Autocycle is the newest motorcycle

Polaris Slingshot SL LE

Confusion about whether a three-wheeler is a trike, roadster or a three-wheel car seem to have been further confounded by Texas which has classed the new Polaris Slingshot as an autocycle.

The Texas motor vehicle department wouldn’t let drivers register Slingshots as motorcycles when they were launched last year because riders sit inside the vehicles instead of straddling them.

However, new legislation now defines a three-wheeled vehicle with a steering wheel and interior seating like the Slingshot as an autocycle, obviating the need for the driver or passengers to wear helmets.

Some other US states are still debating the issue, but may follow the Texas lead.

Meanwhile, Polaris Australia spokesman Robert Rosengarten says plans to import the three-wheeler Slingshot are still “unsure”.

But it sure does look like a whole lot of fun, even though it has a steering wheel, seats, floor-mounted five-speed transmission and seatbelts.Polaris Slingshot

In the US, Slingshot comes in base trim for $19,999, premium Slingshot SL for $23,999 and SL LE for $24,999.

The low-slung, open-cockpit Polaris Slingshot, weighs just 782kg (1725 pounds) and is powered by a 2.4-litre straight-four engine with 129kW (173 horsepower) and 225Nm (166 foot-pounds) of torque. Safety features include ABS, electronic stability control, traction control and three-point seatbelts.

While the Polaris Slingshot has the same wheel configuration as the BRP Can-Am Spyder with two wheels in front, rather than the traditional trike with two wheels on the back, it is a cockpit-style vehicle, rather than a motorcycle you sit on. Polaris calls it a “reverse trike”, but now might have to refer to the vehicle as an autocycle.

Polaris aims the vehicle at people interested in a motorcycle experience but not ready for two-wheels, plus mature-aged riders concerned about the weight of a big motorcycle.Polaris Slingshot SL LE

The company has the largest share of the North American powered two- and three-wheeler market ahead of Harley-Davidson and Honda.

While Polaris is best known for snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and side-by-side off-roaders, in recent years it has added Victory and Indian motorcycles. However, this is the first time the Minnesota company has produced a “motorcycle” under the Polaris name.

Polaris considers its motorcycle sales have another 50% to grow and the Slingshot is an important ingredient in that success.Polaris Slingshot SL LE

6 Comments

  1. I don’t know why motorcycle websites report on things like this at all. It is in every way a car. Three wheel cars are nothing new. You sit in it like a car. It handles like a car, has a steering wheel like a car, and you sit side by side with your passenger just like a car. Whatever the authorities classify it as, or whatever regulations they impose on it make no difference. It is 100% a car, so please leave it to car websites to report on them.

        1. Yes, and I’ve also reported several times on technological innovations from the car side of these companies that flow through to their motorcycles … and sometimes the technology actually goes the other way.
          I’ve also reported on the VW Group buying Ducati and Mercedes buying MV Agusta.
          Then there were the reports I did about Volvo, Jaguar and even truck safety technology that specifically aids motorcycle riders.
          So long as there is a benefit for motorcycle riders, you’ll read about it here!
          Cheers,
          Mark

          1. Thank you Mark, interesting article and vehicle.

            Now I need to get a test drive. Going to Texas in December, I’m most certainly going to pop into a Polaris showroom. Don’t even need to take my helmet with 🙂

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