The CanAm Spyder is one of the most eye-catching vehicles on the road, a Batmobike that elicits squeals of delight from people who don’t ride motorcycles and sneers of disdain from people who do.

Non-bikers like its futuristic, forward-leaning looks; its wide, stable stance; and its ease of operation. Motorcyclists dislike it for the same reasons, dismissing it as a dim, dull variation on the glories of two-wheeling.

The F3-S is CanAm’s sportiest Spyder. Powered by a 1300cc, three-cylinder Rotax engine, and belt-driven through a fat, 15-inch rea0r tire, it offers 115 horsepower and 96 pound-feet of torque.

It’s CanAm’s equivalent of a “naked” bike. Sold stock without windshield or side bags – though those are available – this is an around-town cruiser designed more for stylish point-to-point acceleration than for long-distance touring.

In an apparent attempt to appeal to non-motorcycle consumers, CanAm has made the Spyder extremely easy to ride. Gone are the traditional left hand clutch, right hand front brake and left foot shift levers.

Instead, the transmission is automatic and braking to all three wheels is done through a single, right foot brake pedal, just like in a car. A manual version is an option.

CanAm says that 25 percent of Spyder purchasers have no prior on-road riding experience, and that 25 percent of them are women. The company expects the F-3, newly introduced for 2015, will increase sales among cruiser riders.

They’re paying a premium price for the experience. The Spyder line starts just below $15,000 for the RS model. The FS-3 sells for about $21,000.

The CanAm line, manufactured and marketed by Canadian powersports company BRP, is getting a sales boost from increased interest in three-wheeled motorcycles. The company moved its 100,000th unit in May, and claims its RT and ST machines are the top-selling touring bikes and sport touring bikes in North America, surpassing venerable two-wheelers like the Honda Gold Wing, BMW K1600 GTL and Kawasaki Concours.

Around town, the Spyder is an amusing commuter.

Like most heavy motorcycles –  this one weighs 850 pounds – the Spyder is clunky when it’s stationary but nimble when it’s on the move. On the freeway, speeds exceeding 50 mph feel quite stable.

For twisty roads and canyons, CanAm has improved the Spyder’s traction control and stability control over previous models. In a sharp turn, these systems increase braking to the outside wheel and even cut power to the engine to reduce the danger of tipping over – a real concern with some three-wheeled vehicles.

The Spyder F3-S comes standard with Brembo brakes, ABS and cruise control. It also has a reverse gear, which is extremely helpful in maneuvering this heavy trike in and out of parking spaces.

And, though fuel economy isn’t usually a selling point on bigger bikes, CanAm boasts the Spyder F3 can go 252 freeway miles on a single tank of gas, getting upward of 35 miles per gallon from the 7.1-gallon tank.

It’s an eye-catcher. Its aggressive forward stance, muscular shoulders and sinister Batman styling turn more heads than anything with a mere two or four wheels.

People who don’t know anything about motorcycles, and who don’t ride, will stop and say, “What is that thing?” and “I want one!”

People who do ride may feel different.

Motorcyclists approaching the Spyder may experience a slight sensation of arachnophobia. For some two-wheel veterans, a three-wheeled motorcycle offers only a few of the pleasures associated with motorcycling.

Yes, you’re riding free in the breeze, but a three-wheeler doesn’t lean or float like a motorcycle. Even though steering is done with handlebars, it requires some shoulder and arm strength.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.