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If you want to make a lot of new friends, get a Can-Am Spyder. Wherever I stopped with BRP's three-wheeled wonder it drew a crowd - not just to look but to chat, ask questions and take photographs.
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That's partly because there's nothing like it on the road, partly because this long, low, somewhat oddly proportioned machine has immense presence - and not a little because of the test Spyder's loud black-and-yellow livery.
It's huge, by motorcycle standards; nearly 2.7m long and just over 1.5m wide, so you won't slip through the traffic as you do on your everyday two-wheeler - but you'll be having so much fun you won't want to. Just allow the same time for getting there as you would with a car.
Technically, the Spyder isn't a trike (it has two wheels in front and one at the rear) or a three-wheeler cycle-car like a Morgan since it has direct steering via handlebars.
Most licensing authorities (including South Africa's) regard it as a motorcycle, although two American states (California and Delaware) will let you ride one with a car licence and one (Washington) has invented a "three-wheel permit" for it.
Motivation is provided by a 998cc DOHC Rotax V-twin (Can-Am's parent company, Bombardier Recreational Products, owns the Austrian engine specialist) and if it sounds familiar, Cyril, that's because it's the same hard-revving, angry-sounding unit as in Aprilia's RSV Mille sports flagship, in this case down-tuned to a quoted 79kW at 8500rpm and 104.3Nm at 6250.
That's still enough to spin the humungous 225/50 rear gumball anytime you give it a big handful in first - and it'll keep spinning as long as you hold the throttle open, up to about 60km/h, at which point the traction control system backs off the power, the rear wheel hooks up and away you go.
The Spyder will accelerate from 0-100 in 4.5sec and on to a true 178km/h in top with 187 showing on the digital speedometer and 8700 on the rev-counter. And in between there's all the torque you can use, anywhere from 3000rpm to well past 8000.
You rarely need to change down to overtake, just wind it on. The Spyder's straight-line performance is impressive.
The standard transmission is a five-speed motorcycle gearbox with a mechanical reverse (you need one, on a 316kg machine!) but the test Spyder had the optional SE5 semi-automatic transmission, also with five ratios but with electronic shifting.
It's operated by a rocker switch under the switchgear on the left handlebar - push with your thumb to change up and pull it towards you with your forefinger to change down.
Or don't - the 'box won't change up by itself but if the revs fall below 2500 it will blip the throttle and neatly change down until you come to rest with the transmission in first.
WHEN IT GETS WEIRD
A sophisticated electronic stability programme monitors throttle and handlebar position, backs off the power to prevent rear wheelspin if the handlebars aren't pointed straight ahead and modulates the anti-lock brakes.
It also checks yaw and roll and reduces power if the Spyder picks up the inside front wheel in a corner.
Because that's when this thing gets weird. Motorcycles lean towards the inside of a corner and quads, thanks to their solid rear axles, stay almost flat on the road so they slide rather than tip over.
The Spyder, however, leans outwards in a corner like a drunken sailor. It never gets out of hand - the electronics see to that - but it feels all wrong and takes a lot of getting used to.
It feels as if the outside front wheel is about to tuck under - and gets worse the deeper you go into a long sweep, making every corner feel as if it's tightening up on you. The effect is worse with a passenger, although the Cape Town Can-Am agent tells me the suspension can be tuned for the extra weight.
ELECTRIC POWER STEERING
Each of the two 14" front wheels runs on double A-arm suspension with a steeply-angled hydraulic shock absorber - adjustable for pre-load only - and an anti-roll bar. Steering is by offset linkage and tie rods.
That's standard quad technology - but now it starts getting interesting. The footprint of the 165mm-wide front tyres and the Spyder's 316kg dry weight would ordinarily make the steering too heavy so Can-Am has fitted electric power-steering.
The rear suspension has a long, neatly fabricated steel swing arm with a monoshock adjustable for preload only on a rising-rate linkage - just like most big touring bikes.
I took the Spyder over motoring.co.za's standard test route and found it vibrated unpleasantly at 120km/h (5800rpm in top) but cruised smoothly on the highway at 140, with about 6500rpm showing.
At that speed there was no need to hide behind the neat little fly-screen and, more importantly, no buffeting on the back of my head either, as with too many tourers.
All Can-Am's quads have deeply padded, superbly comfortable seats and the Spyder is true to the family tradition. Its handlebars and footpegs are also perfectly placed for a relaxed seating position; I spent most of a day in the saddle and was as comfortable at the end as when I set out
The Spyder handled our bumpy test track rather better than most two-wheelers thanks to its wide stance, albeit with a tendency to rock slightly from side to side, and was reassuringly stable flat out during performance testing.
However, I backed off on the "ride and handling" section of the route, cruising through its twists and turns at 80km/h with my heart in my mouth where a decent street bike is comfortable at 120 - due more to the machine's unsettling lean than any instability.
Given some suspension tuning and more confidence on the rider's part it could have improved on that performance, although I don't think it is ever going to give sports-bike riders cause for concern.
So what's it for, this R259 900 cross between a jet ski and a snowmobile? Well, until something even more outlandish comes along, it's the ultimate boulevard cruiser, easily out-Harleying Harley with its combination of muscular straight-line performance and attention-getting persona.
It's also more practical; there's a 44-litre storage bin under the front of the body that'll easily swallow two people's riding gear and helmets - or take home 16kg of designer shopping without any need for a rucksack to lower the Cool Quotient.
That same storage capacity, together with superlative ergonomics and its relaxed, easy-to-use, paddle-shift transmission, also makes it a superb tourer.
There's a 27-litre fuel tank under the saddle so even at the eyebrow-raising 8.5 litres/100km we averaged over the four days we had the Spyder it should be good for more than 300km between stops.
But most of all, you'll get to meet some very interesting people.
Price: R259 900
Bore x stroke: 97 x 68mm.
Compression ratio: 10.8:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 79kW at 8500rpm.
Torque: 104Nm at 6250.
Induction:Multipoint electronic fuel-injection with two 57mm throttle bodies.
Ignition: Electronic with dual-output coil.
Clutch: Centrifugal automatic multiplate clutch.
Transmission: Sequential electronic five-speed with transmission-based reverse and final drive by toothed belt.
Front: Double A-arm with anti-roll bar, adjustable for preload.
Rear: Rising-rate linkage with remote-reservoir gas-filled monoshock adjustable for preload.
Front: Dual 260mm discs with four-pot opposed-piston callipers.
Rear: 260mm disc with single-piston floating calliper.
Front: 165/65 - R14 tubeless.
Rear: 225/50 - R15 tubeless.
Seat height: 775mm.
Dry weight: 154kg.
27 litres, 8.5 litres/100km (measured).
0-100km/h: 4.5sec (claimed).
Two years unlimited distance warranty.
Bike from: Waterworld