Sunday, October 26, 2014

Can Am safer?

After several requests, I am going to try and explain how the Can Am motorcycle is different than a regular bike...  Other than it has three wheels which is obvious....  LOL..

But what about those three wheels, ?? aren't they what makes it safer?  Well maybe..  But it won't fall over...  Well neither will a regular two wheel bike if you are going faster than about 5 miles an hour...

The gyroscopic effect of the wheels spinning keeps them standing up..  This is also true for your bicycle...  If you fall over while going forward, its usually because you ran into something or something ran into you...

Now on particularly heavy bikes, like the Goldwing and Harley Davidson touring bikes, they can manifest that  heaviness  when you are sitting stopped..  And once leaned over too far, you may not be able (strong enough) to keep them upright...  But no one gets overly hurt just from tipping over at a stop light....  Embarrassing however....!

What makes motorcycles unsafe, is that you are not protected from other vehicles while sitting out in the open...  Not inside of a vehicle like a car or a truck..  Thus you are ejected from an impact...  This would be just as true on the Can Am..  So if you feel safer on the trike, it might be in your mind...

But wait, aren't tikes unsafe because they will tip over toward the end with only one wheel...?  Well perhaps if you are still riding a kids trike.. But motorcycle trikes are quite long, and designed with the two wheel axle to be long enough that this isn't a problem..   Unless of course you are hit by a car, which will lift the wheels off of the ground..  But then we are back to the same thing......  getting hit by another vehicle is the major danger...  trike or bike it is the same thing...

What makes the Can Am different is that the two wheels are in the front.. This is a selling point that the machine will not tip over from the forces of traveling forward...  But this also makes the machine feel like it is an off road quad bike..  NOT a Motorcycle!!  And for that very reason, motorcycle purists won't like the machine...

Quite frankly, it feels a lot like a snowmobile to me...  The big rear tire has about the same sensation as the snow belt, and the two front wheels feel like the skis do as they keep you from tipping from side to side....   But on a snowmobile, you do tip and raise a ski from the snow at times..  But the forces needed to raise a Can Am wheel are counteracted by a computer operated Vehicle Stability System....

This is similar to modern traction control systems..  What it does is add braking, and adjust the throttle independent of the inputs of the rider..  This keeps the wheels planted on the roadway at all times..

Steering.  Remember this is not a motorcycle, so it steers like a car or quad bike.. It does not require counter steer to cause the bike to lean into a corner..  Actually the bike leans away from a corner and compresses the springs on that outer side a bit...  This can be discomforting at first as you feel like you might fly off toward the outside of the turn...  So you tend to lean your body toward the inside of the turn...

Brakes.  You don't have a handle bar brake lever...  Braking is done with a single pedal on your right foot...   Again the computer is adjusting how much braking each wheel uses...  This was quite apparent at a rapid stop when a light changed in front of me in traffic..  The brakes were  variably applied by the computer brain to keep me going in a straight line...

But that straight line was effected by my inputs..  The steering is power assisted as the front wheels are larger and wider than a motorcycle...  I was then adding too much input and the assist was causing me to wander...  I had this same problem when I first went highway speeds...  I was over correcting and wandering around in my lane on the road...  It will take some time to get this feel under my belt.

Engine and transmission.  The engine is a Rotax 1330 ccd three cylinder inline..  This is bigger than last years 998 V twin..  With the extra cylinder and more displacement, the engine develops more bottom end torque..  This minimizes the amount of rpms needed to develop power in each gear..  The older engine required larger rpms to maintain speed..

Shifting.  The newer bikes come without a clutch lever...  The conventional manual and clutch is available, but the dealer said they didn't sell well against the newer semi automatic...  The transmission has 6 forward gears and a reverse..  This is controlled with a paddle shifter under the left handlebar..   Your thumb changes the gears upward and your forefinger shifts back down... Or you can just let the bike shift by itself as it slows..

So this thing is not a motorcycle! Its not a quad bike or a side by side either...!  Its somewhere in between...  It weighs about 1050 pounds and needs the newer bigger 115 hp engine..  But it gets better gas mileage with that bigger motor than its predecessors..  On the 200 mile run the other day, I used a little under 5 gallons of gas..  That is somewhere near 40 miles per gallon...  That is certainly acceptable...

I know this is a technical post and if your not that interested, you probably didin't make it to this point, but I got the idea that some folks wanted to know all of this..

Tomorrow will be an ordinary, what's going on post I promise..

Retired Rod


  1. So about 3 gallons should get you to DPS and back? Got room for Biscuit on that thing?

    1. Get on down here and we'll be over!! But it won't go on those trails you take with the horses.... LOL

  2. That 40 mpg sure does sound good. A little bit better than what we're getting coming across country.

  3. I always thought it would be neat to ride one of those things to see the differences between a full-dresser and it.
    Thanks for the info.


  4. Like those wide stance training wheels on the front:))

  5. How come you aren't talking about the Royals being in the World Series?? This girls weekend I have watched more baseball than I've ever watched in my life due to my friend Kelly being from Kansas City--she also lives in Leawood.

    1. After last night and the beginning of tonight, I don't know what to say..... At least they are in the final games.....

  6. Thanks for the details from a biker / snow machine perspective. I would have a hard time giving up a lifetime of counter steer. But this will allow many people to stay on the road after a knee problem etc.
    I would suspect someone who never drove a street bike would take to it like a duck to water.

  7. That was an interesting explanation, Rod. I have no inclination to have one but I see them every time I go to my ATV dealership and I wonder about things. Now I know! Thanks.

  8. I found your post very interesting. When I got to the heading for "Steering", I read it as "Swearing". I'm still laughing over that because I'd probably be swearing trying to ride it. My aging eyes are to blame!

  9. Hi Rod, I'm a long time follower of yours but never comment - going to try sending you an email this morning - Driving from Dayton, OH to Mesa and have a couple questions please Thanks ! Cindy in Dayton, Ohio


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