Can-Am Spyder Tech

You have read the reviews and heard that the Spyder is fitted with more acronyms than the periodic table- VSS, ABS, TCS etc. etc. but what are they and how  do they make the Spyder unlike, and possibly better, than whatever else it is you are riding.

The electronics on the Spyder were developed in conjunction with BOSCH, yes the same German BOSCH that is fitted to high-end cars like Porsche, BMW, Audi. So lets run through what the Spyder has

VSS- I think of this as the brain that decides what the other systems should be doing and they really work together. How does it work? Well it takes readings from the sensors fitted to various parts of the vehicle, and controls the remainder of the systems.

SCS- probably the most important system and it uses the yaw sensors. This detects if one of the front wheels has lifted off the ground in a corner (obviously the Spyder is too heavy to lift the front wheels off the ground and do a wheely). Lifting of the front wheel does happen and has happened to me on many occasions, one corner I know of in particular on the Tomewin Rd- a hair pin slightly off camber 20-30km/h corner, gets me every time. So what happens? The SCS cuts the power, you can clearly hear this with the Hindle exhaust fitted by the gargling starving for fuel noise it makes. It also applies the brakes to the outside wheel, you may feel a slight tug on the handlebars in the direction of the braking. Now I know that the front wheel is going to lift on this corner and to watch out for it. No matter how hard I try I can’t beat the system, as soon as I can feel or see the front wheel about to lift, the SCS has me back on the ground before I roll off the throttle, yes it is that good!  It isn’t an abrupt crash back to the tarmac either but rather a gentle rolling landing.

ABS- well we all know what this is, if a wheel locks up then the brake is released and applied to grab the ground. Again this works brilliantly on the Spyder, I haven’t used it in a real life situation, only in testing but given the extra grip afforded by three full tires rather than 2 motorbike tires I can confidently say you have no problems coming to a stop, the only problem might be hanging onto the handlebars.

EBD- electronic brakeforce distribution, varies the force applied by the single foot activated brake pedal, unlike your regular two wheeled bike you don’t control the balance between front and rear brakes, the Spyder does it for you in conjunction with the ABS. Like the ABS you don’t really know or feel what it is doing.

TCS- traction control system, controls the lack of traction you may experience with all the torque the Spyder has. The Spyder is capable of big burnouts (if you can afford the tires) but only in straight lines, as soon as there is any turn on the handlebars the fun is shut down. The system works really well but in my opinion it would be better to be able to select some options, such as a wet, normal, race setting. In the wet the system is probably not quite enough and a lot of caution is needed for the novice rider, under normal circumstances the system works really well but when pushing hard and if you were on the track the system is probably to overbearing. Maybe my wish will be granted on the next RS-S now they can make it sportier having a real tourer in the RT.

DPS- dynamic power steering, like power steering in your car except it determines the power input based on the speed of the Spyder at the time, so in a carpark slow speed situation it gives you plenty of help, whereas at speed through the tight and twisty’s it gives you less. This helps you feel what the Spyder is up to at all times. You need a different riding style on the Spyder than your normal bike, sit forward and lean right up on the handlebars, then lean your body right into the corners, almost hanging off sidecar style. If you sit back cruiser style on the RS you won’t have a good day. When I rode the RT I found rider position isn’t as important as what it is on the RS. The steering is very direct and sometimes requires minor adjustments through a corner.

SE5- I like to think of it as an electronic manual rather than an automatic system, when people think auto they think boring, put it in D for dumb and go. The SE5 on the Spyder is nothing like this, the gearbox remains the same as the SM5 model with the clutch level and gear level instead replaced with buttons + to go up gear, – to go down, activated by your thumb and forefinger respectively. The only time the Spyder becomes auto is when you are slowing down the system will change down by itself to prevent a stall. It also blips the throttle to match revs on changes, how cool is that. When I have ridden the SM5 models I found the clutch lever bulky and with little feel, the only advantage I could think of having it is if you are afraid of electronics, in which case maybe a Spyder isn’t for you or if you are friends with the guys at Kenda, the tire manufacturer, because it would be great for burnouts. I also found the SM5 tricky to engage reverse. The SE5 is just a press of the – button and the R, the SM5 is pull the clutch, press the R and push down past 1st, not real natural to read, even more unnatural to do. The only thing to watch out for with the SE5 is that auto downshift, a couple of times I have been caught coming into roundabouts in 3rd only for it to shift to 2nd, that’s why I recommend you always ride the SE5 like a manual.

The last three letter acronym we will cover is FUN, oh wait that isn’t an acronym it is just what you have when riding the Spyder!

You can find out more about the Spyder by hiring one for yourself or coming on one of our guided tours, book with Spyder Ryder Australia

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