Sometimes the best stories come from curiosity. For us here at Daily Motor, curiosity often brings us to good ol’ Facebook Marketplace, endlessly perusing ways to throw away our money. During one of these benders, I stumbled upon the Halo Warthog-looking Can-Am Ryker. I knew BRP had started building a more accessible sibling to the Can-am Spyder, but I hadn’t paid it much thought. So we made a few emails and calls, and in return for our curiosity, we were rewarded with a week of exhilarating corner carving, some chilly triple-digit backroad blasts, and several prolonged stares as we ran errands.
Don’t worry, no cats were harmed in the test of this three-wheel motorcycle.
The Can-Am Ryker inherits the riding format from the larger Spyder. Two wheels in the front, one in the rear (labored with the task of propulsion), a seat mounted just behind midship, and a four-stroke beating heart below the handlebars. In the case of our test vehicle, this organ was BRP’s 900cc inline-three, good for 82 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque. For $1500 less, you get a 600cc two-cylinder making 50 hp and 37 lb-ft. Get the 900 for maximum grinnage. Both engines pair to a CVT automatic—no shifting here. While some may whine about not getting to row their own gears, we are happy to give up the extra chore to focus on the broader riding experience.
In fact, the butter smooth engines (both are part of BRP’s ACE lineup, renown for efficiency and calm demeanor) and seamless automatic transmission fit into the Ryker’s overall mission. The Ryker doesn’t exist to rattle your bones and spike your adrenaline levels with one twist of the throttle. In fact, after our first ride, we found it a bit…dull. But we were looking at it wrong. The Ryker opens the door to on-road powersports for a previously underserved market.
Picture this. You live in a temperate climate—oh, for example, Daily Motor’s home of Michigan. The roads are only entirely safe for two-wheeled motorcycles for half of the year. From October to April, the bike either goes into hibernation, or you better be darn sure the temp is well above freezing and that the roads are free of ice, salt, or sand. On the Ryker? Toss on some winter gloves and a heated jacket and go explore!
Or maybe this. You’ve been a diehard motorcycle rider for thirty years. Sport bikes, Harleys, mopeds, you’ve ridden them all. Or at least, you used to. Now, one back surgery and two knee replacements later, balancing a 500+ pound hunk of metal and plastic isn’t as possible as it had always been. Just toss (or slowly lift) a leg over the Can-Am Ryker, and balancing is taken care of for you. Or if your ailments are more serious and you’re below par on extremities, the Ryker’s single brake lever and one-hand friendly controls could get you out in the open air like you’d never thought possible.
What if you’ve always thought biking is badass, but you just couldn’t surmount the idea of navigating high-speed traffic on two wheels? Maybe you can barely get a foot down on most motorcycles? The Ryker’s low seat height and freedom from tipping over establishes confidence for many more riders.
All of this is to say the Can-Am Ryker needs to be evaluated for more than how it drives and rather for how it can be ridden. We started enjoying the Ryker much more when we stopped comparing it to the snowmobiles and motorcycles with which we were familiar. I would be much more comfortable putting my wife, grandfather, or friend on a Ryker than any motorcycle. That’s not to say it doesn’t require some training and acclimation, but there’s a much softer learning curve than anything else this fun. The excitement-to-effort ratio is high.
BRP’s three-wheel motorcycles are subjected to many of the same rules and regulations as two-wheeled machines. You do need to have a motorcycle endorsement to ride one in our home state of Michigan. However, if you have no plans to ever ride two wheels, you can get a three-wheel motorcycle endorsement just for the Ryker and Spyder. Many Can-am dealerships, including the dealer we used, MotorCity Powersports in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, offer licensing courses right on site. You’ll have to do your research for your riding area.
Can-am’s Ryker does have its drawbacks. Once you get a bit too comfortable behind the handlebars, pushing it hard into a corner results in stability control cutting power and braking the front wheels to keep you from overcooking it into a curb. However, with enough speed, you can absolutely still meet said curb. You’re totally fine, until you’re not, unlike a conventional motorcycle where you can almost always add lean angle to get through a corner. For its relatively high base price ($9324 for the 600 and $10,724 for the 900), you don’t get a windshield, passenger seat, or any useful tech features. And you’ll be paying more at the pump than a two-wheeled motorcycle as well—we averaged about 27 mpg on premium fuel. Ouch. And the 900 ACE motor was just strong enough to be exciting. We imagine the 600 would fall well short of thrilling.
A perfect machine the Ryker is not. But many of its attributes make it a nearly exclusive choice for many potential riders. It’s safer and more accessible than any motorcycle, and, for all but the most skilled riders, can be ridden on more surfaces and in more seasons. Conversations about motorcycles are often filled with excuses for why you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) ride. With the Ryker, you start to run out of excuses.