2014 Can-Am Spyder RT Limited Review

Riding Triple

Can-Am Spyder RT Limited
The Can-Am Spyder RT Limited. Photo © Basem Wasef

I usually gravitate towards sportier bikes (and trikes, for that matter), which originally led me to pick the Spyder ST-S model-- a leaner, meaner ride-- from the Can-Am lineup. But when it turned out that the touring-focused RT models come with a new three-cylinder engine, I took it upon myself to schedule time with the brawnier and bulkier RT Limited (priced at $30,499, a premium over the RT-S ($26,449 with a manual 6-speed) and the RT ($22,999 with a manual 6-speed).

What’s New?

Positioned at the top of the Can-Am Spyder food chain, the touring-oriented RT Limited takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to its equipment list. 

The Limited model adds a few items on top of the standard RT, including an updated front end treatment for 2014, with LED lighting. Select trim bits are chromed, and a two-tone touring saddle complements the exterior hue-- which in the case of my loaner was a satin grey color.

An electronically adjustable rear air suspension can be adjusted via a dash-mounted rocker switch, and the system also self-levels according to load. Grip heaters are standard on the RT model, while the Limited gets heated passenger grips. Limited versions also get an electronically released front cargo door with a light, more dashboard gauges (indicating fuel and engine temp info), rider footboards (on the semi-automatic transmission), and an easily removable Garmin 660 nav screen.

The new powerplant is a 1,330cc inline-3 by Rotax which produces 115 horsepower and 96 lb-ft of torque. Can-Am claims 40 percent more roll-on acceleration than previous RT models-- a spec that's a bit difficult to interpret (ie, is it 40 percent quicker or more powerful?)-- but likely delivers a noticeable difference from earlier iterations.

On the Road: Large and in Charge

While all Can-Ams have a relatively large footprint if you're accustomed to most motorcycles, the RT models have an extra imposing stance thanks to the hard cases on each side of the passenger throne (and yes, it is a throne), as well as the towering top case which further raises the trike's profile. The Cockpit view is equally imposing, with an analog speedo and tach complemented with a color display screen with gear position and trip computer info, among other informational and infotainment tidbits.

Unlike my canyon carving experience on the ST-S, I used the RT Limited for a longer roundtrip ride from Los Angeles to Tehachapi, a small town not far from the edge of the Mojave desert. On long stretches of highway, the RT's heated grips, electrically adjustable windsceen, and commodious saddle come in handy, making the long freeway slog manageable. Even in its tallest position, there's a fair amount of turbulence from the windshield at higher (ie, illegal) speeds, but for the most part the wind protection makes it far easier to spend extended time in the saddle. The adjustable suspension also creates noticeable differences in ride quality, enabling the RT to smooth irregularities out enough to feel plush, while maintaining a bit less wallowing in the corners. 

The torque from the new three-cylinder enables decent acceleration despite the RT's mass, and works nicely with the semi-automatic transmission. You don't get a whole bunch of power at the top of the rev range, but that's not really the point of this machine anyway; more relevant is its estimated cruising range of 225 miles, which makes it a viable steed for a long distance getaway. 

Of course, the Spyder's uniquely setup features make themselves evident during various parts of the riding experience. For starters, the semi-automatic feature requires shifting via thumb and forefinger (which yields reasonably quick, smooth cog swaps), but the absence of a clutch lever means experience motorcyclists will habitually reach... for nothing. Similarly, all braking is handled by the right pedal, making stopping a mindlessly simple task. Stability control and power assist steering with variable effort ensures fairly easy maneuvering at most speeds, though a windy section of Tehachapi Willow Springs Road revealed some top heaviness and uncertainty footing. Best to keep this bad boy at reasonable speeds, especially when loaded with luggage (as it was during my ride), which creates more mass to move around-- and therefore, stabilize.

Bottom Line: Worth the Dough?

Like the ST-S, the Can-Am Spyder RT Limited is already a rather specific machine with a very specific clientele in mind, and the RT takes that level of focus even further by singling out the touring crowd. As a long distance machine, it offers wind protection, comfort, and amenities, many of which happen to be even more accommodating due to its three-wheeled architecture. 

Though it doesn't quite shine in the corners-- not surprising, given its hulking 1,012 pound dry weight-- the RT Limited's skillsets tick a whole lot of boxes for those seeking a three-wheeled touring machine.

If you've got 30 large burning a hole in your wallet for an excessively equipped three-wheeler for long distance expeditions (and don't mind taking your time through corners), the Can-Am Spyder RT Limited should sit high on your consideration list.