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Digital Trends / Tech - Game

Can't decide between a bike and a car? Can-Am's three-wheelers have you covered

The 2018 Can-Am Spyder lineup adds smartphone app compatibility and touring features to the three-wheeled motorcycle alternatives.
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With its 2018 Can-Am Spyder three-wheelers, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) has been selling category-disrupting vehicles for 11 years. Mainly considered alternatives to motorcycles, Spyders are fun rides with models ranging from sports cruisers to full-on touring machines.

Three-wheeled vehicles exist in a three-factor limbo between cars and motorcycles. Federal and state regulators, powersports dealerships, and consumers aren’t as clear about how to register, sell, or buy and use three-wheelers as they are with two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles. Despite the challenges of creating a market for a new ride, BRP started selling the Can-Am Spyder Roadster in February 2007. If you don’t consider sidecar motorcycles such as the Ural, the Spyder’s closest comparison is the Polaris Slingshot.

You don’t need to be able to ride a motorcycle to operate a Can-Am Spyder, although some of the basics carry over from two-wheelers. Most but not all states require a valid two-wheel or three-wheel vehicle license to drive a Spyder — notable exceptions are California, Nevada, and South Carolina. If you’re interested, check your state’s requirements here.

Can-Am Spyder Tech

All 2018 Spyders include BRP’s three-component vehicle stability system, including stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. The stability control component uses a combination of engine torque and braking to maintain balance. Traction control with the Spyder prevents excessive rear wheel spin by regulating engine ignition and fuel injection (hint: if you like burnouts, the F3-S model might be a good choice). ABS works with standard Brembo brakes and reduces pressure to prevent locking.

All Spyders have electronically-controlled power steering to vary assistance based on speed.  Spyders also have a reverse gear with both the semi-automatic and manual transmissions, so you won’t have to push it backward.

New for 2018 are twin 4.3-inch LCDs. You can use both screens for vehicle information or switch the right side to use with BRP Connect, a vehicle-optimized smartphone integration system for navigation or other purposes. A small center-positioned joystick navigates the apps from a compatible smartphone connected via Bluetooth.

How to choose a 2018 Can-Am Spyder

Major choice factors between the six 2018 Spyder models include the number of passengers, cargo capacity, ride length, and rider seating position. All Spyder models use the same Rotax 1330 ACE in-line three-cylinder with electronic fuel injection and electronic throttle control. All models have a six-speed semi-automatic transmission with reverse as standard equipment, but the F3-S and RT models also have a six-speed manual with reverse option.

The four Spyder F3 models have 26.6-inch high seats and a typical motorcycle cruiser position with the legs forward. The two RT models have a taller, 31.1-inch high seat and a more upright riding position with the legs vertical. Seat height is a comfort factor with three-wheelers because you don’t need to reach the ground for balance when you stop. The F3 models have footpeg and handlebar adjustments with five settings for each to accommodate rider preference and height.

If you will carry a passenger and plan to use the Spyder for trips, factors like cargo capacity, suspension adjustments, and rider and passenger comfort can significantly affect your choice.

Sport Cruising Models: Spyder F3, F3-S

The two most accessible (i.e., the least expensive) Spyders are the F3 and F3-S sport cruisers. These models aren’t set up for touring as both lack standard windshields and saddlebags. Cargo storage is limited to the 6.5-gallon capacity front compartment.

The sport cruisers also lack the rear suspension preload adjustment on the other four models as it wouldn’t be cost effective. If there’s a reasonable chance you and maybe a passenger will take trips lasting longer than a day, seriously consider bumping up to more touring-friendly models.

With its $18,000 starting price, the Spyder F3 is the least expensive model. The F3’s three-cylinder engine produces 105 horsepower, 10 hp less than the other models, but 96 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 RPM is the same with all six styles. This model has a six-speed semi-automatic transmission with reverse.

The F3 Spyder has Sach “Big-Bore” front shocks, Sachs shocks in the rear, and Brembo brakes. Like all Spyders, the F3 has traction control, stability control, and anti-lock brakes. The standard UFit system customizes the riding position for height and preference by adjusting the handlebar and footpeg positions, with five settings for each.

The Spyder F3-S (starting price $21,300) adds 10 hp to the engine and a choice of a manual or semi-automatic six-speed transmission with reverse. The F3-S is unique in that it’s the only Spyder with gas-charged Fox Podium performance shocks.

Clearly set up as the hot rod of the Spyder lineup, The F3-S  has a “sport mode” setting for more aggressive shift points. Cruise control is also standard.

Model2018 Spyer F32018 Spyder F3-S
Starting price$18,000$21,300
Engine typeRotax 1330 ACE Inline 3-cylinderRotax 1330 ACE Inline 3-cylinder
Displacement1330cc1330cc
Max horsepower105 hp @6,000 RPM115 hp @7,250 RPM
Max torque (lb-ft)96 lb-ft @5000 RPM96 lb-ft @5000 RPM
Engine coolingLiquidLiquid
Transmission6-speed semi-automatic with reverse6-speed manual with reverse or 6-speed semi-automatic with reverse
ABS brakesYesYes
Wheelbase (inches)67.3 inches67.3 inches
Seat height (inches, laden)26.6 inches26.6 inches
Cargo capacity (gallons)6.5 gallons6.5 gallons
Fuel capacity (gallons)7.1 gallons7.1 gallons

Cruiser Touring Models: Spyder F3-T, F3 Limited

The Spyder Cruiser Touring models have standard windshields and hard-case saddlebags. Cargo capacity is 20.6 gallons on the F3-T and 36.5 gallons on the F3 Limited, which also has a removable top case that serves double duty as a passenger backrest.

The F3-T and F3 Limited have adjustable rear shocks with preload adjustments for greater comfort traveling over various road surfaces. Neither model is available with a manual transmission.

Both cruiser touring models also come with twin 4.3-inch full-color LCD screens with the BRP Connect software to display smartphone apps on the Spyder’s screen. These models also include audio systems and are calibrated for towing a Can-Am trailer if you decide to take longer trips.

The Spyder F3-T, starting price $26,200, adds an integrated windshield and a console for the BRP software screen, vehicle information display, and a BRP Audio system with four speakers. The rear air suspension setup is manually adjustable here, so you don’t get the automatic self-leveling as with the F3 Limited.

If you choose to stay with the Spyder F3 configuration because you prefer a feet-forward riding style, the $28,400 F3 Limited is a good choice. This model includes a removable top case and automatic self-leveling rear air suspension, driver and passenger floorboards, and heated handgrips.

The F3 Limited also includes a BRP premium audio system with six speakers. Depending on your style preference, you can order the F3 Limited in a Dark or Chrome Editions.

Model2018 Spyer F3-T2018 Spyer F3 Limited
Starting price$26,200$28,400
Engine typeRotax 1330 ACE Inline 3-cylinderRotax 1330 ACE Inline 3-cylinder
Displacement1330cc1330cc
Max horsepower115 hp @7,250 RPM115 hp @7,250 RPM
Max torque (lb-ft)96 lb-ft @5000 RPM96 lb-ft @5000 RPM
Engine coolingLiquidLiquid
Transmission6-speed semi-automatic with reverse6-speed manual with reverse or 6-speed semi-automatic with reverse
ABS brakesYesYes
Wheelbase (inches)67.3 inches67.3 inches
Seat height (inches, laden)26.6 inches26.6 inches
Cargo capacity (gallons)20.6 gallons36.5 gallons
Fuel capacity (gallons)7.1 gallons7.1 gallons

Touring Models: Spyder RT, RT Limited

Starting at $24,100, the Spyder RT model has more touring-friendly accommodations than F3 models. In addition to the features of the F3 Limited, the RT has a higher seat for an upright riding position, an upgraded driver’s seat with lumbar support and passenger backrest, an adjustable passenger footrest, an adjustable windshield, and at 41 gallons, greater storage capacity than any of the F3 models.

The RT does not have the F3 Limited’s automatic adjusting rear suspension or removable top case. Depending on your preference,  you can choose either the manual or automatic transmission with the RT model.

The Spyder RT Limited is the most luxurious touring model, with a $29,300 starting price. The RT Limited adds, in addition to the RT model, automatic self-leveling rear suspension, fog lamps and accent lights, a driver floorboard, and a light and liner for the front cargo area. The RT Limited is only available with the automatic transmission, but you can choose either a Chrome or Dark Edition for parts and trim.

Model2018 Spyder RT2018 Spyder RT Limited
Starting price$24,100$29,300
Engine typeRotax 1330 ACE Inline 3-cylinderRotax 1330 ACE Inline 3-cylinder
Displacement1330cc1330cc
Max horsepower115 hp @7,250 RPM115 hp @7,250 RPM
Max torque (lb-ft)96 lb-ft @5000 RPM96 lb-ft @5000 RPM
Engine coolingLiquidLiquid
Transmission6-speed manual with reverse or 6-speed semi-automatic with reverse6-speed semi-automatic with reverse
ABS brakesYesYes
Wheelbase (inches)67.5 inches67.5 inches
Seat height (inches, laden)30.4 inches30.4 inches
Cargo capacity (gallons)41 gallons41 gallons
Fuel capacity (gallons)6.9 gallons6.9 gallons

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