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Illinois Has A Problem With The Spyder

4970 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  MichaelC

Jesse White, Secretary of State
213 State Capital
Springfield, IL 62756

September 4, 2008

Dear Secretary White,
As an Illinois taxpayer, licensed driver, registered voter (yes, I voted for you) and avid motorcyclist for 40 years, I want to bring to your attention an issue that has arisen regarding the state’s testing procedures for motorcycles.

As you’re aware, there is a huge resurgence in ridership of motorcycles and "motor-driven cycles" due in large part to economics. This is exposing people of all shapes, sizes, sexes and capabilities to the experience of open-air transportation. It has also stemmed new designs in equipment to better accommodate this broad demography.

Please allow me to address an issue that is specific to my family. My wife and I purchased a 2008 Can-Am Spyder two months ago. The Spyder is a 3-wheeled motorcycle with the dual wheels in the front, as opposed to conventional “trike”-type machines based on existing models (Honda Goldwing, etc). You can see and “experience” the Spyder at the following URL Our Spyder is registered and licensed as a motorcycle in Illinois. As an experienced rider, I took the Spyder to a local DMV course and realized that the turning radius of the bike would not allow a U-turn within the assigned boundaries. I spoke to DMV representatives who told me there would be no accommodations for equipment. I explained that my wife has a lower back issue that makes the Spyder’s 3-wheel array a safer choice and that she might re-injure herself with the riding dynamics of a conventional 2-wheeled motorcycle. The rep said that my wife had no choice and that there were no accommodations, even for a physical challenge. Obviously that was clearly a poor answer that creates exposure for the State, so I called Springfield and spoke to the gentleman in charge of these matters. He said that he was aware of the bike, in fact had ridden one, and realized that it would not make the U-turn within the current standards. He suggested my wife could obtain a learner’s permit and be allowed to ride in my presence while he tried to figure something out regarding this matter. She did so, and is more than prepared to take the exam.

Thirty days have passed (as well a large chunk of the riding season) so I called him again yesterday for an update. He stated that he’d sent out inquiries to see what other states were doing about this and had only received about a dozen responses. That’s not surprising because the Can-Am Spyder was just recently made widely available….plus, it’s expensive at nearly $16,000 MSRP! He said that the state is not prepared to change its standards and that this would likely require legislation, if it was changed at all! The state had NO qualms about taking our money for registration and taxes, but they’ve rendered this machine useless to my wife as she is not allowed to ride it without supervision.

If a machine can be licensed in Illinois and ridden in Illinois, it should certainly be allowed to be used for the driving test. As it is, she cannot use it to conserve precious energy, to save our family’s resources and simply enjoy it. It is nothing more than a $16,000 training aid.

This situation is unacceptable, as is the idea that it would require legislation to amend the current guidelines. The last thing we need is to spend more taxpayer dollars investigating matters such as this, much less the time it takes to carry such a measure through the process.
Rather than activating resources such as the American Motorcyclist Association, AARP (I’m over 50 and wouldn’t be able to take MY test on this either!) and bringing the Americans with Disabilities Act into play, would it not be much simpler and cost effective to allow examiners the ability to use their judgment in these matters? If the machine is fully turned to the frame stops, it will not turn any tighter.

Again, if it’s allowed to be licensed to be ridden on streets and highways in the state of Illinois, it must be allowed to be used for the exam.

I am asking for an immediate accommodation for my wife in this matter. Otherwise, our next discussion needs to be in what way the state will refund my registration fees and taxes that were paid in the purchase of the bike. I will have no choice but to sell the machine due to the state’s refusal to accommodate our needs for both physical and mechanical challenges.

I am forwarding a copy of this letter to BRP, the manufacturer of the Can-Am, so they are aware of the challenges they face in Illinois. By the way, they have chosen Benton, Illinois for one of their USA offices and distribution centers. I’m sure they’ll share my disappointment with the current position of the state.

I look forward to your positive response.


Oak Park, IL XXXX
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If you need a supporter for your suggestion to Jessie White let me know.

I'm here in the capital city and am having the same situation with my wife.
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