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BIKERNET TRIKES TEST: 2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited

F3 Good: Me Bad

Photos and text by the Triking Viking



I am called the Triking Viking for a very good reason. As the editor of Bikernet Trikes
I get to test ride all things three wheels, including motorcycle conversions from Champion, Motor Trike, and Lehman.  Those three-wheeled Autocycles with side by side seating and steering wheels like the Polaris Slingshot and Campagna T-Rex and of course, reverse trikes such as the Can-Am Spyder are also apart of the entertaining mix.   All that’s good about three wheels generally brings out all that’s bad in me.

What’s so good about three wheels?  Let's start with Stability, Security, and Comfort. What’s bad in me?  My logical left brain immediately goes fuzzy. That two-wheel survival instinct gives way to this-is-fun right brain pleasure centers. Suddenly, I’m thinking, "Hey, wonder if this baby can do burnouts or ride through sand, streams and onto golf courses. It's natural for Trikes, right?  My ATGATT philosophy flies right out the window. Since I’m just going down the street and never have to put my feet down, to hell with boots or gloves.  Before you can say nudist camp, I’m riding around wearing sandals, shorts and a T-shirt. And the girlfriend sure looks hot in a bikini.  This may not necessarily be bad, reckless perhaps, cavalier? Yes.

Girlfriend and I decided to spend Carmageddon weekend, the weekend of the dreaded 91 freeway closure, in Palm Springs.  We shall brave the end of the world as we know it and risk sitting on a clogged freeway.  The obvious downside of any three wheeled vehicle is no-lane splitting in California. Alas, the weather was perfect and traffic was flowing freely so off we went.

I had ridden several earlier versions of the Spyder and personally found the seating position sportbikeish and a bit cramped for me.  Not so, with the Spyder F3.  An ingenious system called U-Fit offers five adjustable floorboard positions, easily accommodating 5-footers to the well over 6 ft. tall riders. The feet forward and seat rearward ergonomics create a relaxed cruiser position.  The deep dished seat was extremely comfortable and also supported my lower back. I immediately appreciated its muscular stopping ability.  The two Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers up front and 2-piston rear ABS brakes are impressive. (I would love to see braking statistics).

The Can-Am Spyder has incorporated a dizzying array of safety feature technology. The standard Vehicle Stability Systems (VSS) which BRP developed with Bosch, includes features such as, Stability Control System (SCS, Traction Control System, (TCS),  Dynamic Power Steering (DPS) and ABS.  Mama Spyder would mollycoddle the driver in corners by reducing rpm and even applying brakes. In the Spyder F3 iterations, Can-Am has dialed all that back allowing daddy not to be blatantly nagged about his driving style.  As an avid motorcyclist, I want to enter an apex and accelerate out, learn the limits of my machine and push them, and do burnouts. Hence, all that’s good about the Spyder brings out the bad in me. With the addition of the Rotax ACE 1330cc inline 3-cylinder engine the F3 is a complete game changer for me.


From the driver’s perspective, the dialed down technology, beefed-up power plant and two wheels in front offer an amazing riding experience of superb-control inspiring, aggressive riding.  Once you get used to Spyder's responsive steering it’s shocking how well this thing handles in the twisties.  A traditional trike is pushing two massive automotive tires with most of the weight at rear end and small single front tire.

Cornering a traditional trike at high speeds requires upper body strength and nerves of steel. Reverse trikes on the other hand are proportionally balanced. I soon got the hang of racing around mountain curves.  I find the line, lock my arm, press my opposing thigh inside the tank cavity to counteract centrifugal forces and glide through 180 degree turns with ease.  The beauty of a reverse trike in these conditions includes dirt or road surface gravel. I’ve got two large front tires maintaining grip with a massive rear.  I have no clue how many G’s a rider can pull on this F3 but I'm sure it’s surprising.
A jurassic grin on this bad ass Spyder
A jurassic grin on this bad ass Spyder

The liquid cooled Rotax power plant just screams on the open road, easily cruising at 85 to 90 mph with power to spare at the twist of the wrist. There is very little heat coming off the engine while riding or at stoplights. We hit high crosswinds and could see motorcyclists struggling. I have been pushed into and an adjacent lane on motorcycles in these conditions but the Spyder F3 was completely unfazed.  

We blew past any impending doom on the 60 freeway and took a spin up highway 62 through Joshua Tree and dropped down the back side to Salton Sea. 

Former North Shore Marina and Beach
Former North Shore Marina and Beach

Salton Sea is the result of an irrigation plan diverting water from the Colorado River gone terribly wrong. A levy breach in the early 1900s created this manmade lake only 45 miles from Palm Springs, California. It's the largest body of water in California and it's now saltier than the Pacific Ocean. Because of its extreme salinity, every couple of years millions of Tilapia fish die off and an awful stink hovers for weeks. A once promising recreational paradise now resembles a post-apocalyptic Mad Max movie set. Girlfriend was not impressed with Mad Max or the scent of rotting fish and demanded immediate escape to the Jacuzzi, pool and amenities of Fantasy Springs Casino in nearby Indio.

The former North Shore Yaght Club
The former North Shore Yaght Club

Mad Max is eyeing my Spyder
Mad Max is eyeing my Spyder

 Let’s discuss the passenger experience. Can-Am provided us with the optional passenger backrest, which is adjustable, very comfortable and military grade construction. This F3 offers ample legroom, generous space between the driver and passenger, large passenger foot pegs and comfortable rear seating are included (optional floorboards are available).
  Also two rubber coated hand grips provide another level of security.  Girlfriend could look over me by sitting tall or around, yet I created a windbreak for her.  She has ridden many traditional trikes (two wheels in back) and reported less side shaking. It makes perfect sense. Sitting on back over two wheels passengers can experience what’s called the “Pogo Effect." It’s a side-to-side jolting that occurs over uneven terrain (almost all of the freeways in L.A.) without independent suspension.  With only one rear wheel and superior suspension, this jarring effect is virtually eliminated. On the other side of the coin she noted more centrifugal forces in aggressive mountain curves. Again, this makes sense because of a single pivot axis over the rear end. These are just subjective observations with no concrete data.  The Spyder offers a variety of suspension controls from easily accessed, adjustable rear air shock and front pre-load adjustments tailoring the ride to the rider.

The SE6 Sequentiak Electronic 6-speed transmission increases the fun factor fast. A thumb activated paddle shifter allows you to knock through the gears with ease.  No clutch to slow you down, accelerating and the transmission automatically downshifts when decelerating if you choose not to downshift yourself.  With a little practice girlfriend could hardly tell I was upshifting. Reverse is standard and easily initiated. We both noted a momentary vibration between 3800 4000 rpm in the floorboards and passenger pegs.  Girlfriend said it made her feet tingle; she would have preferred that in her seat.

On the gas mileage front, I love having a 7.1 gallon tank and I am sure a theoretical 250 mile range under optimum conditions is easily obtainable. All I can attest to are the very worst conditions. I was riding two-up, with all 21 gallons of storage capacity fully loaded (including extra baggage), and headwinds and crosswinds consistently traveling at high speeds (average of 85mph) fought us. I filled up for my return and with 198.6 miles on the odometer upon my arrival, filled up again with 6.33 gallons of gas.  This calculates to 31.37 mpg.  Not too shabby all things considered.

Note: When filling up the tank I found I could easily squeeze in almost another ½ gallon by milking the gas nozzle and letting the bubbling gas settle in the tank. I want every drop I can get into that baby.

I suggest getting the optional soft bags; they fill with all your travel needs and easily stuff into the bike's rear storage compartments. I also recommend their soft bag for the front storage compartment, which will stow one full face helmet. The F3 has 21 Gallons of overall storage between the front hood cavity and the two rear hard bags. I strapped Iron Rider Luggage behind the passenger backrest for girlfriend’s shoes, party dresses and sexy lingerie.

Dual hard bags in back, a front trunk and glove box in the dash
Dual hard bags in back, a front trunk and glove box in the dash

There is a small compartment in the dashboard accommodating your phone, music player, and GPS easily. A 1/8th -inch jack is provided as well as a USB cable that will charge your device while riding. The 200 watt 4 speaker system rocks and was completely audible at freeway speeds. The reachable hand controls for volume etc. are all very assessable, and cruise control is easily engaged and disengaged. The F3 Limited Edition has heated grips which of course I never used. The screen text seemed a bit smallish for these aging eyes but with a lean forward everything came into view.

 All in all, we very much enjoyed the new and improved F3  Spyder-limited  and personally, this cool blacked out Special Series edition would be my choice. Besides the obvious, it looks really cool, more like a race car,  the F3 can ride like a pussycat or bat- out-of-hell with a trike fun factor of 10.
 I believe anybody looking for three wheels needs take heed; the Can-Am F3 family deserves serious consideration. Can-Am offers a full line of Spyders designed for the appropriate applications, from distance touring to more aggressive solo riding.  
Modern looking design
Modern looking design

Besides Can-Am, the only major manufacturers of three wheel vehicles are Harley-Davidson, with the Freewheeler and Tri-Glide, two Autocycle manufacturers, Polaris with the Slingshot and Campagna with their T-Rex and V13-R. The fact is, with 100,000 Spyders sold worldwide, there are more Spyders out there than the other three manufacturers combined.

Carmageddon and the closure of the 91 freeway? I guess everyone in L.A. and Riverside stayed home that weekend in mortal fear, leaving the freeways wide open for us.  We only had the loaner for 10 days and although we may have acted badly, we hope Can-Am will be good enough give us a crack at the RT Touring Spyder with all its accessories, including hitch and trailer. We can’t wait to test ride that baby for our summer vacation to Vermont.

See ya in the rear view mirrors.   https://youtu.be/gS2J62Hezw8


F3: $19,499: Available only in Black
F3-S: $20,999: Added features include a black suede seat with red stitching, trim upgrades, gloss black wheels, color choices, and cruise control.
F3-S Special Triple Black Series: $23,549: Additional features are black-on-black-on-black, and even the chrome wheels are black.
F3-T: $23,099: Additional features include integrated saddlebags with a 21-gallon capacity, console with a glove box, tinted windscreen, rear air-adjustable suspension, trailer-ready, and color and audio options.
F3 Limited/Limited Special Triple Black Series: $27,249: Features include those of the F3-T plus an MP3-ready four-speaker audio system, heated grips, floorboards, upgraded trim and seat, chrome wheels and trim, three color choices or triple-black


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