2013 Can-Am Spyder ST Roadster First Ride

September 27, 2012
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

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We sample the 2013 range of Can-Am Spyder Roadsters, including its new 2013 Spyder ST Limited, the sport-touring model featuring an updated chassis and suspension to go along with its 998cc Rotax V-Twin. Come along for the ride in our 2013 Can-Am Spyder Roadsters First Ride Video.

“I really feel we are building an industry which will become bigger and bigger and bigger,” said BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli while addressing journalists gathered for the press launch of the 2013 Can-Am Spyder.

Boisjoli’s statement is supported by the release of a new model this year, a sport-touring version called the 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST. The new addition expands the Spyder range to three base models with “R” and “Limited” variations of those base models offered as well, demonstrating the importance of the Spyder to Can-Am’s road vehicle aspirations, the unique three-wheeled Roadster hitting the scene in 2008. And after seeing over 30% growth in sales in its first four years in existence, there is no resting on laurels in this industry, a factor which helped drive changes to the chassis and suspension on this year’s Spyder as the vehicle continues to evolve.

Motorcycle USA traveled to National Harbor last weekend for the annual dealers meeting of Can-Am’s parent company, BRP, where the unveiling of the 2013 Can-Am Spyder Roadster models took place. On a sunny day in the Capitol, we rolled out of Gaylord National Resort on the 2013 Spyder ST Limited, the Limited being the top-of-the-line ST package, a combination of hard lockable saddlebags and a five-way adjustable windscreen. Its ergos are more relaxed compared to the RS, a must for long rides, achieved by moving the footboards out five inches, bringing the handlebars

The changes to the chassis and suspension of the 2013 Spyder Roadsters means much less wrestling with the bars and more spirited riding.
The changes to the chassis and suspension of the 2013 Spyder Roadsters means much less wrestling with the bars and more spirited riding.
The 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST-S looks clean in its Circuit Yellow Metallic colorway.
The Circuit Yellow Metallic colorway on the 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST-S really brings out its lines.
Thanks to opening up the leg room  bringing the bars back and raising them up  ergos on the 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST are very comfortable.
Thanks to opening up the leg room, bringing the bars back and raising them up, ergos on the 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST are very comfortable.

back four inches and raising them up another 3.3. We thumb through the “Mode” controls on the the AM/FM audio system and pump up the jams while touring the Maryland countryside, a standard feature on the 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST and all of the RT models. Can-Am has made the package even more attractive by adding heated hand grips and a Garmin Zumo 660 GPS.

Sitting down in the saddle for the first time, we’re digging the upright seating position with just a hint of forward lean. The Spyder ST definitely has more room to stretch the legs and the bars are easy to reach. The starting procedure is a bit tedious. First, turn on the key. Then wait while the bike runs through its systems check. Then press the mode button to acknowledge you’ve looked at the safety card, which nobody does. Finally riders can disengage the brake, turn it on, click into gear and throttle to go.

Before we discuss our riding impressions of the 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST Limited, it’s important to note the most notable change to the Spyders this year.

“We’ve tried to improve the dynamic behavior closer to a BRP product, closer to what’s our DNA, what you’ll observe on a snowmobile or feel on an ATV,” said Daniel Duceppe, Product Development Director for Can-Am Roadsters.

We discussed the changes to the chassis on the 2013 Spyders with Duceppe and learned the chassis was stiffened by increasing rigidity around the front suspension’s mounting points which reduced the load on suspension components. Can-Am also revised the front-end geometry, the “anti-dive” geometry aiming to keep the vehicle from plunging as much during braking. Duceppe said the suspension calibration front and rear has more vertical body movement instead of pitching over bumps, so it’s much more controllable. It also has a revised swingarm pivot to give more rigidity to the rear suspension. They’ve also gone an inch bigger on the front wheels, the new 15-inch wheels shod in Kenda Radial low-profile 165/55 tires with a new tread design. The front fenders on the Spyder ST hug the fender closer and feature a new aerodynamic design with LED lighting incorporated into it.

All these changes sound good in theory, but how would they perform in the real-world?

It only takes a few gears to realize that the 2013 Spyder ST is a smooth shifter. It comes in two variations, the SE5 a five-speed semi-automatic transmission while the sportier RS-S comes with the traditional SM5 manual transmission. The Spyder’s semi-automatic tranny outfitted on the Spyder ST Limited we’re riding is quite an accomplishment. You paddle up without having to squeeze a clutch and it engages quickly and quietly. It automatically shifts down when engine rpm reaches 2500 but you can paddle down if you want to. Seeing how there’s almost no engine braking, we generally let the transmission do its job. It’s a very slick gearbox, the only noticeable engagement coming when the vehicle is shifted into reverse.

The 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST took center stage at the recent Can-Am dealers meeting.We play follow the leader on 2013 Can-Am Spyder Roadsters as we roll through beautiful Maryland countryside.The A-arm and anti-roll bar  teamed with Can-Ams VSS  keep the vehicle planted to the road under almost all conditions.
(L) The 2013 Can-Am Spyder ST took center stage at the recent Can-Am dealers meeting. (M) We play follow the leader on 2013 Can-Am Spyder Roadsters as we roll through beautiful Maryland countryside. (R) The A-arm and anti-roll bar, teamed with Can-Am’s VSS, keep the vehicle planted to the road under almost all conditions.

An open stretch of road allows us to bang through some gears and sample the ST’s acceleration. The Spyder is quick, no surprise there since its DNA comes from the 60-degree V-Twin powerplant off the Rotax-equipped Aprilia RSV Mille. Power numbers support the statement with a claimed 80 lb-ft of torque coming on @5000 rpm while its peak 100 hp doesn’t come on until its upper midrange at 7500 rpm. The Spyders have new electronic throttle control this year that keeps the big 57mm throttle body busy opening and closing with the twisting throttle. Power delivery is smooth and linear for the most part, but there was a power spike in third and fourth gears around 7500 rpm when max horsepower kicked in. According to Can-Am reps along for the ride, the powerband doesn’t even begin until around 5500 rpm and climbs from there, the 998cc Rotax V-Twin more than capable of providing grin-inducing acceleration. Its new electronic throttle control is spot-on and the throttle responded crisply whether we were on the gas or cruising through parking lots.

The last time we rode the Can-Am Spyder it felt like the wheels were affected by every little imperfection in the road, transferring a level of uneasiness to the rider at the grips. Thanks to its revised suspension and chassis, the 2013

Can-Ams 2013 Spyder RS-S benefits the most from the platforms 998cc Rotax V-Twin.
We also got a chance to twist the throttle on the more sport-oriented 2013 Can-Am Spyder RS-S. Does it look like we’re having fun?

Spyder ST doesn’t do that now. It is equipped with “Dynamic Power Steering,” the electronically controlled system providing steering assist based on factors like speed, steering angle and acceleration. It turns quickly and hugs the road like it’s on a track and doesn’t sway much. The suspension is firmer, there’s little to no roll in turns and it didn’t track with the same floaty sensation at freeway speed we experienced last year. Riders no longer have to wrestle as much with the bars in tight, curvy stuff and overall the ride quality shows a marked improvement over last year.

Give credit to its Vehicle Stability System (VSS) as it provides a much more controlled feeling than before. Can-Am’s VSS combines traction and stability controls in addition to an updated Bosch ABS. The VSS looks at where the handlebar should be in relation to the vehicles intended direction of travel and compares it against throttle positioning. If everything’s not matching up, the system will automatically reduce engine rpm and slow the wheels incrementally. We tried to get the rear to break loose, but the VSS wouldn’t allow it. We could do a brake stand, revving up the engine and dumping the clutch to get it to bark a little coming off the line, but this barely made the rear end wiggle. If by chance the rear wheel does lose traction, the Traction Control System kicks in, reducing engine rpm almost immediately. This works perfectly to prevent ham-fisted new riders from wadding up their $20K-plus ride, especially since Can-Am claims up to 27% of Roadster buyers are what they refer to as “non-nons,” riders who have never owned a motorcycle in the past.

For 2013, Spyders receive new, 20mm-larger discs all the way around while the front is teamed with 0.25mm-larger Brembo calipers. The brake pedal engages the system on all three tires and is very responsive, requiring little pressure to engage. At the pedal it exhibits strong, even power without an aggressive initial bite. The ABS isn’t intrusive and only engaged with a hearty stomp on the pedal. Speaking of the right-side brake pedal, it is tucked in tight to the bodywork and at times we had to consciously make an effort to make sure it was flush underfoot.

Built upon Can-Am’s proprietary Y-architecture, two-front wheels and a single rear wheel mounted in a swingarm, the Spyder ST Limited is a sophisticated machine combining a double-A arm design on the front with an anti-roll bar to keep the wheels firmly planted on the pavement. Its Surrounding Spar Technology frame has been updated, decreasing both weight and the number of parts used in its construction in an attempt to increase durability. Its Vehicle Stability System is busy reading wheel spin, throttle and handlebar position, rpm, and vehicle speed and is making split-second decisions based on that data. It’s doing this all while making the rider feel comfortable and in control.
The revised Spyder achieves this while looking good doing it. The bodywork has sharp, distinctive lines with strategically placed air scoops helping keep the engine cool. Its twin front tires and stretched out rear tire look like they could have been designed by Transformer director Michael Bay, especially in the new Circuit Yellow Metallic colorway. Its cockpit is clean and functional, an analog speedo and tach in plain view in its location below the windscreen. The multi-function LCD display can be toggled through a few different screens, the first one reading out vitals like a gear indicator, fuel indicator, and oil temp in addition to useful info like outside temperature and a clock. Other screens include options like trip meters and infotainment readouts. 

The beauty of the Can-Am Spyder is it can be ridden hard or at a leisurely Sunday ride through the countryside pace.
The beauty of the Can-Am Spyder is it can be ridden hard or at a leisurely “Sunday ride through the countryside” pace.

To meet sport-touring standards, Can-Am bumped up the storage space on the ST Limited to a claimed 112 liters total. Twist the key counter-clockwise when the motorcycle is turned off and it pops the lid on its 12-gallon lockable front storage compartment. The 2013 ST Limited is also equipped with hard, removable color-matched saddlebags said to add 68 liters of space to hold touring necessities.  

Prices of the 2013 Can-Am Spyder varies depending on model, transmission and accessories. The base model with a manual transmission will run you $18,899 and jumps to $20,399 for the SE5 semi-automatic transmission and caps out with the Limited with its $24,599 MSRP. Sticker prices include a Digital Encoded Security System whereby the electronic key is coded, is recognized by the Spyder it belongs to and the machine won’t start without it.

The new Spyder rides smoother and is easier to handle thanks to the changes made to its chassis, suspension, and wheels. It’s got plenty of readily accessible power and a sporty exterior to match. The 2013 Spyder ST fills the void between its full-boat luxury touring RT model and the sportier RS. After spending an afternoon in its saddle riding around our nation’s capital, we tip our hat to Can-Am for a job well done.