Get Your Motorcycle License on a Can Am Roadster?

Can Am Roadster Training for a Motorcycle License

Can Am Roadster Training for a Motorcycle License

A few days ago, I turned on the TV and walked into the kitchen for a cup of coffee when I heard a commercial for the Can Am Roadster and I thought I heard them say, "take your motorcycle license test on a Roadster and go riding the next day." I ran back into the living room but the ad was over and wasn't sure they actually said that. Yesterday, I caught part of the ad again and sure enough, that's what they said. Think about that.

I made a call to the local dealer and asked about it and their response was that it was a limited license for three wheelers only. Makes sense, but would that include sidecars? How much would that vary from state to state? The TV ad looked like a standard Can Am commercial, though perhaps the voice over differed depending on the market.

Just to make sure, I went to the Can Am website license requirements page and it was less clear, I looked up Pennsylvania, where I live, and they state:


* Yes, if you do not have a Motorcycle License, you can use the Can-Am roadster to pass the skills test and get your operator license.

Nothing there about a limited license. I looked at various states and found some missing information and some states that would not allow taking the test on the 3 wheeler.

Going from a 2 wheeler to a Roadster would be pretty easy, the other direction, not so much. It looks like the 3 wheel licensing system is a bit up in the air yet as the states incorporate vehicles like the Can Am Roadster into their systems. The bureaucratic wheels turn slowly. Interesting.

Link: Can Am Roadster

Previously on The Kneeslider:
Does Motorcycle Training Reduce Motorcycle Accidents?


  1. Calvin says

    I’ve been to Americade a bunch of times and been on the Spyder demo there. A lot of long-time motorcyclists get on these snowmobiles and proceed to straddle the center line, put their feet down at stops and drive through turns. There is nothing intuitive about going from 2 wheels to 3 or vice versa. Spyder-style trikes, standard trikes, hacks and motorcycles and have completely different skill sets to master.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      I think on a relative basis, 2 wheels to 3 would be easier though, I agree, not intuitive, as you say. It’s bad enough jumping on a right side shift motorcycle, we won’t even mention a foot clutch.

  2. B50 Jim says

    I bolted a hack to my XS650 and nearly crashed trying to negotiate the first corner. Handling a three-wheeler is almost NOTHING like riding on two wheels, and it’s not much like driving a car, either. Once you learn the dynamics (which, with a hack, are totally different for a right and left turn), you’ll have great fun, amaze your friends with crazy antics, and scare the bejabbers out of your passengers until they get the hang of it, too.

    As for licensing, most states define a motorcycle as a vehicle having no more than three wheels. However, the tests are designed with two wheels in mind, and a 3-wheeler might not be able to negotiate the various exercises. Best to check with your local DMV.

  3. Cliffy says

    Not sure about anywhere else, but negotiating the tight slow slalom during the test here in Colorado would be difficult on something as wide as the roadster.

  4. FREEMAN says

    Considering the nature of the beast and the general disposition the public of the states has towards operating any vehicle on the roadway, I find it a step in the wrong direction to make driving tests easier for motorcycles. The endorsements should remain segregated. For some, getting a license is probably a bit too easy.

  5. Brian says

    This is an old problem. Back in the day, Cushman sold 3 wheel vehicles that were licensed for road use as motorcycles. Cushman vehicles were used by everyone from the Police for parking enforcement, to neighborhood ice cream vendors. To me, the problem stems from universal motorcycle endorsement. Just because you passed on a Honda Rebel, it doesn’t make you safe on a V-Rod, Busa, or anything else that is radically different. A lot of states allow the requirements to be met by an MSF class. I would love to see a requirement that you have to pass the ERC course with the new bike each time you license the new ride. It may be excessive for some, but would reduce a lot of pain and suffering for others. I’m taking my own medicine on this subject next month.

    • Scott says

      I agree, and I think the real issue is that people who have no business riding can pass the tests of most states. There’s a BIG gap between licensed rider and safe rider and the ability to take the test on a Can Am . . . or tiny, easy to manage bike is just one of many things that get in the way of ensuring only qualified riders are on the road.

      . . . but as someone who feels riders should have the right to kill themselves if they’re foolish enough not to wear a helmet or other safety gear, I feel like I’d be a hypocrite for advocating stricter licensing requirements . . . though if the goal were to prevent people from being maimed and killed on bikes, much stricter requirements would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

  6. dannyb says

    there is no way in hell ANYONE even and expert riding a spyder could negotiate the test as provided in Minnesota. The turns would just be to tight. They would have to make a whole separate course. i would love to see an idiot show up on one of these on test day, saying “but Can-am said i could….”

    • Ken says

      I took that Minnesota test and you are right, there is no way you could do the slalom portion of the test. If they took the hit in points on that one part, they still might be able to pass. There are more than a few guys who have put wheels on their sleds and messed around with the idea of driving something like the spyder.

      On another note, would you be able to run one of these during the grass drags? 😉

  7. says

    When I took my first motorcycle driving/riding test, I did it on an Aero 125 scooter. Which makes about a million times more sense than allowing the test to be done on a machine that doesn’t even really function as a motorcycle.

  8. HoughMade says

    I’ll speak for the laws in Indiana. I am an Indiana attorney as well as an avid rider. Simply put, I have seen no regulations that require the test be taken on a 2 wheeler rather than 3. However, the requirements of the test can not be physically completed with a 3 wheeler and I doubt the testers would let you try. For instance, a 90 degree left turn within a 6 foot wide lane? Nope. the 12 foot offset weave? Maybe possible…maybe. Doubt it. The only other way to get a license here is through the MSF course…on their

  9. OMMAG says

    I agree with the the majority of the comments here …. this is no way to test for motorcylce driving skills.\Where I live in Manitoba (canada) a new rider Must take an MC safety course … this machine in no way compares to a motorcycle.

    The one and only reason it is classified as one is because the bureacrats don’t have a clue what to do with a motorized three wheeler.

    BTW … these motorized wheel chairs are quite popular around here … the same guys who buy snow machines seem to like them.

    Short of being a paraplegic …. I would not have any use for it.

  10. todd says

    I once saw a person trying to take the test (in California) on a Kawasaki Vulcan. It was impossible on that too. There was no way he would have been able to turn as sharp as they wanted or go as slow in some segments as required without nearly tipping over. I was there doing something else and I ALMOST lent him my bike to help him out. But then I realized I was on my XR650L and he looked a bit… vertically challenged.

    I often see ads on Craigslist of people who rent their CB350 or 125 for the day. I think that would be tremendously smart in these cases.


  11. JustThunkin says

    Here in Florida there is a Motorcycle Operators License for 2-wheeled, and a Restricted Motorcycle Operators License for Trikes. I accompanied a neighbor who rode a GoldWing Trike (something I’d rather not want to even sit on) to our local FHP station where the test is administered after passing the required instruction course (a joke). He was asked to take the end of the testing rotation, and the FHP officer moved the cones several feet apart for that rider. And he didn’t bat an eye when the rear wheels alternately left the pavement when negotiating the much easier general circuit portion. One week later he flipped the trike by driving the right rear wheel into a drainage culvert while making a turn. The only thing he rides now is a Rascal.

    I don’t agree with the basic one-size-fits-all slalom concept any more than asking an 18 wheeler to parallel park on a city street. Chances are, however, that the semi driver would be more skilled than 99 percent of the trike riders I observe.

    The problem isn’t limited to the slalom test. The problem in the testing is that insuring a trike rider really knows how to handle the machine. Without trying to offend anyone, in the Sunshine State the vast majority of trike riders are well past the age and skill level that they, themselves, feel comfortable in applying to a motorcycle. And many I know have made the transition to trikes after realizing reflexes and balance make two-wheeling an impossibility. Making the course easier (in this case) simply allowed an improperly skilled operator on the road.

    But it is the same conundrum whether testing a 16 y/o in a Mustang, a 40 something on a Big Twin or a 80 y/o in a F250. The problem is the basic level of skill requirement that allows virtually anyone to jump into the saddle. The test for trikes should be more applicable to the vehicle than for a two-wheeler, but both tests should be far more stringent.

  12. Azzy says

    Doing the figure 8 box in that giant thing might be a tad difficult, but I would try it :)

    KS, your a PA guy as well?

  13. says

    When I get to the time that I can’t handle a two wheeler I’m going for a Mustang,or Vette. The motorcycles are getting bigger every year, radios,intercoms, gps,trailers, windshields, fairings,tops, reverse, and now three wheels. ..Z

  14. bluvida says

    The intersection of reality and legality is an interesting and frustrating place.
    The Indiana solution HoughMade mentions seems like a workable option, either pass the test or a MSF course on your own machine. This would make it possible for those who, for whatever reason, can only ride a three wheel machine.
    This might also work for those street going 4 wheel motorcycle/ATV/quad things that have been seen on the Kneeslider before.

  15. Clawbrant says

    The restricted licence law applies here in NY too. However, there is nothing to stop you from taking your test on a 50cc Honda Ruckus and hopping on a Boss Hoss the very next day, exept common sense perhaps.

  16. says

    Here in Georgia for the test you have to stop with your front wheel in a little box….I always wanted to take one of these and ask, \Which front wheel?\
    Though it does make the problem of \put your feet down, loose points\ rather easy.

    I did take my girlfriend’s 150cc Aprilla scooter to take the test…and it was like legalized cheating. Girl in front of me claimed to have been riding over a year, she dropped her bike and shattered the whole left side on the swerve test.

    I rather firmly believe the test is terribly flawed for most of today’s \popular\ bikes and many people don’t bother much learning to manage their bikes at a slow speed. And using a scooter on the test makes it laughably easy.

  17. J.R. Chambers says

    I firmly believe that making it too damn easy for any shmoo to obtain a ML is just stupid. Just because you can ride it in a lot doesnt mean you can make it on the road with others that just dont care about motorcycles at all (dumb asses in cars who will pull out in front of you) and let alone themselves .
    If you think you lost or just dont have the stuff anymore to ride a bike , do yourself a favor and just stop….dont go to 3 !!!
    Whatever you do decide to ride on the road though , you should be made accountable for and had been asked to take your test on period . Im upset that people can and WILL go get their ML on a scooter becase it is easy ….thats fine if thats all your going to ride . The license in your wallet should state that . When it doesnt match then you should be delt with .
    There are way to many kids doin this crap and jumping on a crotch rockets and dying !

  18. Rob says

    License to DRIVE !
    The Can-Am Spyder.
    Robert, here from Sydney Australia.
    I’ve been looking into these Spyders here in Australia for about 2 months now… reading all I can to see if this would suit my business (Promotional Tourism market).
    It appears here in Australia we must obtain a motorcycle license to DRIVE this little beauty. As stated in the RTA (Roads & Traffic Authority) [our Government department] regulations.

    New riders are required to pass through three licensing stages before obtaining a full rider licence.
    • Learner rider licence.
    • Provisional rider licence, stage 1 (P1-red).
    • Provisional rider licence, stage 2 (P2-green).
    New riders will have at least 36 months of experience before graduating to a full rider licence. – Motorcycle riders’ handbook

    RIDERS over age – 25
    Riders over the age of 25 who meet RTA requirements may receive an exemption from the P2 phase.
    To be eligible for an exemption from the P2 phase, riders must:
    • Be 25 years of age or older when they apply for the unrestricted licence.
    • Hold a current Australian unrestricted driver licence.
    • Have completed a minimum of 12 months on a P1 licence.
    • Meet all other licensing requirements.

    To qualify for exemption, you must hold a FULL (unrestricted) car drivers license (for over 12 months)

    This means we cannot DRIVE a Spyder, until 15 months has past in duration…

    We also have another type of three wheeler bike on our roads (a car based engine – the Volk Wagon type).

    With these types of bikes, you only require a FULL car license. Though i’m not sure as to what training is involved, if any.
    With one wheel at the front and two at the back. It requires the DRIVER to use a manual gear shift, mounted on the side of the bike… There must have come a time when it was placed in our RTA regulations that the operator can use their car license for these vehicles, thus no longer requiring a motorcycle license.

    I have asked the RTA over the phone (and in person) how this was possible. NOT ONE single person could tell me… A simple question asked of, to simpletons.

    Tomorrow, Weds 24th August 2011, I am going direct to the RIDER training centre (my local) to see what their thoughts are on this matter.

    I’ve also approach (in person) our direct importers of Can-Am products (a few suburbs away from me which was very handy… Very nice people.
    They informed me that they have set the wheels in motion for a change to the RTA system so we can use our (FULL) car license to DRIVE the Spyders.
    This was implemented back in 2008…
    What on Earth is taking so long… this is just ridiculous for this amount of time to have lapsed.

    Why didn’t Can-Am (the makers) go into bat in the first place… Their sales would have sky-rocketed for them.

    So all in all, our RTA system has not taken into account a better understanding of the Can-Am Spyder. A total review needs to be set in writing and put in place for all of us here in Australia.
    2008 is far to long – a – time for a better outcome to be had and made beneficial to ALL.

    I hope these notes will be passed by the moderator for other Aussies wishing to seek a better understanding of what is set in place by our RTA (Roads & Traffic Authority) Australia wide.
    P.s. The average Spyder costs $25,000AUS. (The greedy Gov, takes import tax heavily) They wouldn’t even know what a Spyder is… 

    Kind regards
    Rob in Sydney

  19. Tracey says

    I live in Manitoba. I did not have a class 6 motorcycle license. I own a Can Am Spyder. Once I wrote the written test and obtained a 6M license then I was required to take an 8 hour safety course on a 2 wheeled motorcycle that I had never ridden before. Now I can take the road test to have a full bike license. If I take that road test on a two wheeled motorcycle then I will have a “Full” class 6. If I take that test on my Can Am then I will always have restrictions on my Class 6 and will only ever be able to ride three wheels.
    Starting this year Manitoba Public Insurance has initiated an 8 hour safety course designed only for three wheeled drivers. The 8 hour safety course is taken with your own three wheeled bike at least, but you will still have the restricitions on your class 6 if you take the road test with a 3 wheeled vehicle. nfb