Bruno Valeri


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BRP Can-Am Spyder Roadster: First Look

By Bruno Valeri
Montreal, Canada

Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) introduced its new Can-Amtm Spyder GS Roadster to the media on Feb. 5th, 2006.

Claimed to provide some of the sensory excitement of motorcycle riding but without some of its possible drawbacks, the innovative three wheeled Can-Am Spyder is BRP’s first road-legal vehicle. Powered by a proven Rotax 990cc V-twin engine, the Spyder completes the firm’s offerings in the powersports sector: Ski-Doo® and Lynxtm for snowmobiles; Sea-Doo® for personal watercraft; and Can-Amtm offering off-road ATVs and now the on-road Spyder.

First look:

It’s with a mixture of welcome intrigue and eager curiosity that I read BRP’s press release introducing the new BRP Can-Am Spyder.

Expand your horizons

There is no question that the BRP Spyder represents a bold and innovative foray into the on-road powersports segment. Nor is it surprising to see this coming out of the BRP design studios. Innovative, outside the box thinking has long been a tradition at BRP, where the focus has often been to re-define the rules of the game and provide totally new experiences in the powersports arena.

Boldy seek out new roads?

Founder Armand Bombardier gave birth to
what later became the snowmobile industry
by inventing the first snow-going vehicle in
1937 and bringing the first snowmobile to
market in 1959.

In 1988, Bombardier Recreational Products, a
division of Bombardier Inc, spawned another
new market by introducing sit-down personal
watercraft under the Sea-Doo® brand.

Meanwhile, Bombardier Inc. developed into a major player in public transportation, building regional aircraft and business jets as well as rail and subway cars.

With the Can-Am Spyder, BRP is hoping to once again create a new market. By offering the increased stability of two front wheels, referred to as the Y-concept, BRP sets out to bring the pleasurable sensations of riding to a larger audience.

Aesthetically, the visually striking Can-Am Spyder leverages its Sea-Doo® and Ski-Doo lineage. It challenges the paradigm of what a motorcycle-based riding vehicle can look like and is bound to attract considerable attention wherever it goes.

A radically new type of on-road concept

The relatively straight-up riding position
should provide good touring comfort with
a sense of confidence and control for the
rider while Dynamic Power Steering (DPS)
provides intelligent variable power assist
through the use of constant microprocessor

Motive power is supplied by a double overhead
cam V-twin engine, designed and produced by
Rotax. Offering a displacement of 990 cc, this
4 valve per cylinder liquid cooled unit has a claimed output of 106 hp and is similar to the Rotax engines powering Aprilia motorcycles.

Gear selection on the rear-wheel drive BRP Spyder is provided by a standard five-speed manual gearbox or an optional clutchless thumb-shift transmission that shifts electronically. Either choice includes a real reverse gear, unlike starter-actuated reverse found on some large touring motorcycles. Belt drive should provide a reliable and durable service life. Alternator output is listed at 500 watts.

To enhance rider safety, the BRP Spyder offers an integrated Bosch Vehicle Stability System
(VSS) that includes roll-over protection. Using CANbus technology, it controls anti-lock
brakes, vehicle stability, and traction control by sampling strategically-placed sensors 25
times per second. When needed, it modulates each brake separately and governs throttle
limits. This is designed to allow the Spyder pilot an extra measure of assurance when navi-
gating bends as well as when riding on surfaces offering variable traction. Until recently,
this type of technology was found only on premium cars.

Dance more confidently in the rain?

The BRP Can-Am Spyder has a claimed dry weight of 697 pounds and a fuel capacity of 7.13 US gallons (27 liters). It will be available in silver or yellow. Among the interesting options available are fog lights and Xenon lights, travel bags, low and high windshield, as well as a racing exhaust.

The front cowling houses a convenient storage
compartment offering a 44 liter capacity

Target plans:

Initial forecast is to begin production in the fall of 2007 at the Valcourt, Quebec plant, roughly 80 miles west of Montreal. Phase one will introduce the BRP Spyder to twelve American states and four Canadian provinces with targeted worldwide distribution following.

Estimated pricing:

standard transmission: _U.S. $14,999 Canada $18,499
clutchless transmission: U.S. $16,499 Canada $19,999

Can-Am: What’s in a name?

Motocross fans may remember Can-Am as the motorcycle brand that developed near cult-like status in the early 1970’s. BRP purchased Austrian engine builder Rotax in 1970 and set out to build a winning motocross bike under the Can-Am brand. The new Can-Am entry literally stormed onto the U.S. Motocross Championships scene, logging its first successes in 1973 and dominating by winning the AMA 250cc title and sweeping the first three places in 1974.

As Bombardier market orientations continued to shift towards the public transport sector, the Can-Am brand was eventually discontinued in 1987. Following its spin-off from Bombardier Inc. in 2003, BRP is now resurrecting the Can-Am brand to position itself in the premium powersports segment. Can-Am branding will encompass its road and off-road product lines, including ATV’s and the new Spyder Roadster.

Of Rotax engines:
  On April 28, 2006, BRP-owned Rotax built its six millionth engine. In addition to providing engines to motorcycle brands such BMW and Aprilia, Austrian Rotax engines are used in:
  • Ski-Doo® and Lynx™ snowmobiles
  • Sea-Doo® watercraft and sport boats
  • Bombardier/Can-Am ATV quads and on-road Spyder Roadster
  • ultralight and light aircraft as well as for
  • karts and other motorcycles

About BRP:

BRP is a leading world-wide provider of powersports products. In addition to the above brands, its roster currently includes Evinrude® and Johnson® outboard engines as well as Evinrude E TEC® direct injection technologies.

Parting thoughts:

In theory, the concept is intriguing. With the extra stability derived from the Y-Concept
three-wheeled stance and the sophisticated electronic Vehicle Stability System, the Spyder
aims to allow a rider to expand the touring/commuting and recreational envelope to include
many types of roads. I'm looking forward to doing a full test ride review.

photos: courtesy BRP

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