May 29 2012 By Ben Spencer
Victory Can Am Spyders Image 1
NOT many vehicles can cause grown men to walk out of pubs and cross a road of traffic just to ask the driver what on earth they are driving.
But that was the experience I had perched upon the unique Can-am Spyder - a three wheeled motorbike that you can ride with a regular car driving lience.
Finnieston dealership ATV Adventure Xtreme is the only place in Scotland that sells these head-turning bikes.
Made by a Canadian manufacter they are a big hit in France and Germany and are starting to grow in popularity over here.
I visited the dealership to try out the bike, which oddly has two wheels at the front and one at the back, myself and to find out how they have been received by Glaswegian motorists.
Dealership owner Glen Miller, 49, said few vehicles had quite the same capacity to turn heads.
He said: “They are for people who want something a bit different, to stand out from the crowd.
“Even when we have them parked outside the dealership everyone stops to take a look at it and you see people getting out their phones to take photos.
“I’ve never heard any bad comments about them. It is a definite head turner.”
Despite looking a little like a futuristic craft from Blade Runner or Judge Dredd, Glen said that the Spyder proves popular with a wide range of people.
He said: “We get the older customers who don’t want to hold up a heavier bike. It’s something for them that they can manage a bit easier.
“A lot of people are also at the point of wanting a motorbike licence but don’t want the hassle of trying to get one.
“This is great for them as it can be driven with a regular car licence and there are no balance and engine clutch issues to worry about.
“We have an element of disabled customers who like them too - perhaps someone who has lost a limb.
“It’s quite good for couple too. I’ve had quite a few ladies come in and say I’d like to go on the back of this. Their partner will suddenly think that this is now a hobby that we can both enjoy.
“I think people are more prepared to go out and try it and then enjoy it than perhaps they would be with a bike.”
Firmly educated on the customer base of the bike, it was time to try the Spyder out for myself.
As I swung my leg over the back of the bike, the first onlooker of the day stopped walking past the dealership to take a look at the unique looking vehicle.
The first impresssion you get is of the sheer scale of the beast - It’s nearly as wide as a car and the Tourer model has a large body with plenty of storage space.
We took the bike down to the quiet roads near the SECC car park and I set off, getting used to the controls.
You accelerate with a right hand throttle and flip up the gears on the semi-automatic gearbox with a paddle at your left hand.
Braking is carried out by pressing your right foot down onto the nearby brake.
These things don’t just look smart, my Tourer model was kitted out with a sat-nav and onboard computer which was quick to tell me off when I accidentally rode the brake by not taking my foot of it.
Nearby pedestrians stopped to point and give me a thumbs-up as I finished off learning the controls.
After that it was time to head out to the M8 and I took a deep breath as I followed Glen - who was riding the Sport model of the bike - as he snaked across five lanes of traffic to the right lane.
This bike may be too big to slip in between cars to overtake but it does feel a lot safer than regular bikes due to its size.
There’s also a nice feeling of being in the open air on the bike and the noise of the road and the engine is much more immediate.
With a 1000cc engine the bike is also nippy - perfect for a getaway. The Tourer model is also designed for comfort with heated handlebars, an audio system that can be controlled in the backseat and aseating position that feels more like a comfy sofa than a motorbike.
It’s also very safe, Glen insisted. “They have traction control, stability control. I defy you to turn this thing over.”
After heading to Balloch we returned to the city through the back route along country lanes and yet more passers-by stopped to gawk, point and smile.
Gen told me that he always took his Glasgow customers out on this route to give them a proper idea of how the bike handled.
He added: “At first we let them get used to the bikes and feel comfortable on them. They will have tried the straight roads and stopped a bit.
“Then we take them back to Glasgow on the twisitng back roads and they always come back with a smile on their faces.”
With a look that turns head like no other vehicle I’ve ever driven, it’s no surprise that the Spyder is luring more and more Glaswegians into its web.