2011 Can-Am Spyder RT-S: A Big, Nasty Arachnid


By Nate Gnau

Business Manager

You really should not meet your heroes. I had the chance recently to ride the Can-Am Spyder at Ted’s Motorcycle World in Alton, IL. I was looking forward to this ride for so long, oh, so long. When the original Spyder debuted in 2007, I was intrigued by the new machine. However, I did not have my motorcycle endorsement on my license, at the time. Fast forward to now, and Bombardier Recreational Products has just released a new Touring model. And I have a “M” classification on my license.

Unfortunately, my encounter with the Spyder should not have happened. When I rode off astride the Spyder RT-S, little did I know that I was about to embark on a 15-mile journey of mediocrity. I had the on-board stereo cranking out the finest college rock on WLCA 89.9 FM(“College Radio’s Best”), and I thought everything was going to be fun. I was wrong. Very wrong.

The RT-S has a Rotax-built V-Twin 990cc engine that produces 100 horsepower, and a 5-speed push-button semi-manual transmission. This means no clutch, and no foot-operated shift lever. The whole package operates very well. If you really get into the throttle, one can certainly get the bike to leap forward with great aplomb. But it is by no means jaw-dropping with power. This is a touring bike, after all. It is meant for endurance.

If storage is your concern, worry no more. The RT-S is chock full of places to store your little doo-dads and what-nots that you pick up along your voyages. This bike has a full, locking trunk that has about two gallons worth of space, along with the standard solid-mounted body-matching hard panniers. And to top off the levels of on-board storage, is one big trunk in front, that looks as if it would hold five gallons of water, if it were not carpeted. And, for the first time in motorcycling history, a factory-optional trailer! The trailer itself has 22 cubic feet of space, along with an optional spare tire, and interior lighting. The biggest downfall for the trailer however, is the price. The Spyder RT-622 trailer will set you back a whopping $3,999.

The upholstery on the RT-S is ridiculously comfortable. I could see absolutely no reason why any person would not be able to ride this bike for long distances, if not for boredom. The gauge cluster is very informative, and it even has an LCD screen that displays many things, such as mileage, two trip odometers, different settings, and also the radio system, which does include RDS technology. The bike’s ergonomics as a whole are very comfortable, and they provide a very relaxed riding position. Unfortunately, this does not bode well with corners. As I rode, I felt that if I did not lean into corners with my body(as on a standard two-wheeled motorcycle), I would tip over. Now, that is just my experience, and your mileage may vary.

Getting into the twisties on a bike is typically a very exciting experience. But this was just like driving a car. Granted, a very fun car, but a car nonetheless. When I want to go for a ride on a motorcycle, the very last thing I want to do is go for a ride on something that feels like my car. There is something about riding on two wheels, that is absolutely irreplaceable. And it does not matter what trim level of the Spyder you buy, it cannot replace the feeling of leaning over, and digging into the corners.

While the Spyder is definitely an interesting ride, and probably perfect for those that are afraid to go two-wheeling just yet, I really cannot see any purpose for any self-respecting rider to own one, other than a disability that prevents them from riding anything else.

The Spyder RT-S’ price is $21,399. This figure does not represent Tax, Title, License, Destination, or Assembly fees, or the optional $4,000 RT-622 trailer.

Special thanks to Jim Seaman of Ted’s Motorcycle World for letting me take a ride!

About Nate Gnau

Nathaniel R. Gnau is a 23 year old Radio Broadcasting student, and currently the business manager for The LC Bridge. He is a gearhead to the umpteenth degree, and enjoys long walks on the beach, cuddling, and staring at sunsets.
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