Is the Ryker Rally Truly Adventurous

Story by David G. Williams// Photos by David G. Williams
December 11 2019

Could this three-wheeler be an alternative to two-wheeled, off-road camping?

I should have used my head. But in true Knucklehead fashion, I jumped right in without a thought to what a normal, sensible person would do. And now I was trying to hang on at 100 km/h while 18-wheelers swarmed me mercilessly and I couldn’t get this freaking thing to stay in a straight line. I felt like I was sitting on top of a go-cart with no wind protection and which was trying to throw me off its back. The ride was absolute chaos. I was terrified. And I had 45 minutes to go.
It seemed like a good idea when I first thought of it. Which is how I usually get into trouble. When I first saw the new Ryker from Can-Am, I thought it looked cool, sort of like a modern version of the old Morgan three-wheelers, but with no doors to hold you in. Or seatbelts. And the price was much better than the Spyder; the Ryker starts at $10,699. But then when I saw the Rally version, marketed as an Adventure-style three-wheeler at $14,499, I thought, “How many people would love to go off-roading or camping on a bike, but lack the training, skills or confidence to do so?”

A Safer Off-Road Alternative?

Time and again, manufacturers told me that 80% or 90% of their so-called “adventure bikes” never go off-pavement for those very reasons. The Ryker Rally three-wheeler takes care of all those problems. It’s not going to tip over and pin you to the ground so that you can be eaten by dingos. You’re not going to be overcome by its weight and keel over with a heart attack. Your feet will touch the ground, even though they don’t need to. With the CVT transmission, you don’t have to shift gears while standing on the pegs in sand or gravel, as you would have to on other off-road bikes, to lower the centre of gravity. The Ryker Rally cares not a jot for gravity. It can’t fall over. For all these reasons, I contacted Can-Am HQ in Quebec and proposed taking a Rally version to do some wild camping in British Columbia to see whether the trike really could live up to the Adventure designation. They agreed.

There are courses designed to teach people how to handle these machines because they are so different from motorcycles. Reverse trikes don’t lean in corners, for example. I was to discover that this attribute would lead to one of the greatest core workouts of my life. Because when you go around a sweeper at 80 km/h, rather than leaning into the turn, the Ryker tries to throw you off into the weeds. I should have taken the course. Or driven the trike around the parking lot for 10 minutes. But two minutes after getting the key, I was on the highway, as noted in my opening paragraph.

My ride shouldn’t be terrifying, so time to take stock. No wind protection means that the wind is tugging at my arms, messing with straight-line stability. So relax and allow for that. But something else is going on. Whenever a bike inexplicably doesn’t feel right, I think, “tire pressure and suspension setup.”

As soon as I got home (I did survive, against all odds), I broke out the manual that is housed in the handy glovebox in front of the fore/aft-adjustable handlebar (itself quite handy: just flip up a lever and slide the handlebar back and forth). I discovered that the suspension was set up for a payload of more than 200 kg and none of the tire pressures were right. With these matters resolved, the trike settled down considerably on the highway. Also of note, I had the fore/aft-adjustable pegs (again, just flip them up and adjust them forward or back) all the way forward for legroom. The better play is to bring pegs into a middle ground between forward and mid-mounts. This gives your knees more bend and creates a more natural position for them to grab the tank, which you need to do in every corner.

Packing For Adventure

Time to go camping. There is only one decent-sized pannier and a small luggage rack behind the seat. That’s all you get, I was told. Clothing went into the pannier and all my camping gear went into a large drybag, but I couldn’t attach it across the rack; it had to go lengthwise because the only way I could see to attach the bag was to wrap my ROK straps around the bag and rack, like tying a mattress to the roof of a car. But the bag was twice the length of the rack, so half the bag was unsupported. So I strapped it down as best I could and hit the road.

This was my second day with the Ryker, and I was getting used to handling it. Enough to relax and have some fun. Riding at speed is a workout because of the manual steering and having to hang on tight in the turns. And the trike still wasn’t rock-steady in a straight line with the wind tugging at my arms. However, we made camp, which meant I could dump my luggage and hit some forest service roads.

This thing is an absolute hoot off pavement. Put the Ryker in Rally mode (there are also Eco and Sport modes), and the throttle response is sharp – to the point that the slightest twist of the throttle sends the back wheel spinning in dirt – and if you really get into it, you better be practised at countersteering if you want to keep the Ryker heading down the road in your intended direction. Rally and Sport both alter the traction control to allow for hilarious amounts of rear wheel slippage. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done so many doughnuts and so much drifting in one day. On dirt and gravel, the Ryker was an absolute blast! It took me back to my old car-racing days, and that experience actually came in quite handy when riding the Ryker.

Lessons Learned

Off-road riding on the Ryker is sort of like racing a sports car. A wildly powered sports car. With handlebars. And no seat belts or doors to hold you in, as I may have mentioned. With all this hooliganism, I did learn something useful to pass on: when you are approaching something like a pothole or other disturbance in the road, you have a choice of either taking it with a front wheel or straddling the hazard and letting the rear wheel take the hit. After being thrown in the air a couple of times, I learned it’s best to let the front wheels do the heavy work.

Fortunately, I learned this lesson before the wooden bridge. The one that had a big hole in it through which you could look down and see the rushing water beneath. I thought I was pretty sharp, seeing that hole in time to straddle it. And just as the front of the Ryker was passing over the hole, I realized that the rear tire was going to drop through the hole. Good ABS brakes on this thing. Using the lever in front of the left foot peg, I shifted the transmission into reverse, backed up and rode around the hole.

During the time I had the Ryker, it was certainly a conversation starter. In fact, an elderly woman stopped to ask me what it was because she thought that it was some sort of fancy new mobility scooter. I have to say I was a bit offended that she would assume that I would need such a thing. Perhaps some hair dye is in order.

And my teenaged son and his friends went crazy over it. They thought it looked like a transformer and were very interested in how easy it is to ride versus a motorcycle. And there may have been a major burnout involved when I was demonstrating Sport mode…

An Alternative Off-Road Machine?

So, when all is said and done, is this the Adventure bike alternative that many have been waiting for? Almost probably. However, my drybag almost fell off three times on the trip home. You can’t go adventuring if there’s no way to transport your gear. Apparently there is a vertically expandable-top case that can be mounted behind the seat, which could hold a helmet and provide a nice backrest, which this thing dearly needs. But that case is certainly not large enough to hold all of your camping gear.

And apparently there is a small adjustable windshield available, which would provide some wind protection – and be very welcome for more comfort and in controlling high-speed stability. Unfortunately, these options weren’t available on my test bike, so I can’t make a definitive statement about their efficiency.
Otherwise, this thing is a riot. Acceleration is exhilarating. And the Ryker is so easy to ride after I spent a bit of time in the saddle. You want to just ride around town? Easy! CVT transmission means no shifting or clutch to slip; three wheels means there’s no slow-speed balance issues. Stop-and-go traffic? Who cares! Just about anyone can ride this trike. Twist and go, baby. But at 100 km/h, I felt like I was trying to hang on to the wing of an airplane. I’ve been on sport bikes that felt better at double the speed.

Can-Am may be on to something with the Ryker. In my small-sample survey, teens loved it, other motorcyclists were interested in learning about it and the pricing was very attractive to those same teens, who may be looking at the price of a compact car. But, please, Can-Am, give us more luggage capacity. And I’d love to try the windshield.

Then you’ll definitely maybe get my Adventure-worthy stamp of approval.


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