I’ll admit it; I’ve always thought three-wheelers and trikes were like motorcycles with training wheels. I assumed they were earmarked for aging ex-motorcycle riders, or those with balance issues keeping them away from two wheels. Well, I’ve been schooled.
On May 6 — also known as International Female Ride Day (IFRD) — I took Can-Am’s 2023 Ryker Rally for a spin through the orange groves and wineries in Temecula, Calif. I’ll never look at three-wheelers the same again.
In short: The Ryker Rally turned out to be a lot more fun than I anticipated. I soon discovered its sweet spot comes in the corners, which is where you’ll want to take it. Just don’t get too confident: these machines can still toss you off the saddle.
- Engine Rotax 900 cc engine; in-line 3 cylinders; liquid-cooled, electric fuel injection
- Power 82 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm
- Torque 58.3 ft.-lbs. @6,500 rpm
- Reverse option
- Rear shock 7.05"; adjustable damping & preload
- Front brakes 270mm disc; 2-piston floating calipers
- Rear brake 220mm disc; 1-piston floating caliper
- Front tire MC 145/60R16 66T
- Rear tire MC 205/55R15 81T
- Ground clearance 4.8"
- Fuel capacity 5.28 gal.
- ABS & traction control
- Akrapovic exhaust
- Auto twist-and-go transmission
- Vehicle stability control
- 100,000+ customizations possible
- Drift-friendly Sport Mode & fuel-saving Eco Mode (900cc only)
- Dual USB ports
- Structural hand guards
- Adjustable foot pegs
- Aluminum skid plate
- Agile, responsive, stable
- Wind buffeting is a nonissue (unlike riding a motorcycle)
- Easy to ride
- Super-comfortable seat
- Adjustable handlebars
- Lacks a windscreen
- Can be tricky to figure out where to place wheels when dodging obstacles
- Fussy to start, with lots of things to remember
- Next-to-nothing storage
2023 Can-Am Ryker Rally Review
I joined 12 other female riders of varying skill levels — all on three wheels — at Temecula Motorsports on a sunny Saturday.
There are a few different three-wheeler models, but I have my eye on the 2023 Ryker Rally — an agile, sportier-looking vehicle that looks like a lot of fun.
A salesperson from the dealership comes out to give us an orientation. Some of the Can-Am three-wheelers require more steps than others to fire up the engine, but none are as simple as turning a key and giving it gas.
So far, it looks like the hardest thing about riding the Ryker will be remembering how to start it. First is the key fob — similar to that of a Sea-Doo or snowmobile in that it snaps onto a “post.”
Next, I make sure the kill switch is in the “run” position and press the start button. There still isn’t any sound coming from the engine because I haven’t rolled the throttle forward. I do so and hear a beep, watching the 4-inch display light up.
Now it’s ready to start. I make sure my foot’s on the brake pedal and hit the start button again. The Ryker comes to life with a sexy purr from the Akropovic exhaust.
Limited Storage, but More Than a Motorcycle
Once I’ve claimed the Ryker, I look for a place to stow my backpack, but only find a small glove compartment in front of the handlebars. I don’t want the pack on my back, so I ask another rider on a Spyder to store my gear in her frunk.
Compared to a motorcycle — which needs to be kitted out with panniers and tank bags — the glove compartment is at least something. It’s large enough to hold a small camera or a water bottle and some snacks, but not all of the above.
The Ryker does come with a rear mount structure to help increase carrying capacity and storage options, which can be found on its site.
Yep, It’s That Easy
I’m surprised when the group leaders take us straight from the dealer lot onto the freeway. Some of us have never ridden three wheels before. As it turns out, it is that easy to ride a three-wheeler. Aside from a few rear-wheel squeals, we’re off and already looking like pros.
As suspected, the hardest part was figuring out how to start the engine.
The Ryker has no trouble hitting high speeds and keeping up with traffic. I do feel the rear wheel tracking left to right but suspect that’s normal for a three-wheeler.
Like a Snowmobile With Wheels
A go-cart you can take on the freeway? A snowmobile with wheels? A super-fast, agile quad missing a wheel? Reaching 70 mph on the freeway, I think of how to describe riding a three-wheeled vehicle.
It feels like a quad when I see the two wheels in front of me, but when I look at it from the front while stopped, it reminds me of a snowmobile with wheels. Three-wheelers bear few similarities to motorcycles, aside from looking down and seeing handlebars. Also, unlike a motorcycle, there is no front brake lever on the bars — just a foot-operated, hydraulic three-wheel brake.
After 15 minutes on the freeway, we merge off onto quieter roads.
I’ve noticed the lack of a windscreen, though you can add one if you want from the accessories list on the Can-Am site. A huge plus for riding a three-wheeler over two? You hardly notice the side winds, which really picked up later that day.
Sporty, but Can It Get Dirty?
One of the features that immediately draws me to the Ryker Rally is the white aluminum rims. Set against the black paint, it gives a sportier, peppier look than a more classic all-black layout. I don’t venture off-pavement due to riding in a guided group, but I want to, just to see how the Ryker behaves.
The best I can do is ride in circles around the gravel parking lot where we stop for lunch. There’s not much tread gripping the loose dirt, which means I get to slide a little. Additional features on the Ryker Rally suggest Canadian-owned Can-Am is expecting you’ll take it off-pavement at least a little.
An aluminum skid plate, reinforced rims, hand guards, anti-slip foot pegs, mud flaps, and KYB HPG adjustable shocks with an extra inch of travel all come standard.
Add to that mud flaps, a pushbar, and a MAX Mount for hauling extra cargo or a passenger, and you’re not just limited to smooth tarmac. It is called the Ryker “Rally” after all, and yes, you’ll find a rally mode option that is literally there so the rider can perform “controlled drifts.”
To Straddle or Not to Straddle?
One thing I don’t get used to during the 150-mile ride is where to position the Ryker’s tires when there’s an obstacle in the road. With two wheels up front, I naturally go to straddle a rock on the tarmac but feel the kick when my rear wheel catches it and spins off.
Next time, I keep the surface area of that fat rear rubber in mind, but now I have to swerve toward the oncoming lane, or too close to the ditch. Skilled three-wheelers might have a solution, but I resorted to riding over stuff or going around where possible.
One nice thing is the widest part of a three-wheeler is upfront. If you can squeeze by something with a front tire, it only gets slimmer behind you.
The 3-Wheeler Demographic
It’s worth noting that 71% of Can-Am three-wheelers are new to powersports. Women make up 35% of Can-Am owners, outpacing the industry average of 21%.
The Women of On-Road program (WOOR) plays a huge part in breaking down barriers and encouraging new riders of all skill levels. Their Facebook page has over 17,000 followers, which clearly shows the desire for a space where female riders can feel welcome in the powersports community.
Currently, only 20% of all riders on the road are female. WOOR aims to increase that number through community, education, and inclusivity.
When we stop for lunch, all 12 of us sit at a long table under sun umbrellas and get to know each other.
Ages range from early 20s to late 60s. Skills levels are just as vast, from the expertise of the group leaders, to new riders who’d never ridden or driven anything but four-wheeled vehicles before.
I carve into the apex of every corner I can find, feeling the snap and stability on three wheels I’ve never mastered on two. In more than one case, my heart skips a beat when I get overconfident with speed and have to give the handlebars an extra push past the arc.
My fear is a skid, or worse, a tip over. But the Ryker Rally responds favorably, keeping me in my seat and all rubber on the ground. That’s not to say you can’t get into trouble with a three-wheel vehicle. If you’re too aggressive, and one of those front tires starts to lift, gravity will take over.
I didn’t have the chance to carry a passenger, but I assume the technique for riding two-up is similar to a motorcycle. Lean with the machine and no jerky movements. That said, on some of the larger three-wheelers that do offer a passenger seat, I’m sure pillion movement is much more forgiving than on two wheels.
Comfort All the Way
After 150 miles on a motorcycle, I’d be feeling it in my butt and low back. Not the case on the Ryker, with its toolless seating options and Rally comfort seat.
The seat itself was plush with no hard spots. Can-Am offers multiple seat and backrest options available for the Ryker if you want to tailor it even more.
Ergonomic adjustability in the handlebars, foot pegs, and brake pedal helped me get into a position I wasn’t reaching for. On small complaint I have for the factory foot pegs — they’re on the narrow side and the balls of my feet started to go numb after a few hours.
There are aftermarket options available for a wider peg, if you choose.
2023 Can-Am Ryker Rally Review Wrapup
I still have a hard time looking at three-wheelers and finding them as attractive as motorcycles, but the sporty, rugged look of the Ryker Rally is appealing.
In the end, I leave the experience of riding 150 miles of twisty Californian side roads feeling that feeling — a tingling sensation that leaves a smile on my face, and my body buzzing.
I’d even go so far as to say that riding a three-wheeler is thrilling — at least if you have some corners to play in.
If you’re new to riding three wheels and want to learn some skills first, the Can-Am Rider Education Program will get you out on the road. Licensing regulation varies by state and province. Can-Am has a webpage with licensing info.
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