Sunday, May 11, 2008


I'm thinking that my next automotive purchase may not be an automobile strictly speaking.

I've looked through the BRP website and am quite impressed with the Can-Am Roadster. Bombardier Recreational Products, of which Can-Am is only one (SkiDoo, SeaDoo, Evinrude and Johnson outboard motors are all others), make it explicitly clear that they consider their vehicle to be neither an auto nor a motorcycle, whatever any particular state's licensing stipulations might be. Since they also market their own line of riding leathers, gloves and helmets, they might also look into adding a (weather-proofed, of course) sachet of salt as well. They do have to carve out a niche in the market somehow; keep that in mind the next time you hear someone ask, "What's in a name?".

That bit of snark out of the way, the included video makes it pretty obvious that riding this beastie is a tangibly different experience from the more traditional two-wheeler (can we take it as stipulated that the lack of any doors or roof removes this from the "car" category?). BRP Can-Am has also made a good effort to provide registration/licensing info (See: "Ownership Info" on the "Need to Know" page), but this is still limited to their Phase 1 sales markets as of yet. Texas is in their Phase 2 category, but I already know that this vehicle will require a motorcycle endorsement on a Class C license along with registration and insurance as a motorcycle (and do not drive your new ride to the test yourself; the state trooper who administers the practical driving portion will write you a ticket, if only on the grounds of your having so obviously insulted his/her common sense and general intelligence. I'm just sayin' is all).

However, I see no mention of what I consider an obvious touring option - a twin-wheeled Bob trailer. If the outside width dimension of the trailer tires was ~1" narrower then the inside front tire dimension, this ought to allow for a cargo area of about 3' inside width by - what? - maybe 5' in length? The principle limiting factor would, I suspect, be the top-end weight capacity adjustment permitted by the rear wheel suspension system, although the more serious challenge might be to the Vehicle Stability System and Dynamic Power Steering (click on the "Technology" link from the main product page). For what it's worth, the added braking surface ought to offer a net advantage as some degree of compensation.

I also think a hard-top closure mechanism would be indicated so as to keep down the likelihood of vehicle roll over resulting from trailer overloading. No-one can completely protect stupid people from themselves, but a solid top with no tie-down points provided ought to be of some help, at least. The extended touring (or only the weekly trip to the supermarket/dry cleaners/fill-in-the-blank as appropriate) cargo capacity would also address one of the more common objections to owning an open-chassis vehicle.

Curiously, I could find no reference to vehicle fuel mileage performance anywhere on the website. I wouldn't think the numbers would differ too greatly from other comparably sized v-twin engines, but it does seem an odd oversight if only from a sales hype perspective. For further reading (and other's point of view) see here for a start.

Absent an early installment from my retirement portfolio (what were the lotto numbers last night anyway?), I won't be actively in the market for one of these this year. However, next summer is a real possibility if the current price structure (and my state of employment) holds true that far into the future.

I do remain available should Can-Am wish to promote their fine product by having me drive a complimentary model around the state. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

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