Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spyder's Web

"Now You Can Take Your Motorcycle Test on a Can Am Spyder Roadster
and be riding by the next day!"

As I write this I have just gotten off the phone with a BRP Can-Am representative. I wanted to confirm this unholy possibility that yes you can do your motorcycle test on a Can Am Spyder Roadster. The official word from Can-Am is... "No, you cannot use a Can Am Spyder Roadster to pass your 6A license." Not yet anyways! Apparently the powers that be behind the Spyder Roadster has already changed policy in Quebec in 2010 to allow for anyone with a motor-vehicle licence (i.e. Class 5) to use one. All you have to do is take a seven hour training course with a Quebec Recognized Drivers School.

Photo © DGY Motosports
Like their television commercial their website is also somewhat misleading. The official word on their website is that yes you can use a Can-Am to pass your skills test. However, they don't specify what class of motorcycle skills test you can do, although I assume its a 6E Trike based licence. The customer representative himself could not answer this question. In Quebec, anyone who prefers a traditional three wheeled trike must hold a 6E licence. Can-Am has a link directly to the SAAQ website  regarding this. Curious, I wanted to determine whether you could do a seven hour training course with a certified driving school with your regular Class 5 licence with any three wheeled vehicle that they list on their website as a trike. This included the Can-Am Spyder Roadster, or any motorcycle whereby "...a conversion kit has been installed, composed of a metal structure and a pair of auxiliary wheels aligned on the axle of the motorcycle's back wheel." The official word from the SAAQ is... "I don't know..." hmm... seriously, really? The almighty SAAQ has no idea. Guess reports of them being pussy whipped by Can Am is true?!

Photo © santiagochopper
So I started calling schools. (no, I don't have much of a life.... I know....) Sur 2 Roues (819-565-5353) in Sherbrooke has said that they would get back to me. I spoke with Tecnic-Moto Montreal Est and the receptionist told me they in fact do not offer courses for the Can-Am. This is despite being listed on the Can-Am SAAQ certified school list. She did give me the number to their Tecnic - Laval branch (450-682-1808) According to the receptionist at this particular Tecnic what ensued was a rather annoying discussion on whether or not Harley-Davidson made the Spyder Roadster. Apparently, if H-D makes the Spyder Roadster than yes, you can do the seven hour course with just a class 5 licence. After explaining to her that the Spyder was a Can-Am bike and that H-D was in and of itself a motorcycle company in its own right that didn't make the Spyder Roadster this seemed to confuse her even more. She than tried to explain to me what a trike was. I hung up.

Do not get me wrong, although admittedly the Can Am Spyder Roadster is not something I would particularly own per se, I can appreciate the market it targets and it is a novelty of sorts. I have seen them all over Quebec roads, particularly in the Eastern Townships. Retailing at $18, 499 for the RS and $24, 399 for the RT and its clearly a very expensive toy for a niche market. However, everything about this has become so convoluted that I have almost forgotten why I started this blog post at all. What's the point, you may ask yourself? Well, the point is there seems to be a general agreement amongst two wheeled motorcyclist that the Can-Am Spyder Roadster has created a double standard of sorts in the motorcycling community. 

If anything goes...?!
Photo © redbirdacres
I agree. After all, the process of obtaining a motorcycle licence in Quebec, let alone the rest of Canada is difficult enough. Yet, apparently you need nothing more than a wallet full of cash, a regular Class 5 licence and seven hours of your time with a certified driving school (who apparently don't even have the basic answers) to hop on a trike and roll off into the sunset.... or your demise, depending on how intelligent you are. Furthermore, after calling several schools and asking to take the day course with a regular trike, not one school would allow me to do so, bar Sur 2 Roues. They just called! However, like all the other schools the school's owner did tell me that I should in fact check with the SAAQ beforehand to confirm this. :-) Oy Vay!

Just so you don't feel like you have completely wasted your time reading this allow me to end this on a positive note. I'd like to dedicate this particular song to the powers that be that have introduced the Can-Am Spyder Roadster and who, in doing so, have supported and encouraged the double standards that have left us two wheeled motorcyclist (and from what I can tell all traditionally three wheeled inclined folks...)... inevitably paying the price. Know that at least I'll be watching you BRP Can-Am! No, I don't have anything better to do apparently and yes...

I'm an asshole...


  1. Only one of many stupid incongruities in this province!


  2. Spyder does not require a motorcycle endorsement here....

    Far Enough from St. Louis, MO

  3. I don't know what the rules about it are here; I don't own a spyder so I've never investigated.

    However, I have ridden a spyder, and I can tell you that I think it would be totally stupid for any licensing organization to accept a spyder for passing of a motorcycling skills test; the spyder is a VERY different beast than a motorcycle, and the skills required are substantially different. I wouldn't accept someone who had learned to ride a spyder without ever riding a motorcycle as having the skills to ride a motorcycle, though that person would have a leg up on learning a two-wheeler.

    For that matter, the reverse-trike configuration of a spyder makes it a lot different than a conventional trike too. To my mind, the spyder is vastly superior to the conventional trike when it comes to handling. But, when you get down to it, the spyder is in a class by itself since it is the only product on the road with its configuration.

    A motorcyclist can pick up a spyder with little difficulty; take it easy cornering for awhile until you learn how the thing handles (it's a TRIP!!!), then go nuts.

    If I ever get so decrepit that I can't handle a bike, I'll get a spyder.

    J from Arizona

  4. Arizona has both a trike endorsement and a motorcycle endorsement. Someone with a trike endorsement is not authorized to operate a motorcycle. Someone with a motorcycle endorsement however is authorized to operate either a motorcycle or a trike. There is a MSF accredited trike course offered by Arizona Progressive School of Riding. Most of the classes are held on Luke AFB but you do not need to be military to take the course. He has a full course that will get you your endorsement for Trike in Arizona. As for me and a Spyder, I have heard too much bad on the Spyder so I won't go that route. I am fine with the traditional trike.

    L from AZ

    1. That is actually sensible.

      What have you heard? Like I say, they're very different beasts and you shouldn't judge one by the standards of the other.

      I rode one at AZ Bike Week; they were available to demo. You might try something like that to see what you think based on first-hand experience. I found the spyder to handle very much unlike anything I had ever ridden, but I could definitely get used to it. To my mind, it'll never beat a bike. But it definitely could be a lot of fun.


    2. Hey,

      Thanks for the great replies. Yeah, I am in agreement with the idea that its something you might want to have a one night stand with but forget about bringing it home to your parents, so to speak.... lol.

      Here in Quebec, there is a discrepancy in the law that seems to favor the Can-Am. You can do a day course and have a car licence and be on your way but apparently, unless someone steps forward and corrects me, you can't do the same thing with an actual traditional trike. I called the local licence issuing body and the local schools that Can-Am actually recommends in my local area and none of the school or the licence authority itself could give me a straight answer.

      It begs to question what kind of deal the company brokered with the Quebec government!? The double standard is in itself kinda upsetting particularly for actual Traditional trike cyclist.


  5. this gives the license requirements, by state.


    Sorry, but it doesn't say anything about Canada.

    Kinda odd, considering that it is made in Valcourt, Québec.


  6. In my state you need your motorcycle endorsement for anything with less than 4 wheels. I did not see any restrictions as to disqualify you from taking your M/C test on a trike except it does say "The motorcycle must be acceptable to the examiner". So I suppose it would be at the examiners discretion if you should be allowed to test on a trike.


  7. Gotta have one in Maine to ride a trike.


  8. Loved your blog.... typical Quebec "savoir faire"


  9. BSJ,
    I rode two wheels for 30 years and last year purchased a Can Am Spyder. I can tell you from experience that it is a totally different ride.YOU still lean into the corners but the BIKE stays flat! There is no front brake lever, all brakes are operated by
    a foot pedal and unlike a two wheeler they can be used in cornering. It has ABS and traction control.Also has a Bosch system
    That monitors yawl, so if a front tire should lift in a turn it will automatically apply the opposite side brake and cut the engine until everything is right. This all happens in milliseconds! They are very very fast and cornering is like they are attached to a rail.
    It took about a week of solid riding to get used to the steering and handling. They are a lot of fun to ride, you just have to learn to
    Forget all that you know about two wheeling because as everybody has said they are a totally different beast!!!!!!


    1. Hi Dan,

      I hear its quite the experience. I started this thread originally because a friend of mine wants to ride with me but doesn't hold an actual motorcycle licence. The Can Am seems to be the only route for him if he wants to avoid doing any motorcycle related courses. He had originally wanted to get a traditional three wheeled H-D trike or similar but alas, here in Quebec, the law seems to have a double standard with those compared to the CanAm which only require a car licence and a seven hour course.

      Thanks for sharing... I may rent one for the day just for the hell of it the day he finishes his day course with the Can Am and give her a whirl. I sat on one once and yeah, felt more like a Ski-Doo than a motorcycle. I don't imagine my years of motorcycling will be of much help on one of those... lol...


  10. Her in PA, a motorcycle endorsment is required. But you do not need a course to get a Spyder.

    I remember when the dealership I worked for got the first ones in, they were a blast! Saw owe of the roadsters last week looks like a Golding and a Spyder had offspring, lol.

  11. gotta have a PA MC lic to ride a CAnAm

    already got one....it's enough to tell me I don't want another trike.


    1. Ninjato hates everything he is not currently riding! :-D

  12. When they had the test rides here, if you had the mc endorsement you could take it out on the road. If not, they had a closed course. So without checking I'd say you need the mc endorsement here.


  13. Bombardier has connections! It's simple the gouverment favors this company, I wounder if its the same rules all over?


  14. Good morning,
    We have a can-am RT. I got my license last year by going to AZ Progressive riding school at Luke AFB 480-593-3707. Fri night to Sunday with a certificate at the end. This gave me a Class D on my drivers license. I used the trike for the class.

    Hope this helps.

  15. Types of Ariaona Licences - the 'M' endorcememt is only for two wheels.


  16. From that link:

    "A motorcycle license or endorsement is required to drive a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. "

    So a trike (short for tricycle) needs a motorcycle license.


  17. Hummm .... looks like either a Can-Am or trike can be operated with the normal Class D license.

    I don't see how any three wheel cycle could pass the MVD cone weave course.

    Looks like a call to MVD might be in-order. :-) If you're lucky enough to get a MVD employee that knows what the heck your asking about, ie, motorcycle, trike, Can-Am. >-D


  18. Love the second video, but you're not an a$$hole.


  19. No special endorsement is required in AZ and most other states for the Spyder. You can drive it home or anywhere you want to off the lot. I have friends in Maine that ride them year round. They put on a studded rear tire for the snow and ice. And a sandbag in each saddlebag for extra traction. The weight distribution is pretty even so they say it steers pretty good in snow.


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