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2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited—Road Test Review

Mark TuttleJanuary 07, 2016
Can-Am’s F3 cruiser leaps into bagger land with the addition of saddlebags and a new console/windscreen for the F3-T and F3 Limited (shown). Photography by Tom Riles.

Can-Am’s F3 cruiser leaps into bagger land with the addition of saddlebags and a new console/windscreen for the F3-T and F3 Limited (shown). Photography by Tom Riles.

Assuming there will never be a Spyder dual-sport model (never say never?), Can-Am’s lineup of three-wheel roadsters came full-circle last year with the introduction of the new F3 cruiser (January 2015 and on ridermag.wpengine.com). Though it has been quite successful with its RT touring, RS sport and ST sport-touring machines—Can-Am sells as many of them in the U.S. as Honda sells large touring bikes—the F3’s muscular styling and feet-forward riding position really struck a chord. It’s lower, more rearward 26.6-inch-high saddle just feels right to many Spyder buyers, many of whom are coming from an automotive mindset, and the F3’s U-Fit adjustable floorboard/footpeg/handlebar system lets male and female riders anywhere from 6-feet, 1-inch down to 5-feet, 1-inch tall dial in the seating position with five foot positions and five bar options. That feet-forward posture also gives an F3 pilot more leverage in corners, since your legs can effectively compensate for lateral G-forces and you gain some leverage for steering.

With all of that going for it, the F3 probably would have been fine with the original rev-happy Rotax 998cc V-twin that still powers the RS and ST. But cruiser riders want gobs of power down low, so it gets the more powerful Rotax ACE 1,330cc in-line three-cylinder engine, which makes a claimed 115 horsepower at 7,250 rpm and 96 lb-ft of torque at 5,000. That’s a 15 percent improvement over the V-twin on both counts, and Can-Am says the engine has 40-percent more low-end torque for better roll-on performance and responsiveness. The triple’s inherent smoothness and seamless power delivery shine in the big, fully dressed RT tourer, especially paired with the 6-speed SE6 semi-automatic transmission. Yet the F3 undercuts the RT by a claimed 162 pounds, which
elevates the engine’s felt power delivery from great to downright thrilling.

Refreshed VSS programming allows a little more drifting.

Refreshed VSS programming allows a little more drifting.

With the F3’s bona fides firmly established, it immediately became Can-Am’s second bestseller after the RT. That has led to the next logical step—bagger versions with more comfort, convenience and entertainment. The new F3-T and F3 Limited add locking saddlebags to the F3 platform, as well as a fairing and windscreen with integrated rearview mirrors, a glove box and cruise control. A new swingarm accepts an optional hitch for towing Can-Am’s new smaller, more affordable trailer. Beefed-up suspension for touring and two-up duty comprises a pair of big-bore front shocks with adjustable preload and an air-adjustable rear shock, with an automatic (self-leveling) adjustable air shock as an option.

Like many automobile makers, Can-Am offers upgrade packages for all of its models—there’s an RT-S and RT Limited, for example, to tempt RT customers, and an RS-S upgrade for the RS. Even the standard F3 can be had with F3-S equipment and trim. To that end the F3 Limited adds heated grips, floorboards and an integrated audio system (optional on the F3-T) to the cruiser with four directional speakers, a USB port and 1⁄8-inch auxiliary plug for iPods, smartphones, MP3 players or flash drives. Numerous trim enhancements such as chrome Shamrock front wheels, a black Limited seat and other chrome bits round out the nice-looking F3 Limited, which comes in Pearl White, Steel Black Metallic, the Intense Red Pearl on our test Spyder and a special Triple Black Series.

Can-Am turned us loose in the mountains of Southern California on a new F3 Limited for a day, and we followed that up with several days of commuting and joy rides in our own stomping grounds, putting nearly 500 miles on the roadster in the process. Its in-line triple is a model of smooth, authoritative power, with a loping idle and enormous low- and midrange grunt that will light up the rear tire from a stop or easily make a brisk pass on the highway. We have sampled the SM6 manual transmission in the past and it works fine, but the Spyders are best had with the SE6 semi-auto, which complements the convenience of not having to put your feet down with not having to use a clutch or shift lever—just a paddle shifter for upshifts. Both come with pushbutton reverse. My only gripes with the drivetrain are the vibration from the belt final drive that sneaks in around 3,800-4,100 rpm, which equates to an indicated 67-70 mph in top gear, and some engine heat that lightly toasts your right leg in hot weather. Neither are deal breakers, and Can-Am says it is working on the vibes.

Quick acceleration, short stopping distances and hard cornering with effective electronic oversight are just some of the comfortable Spyder’s attributes.

Quick acceleration, short stopping distances and hard cornering with effective electronic oversight are just some of the comfortable Spyder’s attributes.

The Spyder is well-known for its quick handling at speed, easy parking lot maneuvering and ultra-short stopping distances, all of which are aided by its wide tires, speed-sensitive Dynamic Power Steering and super-strong combined triple disc brakes with ABS. The Vehicle Stability System with traction control prevents wheel lift—enter a corner too hot and the Spyder snugs down the front brakes and cuts power until sanity is restored. After complaints that perhaps some playfulness should be allowed, Can-Am dialed-back the VSS nanny ever so slightly so that now a little bit of “drifting’ is allowed—but just a little bit. It takes some time to get used to the single brake pedal and 0 degrees of toe-in up front that makes small directional changes lightning quick, but soon you’ll be flinging the F3 around like an F1 car.

Non-detachable saddlebags are not as big inside as they appear and hold about 25 liters.

Non-detachable saddlebags are not as big inside as they appear and hold about 25 liters.

Comfort reigns supreme on the Spyder F3 Limited, with its recliner-like seating, large lumbar support and good wind protection. Suspension is firm without being harsh, the audio system positively cranks, and while the new saddlebags aren’t as large inside as they appear, they are still useful for smaller items—with the 24.4-liter front trunk and glove box, total capacity is 78 liters. Passenger accommodations are plush and comfy, and the Spyders have 70-plus pound sensors under their pillion seats that tell the VSS a passenger is aboard so it can adjust accordingly. Valves never need adjusting, so maintenance is mostly oil changes and infrequent belt replacements. Can-Am says that despite having car-like construction and sizing, the Spyders’ VSS is calibrated to the specially designed tires (made by Kenda), so they should be replaced with OE tires only. We averaged 31.9 mpg for a range of 226 miles from the 7.1-gallon tank of premium, but Can-Am says the ACE engine is good for 35.5 mpg. Accessories such as a shorter and taller windscreen, passenger backrest and front cargo bag are available.

Three-wheelers like the Spyder are treated like motorcycles by most states, and offer a fun, inclusive alternative to riders for whom motorcycles are not an option. The Spyder takes the idea to its zenith with high performance, comfort, convenience, great handling and safety, all wrapped in a two-year warranty. As they say, don’t knock it till you try it.

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited

2016 Can-Am Spyder F3 Limited

Base Price: $23,099 (F3-T)
Price as Tested: $27,249 (Limited package)
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Website: can-am.brp.com/spyder
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line triple
Displacement: 1,330cc
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 80.0mm
Compression Ratio: 12:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: NA
Fuel Delivery: Electronic Fuel Injection
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 6.0-qt. cap.
Transmission: SE6 6-speed semi-automatic
Final Drive: Belt
Electrical
Ignition: Electronic
Charging Output: 1200 watts max.
Battery: 12V 21AH

Shamrock chrome wheels on the F3 Limited wear radial tires specially made for the Spyder.

Shamrock chrome wheels on the F3 Limited wear radial tires specially made for the Spyder.

Chassis
Frame: Steel Y-Architecture w/ tubular-steel trellis swingarm
Wheelbase: 67.3 in.
Toe-in: 0 +/- 0.2 degrees
Camber: 0 +/- 0.5 degrees
Seat Height: 26.6 in.
Suspension, Front: Double A-arm w/anti-roll bar, Sachs Big Bore shocks x 2 w/ adj. spring preload & 5.1-in. travel
Rear: Single Sachs shock, adj. for air pressure w/ 5.2-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 270mm discs w/ opposed 4-piston calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 270mm disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast/machined aluminum, 15 x 5 in.
Rear: Cast/machined aluminum, 15 x 7 in.
Tires, Front: 165/55-R15
Rear: 225/50-R15
Wet Weight: 1,000 lbs. (+/- 20)
Claimed Dry Weight: 948 lbs. (base F3-T)
Load Capacity: 439 lbs.
GVWR: 1,429 lbs.
Performance
Fuel Capacity: 7.1 gals., last 1.5 gals. warning light on
MPG: 91 PON min. (low/avg/high) 29.1/31.9/35.4
Estimated Range: 226 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,500

New upper console/fairing includes integrated mirrors, a glovebox and medium windscreen.

New upper console/fairing includes integrated mirrors, a glovebox and medium windscreen.

The F3’s big grill flows air to radiators flanking the front trunk. Very little engine heat reaches the rider.

The F3’s big grill flows air to radiators flanking the front trunk. Very little engine heat reaches the rider.

9 comments

  1. Great ahhh….bike.
    Really nice job on the Loaded unit.
    I love it.
    My retirement ride.

  2. Must try one one these on a test ride. Not ready to give up two wheels, but with the gas mileage improving on these and an engine that never needs valve adjustments, it’s got me thinking. Looks great too.

  3. Thanks for the report. i’ve ridden the RT, but not this. I’m so impressed by the stability of the CanAm. Personally, I would look for a higher shield. I don’t like anything coming over the shield at me.
    I have both knees replaced so I can see the day when I may have to go to an extra wheel.
    Love your magazine.

  4. I test drove the old v twin, most of those complaints appear to addressed in the F3. Reading the article though my biggest complaint still lingers. 3800 RPM @67 MPH. My 1700 Kawasaki is turning almost half of that (2100 RPM). Everything else I love about the bike. I guess at some point I will need to decide if the extra stability worth the extra noise and vibration.

    • So many little things, like motor mounts, play into vibration… and at 67 mph you’re probably not hearing anything but the wind anyway. The vibration with good engineering and a 3 cylinder layout is probably minimal. I have a 2009 Spyder and a couple other 2 wheeled bikes and the Spyder is fun as it is. This one should be much better.

  5. Rode one, own 2012 RTS, love the new rig! It’s torque and smoothness are fantastic! Congrats to Can Am for this model–it will do very well!

  6. Replaced my Harley trike with a 2014 RT-S after a trip to Sturgis. Should have had the Can Am for that trip. After a year I took a ride on the new F3. I wanted something sportier and was not disappointed with the F3. So I gave up the heated grips, adjustable windshield, stereo and great storage for the more “rowdy” and quicker handling F3. There are things about the RT-S that I miss but not enough to go back. I love my F3-S! I put a windshield on it and a 2 Brothers Racing exhaust.. The exhaust is perfect but I wish windshield was a little taller. The feet-forward riding position is a major improvement once it is adjusted to your dimensions. I put on a backrest on so I could use a sissy bar bag for touring but I really wish there was a rack available so I could ride two up with the bag installed. Man, Can Am accessories sure are expensive!! I thought Harley was bad.

  7. Well, Can-Am is trying to make inroads in Europe, However without paying one bit attention to the way we ride over here. Lets start with the fact that speeds are considerably higher here, roadsurfaces a lot more rough with tons of patches etc. So is Vacation time….Why this is important?
    I owned an ST limited for 8 weeks after which I gave it back to the dealer. The majority of riding is done in mountanous areas, so the st ltd was laughably underpowered. A good deal of riders here are former motorcyclists. so speed and cornerability is of utmost importance if one finds a switchback every 500ft.
    So I bought the F3S . For as much as I love the Power, I had to do a ton of extra work to fit GIVI side and Topcases to make the thing halfway suitable for 2 week trips, which is the minimum time folks are on their vacations.Thirdly, I still have this aweful whistleing noise and vibration between exactly 60 and 70 kmh, and again the double, 120 to 140 kmh., which no beltadjustment could rectify.Your testreport says that C_A is adressing the issue. I can tell you that I will NOT buy another Spyder with out that Problem fixed.
    Lastly, I have issues with the powersteering, which frequently ‘tightens up’ unexpetedly. Think of approaching a tight turn, than downshifting and the cabooze wants to go straight. Great feeling.
    And the computer says: everything is fine!
    So, my facit, after 40 years on bikes, and 3 years on the spyder:For North-American conditions and speed limits, a great and entertaining vehicule. Under European conditions, a lot remains to be done.

    • I can understand the patchy road issues but some of these concerns are inherent to the design like the vibration at a certain speed due to the belt. With this much complaining I can assume if they changed it to a chain you’d complain about the maintenance of the chain.

      If the bags were such an issue why not just get the RT touring model 3cyl with the bags on it already?

      I ride an R6 and have the older Spyder and I live in the mountains in the U.S. The corning prowess of the first gen Spyer is going to limit both of us much more than speed limits. I’m assuming you haven’t done much riding over here…

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