So, I attended a Can-Am Spyder demo ride in Kelowna on Saturday, 30 June. I enjoy demo days--and I always try to ride something that I normally wouldn't (such as heavy cruisers or maxi-scooters), just so I know what they're like. The Spyder fits right in with that
I got there just as they were setting up; the online registration was screwy, and showed nothing available in the morning, but as it turned out I was the ONLY person there for the first demo ride (the fact it was raining might have had something to do with it, too...
). Anyway, after doing the tablet thing for registration, and watching the video, they showed me the machine (actually, there were 3 of us there for this, but the other two weren't licensed and couldn't go on the road). They're very careful to point out that the Spyder is NOT a motorcycle--lots of things, such as keeping your feet on the pegs when stopped, and releasing the parking brake, are there to trip up the unwary motorcyclist.
Anyway, then we went out on the road--the ride leader, myself, and the "tail gunner." Really made me feel special
Of course, by now, the rain was torrential (very glad I took my JR "waterproof" gear*), which made for some fun--for one, visibility was very limited. We hit the first corner, which was a turn onto the highway, and...wow, as soon as I gave it some power out of the turn, the rear end stepped out. Just a bit, but I sure noticed it--the machine fishtailed the same way on every sharp corner we took, and a few times going straight on the highway, too (like I said, though, it was absolutely pouring rain, and the roads were covered with a layer of water).
Anyway, the ride...well, it was definitely "different." No, it ain't a motorcycle, that's for sure. But, it has a certain...uh, quality, to it (and what is "Quality?"--oh, be quiet, Pirsig!) Riding straight down the highway, I found the steering to be very sensitive, almost twitchy. The first few times I had to slow down, I had a bit of a shock when I reached for the front brake lever... Oh, and shifting--the demo Spyder was a "semi-auto," and I'm glad I have a bit of experience with Shimano mountain bike trigger shifters! And like I said, every corner (well, every sharp--as in, intersection--corner), the rear end would step out as soon as I hit the gas (actually, kind of fun--I'd have liked to play with that in the parking lot, but they didn't think much of my suggestion...).
Leaning into the corners was weird. Much like riding a snowmobile. The stance of the Spyder is very planted, and you really notice the road camber (especially in off-camber corners), and rough patches of asphalt, too. On a few occasions, I tried (intentionally) to initiate a corner kinda like I would on my bike, which is to move my head and shoulders towards the direction of the turn, which coincides smoothly with countersteering input. This could really get a motorcyclist in trouble on the Spyder, because as soon as you do this, the Spyder immediately steers in the opposite direction, and you find yourself leaning to the outside of the turn
(No worries, I was just feeling it out...but if I ever rode one enough to get comfortable enough that I forgot I wasn't on a regular bike, watch out!).
Engine seems up to the task, and the machine moves out smartly enough (definitely enough for heavy rain!). And I do like the riding position.
Overall, I had enough fun that I'd like to try it again on a dry day! (As it was, the rain petered out soon after my solo demo had finished, and it was dry and even getting sunny by the time I left town an hour or two later--but I didn't really have time to go back, plus, I'd want to get it to a road with a few more corners). However, I really can't see myself ever buying one (unless, for whatever reason, I could no longer ride a bike).
*Note: Today was the first time my JR "Ballistic" overpants have ever soaked through, and I've worn them in torrential downpours before. I wonder if it might have had to do with the shape of the seat on the Spyder--it is quite wide, and it seems more water collects in the crotch area than happens on my bike...).
And, of course, since it didn't happen without pics
"Professional drivers on a closed course"
I rode the green one!
Uh...something's missing...where did
I put those levers?