It´s not abig surprise that even the well trained presenters that are supposed to get us accquainted to brp´s new ryker struggle when referring to their new vehicle. It´s not a car, that´s obvious, missing one wheel and sufficient protection against the elements, neither is it a motorbike. If it was, it would fall over the monet you take your foot of the ground and not accellerate. But thes came up with a feasable solution that does make sense, at leats in english, it shalt be: the UNIT!
Okay, that does not really sound particularily cool if translated into german, but there need to be a different name for a device that´s combining the thrills of a bike with – at least that´s what BRP claim- the safety of a car. Until now, all the three-wheeled devices i have driven could not totally keep the promise to combine the advantages of cars and bikes, let alone the good old sidecar that actually has you stuck in traffic while getting soaking wet in the rain. and on top of it you do make turns you didn´t plan just trying to accellerate or brake.
Here´s the first actual point the unit adds to it´s tally, braking is most deffinitely one of the real strengths of the Ryker. Not surprising, just look at the front of the unit, looks like the good old lotus super seven! Two fat tyres frame the hungry grille, connected to the chassis by a racecar like suspension, the discs are kept guard by two giant callipers, no way you miss the appex. Unless you are a biker, then you might end up searching for a brake handle – which turns out to be painfully absent! You need to learn this, i mean you need to get that absolutely into your hard drive. Otherwise you might end up in a solid obstacle without any traces on the street but a cramp in your left hand. Like i almost did.
Once i got that problem out of the way there was no more other. No shifting needed, just a twist with the wrist and the unit shoots away. We were trustfully handed the 900cc units with a lively Rotax 3cylinder engine, the 80+ horses provided to the rear wheel make for a joyful day. The unit is outfitted with all that electronic stuff that usually goes by three-letter-names, like ASR, ABS and something that gets it´s information from a gyrosensor underneath hwat would be a tank on a bike that tells the CPU when you´re having too much fun and get close to the point where the unit might actually tip over.
But that has to be somewhere far beyond the point even the bravest rider only gets to on the weirdest occasion, so don´t be shy and let it fly! It indeed is really easy to get into fun-mode quickly, the countless roundabouts along the algarve coast supply sufficent training for the dirt tracks to follow. Just had to back off enough behind those strange companions not knowing how to handle going in and out of that otherwise timesaving circles to get into the rhythm. Then it was sheer pleasure to force the device into the turn with a little help from the brakes, shift bodyweight towards the inside, brutally open the throttle slingshotting out onto the next short straight stretch.
“Noone that does not really have a lot of experience on bikes would go on a road like that” our dutch leader explained after stopping at a branching off into the arid portugeese landscape. Propably not, but he or she actually should, i thought. The sight of the dirtroad ahead made me want to have my cagiva elefant right now, right here, or some other enduro – any. Still it looked like we were going to have some fun, after all that´s what the core promise of BRP actually is: Bombardier Recreational Products. And by the verb “recreational” americans usually mean having a lot of fun without any regrets, let alone environmental afterthoughts. Of course the companies have to obey all the rules and laws, so technically speaking the unit is very green, just as it´s much better known syblings seadoo and skidoo that never ever disperse oil or fuel into the environment, not even when upside down!
Again, i have to admit i was having fun. Quite a lot, to be honest, thanx to the fact we not only had the most powerful version but one that´s called “Rally Edition” on top of it. Which means you´ve got some martial extras like hand and belly guards as well as gripy tyres, but what´s even more interesting an extra drive-mode setting. It does let the various fun-restricting electronical guards be a bit more tollerant with the pilot, e.g. allowing much more wheelspin and a far more aggressive drift angle. If it was not for your left leg constantly having to be in contact with the brake pedal you now might race the unit through the rough hanging off like on a skidoo. But even given the mentioned restriction it allows for quite rowdy fun and makes for a good workout, as you´ll be using your whole body to wrangle the machine.
Just don´t think it´s as easy as it might feel when you start, never forget, the unit is only safe as long as you actually are sitting on it. And yes, the electronic safety guards are helping, but no, they can´t overrule physics. Once the ABS has decided it´s to slippery to steer, it will do what it´s supposed to do, namely loosen the brakes. Just a bit, shure, but that might be just thoose little bit that´s too much. Being on that dirt road as the last one i felt obliged to stop as i saw the guy waving at me in the middle of the street and ask what he needed. Actually the answer was easy, he needed some transport, his unit was out of sight, 15 meters off the track, 5 meters down in the shrub. Now i have to cnoceed the unit does actually have two little disadvantages. The one that´s easier to solve is the absence of a passenger seat, which you might order as an extra, the other one is more grave. In order to salvage a unit that has gone astray in the wildernes you might need a salvage truck! At least the unit was easy to spot by it´s single alloy rear wheel glistening amongst the dry macchia.