Three-wheelers are an odd proposition, given they apparently combine all the exposure, risk and inconvenience of motorbikes but without any of the apparent freedom.
Canadian firm Can-Am has, however, enjoyed some success with its Spyder, a quirky three-wheeled tourer with two wheels up front and a single driven one out back. Off the back of that, and with ambitions to double its sales, Can-Am is expanding the format to include this new Ryker, a cheaper, simpler and arguably cooler looking alternative. The fact you can ride one with nothing more than a regular car licence is a major selling point, Can-Am keen to make the transition from four wheels as easy as possible by making the Ryker as simple (and safe) to use as possible. Consider it a Morgan with handlebars and you’re kind of on the right lines.
You can get your Ryker with a 600cc two-cylinder engine or an 82 horsepower 900cc triple driving the rear wheel via a CVT gearbox. There’s no clutch or gearshifting to master – twist to go, pedal to stop, handlebars to steer, stability and traction control to stop you tipping it over. The one you see here is the top-spec Rally Edition version of the 900cc Ryker, which has a little more ride height, some underbody protection and a dedicated stability control mode for light off-roading on gravel tracks and the like.
Accepting you’re not going to be filtering through traffic or enjoying other advantages of being on two wheels the Ryker is, for those more accustomed to cars at least, a real hoot. If you’ve never ridden a motorbike the sheer adrenaline hit of speed, slipstream and immersion in your environment offers a new and exciting buzz. OK, at just shy of 300kg it’s a chunk heavier than a bike but not by as much as you might have expected and as close as you can get on a regular car licence.
The CVT gearbox makes it a cinch to ride, holding the engine in the middle of its powerband and offering great flexibility. Open it up properly in the Sport mode and it really lifts off, this kick of acceleration perhaps nothing special to bike riders but an eye-opener to those more accustomed to four wheels and a ton of metal around them.
Two wheels up front mean more rubber for cornering and braking but the Ryker does require some manhandling. It’s low-slung enough to feel stable and the various electronic safety nets do a good job of letting you corner hard without the feeling it’s going to flip over, but it’s a surprisingly physical experience at speed.
Fun as a novelty, it remains to be seen whether long-term use of a three-wheeler is something that would inspire passion like a proper motorcycle. Accessibility is the Ryker’s real selling point though, be that for car drivers curious to sample life in the open air, former bikers wanting a taste of the old thrills without the spills or those with a passion for riding but physically prevented from doing so for one reason or another.
It’ll never be as cool as a bike. But for opening up that world to a whole new audience who might never otherwise have been able to experience it the Ryker deserves a cheer.