Are Can-Am Spyders Reliable? (Useful Guide)

The Can-Am Spyder is a three-wheeled “trike” motorcycle produced by Can-Am, a division of Bombardier Recreational Products.

The Spyder is an inverted trike, though, driven by a single rear wheel with two wheels up front for steering.

It’s certainly a unique concept, with a similar design to a snowmobile and an ATV style chassis.

If you’re considering buying one, you’re probably wondering about their reliability.

We’ll cover that in this article, read on to find out…

Here is the short answer to whether Can-Am Spyders are reliable:

Can-Am Ranks lowest in reliability among the top 10 motorcycles brands, according to consumer reports. That said, many of the quality control issues outlined by consumers have since been discovered and fixed. Can-Am Spyder’s reliability has much to do with maintenance, storage, and riding habits.

How Reliable Are Can-Am Spyders?

Can-Am Spyders aren’t best known for their reliability but for satisfying a niche market and they are often considered unreliable due to:

  • Inconsistent dealership knowledge and support
  • Finicky warranty coverage
  • Electrical failures
  • A history of quality control issues

Spyders have been more reliable for some years; many failures are due to service negligence which could be attributed to high maintenance costs. 

That said, for every cynical Spyder owner you find in the forums, two Spyder riders swear by their reliability.

One of the chief complaints regarding the reliability of the Can-Am Spyder pertains to electrical issues.

With a complex CPU-driven design, Spyders have left their owners stranded at the hands of an inaccurate code error.

Some Spyder riders reported that their Can-Am Syder was throwing error codes at them when there wasn’t actually an issue – this in itself is a reliability issue, though, as a wrong error message can potentially leave the Spyder inoperable.

Safety features prevent the Spyders from firing up and riding if specific errors are detected.

There may not have been a failure, to begin with, but a Spyder that throws operation-hindering codes even when there isn’t a problem is unreliable.

It’s important to note how crucial owner maintenance is to a Spyuder’s reliability, same as any other vehicle.

And, as I said, plenty of Syder riders testify to the reliability of their machines.

Compared to other motorcycles, the complexity of the Spyder requires some meticulous maintenance, including laser wheel alignments and complicated services that require expert mechanics.

The complexity of these machines also means that there is more room for something to go wrong compared to a standard bike.

And the high maintenance cost on a Spyder stops some owners from getting their bikes tuned up per the suggested maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual.

The specialty knowledge required to perform Spyder-specific maintenance tasks like a laser wheel alignment also prevents even a decent home mechanic from being able to wrench themselves to save a buck.

A high number of reliability complaints have been linked to quality control issues during manufacturing, after these have been rectified owners seem to be pretty happy with them.

How Many Miles Can a Can-Am Spyder Last?

A Can-Am Spyder that’s well maintained can last over 60,000 miles, providing its been stored and serviced correctly and ridden regularly and responsibly. While the complex engineering behind a Can-Am Spyder makes service more complicated, it also makes it more critical.

Don’t take our word for it though, here are some real-life odometer readings from happy Can-Am Spyder owners:

  • 56,000 miles
  • 54,195 miles
  • 51,000 miles
  • 48,500 miles
  • 65,650 miles
  • 57,000 miles
  • 65,772 miles
  • 73,300 miles
  • 86,000 miles
  • 138,000 miles

We captured these 10 Spyder odometer readings from the forum testimonies of real-life Spyder riders, all who sing the praises of their Spyders durability.

Based on their feedback there seems to be a few points to keep in mind when assessing how many miles a Spyder will last:

  • How capable and responsive the local Can-Am dealership is.
  • Spyders are more complicated than a standard motorcycle; they require special knowledge for repairs and routine service and assembly.
  • Spyders arrived at the dealership in a crate and disassembled.
  • The improper dealership assembly of a Can-Am Spyder can significantly affect how many miles it will last.

If your local Can-Am dealership employs capable and passionate mechanics, your Spyder could last over 100,000 miles, as seen in the above figures.

However, if you are unlucky enough to have an incapable or lazy dealership in your area, you may find that number significantly reduced.

To ensure your Spyder lasts for well over 60,000:

  1. Check the reviews for the Spyder dealership in your area,
  2. And make sure there’s a high-rated dealership within travel distance to you.
  3. Keep up to date with the service shedule and avoid aggressive riding

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Harley-Davidsons Last?

What is Considered High Mileage for a Can-Am Spyder?

A Can-Am Spyder is considered high-mileage after 25,000 miles. The used market is harsh on judging the motorcycles and recreational vehicles based on the assumption that they’re ridden hard and rough. That said, a Spyder may be considered high mileage at 25,000 but still perform reliably.

There are much more dynamic factors to consider when judging if a Spyder is high-mileage, like:

  • Storage
  • Regularity of Service maintenance
  • The quality behind the Spyder’s Assembly and Maintenance
  • Riding Habits
  • Climate Exposure

If the previous owner took the Spyder in for regular services, providing the dealership employs capable mechanics, the high miles on the odometer don’t really impact the bike’s longevity as much as the resale value.

If you’re in the market for a used Can-Am Spyder, you may even get a better deal on a Spyder with over 25,000 miles on it.

And, if that low-price, high-mile Spyder you are considering is maintained well and cared for properly, it might last longer than a low-mile Spyder that was neglected.

You may be better off with a good, well taken care of, used bike with higher mileage vs a newer, low mileage one simply because any serious problem that occurred during assembly should already be fixed.

What Are the Best Model Years to Buy and Avoid?

Best Years

The best year Can-Am Spyders are the 2015-2021 models, especially the RT models. Spyders manufactured during this period are more reliable with better brakes, tires, engines, a six-speed transmission, and dual radiators up with reverse radiator fans.

  • The RT line prioritizes safety, comfort, storage, and passenger accommodations.
  • While the dreaded code malfunction mentioned earlier isn’t obsolete on the post-2014 models, the error percentage is significantly lower.

Worst Years

The worst year Can-Am Spyder is the 2013 model. Can-Am recalled 5,165 2013 Spyders due to excessive engine heat. The engine heat issue on the 2013 Spyder was so severe that it could burn the rider’s legs, and, in some cases, extreme engine-heat-output on the 2013 Can-Am Spyder even started fires. 

  • While the 2013 Can-Am Spyder was recalled once the issue became widespread, by 2015, Can-Am still hadn’t engineered a fix for the problem.
  • WIthout replacement parts and a proper diagnosis, Can-Am couldn’t correctly perform the recall.
  • Many of the affected units were fitted with heat shields to prevent fires and leg burns.
  • Can-Am advised owners of the 2013 Spyder not to ride their Spyders in traffic and not to idle for long periods.
  • Even though Bombardier Recreational Products eventually fitted heat shields on the recalled 2013 Spyders, the 2013 Spyder still goes down as the worst year Can-Am Spyder.

You may also be interested in our article: Are Polaris Slingshots Reliable?

What Usually Breaks First on a Can-Am Spyder?

The first things to break on a Can-Am Spyder are reportedly the disk brakes, radiator clamp or hose, and various electrical components. If electrical issues occur, a Spyder’s CPU might detect damage that isn’t there in the motor, and the Spyder becomes immobile.   

The first sign of a failing radiator hose or clamp is a coolant leak under the front trunk of the Spyder.

In some cases, the leak might be caused by a crack in the radiator, another weak spot on Spyders.

Can-Am Spyders also tend to have an issue with disc brakes glazing or failing due to brake squeaking warping the rotors.

I’ve also read consumer reports that claim the Can-Am Spyder brake problems extend to the hand brake or parking brake as well.

The parking brake on a Spyder gets stuck in place and won’t release under rider input, leaving you stuck until it does – I hear letting the Spyder cool down is the best option for unsticking its parking brake.

And finally, one of the first things to break on many Can-Am Spyders is the belt tensioner.

It’ll not only fail but go missing entirely.

The belt tensioner should be replaced as part of routine service, according to the maintenance schedule outlined in the owner’s manual.

If not, it can fail and could cause belt vibrations severe enough to loosen your battery terminals.

Can-Am High-Performance Spyder Maintenance Costs

3000 Mile Service & Every 9300 Miles-F3 Models-SM6 & SE6$216.99
3000 Mile Service & Every 9300 Miles-RT Models-SM6 & SE6$239.49
Replace Engine Oil & Filter, Perform Diagnostic Software Check, Check Brake Fluid Level, Check Engine Coolant Level, Inspect Throttle Twist Grip Operation, Check Lighting System, Check Control Switch Operation, Inspect & Adjust Drive Belt, Check Front Wheel Lug Nut Torque, Check Rear Wheel Axle Nut Torque, Inspect & Adjust Parking Brake, Inspect & Adjust Front Wheel Alignment, Inspect & Adjust Tire Pressures, Inspect Brake System, Check Passenger Handholds, Check Footrests, Check Body Panels, Check Storage Compartment Latches, Hinges, & Key Barrels, Check & Retighten Exhaust Pipe, Clamping Rings, Joints, & Gaskets, Road Test
28000 Mile Service-RT/F3-SM6$660.44
28000 Mile Service-RT/F3-SE6$810.43
Replace Engine Oil & Filter, Perform Diagnostic Software Check, Check Brake Fluid Level, Check Engine Coolant Level, Inspect Throttle Twist Grip Operation, Check Lighting System, Check Control Switch Operation, Inspect & Adjust Drive Belt, Check Front Wheel Lug Nut Torque, Check Rear Wheel Axle Nut Torque, Inspect & Adjust Parking Brake, Inspect & Adjust Front Wheel Alignment, Inspect & Adjust Tire Pressures, Inspect Brake System, Check Passenger Handholds, Check Footrests, Check Body Panels, Check Storage Compartment Latches, Hinges, & Key Barrels, Check & Retighten Exhaust Pipe, Clamping Rings, Joints, & Gaskets, Replace Fuel Filter, Replace Hydraulic Control Module Filter(SE6 Model Only), Replace Evap Canister Pre-Filter, Replace Spark Plugs, Check Front Suspension Arm Rubber Bushings, Road Test
Basic Oil Change-F3 Models-SM6 & SE6$149.49
Basic Oil Change-RT Models-SM6 & SE6$171.99
Change Engine Oil & Filter Only-Uses BRP Oil Change Kit
PA State Inspection-PASS OR FAIL-Price Includes Tax & Sticker Fee$53.00
Replace Rear Tire$374.49
Replace Front Tire-Each-14” & 15”$139.49
Replace Front Brake Pads-EBC High-Performance Pads$157.40
Replace Rear Brake Pads-EBC High-Performance Pads$88.95
True-Track Laser Alignment$149.95

Source: https://smithmarineusa.com/Dealer-Services/Service-Department/Spyder-Service

5 Tips to Make Sure Your Can-Am Spyder Is Reliable

Quality of materials and design play a major role when it comes to reliability, however there are a number of ways to prevent problems from arising.

1) Treat it like a Sports Vehicle

A Can-Am Spyder is in fact a sports vehicle like a motorcycle and should be treated as such.

Owning a sports vehicle is a hobby in itself and keeping your Spyder reliable requires constant upkeep and detail cleaning.

2) Buy your Spyder at a High-Rated Dealership.

Spyders are assembled at the dealerships, and inexperienced or substandard mechanics tend to be behind many reported failures and quality issues.

Most of the disgruntled Spyder riders who report unreliability were unlucky customers of a less reputable dealership.

Look into the dealership ahead of time to make sure it has a solid reputation for assembling and maintaining Spyders with adequate knowledge and passion for their craft.

3) Have your Spyder regularly serviced at the dealership.

Not only is navigating the mechanical engineering of a Spyder a particular skill, but A complex CPU also operates high-performance Spyders.

A thorough dealerships service according to the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual will be sure your Spyder is up to date, decreasing your chances of being stranded by CPU failure.

4) Store your Spyder Properly – Out of the Elements; Away from Corrosive Chemicals.

For the sake of your Spyder’s longevity, it’s essential to store it away from the elements.

Sun exposure can cause seals, grips, leather, and adhesives to wear out early, and moisture and precipitation cause rust and other types of corrosion.

If you don’t have access to a garage, a decent motorcycle tarp can work great – one with ventilation is ideal, as it prevents condensation moisture from being trapped on your Spyder and causing corrosion.

If you do have access to a garage, be sure you’re not storing any corrosive chemicals like pool cleaner in the vicinity of your Spyder, as airborne acidic fumes can cause significant damage. 

5) Ride your Spyder Regularly and Responsibly.

Riding your Spyder according to the riding habits outlined in your Spyder’s owner’s manual, adhereing to the break-in period expressed therein, will ensure a long life of reliable performance.

Also, regularly riding your Spyder will keep its fluids clean, its engine components lubricated, and its battery juiced.

If you plan to let your Spyder sits for prolonged periods of no use, winterize it and tender its battery.

Be sure you’re keeping its fluids fresh even if you’re not riding often to keep your Can-Am Spyder reliable long term.

Resources

https://can-am.brp.com/on-road/us/en/