Tested: 2008 Can-Am Spyder Roadster SE5

2008 - CanAm - Spyder Raodster SE5

  • Model: 2008 Can-Am Spyder Roadster SE5
  • Color: Millenium Yellow
  • Miles ridden: Test Ride ≅ 20 miles
  • Fuel:
  • Location: Cycle World International Motorcycle Show, Phoenix AZ.

I’m tempted to label the Can-Am Spyder as the first motorcycle I’ve ridden that I actually disliked, but I’m not sure it’s fair to call it a motorcycle.

I did a 20-mile test ride (freeway, highway and street) at the 2008 International Cycle Show in Phoenix on October 27, 2007. I found the three-wheel machine to be too bulky, with handling that was too much like a carnival ride and little like a motorcycle.

Arguably, it comes closer to the feel of a two-wheel motorcycle than a trike, due to the suspension that allows the Spyder’s body to lean and rock in curves and turns. The automobile-style tires ride on the flat tread, not on the sies like rounded motorcycle tires.

2008 - CanAm - Spyder Raodster SE5 - Suspension

The Spyder is manufactured by the Canadian company Bombardier, inventors of the modern personal snowmobile, the Ski-Doo. I’ve been told the Spyder handles much like a snowmobile (the machine has suspension which allows the main unit to rock while the tracks maintain steady contact with the ground). I’ve never ridden a snowmobile, so I can’t compare the two vehicles.

The Spyder was indeed very stable. I never felt like a wheel was going to come off the ground send the the whole thing tipping over. The Can-Am reps stressed the stability engineering that makes the Spyder corner and steer with a sureness and encouraged riders to test it for ourselves.

Prior to the test ride, I had to demonstrate my riding skills on a short course. I failed the first go-round by coming only to a rolling stop at a stop signpost. On the second go-round, I came to a full stop and, out of ingrained habit, put my foot down. The Can-Am rep gave me a hard time for that because, of course, the three-wheels machine is not a two-wheel motorcycle and is not going to fall over.

And that underscores what I did not like about this machine: it’s simply not a motorcycle. If you’re expecting a motorcycle’s handling, it will disappoint. It’s also not an off-road four-wheeled ATV. It’s not even a convertible.

But it does have more motion in turns and curves than a typical trike. It also gets a lot of attention on the street. So if you’re looking for something to ride around town that combined bits of all these, this could be the vehicle for you.