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Thread: Spydering

  1. #1
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    Spydering

    I moved from a (two wheeled) 1150GS to a Can Am Spyder last year, primarily because my vintage legs are getting unreliable.

    Heading for my first BMW rally driving the Spyder, I was wondering what sort of reception I would get from my BMW friends and associates. I was pleasantly surprised to get honest questions about the Spyder, rather than something less friendly.

    I've also been curious about the reception to the Spyder from non-motorcyclists. First, they seem to have seen the Can Am commercials, so seeing a Spyder in person isn't a shock. It's obvious that they consider the Spyder to be something more like a sports car than a motorcycle, but with the relative adventure of an open vehicle.

    I had been thinking about converting the GS to a sidecar rig, and spent a few hours sketching out the connectors and fittings needed. But I decided to try the Spyder instead, since it was available all in one piece--no assembly required.

    I've not been attracted to the 1F 2R (one front wheel, two rear wheels) layout as sold currently by Harley-Davidson, or installed by trike frims such as Lehman. I much prefer the 2F 1R configuration, because it puts wheels where they need to be to resist rollover.

    The Can Am Spyder was engineered at the BRP factory from the ground up, and includes ABS, power steering, stability control, reverse gear, and the option of either foot shift or "semi-auto" shifting via a thumb paddle switch.

    If anyone is interested in discussing the Spyder, handling, the mods I've made, etc., feel free to ask questions.

    pmdave
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  2. #2
    Riding where it's hot! AZ-J's Avatar
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    Sweet looking rig there. I am youngish enough still for 2-wheeling but if I have issues, I am taking your kudos on this one! Thank you.
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    Jordan M, MOA #24434
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  3. #3
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    How do you like it, so far? They look like a lot of fun.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  4. #4
    07 R1200GS Rich's Avatar
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    I'm impressed with the looks of the Spyder. I could see myself having one someday.

    I'm curious, are they a 5 or 6 speed?

  5. #5
    GIZMO
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    Congrats on the new ride, that Spyder looks like a fun machine. I am sure your reception will be a positive one at the rally. Best of luck with it.

  6. #6
    Registered User dadayama's Avatar
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    Dumb question, but how do you back it up?

    Pete in OKC, OK

  7. #7
    Cage Rattler wezul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dadayama View Post
    Dumb question, but how do you back it up?

    Pete in OKC, OK
    Equipped with a 5 speed manual or 5 speed semi-automatic both with "remote electronic reverse interlock".

    Showroom

    I think they're cool, saw a real nice Spyder/trailer combo at the GR3. If I was to go three wheels I would seriously consider a Can Am.

  8. #8
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmdave View Post
    If anyone is interested in discussing the Spyder, handling, the mods I've made, etc., feel free to ask questions.

    pmdave
    Yes, I'd be interested in your impressions of the handling and the mods you've made to it, and why.

    Regarding handling, I'm interested in how it feels cornering. Does it give any of the visceral feel of a 2 wheeler? Is it a confident corner taker, or do you find yourself scaring yourself from time to time? In other words, how predictable is the cornering and do you get a warning if you're too hot? On 2 wheels you can always try more lean if you feel like you're too fast - what do you do on a Spyder?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Dan

  9. #9
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    A couple that I ride with just went from the regular? version to the touring model.
    Both are excellent. The Speed Channel just had one of their test ride segments on the spyders-defiantly not limited in any way!:
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
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  10. #10
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    When I first heard about the Spyder, I was concerned that the engineers had taken all the fun out of cornering, by allowing the stability control computer to reduce power when any wheel begins to lose traction.

    But, now that I've driven a Spyder, I suggest that anyone who is bumping up against the stability control limits is nuts.

    Like a sidecar rig, when cornering aggressively you hang off to the inside, not only to help control roll, but also to reduce steering force. So, when I'm hanging off, just starting to drift, and sneaking on a bit of throttle, my speeds through any given corner are about 15 - 20 mph faster than my best on my K1/EZS rig.

    Yep, when riding a two-wheeler, if you find yourself "high, hot, and overshot", you can push a little harder on the down grip and tighten your line. ASSUMING you have any leanover clearance in the bank, and that the surface has adequate traction. Note that more than a few bikers have taken soil samples because those assumptions were incorrect.

    Whether you're on two wheels, three, or four, your speeds through turns should be a function of sight distance. Whenever sight distance closes up, you should be decelerating aggressively. The advantage here goes with the three-wheeler, especially the 2F 1R configuration, because a slide doesn't mean a fall-down.

    More on this later.

    pmdave

  11. #11
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    The Spyder has speed-sensitive power steering. At slower speeds there is more power, and at higher speeds less power. That's to avoid making any sudden excursions at higher speeds.

    I suspect the engineers designed on the conservative side, recognizing that many new Spyder owners might not have any prior three-wheeler experience. So, steering effort goes up as speed goes up--which encourages the driver to not push the limits. From the standpoint of helping a newbie keep the rig in control, that's good. From the standpoint of an old hand, I'd prefer somewhat more power at higher speeds. If I had my wish, I'd have a control switch with three positions, so I could select the amount of power steering I wanted. I'm sure the BRP lawyers would turn white at the thought.

    When I first got the Spyder last year, I drove it conservatively while I gradually figured out what it wanted to do. For a newbie triker, sitting straight up in the saddle, that gets a Spyder around at about average auto speeds, not as fast as an aggressive/skilled rider on a two-wheeler, but faster than the average rider on a low-slung cruiser. The Spyder is very stable, but requires a bit of muscle to get through tight corners--much like the typical sidecar rig.

    The Rotax 990 engine is a powerhouse. I'm thinking maybe 100 or 105 hp and 90 lb/ft of torque. Early on, I found myself surrounded by bikes at a stoplight, and when the tree went green I gassed it. The bikes left me for dead, because I was sitting there burning rubber until I backed off a bit.

    I have the "semi-automatic" electric shift SE5 model. To shift up, I just tap the thumb paddle on the left grip. To shift down, I just tap the front of the paddle with my finger. The transmission is five forward and one reverse. The clutch is a wet multi-plate controlled by hydraulics. The shifter system uses engine oil as hydraulic fluid, and is fully controlled by computers.

    When slowing, the shifter automatically shifts down, so that when stopped it's in first gear--just as I would do with a manual transmission. Or, I can tap the paddle to shift down at my preference. When downshifting, the computer automatically blips the throttle, and I have to admit it's smoother than I could be most of the time.

    As with contemporary BMWs, shifting is smoother and quicker if the throttle is just rolled off slightly, not closed. With the Spyder you don't have to roll off the throttle--it will shift, but not as smoothly. The SM5 (manual shift) is about as smooth and seamless as a contemporary BMW. Correct technique makes it smooth.

    Reverse is engaged on the E model by holding an R button while shifting down. When it's time for forward, I just thumb the paddle twice and it's in first. Roll on a bit of throttle and away we go.

    Braking is separate front/rear with a combined master cylinder. The stock machines come only with a foot pedal--which can be a bit of a shock for an experienced rider who out of habit reaches for the front lever that isn't there. I've been told that in the USA, regulations forbid a trike from having a front brake lever.

    I decided early on that I would have a front brake lever, but it's a bit complicated because the front and rear hydraulic systems are ABS, and the computers don't like to be confused. I designed a cable operated lever that presses on the foot pedal, so that squeezing the front lever simply applies the foot brake. That avoids any complex plumbing or computer headaches. Now, I use the "front" brake most of the time, but as with a two-wheeler, I also add pressure on the footbrake lever--which adds braking to what I'm already doing with the hand lever. It took a number of tries before I got it working acceptably.

    The Spyder has a CanBus electrical system much like today's BMWs. I added a hot bus through the frame from a spare fuse near the battery to a fuse block under the front cowl. From there I power accessory outlets, horn relays, etc.

    The Spyder SE comes stock with a modest size front trunk, but it's not nearly large enough for all the stuff I prefer to carry when traveling. I added the accessory saddlebags from BRP, which mounts GIVI bags on quick detach BRP mounts. Still wanting some additional carrying space, I added a rear aluminum plate rack. That took a bit of doing, because the stock SE has a trick plastic cowl on the rear. I had to build suitable structural mounting brackets for the rack, then make fiberglass cowl pieces to fill in the gaps.

    I also changed to stock low SE windscreen for a Cee Bailey 19" screen, for a bit more frontal protection.

    pmdave

  12. #12
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    Thank you for your most excellent descriptions! For someone with no 3-wheel experience, would you recommend any particular type of formal training before riding the Spyder, or simply a matter of start out slow?
    Dan

  13. #13
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    I would suggest that anyone considering a 3-wheeled motorcycle take the Sidecar/Trike Education Program. For info, contact the Evergreen Safety Council, www.esc.org.

    The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has announced that they have a new "3BRC" for trikes. I haven't seen this one in action, but you could contact your nearest motorcycle safety program and ask for information.

    The Spyder is easier to drive than a sidecar rig, and the integrated systems make it less likely that you'd get into trouble. So, "taking it easy" is an acceptable technique. I believe that Spyder dealers will allow anyone with a motorcycle license to take one for a test drive.

    There are several Spyder web sites, including the official Can Am Spyder site, http://spyder.brp.com/en-US/

    It's unfortunate that BMW AG didn't catch this idea. Bombardier is a huge corporation, and is marketing the Spyder aggressively. Apparently, BMW AG is focusing on chasing the high performance sportbike concept.

    pmdave

  14. #14
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    I don't really like to quote myself ..but I wrote this as an editorial for our recent club newsletter and I think it may fit here...

    The very definition of the Motorcycle and with it the community, the people who “ride” them, is going through an evolution.
    A while ago, the scooter emerged and lane-split its way into “motorcycling”. First popular in Europe as an effective and fast method to move about inside over-crowded cities, it increased in displacement and comfort until it had a spot among mid-range touring vehicles. Less intimitating and more laid back in image than powerful bikes, it also became the choice of 2-wheel transport for people who wanted to start or continue riding and were scared by horsepower numbers in ex-cess of 100 and rear tires wider than 140mm. They became so numerous, that the AMA now seriously considers embracing scooters and their riders in a special way. And let’s face it: We are beginning to “wave” at scooters, when we encounter them on the road.
    Then, a 3-wheel fashion, most famous among them the CanAm Spyder, made by Bombardier, a renowned manufacturer, posed another challenge to the correct answer to the question “what is a motorcycle”. Heated discussions usually follow.
    Being rather partial to sidecar rigs, I have personally been faced with this for years and my answer would be: Let’s stop arguing and let’s just ride (or drive?) together.
    How about it?

  15. #15
    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    pmdave,

    There are some local folks that have purchased a Spyder and have run up against the problem of the traction control not allowing the vehicle to be used in low traction environments. In our area riding on wet dirt roads is a common task and the Spyder seems to virtually shut down in such environments. Do you know a work around or a fix on the horizon. Maybe a Spyder GS.
    Kevin Huddy
    Intrepid Incompetent
    Tm Pterodactyl MT Outpost

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