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The Spyder Experience - Review

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  • The Spyder Experience - Review

    Today I took part in the Spyder Experience down at the Midvale Speeddome. It was a typical case of "you should have been here yesterday" as todays weather was appalling.

    Now I am the first to admit I am a fair weather rider but recent press releases had me rubbing my hands together with glee due to the supposed performance of Can-Ams Spyder in less than perfect riding conditions.

    It bucketed down about 20 minutes before myself and our fellow "trier outers" were given a preliminary introduction to the machine. When you first see the machine it looks squat and for those of you who are vertically challenged like myself you think it is a good thing. It doesn't matter though as you never have to put your feet on the ground. Midgets could ride equally as well as 7 footers.

    There is a choice of a 5 speed manual or a 5 speed semi automatic gearbox for the Spyder. It runs a V twin Rotax 990 engine. You can buy a sports exhaust and some other bits in pieces for it genuine but I am interested to see what shows up on the aftermarket lists in the future.

    Did I say it even has a reverse gear??? Unfortunately we were not allowed to try it out which was disappointing.

    The Spyder's fuel cap is under the seat and takes in 25 litres of the vital stuff. We were informed that this is easily good for 300 or so kays which I thought was a little low. It has a nice little "boot" at the front which is kind of like what you get on the Volkswagen Beetle. I would say it was good for a carton of beer and some ice. It has drainage holes at the bottom so I could not see its use for much else. It suggested to me it may leak if the weather got a bit wet.

    We got the usual blah blah about the bike(?) VSS or Vehicle Stability System which includes Stability Control, Traction Control and Anti-lock Braking System. I can tell you now there were 8 riders all hanging out just to take the thing for a rap!

    We finally got our chance to to jump on board one. I chose the semi auto version as I thought if I was going to buy one of these machines I wanted to be a lazy rider and perhaps let the missus ride it on Sundays while I sat on the back with a camelback filled with Margaret Rivers finest enjoying the scenery.

    The seat is extremely comfortable and with a genuine replacement available it could only get better. You can even get a back rest for the passenger if you desire....which would make my booze soaked Sunday afternoon pillion rides so much more enjoyable.

    Next it was the seating position. I guess I should say here that I ride a sports bike with a particularly aggressive seating position which I have gotten quite attached to. Forget that though. This is a knees up arm chair....no.....desk chair ride. At first I absolutely hated it. It felt completely wrong and I felt like I was riding a tricycle. By the end of the ride I got more used to it though and I believe with more road time it would be natural. For those of you on upright bikes you will slip straight in.

    Thankfully the accelerator is where it should be. But hang on there is no brake lever. If you are anything like me, you use your front brake 90% of the time so it was a little disconcerting to find out all your breaking is done with your right foot. For me, the brake pedal was to close to the footrest which resulted in a very sore shin muscle (now what is that called?) due to trying to cover it all the time. This ultimately lead me to dragging the brakes on occasions. I saw a lot of riders on the ride with their brake lights on whilst cruising which meant they were having the same problem. Probably another thing you could get used to.

    Off we go. Can-Am had set up a little course in the car park to get your bearings on. The first thing I realised was the brakes are good. Damn good. A combination of the ABS and the 4 piston calipers on the front and the single piston on the rear. If you are not careful it can throw you over the front.

    Acceleration is adequate. Remember this is not so much a sports machine as a cruiser (well thats my opinion). With a claimed 106 ponies it is not disappointing and will carry your pillion, carton of beer and anything else you may require on those camping trips.

    The gearbox is a complete and utter....no be nice......I was not overly happy with it. I was hoping a nice smooth gear change would be evident. Just like a Statesman perhaps. No, if you accelerate with the throttle open it lurches through the gears which you select manually from a lever on the left handlebar. The trick with the auto is that you have to shift up but it shifts down for you. Which it does. With a thump and a clang for each gear. It is awful. Maybe you could get used to it but.....I couldn't. Its one thing to manually downshift and be thumping down but to be coasting down in speed and have that sort of thumping through the gears, in my eyes, is bad. Others may like it. I have worked in auto shops where car owners have had their transmissions set up in all kinds of ways.

    Taking corners at pace is fantastic. it is almost like driving a car.....pick a line and go. No leaning or countersteering on this machine though. Turn the handlebars and you shall follow. I found myself leaning and carrying on anyway....I thought I was being silly but then I saw everyone else doing the same thing so I felt better. At one stage we had to drive off the bitumen onto a pea gravel verge which turned into a slight ditch. it was a weird feeling when one of the front wheels went down the slope then the other.....it is not a motorcycle remember.

    I'm a motorcyclist. I found myself reaching for imaginary clutches, front brakes and gear levers. I ride cause I like to lean into corners...even if I am not a Rossi or Stoner. It doesn't matter. This is not a motorcycle it is a Spyder. It will suit those who wish to tour....watch out Goldwing. I can imagine it with a trailer and a set of panniers and an elderly couple cruising around Australia and loving it. I know I would. Driving around town? No lane splitting, less maneuverability due to size.....why do we ride motorbikes? Yes you get the wind in the hair, the freedom....but you don't get the thrill of wearing away your chicken strips. Or showing cagers your back as you zip through peak hour traffic.

    I'm not ready to retire so I am sticking with my bike.
    Last edited by redtaipan63; 05-09-2009, 10:54 PM.
    "I don't care if you wear a plastic bag, filled with bubble wrap then zip tied at the neck for crash protection"

  • #2
    Awesome review mate, well done.

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    • #3
      On the issue of aftermarket parts, I have a Can-am quad bike and there is sweet FA out there in terms of parts that will fit. Tried to get aftermarket bark busters due to the excessive cost of the ones from Can-am and couldnt get a set to fit properly so ended up having to shell out for Can-am ones. When looking at other parts such as exhausts etc was able to find very little that would go on the bike at all let alone make it better

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      • #4
        Great reveiw.

        I'm looking forward to my ride in a couple of weeks. I think I'll get the manual one though from what you've said.

        Thx for taking the time to do the write up
        “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; Freedom is something that people take and people are as free as they want to be.” - James Arthur Baldwin

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        • #5
          Hey mate: As I said in the other thread: The autos need to be operated as a clutchless manual, not as an auto. Do not let it change gears for you.

          I got to play around with the reverse gear. The novelty wasn't so great for me, given I've spent so much time on quads.

          Excellent write up. I think suitable to mention that it's also around the same price range as a sports tourer for the manual, particularly once fully kitted out with panniers et all.

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          • #6
            ^^^^^^ I used the gear selector as per the manufacturer recommendations. You are probably right in what you are saying though. But if it needs to be throttled off through the range it seems you might aswell buy a manual.

            Once again just my opinion and I would love to hear others!
            Last edited by redtaipan63; 05-09-2009, 09:19 PM. Reason: spelling
            "I don't care if you wear a plastic bag, filled with bubble wrap then zip tied at the neck for crash protection"

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            • #7
              excellant write up mate...
              I've got a test next w/end.. I'm curious,but yeah,I think its for the big trips...

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              • #8
                yes as said great write up.....I also have booked a test ride ride next weekend just to see what its like
                DOCWA

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by redtaipan63 View Post
                  ^^^^^^ I used the gear selector as per the manufacturer recommendations. You are probably right in what you are saying though. But if it needs to be throttled off through the range it seems you might aswell buy a manual.

                  Once again just my opinion and I would love to hear others!
                  I agree entirely. The auto is, at this point, definitely NOT worth the money for an able bodied rider. I wasn't able to really enjoy the ride until I did things manually.

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                  • #10
                    how much will these things retail for?

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                    • #11
                      can traction control be turned off??
                      does it have seperate front and rear brakes?

                      what about the manual version, clutch on the bar, gear lever on the left??

                      just interested in these, thats all.
                      plus...would be awesome for skids in the wet, maybe enough power for the dry.
                      The greatest excitement comes from besting who you were yesterday.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mikeymikemike View Post
                        how much will these things retail for?
                        I think the manuals are $28k ride away now.

                        Originally posted by #124 View Post
                        can traction control be turned off??
                        does it have seperate front and rear brakes?

                        what about the manual version, clutch on the bar, gear lever on the left??

                        just interested in these, thats all.
                        plus...would be awesome for skids in the wet, maybe enough power for the dry.
                        No.
                        The brakes are all controlled by the foot brake, like with a car.
                        As far as I know, yes.

                        Hopping off the R1, pretty much anything that isn't a supersport thousand feels slow in the straight line by comparison. But it still goes alright when compared to a quad. And, given it's using the Aprillia Rotax motor, most of the engine tweaks available to the bikes should be good for these things.

                        You won't get much sliding in the wet due to the traction control, but yes, you CAN beat the traction control deliberately (or accidentally I guess if you ride well beyond your capabilities).

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                        • #13
                          I have a spare dvd showing how the thing works here if anyone is interested PM me and organise a time to get it.
                          "I don't care if you wear a plastic bag, filled with bubble wrap then zip tied at the neck for crash protection"

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                          • #14
                            I may be slain like a gay dragon by a tranny with a meat sword for saying this but here goes.....


                            No wheelie, no point.


                            Halfway between bike and a car offers no purpose for me, unless medically needed.


                            Great review though.
                            My mum always used to say, when life hands you lemons "kill mob within spell duration with a soul gem of adequate quality for the mob's level to trap its soul"

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                            • #15
                              So what are the requisites for one of this things.? car or bike license?

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