In this BLOG we will be sharing the tips I give to my customers when it comes to riding the CanAm Spyder. The Spyder only has a couple of controls in common with your traditional two-wheeled bike they are- the twist grip throttle, starter button, blinkers, horn and light. Everything else, like the Spyder itself, is new or different in some way.
Obviously step one is how to start the Spyder, the startup procedure is a little overboard, we aren’t piloting an A380, just riding a Spyder. The Spyder is fitted with a safety card (thanks to the culture of litigation in the USA) which is meant to be read before each journey, I highly recommend you read this the first time you ride the Spyder, it is all common sense but just helps to remind you that what you are riding is different. So we have read the card now what, press the M/Mode button with is above the instruments or on the reverse side of the left handlebar, make sure you just give it a short but firm press, anything more and it wants to scroll through the mutli-function display. Right foot on the brake (no brake lever but we will get to that) and then hit the starter button and you will hear the V-Twin roar into action, or at least you will if you have a Hindle performance exhaust fitted like our Spyder’s do!
So the next thing is stopping- you will quickly notice that the Spyder doesn’t have a brake lever on your right handle bar and only has a foot brake. My personal opinion is that it should have been the other way round but it does the job it just takes a bit more concentration when you get straight off a two-wheeler and results in a couple of embarrassing grabs for something that isn’t there. The foot brake controls all three discs via EBD and is fitted with ABS, the brakes are fantastic so hang on if you really put your foot down. (Read more about the electronics here)
Changing gear, our Spyders are the SE5 models thus don’t have a clutch lever or a gear lever, again coming straight off a two-wheeler you will grab the clutch and move your foot for a change that doesn’t happen. The control is simple and intuitive press the plus button with your left thumb to change up, pull back with your left forefinger minus to change down, all in 0.6 of a second. This is one flappy paddle that even Jeremy Clarkson would appreciate. If you get lazy coming to a set of lifts the bike will even change down for you. I highly recommend, especially in round-a-bouts and give way situations that you remain in control of what gear you are in, on more than one occasion I have been caught rolling on the throttle in what I thought was third, when the bike quickly drops back to second. The V-Twin has a huge amount of torque so changing is relatively infrequent and you can pull the sags out of an elephants skin from any gear at any speed. You have 5 gears to choose from. The SE5 also won’t respond to a change up if the revs and speed aren’t sufficient, so at 30km/h it probably won’t respond to your request to change into 5th. The other cool trick of the SE5 is matching the revs for you, it gives a quick blip of the throttle when changing, you just hold the throttle position.
So thats what happened to the sixth ratio? They put it in backwards. The reverse is very handy and saves pushing 300kg around the carpark. Be very careful in reverse as it is a short ratio so a little throttle goes a long way. The steering is also very direct, plus watch out for the extra width at the front.
1. Relax your shoulders, elbows and grip, the spyder is very responsive so any undue input from being tense will go through the bars and onto the wheels
2. Sit as far forward on the seat as comfortable, so you have more weight over the front end.
3. Don’t carry a passenger until you get the feel for it. When carrying a passenger get them to put as much input into the ride as you do, a couple of passengers I have had have really ridden the bike with me and we can get going as quick as if I didn’t have them on.
4. Lean into the corner, get your helmet out to the mirror
5. Apply the power just before the apex of the corner, this helps push the 300kgs of bike around and also pushes the inside front wheel down. Your natural response when applying throttle is also to lean forward.
6. Trust the electronics. This is the hardest bit of all. When I ride for fun I feel the input from the electronics in most corners.
Spend as much time as possible on the Spyder and you will have as much fun, if not more, than the guys on 2 wheels.