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2009 Can-Am Spyder SE5 Preview


by Pascal Bastien ,

Firmly established as a cross between an automobile and a motorcycle, the Can-Am Spyder boasts a unique design and offers equally unique thrills. This amazing machine is now available in two trim levels: SM5 with a sequential manual gearbox (hence the letters "SM") and new SE5 with the same sequential gearbox but a separate electronically controlled gear change mechanism and clutch. ("SE").

"Shift By Wire"
Aimed at a mainstream driver market, the new Can-Am SE5 requires virtually no motorcycle experience, although motorcycle riders will have to remain careful over the first few kilometers in porder to avoid reaching for the non-existent clutch lever.

The so-called "sequential electronic" transmission shares its gear set with the manual variant but adds an oil-bath centrifugal clutch and a shift mechanism. Gear shifts are managed by on-board electronics, and occur at the push of a lever on the left handlebar: the thumb controls upshifts while the index finger takes care of downshifts Obviously, the clutch automatically engages when you rev the engine, and if you forget to downshift as you come to a stop, the Spyder's brain will react and do it for you - a convenient feature that car drivers will likely appreciate.

Primarily aimed at car owners looking for an alternative to regular motorcycles, the Spyder SE5 boasts a myriad of electronic aids. The Vehicle Security System (VSS), developed in partnership with Bosch, combines ABS with traction and stability control for a unique package providing great peace of mind and allowing the rider to focus on the unique thrills delivered by the Spyder. Stability control is particularly effective, applying the brakes selectively to improve the vehicle's cornering demeanor, based on sensors that detect impending loss of traction and react accordingly. The computer operates actively to enhance stability and significantly increase safety for the rider and passenger.

Unique design

Just like the SM5, the Spyder SE5 is built on the famous SST chassis used by the brand's Outlander ATVs to provide excellent rigidity from a very simple design. Both models are powered by a 998-cc Rotax twin-cylinder, the same engine found in the Aprilia RSV 1000. Specifically tuned for the Spyder, it loses 37 horsepower but gains an enormous amount of low- and mid-range torque.

With the 2009 Can-Am Spyder SE5, BRP is delivering unique entertainment and new kinds of thrills in a safe package. The new electronically-controlled transmission will allow a larger number of enthusiasts to experience most of the fun of riding a motorcycle in a more user-friendly operational environment than with the manually-equipped model.

Photo Credit : Philippe Champoux, Can-Am