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Are Three Wheels Better Than Two?

Recently one of my neighbors had the good taste to bring one of those wild Can-Am Spyder three wheeled motorcycles home. For a list price around 15 grand, it's a very impressive looking machine that looks all motorcycle from the rear, but strangely almost ATV-like from the front. If anything, these Can-Am Spyders are an attempt to try something new and daring and a re-invention of the classic motorcycle.can-am-spyder-motorcycle2.jpg

With a huge 990cc V-Twin motorcycle engine, the Can-Am offers great performance. And the front end handles much like a high quality sports car. In fact, the Can-Am features a reverse gear, power steering and a forward mounted trunk, three things all common in most any four wheeled vehicle. And unlike any motorcycle, the rider doesn't have to lean in to corners and remains upright due to the extra wheel dramatically changing the handling characteristics. Those that have taken a ride on the Can-Am Spyders claim that some aspects of the ride are very similar to an ATV or snowmobile experience. And perhaps because of a larger tire contact area with the road because of larger tires and in fact three tires rather than two, the Can-Am strangely seems to give more road rut feedback to the driver compared to two-wheeled motorcycles.

With a decidedly wider stance than normal motorcycles, the Can-Am isn't really able to cut through tight streets quite as well as it's narrower two-wheeled counterparts. However, the vehicle does offer many high end automobile type features not found on most two-wheelers. And besides the five speed manual transmission model, an automatic clutch version is available as well, broadening the appeal of the vehicle to buyers who aren't so much into shifting gears and like much more of a twist-and-go experience like a scooter offers.

If a rider likes to get the looks on the streets by driving something real unique, and if a rider doesn't mind a vehicle that reminds them a little bit of an ATV or snowmobile compared to a traditional two-wheeler, then his great unique vehicle might just be your cup of tea. Heck, for about 15 grand, or a little more if you prefer the automatic, this great fun vehicle is something you owe yourself.

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Rating: 3.5/5 (2 votes cast)

Comments (5)


I am trying to imagine this with front wheel drive. Now THAT would be an evolution.

Paul Hooson:

Hello Dr. Epador. How you doing?

I wonder how it would be with all wheel drive system, then it could make it's own road anywhere and go the full bore as a true ATV-like machine. Now it's a strange, but cool hybrid of motorcycle and ATV it seems, but with lots of high end creature comforts.

Lee Ward:

It's very aggressively styled, but I don't imagine it to be as much fun to ride as a two-wheeler. I love the feeling of leaning into a curve, for example.

I've ridden 4-wheel ATVs on sand, and you can throw your body weight around and simulate leaning and getting physically into a turn, but it would seem the physical contact with the ride would be gone with this kind of ride.

Paul Hooson:

I have to fully agree with you here, Lee. Somehow despite all the creature comforts that make the Can-Am a great high end toy, there's that aspect of the extra wheel that takes away that two-wheel fun experience.

Generally speaking, two wheelers have that great inline handling feature that any multiwheeled vehicles seem to really lose. Even with the very best tires, suspension or alignment on a car or truck, and all four wheels still feel like they're somewhat going in their own direction compared to that much tighter handling harmony of two wheels so much inline.

The old 60's cars are the worst when it comes to that indifferent handling feature. We had a beautifully fully restored 1967 Ford Mustang convertible, and I got a ton of complements whenever I drove it. However, the indifferent handling of the car due to the old style suspension wasn't nearly as much fun as the car looked. Cars today are much better. But two wheels are the best for the real tight handling experience.

Christina Viering:

Sounds good for beginners!


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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