2015 Can-Am Spyder F3 First Ride

October 3, 2014
Justin Dawes
By Justin Dawes
Digital Media Producer |Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS Raised on two wheels in the deserts of Nevada, the newest addition to the MotoUSA crew has been part of the industry for well over 15 years.Equal parts writer, photographer, and rider, "JDawg" is a jack of all trades and even a master of some.
Get out your pitchforks and torches and prepare to storm the walls of the MotoUSA castle, because what I am about to tell you will freak you out. The 2015 Can-Am Spyder F3-S is a kick in the ass. I would ride it. Not when I have to or need to. But for fun. That’s right, a three-wheeled machine is worthy of motorcyclists’ attention. I have thick skin (and those owning one may need to as well) so bring it on, but let me explain before you hand down my sentence as a traitor or heretic.


Can-Am executives are proud to tout the fact that nearly a quarter of Spyder buyers are new to the powersports industry or have never owned a motorcycle. To me the other side of that statement is more intriguing – three-quarters of those that purchase a Spyder are motorcyclists. As much as the two-wheeled world looks down its nose at the Spyder, there are

converts or at least those that see it as a viable option for getting out in the wind. So I’m not the only one that thinks it’s a cool ride. Although I didn’t always think that…

When the mass email to the staff at MotoUSA from Editor Bart Madson asking for a volunteer to attend the introduction of the 2015 Can-Am Spyder F3-S hit my inbox I replied in record time. “I’d rather not go,” was the entirety of my response. As the one who never says no, this was the equivalent of a “hell no.” As fate would have it I found myself on an airport tarmac in Quebec, Canada about to straddle a F3. How the hell do I even get on it?

I swung my leg over the newest member of the Spyder family like a motorcycle and it felt completely silly. Turning the key and firing the F3’s 1330 Triple brought forth a snap to life with rev and melody that only an inline three-cylinder can create. As I clicked my manual transmission model into first and released the clutch I heard the howl of squealing rubber from the “familiarization” riding area on the other side of the hangar that hosted the technical presentation. Perhaps this won’t be as boring as I had expected.

Many experienced riders, myself included, have complained about the electronic nanny that keeps the RS, ST and RT models safe as a PTA potluck. No slides, no breakneck cornering and absolutely no burnouts. This is not the case with the Spyder F3. Can-Am’s engineers loosened up the VSS (Vehicle Stability System) to allow for some wheelspin both in a straight line and in an arc. I waited my turn to blast down St-Georges Airport’s taxiway and when I got the nod I dropped the clutch and whacked the throttle to the stop. The rear tire lit up and kicked out slightly, smoking down the asphalt for a solid 150 feet. Not a bad way to introduce myself to the Spyder F3. A couple more passes allowed me to hone my Spyder burnout technique and I was able to brake-stand the Can-Am for as long as I felt comfortable. I cracked a huge grin under my dark smoke bubble shield and chuckled.

At the far end of the quarter-mile taxiway I bumped up against 80 mph before having to brake for the turnaround point. The only brake input is a single foot lever on the right side that has plenty of bite and slows the F3 with urgency. The front radially-mounted, four-piston Brembo Monblocs clamp down on 270mm front discs and are linked to a floating single-piston caliper and 270mm disc. Stomp as hard as you want, the ABS and VSS keep everything settled and safe while slowing at a rate many bikes cannot match.

Flipping a U-turn to return to the starting line I once again flicked the clutch and snapped the throttle to full-go. The rear end kicked out into an opposite lock slide and the tire screamed, but only for a split-second. I found the limit of the Can-Am VSS calibration team’s bravery. There is still a wide margin of safety to keep unsuspecting goons in line. I chuckled again and assessed how can I “trick” the system to get more hoonage. With two days of riding ahead of me I was sure I could coax more smoke and slides out of the Spyder F3-S.

The Spyder F3-S is built on the same Y-architecture as the rest of the line, but the frame is now 40% stiffer with two large spars on each side of the engine. The front suspension geometry is shared with the RS although the tubing shape is altered and is damped by Fox Podium shocks with slightly less travel at 5.07 inches. The rear is a trellis-type swingarm moving through 5.20 inches via a SACHS monoshock. The biggest change between the rest of the Spyder family is the seating position. Can-Am went with a cruiser layout with the seat lower and further back. This has you sitting more in the F3 rather than atop. To accommodate different rider sizes, the UFit allows for five different footpeg positions and when combined with four handlebar options finding the right fit is easy and surprisingly quick.

The Can-Am Spyper F3 is all-day comfortable.
While it may not have the agility of a motorcycle the Can-Am Spyder F3 is an exciting ride.

My F3-S, a $1500 up-charge from the base F3’s $19,499 price tag, was set with the foot pegs at the second furthest forward position and was fitted with the stock handlebar bend. The black suede S trim seat cradled my rear with a nice bit of lower back support and my legs stretched forward with a slight bend to my knees. I would classify the stance as almost performance-cruiser, and would have probably chosen a shorter bar to bring my upper body more forward. As is the layout was upright and very comfortable. After two moderately long days in the saddle, I have zero complaints and arrived without an ache each evening.

On the road the lower seating position made cornering the Spyder F3-S a much more rewarding experience than the 2011 RT I had ridden. The chassis is settled and bends around corners fairly flat, especially with some inside-lean body English. Pushing the boundaries in the twists finds the VSS stepping in to save your hide when you overstep what is prudent. I purposefully entered a hairpin during a photo stop too fast and got on the gas too hard and too soon just to see what would happen if you got everything totally wrong. As the rear end kicked out and the inside wheel began to lift, the power was cut and the brakes were applied allowing me to continue without any real drama. Very impressive.

There is plenty of fun allowed before the VSS kicks in and if you are smooth you can hook a corner with the rear tire spinning and just out of line. Just don’t get it spinning too fast and the angel in the computer will let the devil come out and play. This is the first Spyder that will entertain the most hardcore motorcyclists. Burnouts and slides are universal fun, and going around corners on three wheels is satisfying as well. Sure there are quirks that take some getting used to, such as the busy feel in the bars when on straight roads and having to think about three wheel paths. But after a while you adapt.

While the handling and riding position of the F3-S are excellent the third leg of this tripod of fun is the 1330cc Triple introduced last year in the Spyder RT. Power output is just 115 horsepower, but the 96 pound-feet of torque combined with a

larger rear sprocket give a rush that is sporty and quick for a 900-pound machine. The bottom-end is solid but not what you would describe as robust. Get into the mid-range and the pull is wicked. On top the power surge crests and begins to flatten as you near 8000 RPM. Can-Am claims a sub-five-second 0-60 time, but the roll on from 40 mph is the highlight here.

Rolling though the gears on my manual transmission model was cruiser-solid. A solid clunk notifies the rider of a successful gear change and the lever effort was spot on. Not a missed shift or hang up was experienced. Clutch effort is not light, but not too heavy. Reach to the lever may be a stretch for smaller hands especially with the fat cruiser-style grips on the F3. The $1500 6-speed semi-auto electronic option is slick and easy to use. Changes via the left handlebar are quick but not lightning fast. Engaging the reverse gear is simple and straightforward.

Finding fault in the Spyder F3-S is difficult as long as you look at it for what it is. Is it the same as a motorcycle? No. Is it fun for motorcyclists? Yes. Can-Am has found a niche with the Spyder and the F3 should appeal to a large group of riders. Whether they are two-wheel converts or new to the scene, it makes no difference to me. There is plenty of room for more varieties of riders on the road in my opinion. Variety is the spice of life, and the 2015 Can-Am Spyder F3-S is spicy.