, while the manual is foot-operated with handlebar-mounted clutch. Both versions have reverse, and both are available in “S” trim that is fitted with Fox Shox and double-spoke wheels. Both machines employ Dynamic Power Steering as well as anti-lock brakes, traction control and anti-roll technology.

Riding the Spyder differs from riding a motorcycle. Its planted stance grants the rider ease of mind. This becomes most pronounced when coming to a stop or when stuck in stop-and-go traffic.

However, the three-point, planted stature of the Spyder means that in corners it responds like an automobile, wanting to sway with centrifugal force. Riding the Spyder can be a workout, especially spirited rides through twisty canyon roads.

There are some obvious applications for the three-wheel platform, such as people with compromised physical capabilities. But going beyond that, there are those who have always been intrigued by a motorcycle, but were too intimidated by two wheels to take up the challenge.

For those riders, Can-Am has created a vehicle that appeals to an adventure-seeking nature while providing a sense of security with stability and presence. By doing so, they’ve spread something akin to the motorcycling experience to those who otherwise may have been content to spend life behind a steering wheel.

“We work hard to see how we can bring more people to this industry, and we felt that the Can-Am Roadster was the way to go because a lot of people want that lifestyle,” says Louis Lévesque, Can-Am director of marketing. “It’s aspirational, to be on a motorcycle, but they don’t feel comfortable. Roadster is a great opportunity for them.”

The 2012 Can-Am Spyder Roadster RS starts at $16,499/RS-S $18,099. The RT starts at $21,699/RT-S $25,699.

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