Motorcycles

Review: Can-Am F3-S Spyder gets sporty on three wheels

Review: Can-Am F3-S Spyder get...
The Spyder F3-S has an aggressive stance and shark like grill 
The Spyder F3-S has an aggressive stance and shark like grill 
View 18 Images
The gages of the F3-S are easy to read in daylight or night time situations
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The gages of the F3-S are easy to read in daylight or night time situations
The Spyder F3-S has an aggressive stance and shark like grill 
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The Spyder F3-S has an aggressive stance and shark like grill 
The front suspension of the Spyder F3-S features an anti-roll bar and gas shocks
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The front suspension of the Spyder F3-S features an anti-roll bar and gas shocks
The back end of the F3-S features a single air shock and a single piston Brembo brake
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The back end of the F3-S features a single air shock and a single piston Brembo brake
Steering and handling take a bit of getting used to but can be mastered quickly
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Steering and handling take a bit of getting used to but can be mastered quickly
The Spyder F3-S provides a comfortable upright riding position
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The Spyder F3-S provides a comfortable upright riding position
The absence of a stock windshield on the F3-S means you're going to want to ride with a full-face helmet to cut down on wind noise and buffeting
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The absence of a stock windshield on the F3-S means you're going to want to ride with a full-face helmet to cut down on wind noise and buffeting
The F3-S offers a comfortable ride and quickly tick off the miles
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The F3-S offers a comfortable ride and quickly tick off the miles
The F3-S comes withe the Can-Am UFit system that lets you adjust the position of the rider foot pegs
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The F3-S comes withe the Can-Am UFit system that lets you adjust the position of the rider foot pegs
The UFit system let you quickly adjust the position of the handlebars by loosening a few bolts
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The UFit system let you quickly adjust the position of the handlebars by loosening a few bolts
The brake pedal activates an integrated ABS system that brings both the front and rear tires to a clean stop
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The brake pedal activates an integrated ABS system that brings both the front and rear tires to a clean stop
The F3-S comes with 6.5 gallons (24.4 L) of trunk space
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The F3-S comes with 6.5 gallons (24.4 L) of trunk space
From the side, the F3-S presents a relatively refined silhouette
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From the side, the F3-S presents a relatively refined silhouette
Can-Am Spyder F3-S
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Can-Am Spyder F3-S
Fluids are easy to check with the removal of one of the side panels up near the gas tank
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Fluids are easy to check with the removal of one of the side panels up near the gas tank
The F3-S has a liquid cooled engine with easy access to top off the coolant
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The F3-S has a liquid cooled engine with easy access to top off the coolant
The F3-S is meant for ripping through the canyons and tearing down the straightaways
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The F3-S is meant for ripping through the canyons and tearing down the straightaways
Changes made to the Can-Am Spyder make this a fun alternative to two wheels
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Changes made to the Can-Am Spyder make this a fun alternative to two wheels
View gallery - 18 images

The last time we climbed aboard a Can-Am Spyder was soon after it was introduced in 2008, so a week with the sporty 2016 F3-S Special Edition gave us a good chance to see how far the three-wheeler has come.

Since the Spyder's initial launch, Can-Am has added models and made numerous changes including adding larger 3-cylinder engines and an optional semi-automatic six-speed drive train. What hasn't changed is that riding a Spyder is still not like riding a motorcycle, and that's okay.

There's a few mental notes to make before getting on a Can-Am Spyder – don't counter steer like you do with a motorcycle, there's only a foot brake, and there's no clutch action with the semi-automatic transmission. Chalk it up to long-term memory loss, but all of those reminders still aren't enough to prepare us for just how different the riding experience is.

Steering and handling take a bit of getting used to but can be mastered quickly
Steering and handling take a bit of getting used to but can be mastered quickly

Steering two front wheels means all of the rider interaction has to come from your upper body. You can clamp your knees into the gas tank for more control. You can even lean into a turn. But all of the steering happens by turning the front end into a corner and letting the dynamic power steering do its work. Experienced motorcycle riders will have to quickly create new muscle memory.

We put the Spyder F3-S through its paces on an assortment of freeway, cross-town, and foothill driving. Our initial impression on the freeway was that the Spyder felt ultra sensitive to every slight change in the road. It seemed to easily veer off track at the vagaries that are endemic to aging California highways.

We were also unsure as to how hard we could take corners because it initially felt like an outside wheel could come up off the ground, despite all of the listed stability and traction control systems Can-Am has been equipping Spyders with since they first rolled off of the production line.

Needless to say, this left us searching for a better riding experience. The trick, we discovered, is to forget everything you know about riding a motorcycle, then ride it like you stole it.

Diving hard into turns becomes easier and more fun when you plant your outside foot on the foot peg and lean your body into the turn. The redistribution of weight has a negligible effect on maintaining vehicle stability, but it does force you to guide the handlebars into the turn, rather than manhandling them like you're riding a wild steer.

The F3-S is meant for ripping through the canyons and tearing down the straightaways
The F3-S is meant for ripping through the canyons and tearing down the straightaways

We put this to the test on some twisty roads through the foothills that make up the Gold Country of California and the result was both palpable and exhilarating. We're not talking knee sliders here, but once we got the hang of it, we were able to barrel through turns at speeds that would have required a great deal more skill and practice had we been on two-wheels.

What was equally impressive was the quick throttle response of the 1330 cc Rotax in-line 3-cylinder engine. We used a chunk of its 115 hp (86kW) and 96 lb-ft (130Nm) of torque coming out of the apex of a turn when a straight line presented itself, or when passing lumbering trucks or tourists on the faster freeways. Redline sits at 7250 rpm, but the F3-S seems to run best at around 4000 rpm in every gear.

Keep in mind the current Spyder engine is almost 400 cc larger than the original Rotax V-twin that powered the Spyders up until 2014. The in-line three revs up higher, and is also smoother across the entire rev range.

As with many of the Can-Am models, the F3-S comes with either the 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. The one we demoed was equipped with the latter, which did take some getting used to. Shift up by pushing in one paddle, shift down by flipping the other one toward you. If you forget to do the latter when coming to a stop, the system downshifts for you.

There's also cruise control on board, though most of the traffic conditions we were in prevented us from thoroughly putting it through its paces.

The back end of the F3-S features a single air shock and a single piston Brembo brake
The back end of the F3-S features a single air shock and a single piston Brembo brake

The ABS system with 4-piston fixed caliper Brembos upfront and a single piston floating caliper out back does a fine job of bringing the F3-S to slow and rapid halts. The single right brake pedal eliminates the standard right hand brake found on most motorcycles, so initially you might find your right hand grabbing for air.

The gages of the F3-S are easy to read in daylight or night time situations
The gages of the F3-S are easy to read in daylight or night time situations

The digital gages are easy to read and provide the standard gas, trip, clock and outside temperature readings. The speedometer and tachometer are both analog and equally easy to see in both day and night time situations.

Can-Am equips the F3-S with a robust 7.1 gallon (27 liter) tank, although gas mileage is going to vary depending on the size of the rider, and how aggressive he or she treats the throttle. We found average gas mileage figures came in at around 38 mpg (7.4 L/100km). That means you'll be able to ride this Spyder for at least 200 miles (322 km) before you have to start looking for a gas station. But don't look to this model to be your touring vehicle.

The upfront trunk holds just over 6 gallons (24.4 L), not nearly enough for much more than a day trip worth of snacks and another layer of clothing if the weather changes. The rear passenger grab handles do provide a way to strap a duffle onto the rear seat, and Can-Am makes a couple of optional attachable side and rear bags for added cargo capacity.

The Spyder F3-S provides a comfortable upright riding position
The Spyder F3-S provides a comfortable upright riding position

The F3-S has a comfortable upright riding position with a relatively low seat height (26.6 inches compared to 30 inches on their touring models) and pullback style handlebars. Riders of different builds will appreciate Can-Am's UFit custom fitting system that allows you to adjust the rider footpegs and handlebars. We didn't have to make those adjustments, but they appear to be pretty easy to do by loosening a few bolts.

The overall ride was surprisingly smooth thanks to the anti-roll bar and gas-charged Fox Podium shocks on the two wheels in the front, and the basic monoshock in the rear.

If we have any nits with the Spyder, it's the seemingly complicated starting process. Turn on the key and you have to wait for the warning that advises you to read the safety placard that comes with the bike. It only takes a few seconds for this to scroll through, but once completed you press a left hand mode switch, push the red power button in, then hit the start switch.

As it turns out, there's actually a legal reason for this. Rather than plaster the bike with the typical safety and related warning stickers found on any motorcycle, Can Am decided to eliminate these. Its legal department advised that it still needed some kind of visible warning, thus the safety readout before starting.

We also had some issues with putting the F3-S in reverse. Again, it's a push button combination to shift it into gear. Once we mastered it we were thankful it was there, because even though the F3's are the smallest of the Spyder models, they still weigh in at 850 lbs (356 kg).

Our only other major complaint was the lack of a windshield. As comfortable as the wide seat and upright sitting position are, the wind buffeting without a windshield is substantial. A good full-face helmet helped, and Can-Am does offer a couple of windshield options for this model.

The absence of a stock windshield on the F3-S means you're going to want to ride with a full-face helmet to cut down on wind noise and buffeting
The absence of a stock windshield on the F3-S means you're going to want to ride with a full-face helmet to cut down on wind noise and buffeting

The 2016 F3-S Special Series starts at US$23,549. For that, you'll get a blacked out paint scheme, special wheels and other cosmetic features. You might want to wait until the 2017 models hit the showroom floor, though, since Can Am is cutting the price of a base F3 model to just below $17,000. The F3-S with the new Sports mode that lets you drift starts at $21,249.

Experienced motorcycle riders may be reluctant to give up two wheels for three. But for the person who has little to no motorcycle experience, and who wants that same wind-in-the-face feeling, the Can-Am Spyder F3-S may be just the ticket.

Source: Can-Am

The last time we climbed aboard a Can-Am Spyder was soon after it was introduced in 2008, so a week with the sporty 2016 F3-S Special Edition gave us a good chance to see how far the three-wheeler has come.

Since the Spyder's initial launch, Can-Am has added models and made numerous changes including adding larger 3-cylinder engines and an optional semi-automatic six-speed drive train. What hasn't changed is that riding a Spyder is still not like riding a motorcycle, and that's okay.

There's a few mental notes to make before getting on a Can-Am Spyder – don't counter steer like you do with a motorcycle, there's only a foot brake, and there's no clutch action with the semi-automatic transmission. Chalk it up to long-term memory loss, but all of those reminders still aren't enough to prepare us for just how different the riding experience is.

Steering and handling take a bit of getting used to but can be mastered quickly
Steering and handling take a bit of getting used to but can be mastered quickly

Steering two front wheels means all of the rider interaction has to come from your upper body. You can clamp your knees into the gas tank for more control. You can even lean into a turn. But all of the steering happens by turning the front end into a corner and letting the dynamic power steering do its work. Experienced motorcycle riders will have to quickly create new muscle memory.

We put the Spyder F3-S through its paces on an assortment of freeway, cross-town, and foothill driving. Our initial impression on the freeway was that the Spyder felt ultra sensitive to every slight change in the road. It seemed to easily veer off track at the vagaries that are endemic to aging California highways.

We were also unsure as to how hard we could take corners because it initially felt like an outside wheel could come up off the ground, despite all of the listed stability and traction control systems Can-Am has been equipping Spyders with since they first rolled off of the production line.

Needless to say, this left us searching for a better riding experience. The trick, we discovered, is to forget everything you know about riding a motorcycle, then ride it like you stole it.

Diving hard into turns becomes easier and more fun when you plant your outside foot on the foot peg and lean your body into the turn. The redistribution of weight has a negligible effect on maintaining vehicle stability, but it does force you to guide the handlebars into the turn, rather than manhandling them like you're riding a wild steer.

The F3-S is meant for ripping through the canyons and tearing down the straightaways
The F3-S is meant for ripping through the canyons and tearing down the straightaways

We put this to the test on some twisty roads through the foothills that make up the Gold Country of California and the result was both palpable and exhilarating. We're not talking knee sliders here, but once we got the hang of it, we were able to barrel through turns at speeds that would have required a great deal more skill and practice had we been on two-wheels.

What was equally impressive was the quick throttle response of the 1330 cc Rotax in-line 3-cylinder engine. We used a chunk of its 115 hp (86kW) and 96 lb-ft (130Nm) of torque coming out of the apex of a turn when a straight line presented itself, or when passing lumbering trucks or tourists on the faster freeways. Redline sits at 7250 rpm, but the F3-S seems to run best at around 4000 rpm in every gear.

Keep in mind the current Spyder engine is almost 400 cc larger than the original Rotax V-twin that powered the Spyders up until 2014. The in-line three revs up higher, and is also smoother across the entire rev range.

As with many of the Can-Am models, the F3-S comes with either the 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. The one we demoed was equipped with the latter, which did take some getting used to. Shift up by pushing in one paddle, shift down by flipping the other one toward you. If you forget to do the latter when coming to a stop, the system downshifts for you.

There's also cruise control on board, though most of the traffic conditions we were in prevented us from thoroughly putting it through its paces.

The back end of the F3-S features a single air shock and a single piston Brembo brake
The back end of the F3-S features a single air shock and a single piston Brembo brake

The ABS system with 4-piston fixed caliper Brembos upfront and a single piston floating caliper out back does a fine job of bringing the F3-S to slow and rapid halts. The single right brake pedal eliminates the standard right hand brake found on most motorcycles, so initially you might find your right hand grabbing for air.

The gages of the F3-S are easy to read in daylight or night time situations
The gages of the F3-S are easy to read in daylight or night time situations

The digital gages are easy to read and provide the standard gas, trip, clock and outside temperature readings. The speedometer and tachometer are both analog and equally easy to see in both day and night time situations.

Can-Am equips the F3-S with a robust 7.1 gallon (27 liter) tank, although gas mileage is going to vary depending on the size of the rider, and how aggressive he or she treats the throttle. We found average gas mileage figures came in at around 38 mpg (7.4 L/100km). That means you'll be able to ride this Spyder for at least 200 miles (322 km) before you have to start looking for a gas station. But don't look to this model to be your touring vehicle.

The upfront trunk holds just over 6 gallons (24.4 L), not nearly enough for much more than a day trip worth of snacks and another layer of clothing if the weather changes. The rear passenger grab handles do provide a way to strap a duffle onto the rear seat, and Can-Am makes a couple of optional attachable side and rear bags for added cargo capacity.

The Spyder F3-S provides a comfortable upright riding position
The Spyder F3-S provides a comfortable upright riding position

The F3-S has a comfortable upright riding position with a relatively low seat height (26.6 inches compared to 30 inches on their touring models) and pullback style handlebars. Riders of different builds will appreciate Can-Am's UFit custom fitting system that allows you to adjust the rider footpegs and handlebars. We didn't have to make those adjustments, but they appear to be pretty easy to do by loosening a few bolts.

The overall ride was surprisingly smooth thanks to the anti-roll bar and gas-charged Fox Podium shocks on the two wheels in the front, and the basic monoshock in the rear.

If we have any nits with the Spyder, it's the seemingly complicated starting process. Turn on the key and you have to wait for the warning that advises you to read the safety placard that comes with the bike. It only takes a few seconds for this to scroll through, but once completed you press a left hand mode switch, push the red power button in, then hit the start switch.

As it turns out, there's actually a legal reason for this. Rather than plaster the bike with the typical safety and related warning stickers found on any motorcycle, Can Am decided to eliminate these. Its legal department advised that it still needed some kind of visible warning, thus the safety readout before starting.

We also had some issues with putting the F3-S in reverse. Again, it's a push button combination to shift it into gear. Once we mastered it we were thankful it was there, because even though the F3's are the smallest of the Spyder models, they still weigh in at 850 lbs (356 kg).

Our only other major complaint was the lack of a windshield. As comfortable as the wide seat and upright sitting position are, the wind buffeting without a windshield is substantial. A good full-face helmet helped, and Can-Am does offer a couple of windshield options for this model.

The absence of a stock windshield on the F3-S means you're going to want to ride with a full-face helmet to cut down on wind noise and buffeting
The absence of a stock windshield on the F3-S means you're going to want to ride with a full-face helmet to cut down on wind noise and buffeting

The 2016 F3-S Special Series starts at US$23,549. For that, you'll get a blacked out paint scheme, special wheels and other cosmetic features. You might want to wait until the 2017 models hit the showroom floor, though, since Can Am is cutting the price of a base F3 model to just below $17,000. The F3-S with the new Sports mode that lets you drift starts at $21,249.

Experienced motorcycle riders may be reluctant to give up two wheels for three. But for the person who has little to no motorcycle experience, and who wants that same wind-in-the-face feeling, the Can-Am Spyder F3-S may be just the ticket.

Source: Can-Am

View gallery - 18 images
5 comments
VincentWolf
It would be a lot cooler with an LS218 type drivetrain.
Wolf0579
They still look like tri-cycles for incontinent wanna-be bikers.
Howell Haus
I am baffled by the continuous focus on vehicles that are carbon-intensive, destructive forces that work around emissions and safety loopholes and prop up their products with perspectives of adventure, fun, etc.
More energy should be focused on propping up designs that extract less, use less, create domestic jobs, are carbon neutral, use clean power, and have a cradle-to-cradle focus in their design. One planet to call home, yet our current population is using 1.6x the available, sustainable resources.
Someone please point out this math in a way that our consumption is mated to our survival. The glaciers are melting, the fires are raging, the rivers and oceans are rising. Let's stop being so foolish and foolhardy...
Martin Hone
"The upfront trunk holds just over 6 gallons " Of fuel ? Water ? Since when do we measure space in gallons ?
unklmurray
I agree.......''Holds 6 gallons''of what, ... Beer? It sounds as though the writer is based out of California,but writes as though he is in some foreign country the only thing I measure in gallons is the fuel tank!! And that H.H., guy we are gonna use petrolium based power until it is gone........as long as I can readily get gasoline I will be using it so get used to it,you can save your save the planet speeches for someone who might be paying attention 2 you! I want a "Polaris'StingRay'' which looks like a lot more fun!!.........Lol :-)