I’ll be honest. Outside of a strange infatuation with Russian sidecar rigs, I had never understood the appeal of three-wheelers. Whether they be trikes (two wheels in the back, one in the front) or whatever the inverse of trikes call themselves, these contraptions had just never resonated with me. You can’t lean them into corners like a motorcycle and they won’t hug an apex like a proper sportscar either: lateral stability, you see, is simply not an odd-numbered affair. Storage is typically limited, so grocery getting isn’t in the cards and that tripod tire configuration ensures you hit every bump, burm and pothole on the road, so even boulevard cruising can be unsettling. Like swiping right for a chaperoned date, I had presumed that all of the fun and freedom they promise would be fleeting. But man, everyone else sure seems to love them.
In my first hour behind the bars of the CAN-AM Ryker, not a block was passed without someone letting me know how “cool” they thought this thing was. From dudes in metallic-wrapped Teslas to ladies walking Fido and even a new rider on a Ninja 400, thumbs were always, enthusiastically pointed up. Maybe there’s something wrong with me?
Powered by a 900cc, three-cylinder Rotax engine and tipping scales at less than most Harley cruisers (285kg dry), the Ryker Rally Edition boasts specs that should impress. There’s 82 hp on tap and more than enough torque (58.3 lbs-ft) to roast that single circle of 205-sized rear rubber. Power is put to the road via an automatic CVT transmission, so there’s no clutch lever for my left hand to fiddle with or shifter for my left foot. Even my right hand feels a bit left out as the brakes are linked and actuated by a single foot pedal on the right-hand side. This is very much a point and shoot type vehicle as it takes away near all of the guesswork.
Twisting the moto-derived right grip all-the-way-round to its stops, the Ryker squirms and the rear tire yelps. I fight off what feels like a weirdly vague bout of torque-steer from the bars and, before I know it I’m blasting through downtown Toronto at a dangerously high rate of speed. That CVT transmission it uses builds velocity in a continuous fashion. The Ryker never falls out of the powerband.
Or at least it feels that way. A glance down to the digital gauge atop the risers and I’m barely flirting with 70 km/hr. And I’m in Eco mode?!? Regardless, keeping tires out of streetcar tracks while deking around surprised commuters is putting a smile on face. Maybe this thing ain’t so bad after all?
In Rally Edition guise, the Ryker comes with four pre-programmed riding modes; Eco, Standard, Sport and Rally. Both Eco and Standard feel relatively similar, with decent but relaxed throttle response and traction control (TC) fully engaged. Choose Sport and the TC will allow for enough rear-wheel spin to squeal away from a stop light or steer-with-the-rear around a tight bend. Rally mode lets you figure things out on your own. I like Rally mode. It’s fun.
Stand on the brake pedal and grab for some WOT (Wide Open Throttle) and the neighbourhood kids will think you’re Ken Block. Or at least his chubbier, less talented cousin as the Ryker cranks out enough smoke to make Snoop Dogg blush. Get off that brake and the shenanigans continue as that CVT struggles to sort out your lunacy. At speed, I aim towards a bend in the road and vow not to scrub so I can see what this thing can handle. The Rally Edition also benefits by having an upgraded suspension. There’s a set of preload adjustable coilovers, KYB HPG shocks up front and a fully adjustable, remote reservoir unit in the back. I’m hoping they keep things planted as I shift all of my bodyweight towards the inner front tire and turn the bars. They don’t.
I blow past the apex. Wide. Like, way wide. Now I’m wrestling with the brake to bring the Ryker back into shape. The understeer is fairly monumental and, with the lack of solitary rear brake control, it means I won’t be able to swing the back end around anytime soon unless I goose the throttle and break traction again. Whether through dumb luck or a loophole in physics, my experiment works and, once settled, I stop and pullover. I won’t be trying that again anytime soon. I should wait at least a couple of hours, no?
The Ryker is not a motorcycle. It will never replace a motorcycle — at least not in my garage. But after a week behind its bars, it does make a certain sort of sense. There are infinite amounts of fun you can have on this thing, but there’s more going on here than just hooliganism. For riders no longer able to operate a motorcycle or for those curious about life on two wheels, the Ryker, and three-wheeled rides of its ilk, are ideal. And it actually makes for a decent fair-weather, budget commuter.
Cruising from the burbs to the heart of The 6ix everyday was decently comfortable and, being in the open air, always enjoyable. The attention from others never ceased and even the typically angry commuters stuck in cars shot me smiles and waved me through, most of the time. Parking this snowmobile-for-the-summer was easy, thanks to a reverse gear and, best of all, was free. Parking enforcement in Toronto views these things as a motorcycle, afterall. An all-electric version of this thing — which is coming by the way — would be incredible for city life.
So apparently what was wrong with me, was motorcycles. They’re infinite awesomeness had jaded me. Indoctrinated me to think that only something with two-wheels could stir my soul. And I had been wrong. There may not be room in my garage for something with three-wheels (save one of those Russian sidecar rigs) but the Ryker sure is fun.
2019 CAN-AM Ryker Rally Edition
Price as tested: $15,023.98
Engine/Transmission: Rotax 900 ACE 3-cylinder, Automatic CVT w/reverse
Horsepower: 82 hp (61.1 kW) @ 8000 RPM
Torque: 56 ft-lb (76 Nm) @ 6300 RPM
Fuel capacity: 20L
Storage capacity: 7L