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2010 Can-Am Spyder RS-S First Impressions


by Pascal Bastien ,

Some love it, others not so much, but one thing is certain: no one remains indifferent to the Spyder, with its snowmobile-on-wheels persona and small personal-car proportions, à la smart fortwo. The Spyder creates a new vehicle class, just like previous Bombardier inventions, the Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo before it.

The sun, the sea, and a great toy. I admit it was great fun to ride around in the Daytona area, once it got warm, that is. (Photo: Philippe Champoux/

The Spyder faces no direct competition to date, i.e. a central seating machine with two-wheels in front and one in back. Harley Davidson’s Street Glide Trike and Tri Glide Ultra Classic have their single wheel up front, closer to a motorcycle, and sell for a lot more: $19,299 for the Spyder RS compared to $33,109 for the H-D Trike and $36,689 for the Tri Glide. The same can be said for the various three wheel conversion kits for various H-D and large Honda bikes. Piaggio’s MP3 scooters behave exactly like a motorcycle. And, the T-Rex from Campagna Motors come with a roof and full cage, houses the driver and passenger side-by-side inside the peripheral chassis instead of over the engine, features a steering wheel, and sells for over $53,000 a pop.

The Spyder’s sport touring orientation, embodied by the quick and liveable RS (More Porsche than Mercedes) model, means it is intended more for an automobile clientele rather than a motorcycle one. In fact, all you need to ride a Spyder in Quebec is a Class 5 driving permit (automobile) and take a 7-hour specialized training session, something that is sure to lure many newcomers to the open-top experience. A motorcycle permit also allows you to ride it, of course.

Marc Cantin put the touring-oriented Spyder RT to the test during our stint at the 2010 Bike Week, while I had the pleasure to ride – and freeze my a** on – a semi-automatic RS-S.

Familiar and much appreciated power train
The V-Twin engine from Rotax (a Bombardier subsidiary) displaces 990 cc and features two camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and a balance shaft to dampen vibrations. Earlier versions of this great engine powered the Aprilia RSV1000R and Tuono 1000R, then the Buell 1125R and CR, where it proved reliable and turned out more than impressive performances. On the Spyder RS-S, the most recent iteration, as adapted to the roadster’s particular needs, delivers 106 ponies at 8,500 rpm, a whole 33 hp less than the version powering the Aprilias. The trade-off is more torque over a nice, constant, broad curve that kicks off as early as 2,000 rpm and climbs up to 77.8 ft-lb at 6,250 rpm, where it gradually tapers off en route to the red line.

The two large analog displays and the central screen are easy to read. And having one needle rotating to the left and the other one to the right was very new to me! (Photo: Philippe Champoux/ )
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