Wild File: Police-Edition Can-Am Spyder F3-S

Police departments turn to Can-Am’s three-wheeler in an effort to get more cops on the beat.

I have a confession to make—as a result of an adolescence spent bending the rules, the sight of a police vehicle still spikes my heart rate. That being the case, when I walked out of the Motorcyclist offices and saw this black-and-white Police Spyder my first thought wasn't "Oh, cool!" but "Oh, crap!"

Once I realized there was no radar-wielding officer on premises, my curiosity took over. What the heck is this thing? And why is this a thing?

Coming to us from the BRP factory in still-cold Canada, the Can-Am Spyder F3-P is a spiced-up Spyder F3-S outfitted for police work. It starts life as an up-spec F3-S, which means unrestricted power (a claimed 115 hp) from the 1330cc Rotax-build triple, upgraded suspension and brakes, and more lenient traction control. BRP then slaps on some blindingly bright LEDs, an ear-piercing siren, some hard luggage, and that signature black-and-white graphics package.

So now the why. Why three wheels when two are faster, more maneuverable, and more fun? It seems most motor cops come to the force with some riding experience, yet still require six to nine weeks of training before they’re ready for duty on a two wheeler. With a F3-P, however, there’s no motorcycling experience required and the training period can be as short as two weeks since the operator doesn’t need to have great balance or understand the concept of counter steering.

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If the goal is simply to get more cops on the beat, the F3-P makes some sense. But after riding the thing I was reminded of the inherent issues with three-wheelers. Yes, the F3-P goes and stops impressively well, but trying to turn the F3-P at speed reminded me of driving a front-wheel-drive car in the snow—it just plows and understeers. Traction control and ABS do their best to keep things stable, but add a little speed to any maneuver and the F3-P gets sketchy in a hurry.

So is it a good idea to put officers on rigs that don’t handle as well as bikes and aren’t nearly as safe as cars? That’s certainly open to debate, but the fact is BRP is making the F3-P and they’re already being delivered to police departments in the US.

This isn't the first head-scratcher of a vehicle to visit us from our neighbors to the north. Just the other week Zack Courts took a spin on a diesel-engine KLR650, known by its owner as a Kawabota (click here to see this custom turbo-diesel 2WD Kawasaki).

Can-Am Spyder F3-P
Can-Am Spyder F3-P©Motorcyclist