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Not a Motorcycle: The 2019 Can-Am Ryker is the newest Three-Wheeler

Montréal, Québec, Canada

2019 Can-Am Ryker - Courtesy of Can-Am

2019 Can-Am Ryker - Courtesy of Can-Am

We’re well into the shoulder season of riding now and even if you have heated attire, the cold brings ice and as we’ve just seen here in Toronto, snow. Its right about now that I wouldn’t mind revisiting the Spyder F3 Limited that I reviewed earlier this Spring.

I regularly browse for used Spyders and other three-wheelers. Whenever they pop up, they don’t stick around for long. It seems that despite all the debate around 3-wheelers people snatch them up. Can Am isn’t the only manufacturer of three wheeled road machines, but they are the iconic brand for three-wheelers and since the first Spyders rolled into showrooms, 100,000 units have been sold.

Piaggio MP3

Piaggio MP3

The Piaggio MP3 super-fast three wheeled leaning scooter has been around since 2006, and its owners and moto-journalists alike sing its praises. It can ride through rain and snow comfortably and for 2019 there is a sport version. Its capable, has storage, fast and fun, but I can’t help but feel that being a scooter limits any mainstream attention it gets.  In 2017 Yamaha unveiled the Niken LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) based on their popular MT-09 platform. The keyword with the Niken is leaning because the Niken, as you can see from any photo taken of it ever, belongs to the group of three-wheelers that lean like a regular motorcycle.

Yamaha Niken LMW

Yamaha Niken LMW

Based on a patent filed in August 2018, Honda supports three-wheelers too and photos of the patent show that Honda is developing a leaning three-wheeler but its design could place it squarely between Yamaha’s Niken and the non-leaning Spyder. Concept photos that are now three years old, see that Honda intended to call their three-wheeler the Neo Wing and planned to power it with the same engine used in the Goldwing at the time.

Honda Neowing Concept (2015)

Honda Neowing Concept (2015)

Despite the aggressive styling of the front end, the limited details we have about Honda’s concept leaves me to assume the final product will be for longer distance riding and on the more expensive side. 

Apart from having three wheels, the most prevalent common factor among three-wheelers has often been their high price tag. The Morgan Motor Company which produces the Morgan 3-wheeler and assembles all their units by hand, embrace and market the three wheeled roadster as a bespoke means to hit the road and their storied machine fetches a $70,000 price tag.

In 2016 Polaris shocked everyone when they debuted the slingshot. A three-wheeler with a menacing fascia and tires and engine deliberately taken from the automotive world. It even has a steering wheel. The Slingshot is priced at $20,000 around the same as the entry level F3 but unlike the Spyder which you ride on, you sit in the Slingshot.  You also wear a seatbelt, have a dashboard, an infotainment system and your passenger sits next to you.

Polaris Slingshot

Polaris Slingshot

Putting aside the general reasons of recreation and thrill, each three-wheeler is made for their own reasons but despite the backlash they receive from the purists in the motorcycle community their appeal is undeniable and companies are realizing that there is a broader audience of non-riders that are interested.  

2019 Ryker

2019 Can-Am Ryker - Courtesy of Can-Am

2019 Can-Am Ryker - Courtesy of Can-Am

Last month Can-Am added the Ryker to their offerings with the clear goal of removing the barriers in the way of any hopeful Spyder rider. The 2019 Can-Am Ryker will set you back $10,499 which should cause you to perk up an ear. This pricing is more practical than buying a 600 cc sport bike, is only $300 more than Yamaha's MT-09 and is more than $10,000 less than the next model in Can-Am’s current Spyder line up. Can-Am is aggressively aimed at attracting new riders and while no one can quantify what's "cool" for everyone, Can-Am does know that 30 - 40 year old cohort of men and women would likely buy a Spyder if it were more affordable. What should be considered here is that to Can-Am, "new riders" are just new to the Spyder, not necessarily to motorcycles, meaning if you want a bit of adventure and have no riding experience, that's just fine. 

The Ryker has a CVT transmission, meaning it’s an automatic, just twist and go. Can-Am made strives to eliminate any difficulty in operation. While simplifying controls works towards removing barriers and keeping costs down, it can't completely account for having a list price of half that of the F3. One has to wonder how easy is it was to build a machine that's less expensive yet still appealing and not a cheap F3. According to Can-Am's On-Road PR staff:

"Simply put, it’s incredibly difficult. The Can-Am Ryker is designed to feature only what is needed, and we used our latest technology to optimize it. The entire platform focuses on multi-functional parts - there are 40% fewer parts and a weight reduction of 33% compared to the Spyder F3. We also optimized manufacturing, and the simplicity of the vehicle helped control the cost of production."

2019 Can-Am Ryker - Courtesy of Can-Am

2019 Can-Am Ryker - Courtesy of Can-Am

Can-Am also relied on the “add-on” model to hit their price point. The Ryker has panels that you can colour to your choice and a myriad of accessories allowing you to customize and transform this city roadster into a medium distance tourer or provide room for a passenger. 

While the manufacturing innovation and business strategy is important, the performance is the real metric us riders want to know about but with a machine as unique as this is hard to speculate well since other Spyders are the only thing to compare it to. Can-Am commented on the performance by described the power to weight ratio and put it in-line with the F3. If I'm being honest, I've never cared about the performance specs of any Spyder I've ridden - they are all as fast as they need to be.  

The ease of use and the aggressive price clearly indicate Can-Am’s intentions for the Ryker and that’s not a bad thing. If recreational machines become a lot easier to use and more attainable, they shift from being impractical toys to viable means of regular transportation as they have become in many places around the world. I’ll bet my rare Buell that a hybrid model is on its way. When that happens, we might find a following that opt for a versatile three-wheeler as their only means of transportation. A transportation renaissance is a well beyond the horizon but for now, the Ryker is an attractive invitation to open road adventure.

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