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Polaris Slingshot: MD First Ride (Drive?) – A “Motorcycle” of a Different Sort

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I’ve tested some three-wheelers before, such as the Piaggio MP3, but never anything quite so car-like as the Polaris Slingshot. Unlike the MP3, the Slingshot does not lean in corners, but remains flat (except for some compression of the suspension on the outside wheel). Looking at the Slingshot, I am reminded much more of a stripped performance automobile, such an an Ariel Atom or KTM X-Bow, more than anything classed as a “motorcycle”.

Make no mistake, the Slingshot is a motorcycle not a car. Legally speaking, that is, the Slingshot requires the operator to wear a helmet and possess a motorcycle endorsement on their license. The Slingshot is not required to meet DOT standards for automobiles in that it lacks airbags and certified bumpers, for example. If you think about it, this is the only way Polaris has managed to keep the price of the Slingshot so low, $19,999 for the Standard model (in grey) and $23,999 for the upmarket SL model (which is red). Exotic performance (more about that below) for a fraction of the cost of an Atom or an X-Bow (if they were available in the U.S. in street-legal guise).

Polaris recently invited us to drive the Slingshot through some beautiful canyon roads above Malibu, California. Roads on which we have often piloted exotic motorcycles.

As we discussed in our preview of the Slingshot, this is an interesting and unique three-wheel vehicle that Polaris has produced with a steel space frame similar to that of a race car, a GM-sourced 2.4 liter four cylinder DOHC engine (featuring variable valve timing), sports seats for driver and passenger and large, low profile automobile tires. Making a claimed 173 hp at 6,200 rpm and 166 foot/pounds of torque at 4,700 rpm, each Slingshot model (weighing less than 1,750 pounds wet) has an impressive power-to-weight ratio.

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With a 5-speed manual transmission, and rack-and-pinion steering with a quick ratio (3.2 turns lock-to-lock), the Slingshot promises loads of performance and fun from behind the wheel. It delivers.

This is no superbike when it comes to acceleration, but, feeling like you are at the wheel of an automobile, the quickness of the Slingshot is initially shocking. It feels like a Mazda Miata on steriods. Traveling down Highway 1 on our way to Malibu Canyon, the force generated by the engine made me wonder whether the final, carbon fiber-reinforced belt drive to the single rear wheel might snap. Obviously, modern belts are quite strong.

The five-speed transmission shifts easily and positively. I have always driven automobiles with a stick shift, so I do have a frame of reference here. Clutch engagement was easy, and smooth, and all the torque down low in the rev range made it difficult to stall the Slingshot when leaving a stop.

As we got into the canyon roads, I was initially frustrated by a slower driver that insisted (quite aggressively) on slotting himself (herself?, not sure with the helmet) in front of me back on Highway 1. At the first opportunity, I passed this driver, and together with a Canadian motorcycle journalist in a separate Slingshot, we pushed these vehicles about as hard as we dared through the undulating canyon roads. What ensued was more fun and excitement than one could easily imagine attainable in an automobile-like device for twenty grand.

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The Slingshot is not only quick from corner-to-corner (courtesy of the aforementioned power-to-weight ratio), it provides excellent steering feedback and control. Handling is stable and predictable, even if ultimate corner grip is hampered somewhat by under-steer. Under-steer is often purposely dialed in by automobile manufacturers to prevent amateur drivers from “getting into trouble”, and the amount of under-steer exhibited by the Slingshot is just about right given the single contact patch out back.  Polaris described some sophisticated, electronic, selective brake intervention designed to prevent over-eager drivers from losing control. We got the rear end to step out on occasion, but never when we didn’t intend it. In general, the Slingshot can be driven hard and fast by a competent driver without any unintended drama.

The seats were surprisingly comfortable. I say this because my last automobile had leather Recaros that were superb, and the seats found in the Slingshot, although not offering quite the side bolstering I was used to, were far more supportive and comfortable during our test than most stock seats in “performance” automobiles I have driven. I told myself during the test that I could comfortably drive the Slingshot from my home to San Francisco (roughly 500 miles) without much to complain about. Highway speeds are effortless (top speed should be well north of 100 mph given the power and gearing, although we did not test this). Of course, the 9.8 gallon fuel tank would not cover that distance without periodic refueling (we did not get a chance to test fuel mileage).

With the windshield attached to each of the models we tested (standard on the SL, and optional on the base model), wind buffeting was not bad (to be fair, we were wearing a full-face Arai helmet). The seat seemed to have a wide range of adjustment suitable for both shorter and taller drivers. The dash is simple and legible.

The red SL model adds that windshield we mentioned, together with larger, forged aluminum wheels and a media console containing a 4.3″ LCD screen, backup camera, USB input and 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth.

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Brake performance was oddly disappointing. Despite sizable 298 mm vented discs at all three wheels, the Slingshot requires very firm pressure to stop quickly, and outright power is mediocre, at best. Small storage compartments behind each seat offer a small bit of practicality in a machine whose purpose in life is exhilaration as opposed to grocery getting.

On our way back from the test, we drove in darkness, and the four headlights of the Slingshot provided excellent illumination of the road.

Polaris was certainly thinking outside the box when it dreamed up the Slingshot, but having sampled it we wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be a huge sales hit. The price is more than reasonable given the amount of performance and fun it offers, and your passenger could easily prefer it to that skinny little motorcycle seat. Polaris is offering a two-year factory warranty on the Slingshot. For additional details and specifications, visit the Slingshot web site. By the way, the two colors are officially called Titanium Metallic (base model) and Slingshot Red Pearl (SL). Several accessories are available for the Slingshot which are described on the web site.

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204 Comments

  1. Rick says:

    I was thinking of getting one of these to use in the summer and head to the marina to go boating but there is no room for a beverage cooler and a passenger for a day of boating. I hope the engineers work on that for next year’s model.

  2. Tony in Texas says:

    I had rather have a Mazda Miata…. When it rains, raise the top. When it’s sunny, lower the top. When it’s cold, turn on the heater. When it’s hot, turn on the A/C. Plus it’s banned in Texas!

    ~Tony

    • sherm says:

      And you don’t need a lot of money to do the Miata thing. There are plenty of used around at reasonable prices. I have a 96 with turbo and aftermarket performance suspension (Flying Miata products), total investment about $11k. (09 CBR600RR ABS for two wheel fun)

  3. William says:

    Can I get a dual sport version instead? More like a side by side. Now that would be a vehicle worth buying. That will also solve people’s response that didn’t like to be so low and not visible, and the lack of safety with no roll bar above. Plus a roof keeps the rain off, and you wouldn’t need a garage to park it in. I still don’t like that car transmission, that detracts greatly. It is a neat concept, but I won’t be buying one. I would be more interested in a vehicle if I was thinking to actually buy it. Dry warm weather states will probably buy more that the Pacific Northwest.

    • DaveA says:

      …and a beak!

      • william says:

        For a dual sport version I could drive on dirt I would accept a beak on both front wheels. Heck put a beak on all 3. It might be ugly but at least it would be a more usable vehicle that I would consider purchasing. We could discuss appearance later.

  4. DaveA says:

    I love you guys and I love this site. And, you know I’m a tireless opponent of eCurmudgeons everywhere. But…

    This is not a motorcycle. It’s a 3-wheeled car. There is nothing motorcycle-ish about it. I do think it’s pretty neat-o, but it isn’t a bike.

    Maybe you can re-sell this article to http://www.thisisnotamotorcycledaily.com ?

  5. Larry Dean says:

    I am very intrigued with this vehicle. I know there seems to be lots of kick back comparing it to a car. Being a long time long time rider I would consider this as another option for riding/driving. It does seem to be geared as a car, but with an open cockpit and the arrangement what is not to love. I can see grins every time I ride/drive it, and after all isn’t that the purpose of buying a vehicle like this? I want to enjoy driving it and from all of the reviews i have read, it is a blast to drive.

    So let’s realize this is a different vehicle that isn’t easily categorized, but what a fun ride it will be. I also Like to point out, this is not a beginners ride. AND!!! It is not fair to compare it to a Honda Civic. The people making those comparisons aren’t the ones that Polaris targeted and I dare say most of them aren’t riders at all.

    I’m heading out to see one in person to see what my impressions are then, but I say when I am looking to get another ride, this will be up towards the top of my list. Either you get it or you don’t.

    • sherm says:

      I can’t see why anyone who can drive a stick shift car couldn’t drive a Slingshot safely. Reading the test drive reviews there doesn’t seem to be any peculiar characteristics related to the single rear wheel (not counting extremes like burnouts an intentionally breaking the rear wheel loose). In pushing through curves the Slingshot is a dream compared to normal cars (Civics) and SUV’s, just like sports cars. Got to be fun to drive, and better at accident avoidance. I can’t think of a single motorcycle skill that is required to operate a Slingshot, other than putting on a helmet, where required by state law.

      In my view the significant difference between the Civic and the Slingshot is that if an accident occurs, the Civic driver has a much better chance to escape injury, and worse, than the Slingshot driver, because it appears that the Slingshot design has none of the occupant protection features that are mandated for cars. It will take a few Slingshot crashes to find out how it actually fairs. Or Polaris could do some crash testing and publicize the results.

  6. John says:

    I’m sure it’s a blast, but it’s too expensive and the engine is gigantic. Cut that engine down to half the size, drop the price by almost that and you have something. As it is, it’s just an expensive toy, not anything that a normal person would ever buy. There’s no reason it should cost this much, which is one of the issues with low production rates. A car has 6-10x the materials as a motorcycle, yet often costs only a little more. None of the vehicles i’ve ever owned cost me as much as this and had air bags, air conditioning, 4 wheels, a trunk, etc, etc.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “There’s no reason it should cost this much, which is one of the issues with low production rates.”

      wait, but you just stated the reason. didn’t ya…?

      re: “A car has 6-10x the materials as a motorcycle”

      a car does 6-10x the sales.

      • John says:

        Norm…..I see it’s been a long time since you studied things like marginal cost of production.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I see it’s been a long time since you studied things like marginal cost of production.”

          well enlighten me…?

          • John says:

            At a certain number, you magically hit a point where the n+1 costs the same amount to produce as n. And, after a large plateau, you can actually get to a point where n+1 costs MORE than n because of part/material scarcity.

            So, the fact that a car sells 6-10x as much is likely immaterial to the comparison.

    • jim says:

      You’ve never seen a bike for $19,000+? Where have you been?

      • Norm G. says:

        Q: “Where have you been?”

        A: not within stone’s throw of ANY powersports dealer.

        • John says:

          Jim is strawmanning me. I never said this. I also haven’t endorsed the idea of $20,000 motorcycles either, that’s ridiculous. They only cost that much because people are stupid enough to pay that much.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “They only cost that much because people are stupid enough to pay that much.”

            Scratch “stupid enough” and replace with “willing”. With respect to $20K motorcycles, we are talking about luxury goods. That is a whole different subset of economics rules. A $20K R1200GS is to an $90K Range Rover as a $5K Ninja 300 is to a Mazda5.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “that’s ridiculous.”

            why…?

            re: “They only cost that much because people are stupid enough to pay that much.”

            why…?

          • John says:

            Well, I shouldn’t say ‘stupid enough’ except in some instances. I honestly can’t think of a $20K motorcycle I actually want. At least a Confederate is a work of art, but I have zero interest in one.

            There’s a very small group of rich people that ride. But this might have been a more interesting vehicle for the masses, had it been designed for that.

      • John says:

        $19,000 motorcycles are absurd unless they are truly state of the art. It’s understandable if everything in it is the latest word in tech, but this thing costs more than my Mazda5 which has a 2.3L engine as well, has 4 wheels, front wheel drive, dual air bags, tons of windows, 5 doors, 6 seats, air conditioning and requires twice as much materials to build.

        • mickey says:

          Then don’t go look at the latest Rushmore Glide Harley. $19K barely makes a decent down payment.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “this thing costs more than my Mazda5 which has a 2.3L engine as well, has 4 wheels, front wheel drive, dual air bags, tons of windows, 5 doors, 6 seats, air conditioning and requires twice as much materials to build.”

          again, why…?

          note how I keep asking you this. now I’m not asking it to be a jerk, I’m eluding to these NOT being rhetorical questions. ie. an answer does in fact EXIST, so you either…

          A, genuinely don’t know the answer…? (no slate)

          or

          B, DO know the answer, but REJECT the reality and ramifications it FORCES you to embrace…? this begets a behavioural change and you don’t want to do that.

          • John says:

            Why does it cost more? Because they know they’re going to be very limited production because the design simply won’t appeal to someone comparing it to a car. It will only ever sell to someone who wants something different and will therefore pay a much higher price to production cost ratio.

            It’s basically designed with the idea of not selling many.

  7. GP says:

    No wheelies/No lean = No fun. Having to wear a helmet (in most states) will be a huge sales negative for the general population.

    • Norm G. says:

      well see, that’s what I LIKE about this. you DO have to wear a helmet. it’s both incognito and the “cool” factor. I mean you can pretend you’re the Stig.

      however (comma) if you try wearing a helmet on the street while driving say an open top Miata or a Cobra…? people’ll just think you’re a tool.

  8. Provologna says:

    It seems like they could have found a motor with better ratio of power per liter. That, and a DSG seem like things I’d appreciate. I suppose cost is the primary factor for the motor and normal manual transmission.

    Doesn’t it seem perfect for a Wankel motor?

    • todd says:

      Since driving is something I want to enjoy I would much rather have a manual transmission over any kind of automatic or “DSG”.

  9. Glen says:

    I WANT ONE!

  10. Roadrider says:

    It must an awesome ride (he says sarcastically), staring eye to eye with hubcaps and bumpers all day long and not being able to be seen by the SUV driver beside, in front of or behind you. Thanks but I’ll stick with something that I sit much higher where I can see better.

    • Glen says:

      I imagine in a Sling Shot, you must flee to better roads away from the soccer Moms.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “in a Sling Shot, you must flee to better roads away from the soccer Moms.”

        hmmmn, maybe it DOES have a lot in common with motorcycling…?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “staring eye to eye with hubcaps and bumpers all day long and not being able to be seen by the SUV driver beside, in front of or behind you.”

      think of this way, you and Lamborghini owners can trade stories at the pump.

    • Glen says:

      Maybe you can add some of those dune buggy flags thingys

  11. Toddo says:

    As a car/bike nut, I love it! It is like a modern day Morgan Trike with the benefit of not having to walk home! I hope Polaris sells a lot of them. I hope that other manufactures follow suit as well. I am not getting any younger, so to have an affordable alternative to a bike is great..

  12. Vrooom says:

    Shootout with the Can Am?!

  13. Norm G. says:

    re: “The price is more than reasonable given the amount of performance and fun it offers”

    if you’ve gotta garage…? you’ve got GRINS.

    re: “your passenger could easily prefer it to that skinny little motorcycle seat.”

    watch out for the big girls.

  14. mark says:

    The real question is, how does it compare to a T-Rex? Those have been offering the same configuration for years, but with a little more of a motorcycle connection (motorcycle engine and transmission).

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The real question is how does your wallet think it compares. The cheapest T-Rex cost $54,000.

  15. Bill says:

    20 large? Thats alot of clams for this.

    • jim says:

      What is the price of a comparable vehicle?

      • billy says:

        Comparable vehicle? Hard to find a machine that cost as much with so many compromises.

        Amazing they claim they skirted dot to provide this vehicle for 20 grand. My dad bought a brand new, Honda Civic EX sedan. It meets all of the expensive dot requirements for automobiles. It seats five, has a/c, p/w, p/l, four wheels, etc, etc. All of this and more for $18,500.

        • mickey says:

          Which is a perfect argument for the general public against most motorcycles.

          • billy says:

            Not sure where you get that.

            I’m saying this machine is way over priced for a poor performing motorcycle or a stripped down car with no safety features and creature comforts. As Kaz Yoshima once told me, “It’s your call”.

          • mickey says:

            Billy has nothing to do with this slingshot, but in discussions I’ve had young people ask me why should they buy a motorcycle which costs 10-15 thou when they can buy a Civic with all the stuff you mentioned for around 16 thou and be warm, or cool, and dry and comfortable and safe, and get as good of gas mileage without having to wear a bunch of gear?

            And they have a valid point, which bring us back to the problem of getting new riders on motorcycles. Not going to, unless they just WANT to ride a motorcycle. Logically riding a motorcycle doesn’t make sense when economically there are better alternatives.

            Problem with the slingshot, as someone else said, all the drawbacks of a motorcycle without the advantages of a car at the same money.

          • Bill says:

            Yes, this is something that has worried me for years, motorcycles (new) are becoming something only the wealthy can or will be able to enjoy. The sub 5 grand market is coming, just slow in comparison to the others.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            There may have been a time in this country when a material percentage of motorcycles were purchased instead of cars for economical purposes, but I don’t remember such a time. I knew a few people when I was in college in the mid-90’s that bought cheap scooters because that is all they could afford, but virtually everyone I knew that rode bikes then and now do so because it pleases them, not for convenience or saving money.

            Even when I lived in Europe, most of the riders I knew rode because they could filter traffic and find parking much easier, not because it was cheaper than a car.

            BMWs have cost as much as small sedans for as long as I can remember. There may be more premium bikes available now, but that isn’t exclusive to this decade. And the “cheap” bikes are better than they have ever been.

            The Slingshot is no more overpriced than any motorcycle: it is purely a creature of want.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I’m saying this machine is way over priced for a poor performing motorcycle or a stripped down car”

            I’m saying you’re making the classic mistake that 1000’s have made before you, of the “apples V. oranges” comparison.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “in discussions I’ve had young people ask me why should they buy a motorcycle which costs 10-15 thou”

            punks. (Harry Callahan voice)

            re: “they can buy a Civic with all the stuff you mentioned for around 16 thou and be warm, or cool, and dry and comfortable and safe”

            boooring. (Homer J. Simpson voice)

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “BMWs have cost as much as small sedans”

            and WEIGHED as much as small sedans…

            convenient.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “this is something that has worried me for years”

            no worries.

            re: “motorcycles (new) are becoming something only the wealthy can or will be able to enjoy”

            they’re still the same price as cars, but people buy those with reckless abandon. seems like an easy solution might be to just follow their example…? dunno.

        • Glen says:

          Yeah, but Honda can sell a million Civics to achieve that price! How many Sling Shot will be sold?

          • mickey says:

            The point exactly Glen, Honda will sell a million Civics ( and therefore be able to sell them for the price they do) because they are a good product that’s practical, that a high school, or college, or young family, or anybody looking for solid transportation would and will buy. Motorcycles and slingshots and Spyders are impractical vehicles that will never sell in big numbers therefor will just remain as Jeremy puts it, a creature of want, for those with enough disposable income to basically throw it away. A toy for the rich if you will.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Motorcycles and slingshots and Spyders”

            oh my…!

        • Provologna says:

          Might as well compare a drum set to a violin.

        • Provologna says:

          I’m curious how they engineer under steer into a vehicle wherein the front has twice the coefficient vs. the back (2 wheels vs. 1), and obvious front weight bias, which both increase front traction, all other things being equal (which of course they are not in this vehicle).

          T’would be nice if the body work was more grown up, less high-schoolish, more sophisticated. Highly visible text is ugly and pure fail IMO (rear fender “Slingshot”), screaming low class garage built.

        • Asphanaut says:

          Then go buy a civic. Might want to start posting on economicrosedandaily.com as well.

  16. Glen says:

    As a motorcyclist, my passenger takes on that risk as well. As a potential Sling Shot customer, I would expect the same.

  17. Roadrider says:

    Add another rear wheel, call it a car and get it over with.

    • Norm G. says:

      and incur the wrath of DOT and NHTSA.

      • Roadrider says:

        Point being, it’s closer to a car than anything else. It should be tested in Car & Driver, not Cycle World.

      • Dave says:

        Re: “and incur the wrath of DOT and NHTSA.”

        Which would make that a $10k/1,000lb wheel.

    • Glen says:

      I don’t mind calling it a car. But,for me personally, the DOT requirements would then make it too expensive for me to buy as a discretionary purchase. 🙁
      An I WANT ONE.

  18. takehikes says:

    MUCH better alternative than many of the trikes I’ve seen. Motorcycle? Not so much but who cares, looks fun but I wonder where are the bags and 30″ wagon wheels? 😉

  19. Mike says:

    Cool. Not a motorcycle.

  20. Tony in Texas says:

    Not in Texas! The state has banned the vehicle at this time saying it’s not a motorcycle since you don’t straddle the seat.

    ~Tony

  21. AFW says:

    The steering system, tires, steel cage frame and engine are all from a car… It’s a car not a motorcycle.

    • Gary says:

      You may be right. But I am grateful that there are legal loopholes to create a vehicle like this. I hope they don’t close the loopholes. I like having the freedom to decide for myself how much risk is acceptable.

    • sherm says:

      I agree, it’s a car. But the so called “loophole” allows it to be car that does not need to comply with the crash safety requirements that all other road going cars are required to meet.

      Performance enthusiasts (I’m one) are generally more willing to take risks, and will accept the known or unknown crash safety limitations of the Slingshot because of its high performance payoff. But it is a two seater that is much more likely to have loved ones or friends as passengers, than a conventional motorcycle. So even if the driver is willing to accept whatever injuries occur in a crash (or thinks he or she will never crash), what about the passenger? So I think it’s worth knowing how protective the Slingshot is in a crash.

      I think the government and the insurance industry may also want to know. Sure, nanny state, nanny state!!! But if you’ve been in a accident where safety features kept you whole, nanny doesn’t seem all that bad.

  22. Stuki Moi says:

    As an MC, this is a much cheaper way to gain access to HOV lanes in what is dynamically a car, that buying a Tesla…

  23. shmitty says:

    It seems that Polaris isn’t going to let it’s long time competitor Can-Am have the 3 wheeler market all to itself. The various Spyders have been selling pretty well, and they don’t have the power this thing does. I expect to see variations coming soon.

  24. MrD says:

    I’ll start by saying I like it. So now I ask, with all those technoguys at Polaris sleds, Victory, and Indian, none of them could come up with a 200hp engine with gearbox? I’m sure it would be way lighter. The mushy brakes are a disappointment also(all that contact with the two front wheels this thing could stop instantly with the right calipers). So as soon as they loose the puddle jumper drivetrain, and make it stop really really fast, I’m in.

    • Let’s see, develop a drive train or buy a proven one that is built by the millions? nmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “none of them could come up with a 200hp engine with gearbox?”

      oh they could.

      re: “I’m sure it would be way lighter.”

      close, COSTLIER.

      re: “So as soon as they loose the puddle jumper drivetrain”

      jay loves the puddle jumper drivetrain, but alas I’ve already covered this…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qy_LDYi7y8

      re: “make it stop really really fast, I’m in.”

      tell the truth, you’re not in. while the OEM’s manufacture kit…? we manufacture “dealbreakers” to conceal the fact we have no intention of coming off the dime for anything.

      too late, you’ve been identified.

      • Mr D says:

        re:”tell the truth, you’re not in.” “too late, you’ve been identified. ”

        Easy there Mr. Negative. As a guy looking to replace his Vulcan with a Spyder, the Slingshot very much had my attention. I’ll admit seeing the early spy-shots I imagined (or hoped) it would have some kind of nasty sounding V-twin or snowmobile engine. Assumptions perhaps, my bad. So if I’ve been identified as a guy in Canada looking to stretch his riding season a little, then yes, you have me pegged.

    • If ya’ll can’t spell “lose” the proper way, going to be some sore knuckles

  25. jamie says:

    sorry, second picture

    • MrD says:

      It looks like lots of “photo op” burn outs turning right to get the driver (rider?) in the shot. Just a theory… or perhaps they bent something providing said “photo ops”…again, just a theory!

      • Norm G. says:

        it’s a press demo. she’s seen lots of miles and tyres on performance vehicles wear out (true story).

  26. jamie says:

    why is the left side of the rear tire completely bald in the first picture?

    • Randy says:

      It appears to be bald on both edges which means severe under inflation. I guess three wheels excited them so much, they forgot to check those simple life saving things.

  27. MarkT says:

    People don’t seem to be remembering their history. Most state motorcycle laws were last re-written back when Harley was building the Servicar, and some of us old farts were buying popsicles from someone driving a Cushman Truckster or Fuji 3 wheeler. Some may even have been the kid selling them. You can go back further to the early 1900’s when it was decided in most countries that three wheels were a motorcycle. I’m actually surprised that the Texas law is so modern that they want a saddle type seat. Motorcycle? – Legally and Historically, yep.

    Oh, and if my finances were better, I’d get one!

  28. Hot Dog says:

    Where do I put my camping gear? Maybe Wolfman could make a set of panniers for it. I bet my Tmax can carry more beer.

  29. Kevin says:

    The bottom line is: Is it fun? The answer seems to be yes.

  30. pete Rasmussen says:

    arrrrrgh All the disadvantages of a car combined with those of a motorcycle!!

  31. Kentucky Red says:

    Seriously? They put a 2.4-liter motor from a Chevy Malibu this machine? Bad choice. I’ll grant that this thing has to be fun to drive, but it has the so-so power-to-weight ratio of an 350Z, minus a large measure of practicality, comfort, and handling and braking performance. The look-at-me factor is the only selling point of this machine. Put the engine out of an S2000 in this thing and I might take a second look…

    • Kentucky Red says:

      Better yet, put a zx-14 motor and tranny on it, and save a bunch of weight. (…and then turbocharge it.)

      • Norm G. says:

        prolly source 2 ecotecs (plus electrics) for the price of 1 Zed engine.

        • Kentucky Red says:

          You may be right in thinking that a Zed motor/tranny would be more expensive than Chevy’s motor/tranny combo, but I very much doubt it is more than a $1000 difference, wholesale. That said, I’d be willing to pay the difference for a powertrain that wasn’t built for a family sedan.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “but I very much doubt it is more than a $1000 difference, wholesale.”

            3 words… economies of scale. would you “doubt” car world outsells bike world a THOUSAND to 1…?

            re: “I’d be willing to pay”

            that’s the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. Kentucky red, you are a going to be a General some day…!!!

  32. Colin says:

    No, it’s not a motorcycle but I’m glad it was covered here, I appreciate the motorcyclist’s impressions.

    Power to weight ratio of this is way higher than a Miata, so a Miata isn’t really a valid alternative.

    One hurdle to sale success is that unlike a motorcycle, you can’t squeeze this into an unused corner of the garage, and unlike a car you can’t leave it outside.

  33. Michael H says:

    I can hardly wait for the ADV version, featuring a lift kit and snow tires.

  34. David Bardell says:

    You may consider it a motorcycle or you may not, but this thing has FUN written all over it. Good Luck Polaris..

  35. Mattbowdeen says:

    I’ll keep my Honda S2000, high reving like a cycle and handles like a dream!

  36. Scott G. says:

    It’s kind of a cool idea, and probably pretty fun. I’ll keep it in mind for when I’m too old to ride.

  37. Auphliam says:

    I don’t understand all the consternation over the classification. Like Polaris somehow insulted everyone’s motorcycle sensibilities.

    Polaris built a vehicle, the government calls it a motorcycle, so you all get mad at Polaris. So its called a motorcycle…big deal. Are you going to sell your bikes now for fear of being associated with …GASP…that Polaris contraption?

    and to the comments that mentioned how dangerous and irresponsible it is for Polaris to slip such a dangerous machine through a gov’t loophole…”oh my, how can you ride around without airbags or seatbelts”…this is a MOTORCYCLE site. You know, the things that have no airbags and absolutely no body protection…yeah, those.

    Please move along.

  38. Jmess says:

    Front end is cool-looking; backside is, well, butt-ugly. It would be fun to drive, but if you’re going to have a toy, stick with a real motorcycle not this fugly bastard child of a car taking it from rear by a motorcycle.

  39. iliketoeat says:

    It’s a little sad to see that so many Motorcycle Daily readers have trouble, you know, reading. This is a motorcycle ACCORDING TO A LEGAL DEFINITION. Obviously it’s not really a motorcycle as people normally think about motorcycles, but since it has three wheels, it meets the legal definition of “motorcycle”, the same way that a trike is legally a “motorcycle”.

    The fact that the Polaris Slingshot is legally a motorcycle is what allows it to weigh 1,700 lbs and cost $20,000, instead of 3,400 lbs and $60,000. Being classified as a motorcycle is a GOOD THING because it’s not required to meet safety standards that add cost and weight. So that’s what matters, not whether or not you personally think it’s a motorcycle.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Agree. “A rose by any other name …” I could change the article to call it a “hybrid bastard contraption”, and promise to commit hari kari for covering it on a motorcycle site. Might make some strange readers feel better. 🙂

    • bikerrandy says:

      My Piaggio MP3 is considered a ‘motorcycle’ by definition too world wide, tho some here will disagree.

  40. James says:

    Yea this trike think might be fun to drive (not ride)also, but flying a fighter jet would be fun also, and so might be bungee jumping, or a night with Becky Sue, but this is “MOTORCYCLE” daily. I don’t care that someone finds a reference on Wikipedia that lumps a trike in with a bike, motorcycles are unitrack vehicles, if the wheels (2) are not in line, its not a bike. The other definitive qualifier is simply this, and I think us riders agree on this, a motorcycle leans the right way, everything else does not.

  41. James says:

    So, if I remove a wheel from a Chevy I can register it as a motorcycle?

  42. Wurst Bologna Dickens says:

    “Make no mistake, the Slingshot is a motorcycle not a car. ”

    Nice try but, I’m sure no one with an IQ above room temperature will consider this a motorcycle.
    BTW what’s up with the unfinished-looking rear section? Looks like an exposed bath tub. Not cool.

    • Dave says:

      They aren’t trying to convince you that it’s a motorcycle, they’re just pointing out how it is classified by the authorities.

    • jim says:

      Who cares?

    • Brian says:

      Guess you didn’t bother to read the next sentence, which begins “Legally speaking, that is…”

      Seriously, who cares if the thing isn’t really a motorcycle? It’s weird and different, and you’re required to have a motorcycle endorsement to pilot it. Also, in most of the country it’s no longer riding season…so I’ll take whatever “motorcycle” news I can get.

  43. Tommy See says:

    This is out before the Elio which would be my choice for a 3wheeled CAR !!

  44. Gary says:

    I think this thing would trigger a laugh riot. Would love to own one.

  45. Alon Walker says:

    Everybody bent out of shape over motorcycle or car designation? Thought it was all about having fun…

    • Ian says:

      I don’t think anyone is “bent out of shape”, just don’t understand how any sort of governing body would/could ever consider this a motorcycle. And yes, this thing looks, and sounds like lots of fun for sure, it’s just not a motorcycle as classified.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        There just isn’t a classification for these things yet. They either classify it as a car and tell Polaris they can’t sell it because it doesn’t have the safety systems legally required for cars, or they classify it as a motorcycle which has no such requirements. I imagine that some states or the federal gov will eventually legislature a new category into existence, but they’ll call it a motorcycle in the meantime so that Polaris can sell them.

        • bikerrandy says:

          Jeremy, right now Texas will not allow Polaris Slinghots to be sold in your state as a MC or a car.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Yes, I am aware. Texas has some pretty specific language that details what can be classified as a motorcycle, and the Slingshot doesn’t fit the mold. Bureaucratic BS that I imagine will be remedied fairly quickly (by government standards anyway).

    • mickey says:

      A lot of us come here for our “motorcycle fix”…after all it’s not called “Anything That Might Be Fun Daily”

      • Norm G. says:

        right then, “Powersports” Daily. a gamp for all the usual suspects… MX, ATV, watercraft, sleds, trikes, scooters, etc.

        GOT I.C.E…? (insert “got milk” logotype)

  46. lynchenstein says:

    So if this is legally a motorcycle, could I take my MC licence test on it? The slow-speed stuff will be a breeze, but getting through the cones might very well be impossible.

  47. Gary says:

    Oh for crying out loud guys! No, this is not a motorcycle, nor is it a car. It does have three wheels which does make it a little different (just like the Can-Am Spyder), so a review here is not out of line. I appreciate this article, as I otherwise don’t look at car magazines or whereever else this might appear. If you’re not interested, just don’t read it, and no need to gripe. Thanks Dirck, I DO appreciate reading about different brands or vehicles, even if they occassionaly are not exactly a motorcycle.

    • mickey says:

      “No, this is not a motorcycle” “even if they…. are not exactly a motorcycle.”

      You do realize you just said the exact thing everyone else has been saying, only with a browner nose, right?

      • Gary says:

        I was just agreeing that it is not what one might normally call a motorcycle, but that doesn’t mean that I and apparently others aren’t interested in reading about it here. Like I said, if you don’t want to read about it here- don’t, I don’t much care to read about some of these so called custom retros that some produce either, but I’m not going to rant, rave, and gripe because they are noted here, someone enjoys reading about those too.

  48. ZREXER says:

    Interesting idea, but any convertible has the advantage that when the weather turns nasty, you raise the roof and crank the heat. Surprised at the engine choice. Would think something motorcycle sourced like ‘Busa motor or ZX-14 motor would offer a more interesting experience. The supercharged 1400cc motor that Kawaskai puts in their water craft would be perfect.

    So not at all comparable to any motorcycle, still no real weather protection. So for me I like bikes to be bikes, cars to be cars.

    What is the 0 to 60 time in this unit?

    • Tom K. says:

      Stop reading my mind, it’s crowded enough in here as it is…

    • Thrus says:

      I agree on the engine but the supercharged one may not work that relies on there being a large amount of coolant from the lake. The busa or zx engine would likely increase the price.

  49. dave says:

    Let’s report on motorcycles not stuff like this.

  50. Gabe says:

    “Automobile-like device” LOL

  51. jim says:

    Put a 1.3 liter tdi and a full fairing and make yourself a poor man’s VW XL1.

  52. ABQ says:

    There is one of these down in Los Lunas. Since I am missing a leg I would prefer a model with paddle shifters. I would also like it with fromt wheel drive so I could take it on the sandy dirt roads here in the southwest, and snow. I like the open frame look. Maybe they can just cut the plastic off the back half.
    (If anyone at polaris is reading this forum, On the can-am spyder please put a brake lever on the handle bar. Right now you just have one lone brake peddle on right where it is difficult to find. Especially for a guy that is missing his right leg.)

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Cars became SUVs, and Standards ADVs. Judging by history, in a season or two, Polaris will put 35″ tires on it. Making it the second widest and heaviest “Adventure Bike” on the market, after a fully loaded GSA with Touratech panniers….

      From a cursory glance, you’d think an “backwards trike” like this, would make for a natural offroader. Dirt bike rear end providing less compromised travel than a solid rear axle, and less head toss. Wide front stance providing side to side stability. And MC classification allowing for great visibility and a huge reduction of rollover causing weight up high. And, for real, aggressive offloading, you’d want a helmet anyway…. 3wd systems may require some development first, though.

    • schmoe90 says:

      ABQ, Hydraulics are easy to modify, so you can have your brake lever on the handlebar. Thanks to a paralysed arm, I have my brake lever on the left handlebar, and have met several one legged guys riding motorcycles.

    • grumpy8521 says:

      BTW, on the Spyder there is a kit available to put full controls on the handlebars. We’ve done it up for a double amputee customer here at the shop I work at.

      • ABQ says:

        That after market kit costs $1700 including labor. They should have installed a brake lever on the handle bar as standard equipment. I could just bolt on a really wide brake peddle for $20 from Pep Boys.

  53. Still have to admire Polaris for their cajones, now one of their 2-stroke twins tied to a 6 speed transmission in a 2 wheel sport bike, you got me.

  54. Don says:

    I totally agree with most of the comments above. Nothing about this contraption even resembles a motorcycle.

  55. Grover says:

    You could buy a lot of nice convertible sportscar for $20,000 and not have to wear a helmet. If you buy the SL model it’s nearly $27,000 OTD (which should bring your back to reality). Probably a lot of fun, but like others have said- not a motorcycle. This article should have appeared in Road and Track and not a motorcycle magazine.

  56. Frank says:

    If you tell an obvious lie, and tell it long enough, many people are likely to start believing it. Politicians know this. Does anyone here think this is a motorcycle? Of course not.

    • Ian says:

      That seems true here. How is something with more than two wheels, bucket seats with seatbelts, a steering wheel, and car controls in any way a motorcycle??

      • Tom says:

        motorcycle noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
        Bicycle or tricycle propelled by an internal combustion engine……

        But who cares… I think it’s cool and would be a blast to (drive). Will it replace my Triumph? Of course not 🙂

  57. Butch says:

    This thing is begging for 2 wheel independent suspended rear differential.
    Strip off the plastic, throw a car tag on it and head for the twisties . . . . . . .

  58. Idaho Joe says:

    Thank heavens Polaris is willing to work outside the box! I love the looks of this thing and am glad to see a company work outside the same old, same old. Car designs, for the most part, have grown boring, and bikes quite predictable; the Slingshot is one of the more interesting wheeled vehicles I’ve seen in a long time.

  59. Dave says:

    More lightweight vehicles on the road = good thing. I don’t care how many wheels they do or don’t have. 8,000lb SUV’s don’t stop very well..

  60. Ziggy says:

    “Mazda Miata on steroids.” Put a bullet in that thing.

    Must be a slooooow day at motorcycledaily.com

  61. endoman38 says:

    Might be fun, not a motorcycle.

  62. Max Frisson says:

    Several states are questioning the status of these vehicles and Texas has refused to register the Slingshot. I think this product category may blow up in the industry’s face when a few people get killed in spectacular crashes in these non-compliant car-like creations. Then you’ll see the Federal Government get involved in setting safety standards. These almost motorcycles; the T-Rex, the Cam-Am Spyder, the various Trikes, aftermarket and factory, the Slingshot and those Boss Hoss things, none of them have had any safety testing, there are virtually no standards and when bureaucrats discover that loophole it is not going to exist for long. These vehicles are trying to game the system. That is likely to have unwanted consequences.

    So then after these vehicles bring more attention to motorcycles and how motorcyclists modify their bikes, [baggers with giant front wheels, extended swingarms on ‘Busas and loud pipes], there will be a new rush to save us like Nader did with the Corvair.

    I think we’ll be ripe to become prime targets for new standards, restrictions and legislative actions. And it will all start with the attention these cheating pretenders will bring upon us.

    • jim says:

      Wow, Polaris tries to bring something new and diferent to market and this is what you get out of it? Torch and pitchfork in hand? You need to lighten up.

    • todd says:

      It’s probably the safest “motorcycle” available.

    • hlrembe says:

      The Can-Am Spyder has so many electronic “saftey nannies” built in that they have removed most of the fun potential in riding one. The Texas issue most likely has to do with their too powerful automobile dealership association, which will not allow anything they view as non traditional car dealership sales, ie: Tesla, to take place, and you can bet they see this for what it is: a car. I would have preferred Polaris used their depth of experience with snowmobiles to build a direct competitor to the Spyder although with far fewer “safety” features.
      I doubt these vehicles will have any more negetive effect on how we currently modify our bikes any more then the modifications themselves have had.

  63. Curly says:

    Not a bike. A modern Morgan yes but not a bike. States should either register them as three wheelers or cars but not as motorcycles. Fun for sure not a bike.

  64. Mapes says:

    Glad to see another entry in this space. Adding lightness is key to the fun. Shame the styling is not that appealing. BTW: Ariel Atoms are available in the US. xBows are not…though maybe KTM are watching the success of the slingshot?

  65. Eric says:

    Clearly not a motorcycle but sounds like great fun just the same. Wonder how it would work with snow tires? Just got 4″ in NJ and the Guzzi is stuck in the garage. Certainly has the ‘hey look at me’ wow factor. Nobody even notices roadsters around these parts (which may not be a bad thing if you’re out for a spirited drive).

  66. It’s cool, but for not much more you could by a Miata, with a top, a trunk, crumple zones, airbags(that might kill you), and leave the helmet at home. 64 and tired of seeing geezers on 800 lb. motorcycles and don’t even want to discuss 3-wheelers.

    • jeece says:

      What Smokin Don said, except from a 50 year old. I’m all for personal choice, but some folks, at least the ones riding things with two wheels on the back, would probably be better off in a Miata.

      • LarryC says:

        +1 jeece. Problem is you can’t pretend to be a “biker” in a Miata. Imagine how ridiculuous you would look getting out of a Mazda dressed up in your pirate’s costume.

  67. Starmag says:

    If I’m not able to lean it and it’s got a steering wheel instead of handlebars, I’d much rather have something like a MX-5 Miata for it’s top, A/C, air bags, trunk, etc., even though they are less powerful. I don’t get it, but then again, I didn’t get the Can Am Spyder trikes either and judging by how many I see on the road BRP must have sold a lot of them.

    I just saw one of these on the road yesterday here in Florida.

    I wonder how Indian is doing for them, I’ve only seen a couple out and about but I’m not really looking for them. Trikes are easier to notice.

    • Auphliam says:

      I haven’t seen many on the roads around here, but the local Indian dealership is selling a ton of them and just recently started expanding their building for the Slingshot.

  68. hlrembe says:

    I would be very interested to know how Polaris pulled off avoiding this being classified as an automobile while other sit in three wheelers such as the Morgan, which is powered by a motorcycle engine, are classified as automobiles. For me I would prefer the Can Am Spyder which is more snowmobile like in character

  69. Scarecrow800 says:

    I’m not certain from the picture, but at a glance, it looks like that GM sourced Saab engine that GM puts in everything from the Saturn Ions, Chevy Cavaliers, Cobalts, Sunfires,SUVs and pretty much anything else they sell. Seems like they were trying to make a car and get away with not putting in airbags or bumpers or crumple zones. I don’t know, I just think they should have gone ahead and put four wheels on it and called it an ” Adventure Car “.

    • Scarecrow800 says:

      Oh, and does anybody else think the front end kinda has that Transformers look to it? Maybe it’s not a three wheeler, maybe it’s a robot in disguise.

    • sherm says:

      I’m drawn to this thing (geezer excitement)but from a safety standpoint is it smoke and mirrors? I imagine that in a crash it would be subject to the same destructive forces as car, yet by Polaris’ own admission the Slingshot design does not include any of the standard car safety features. In a Slinshot frontal collision, injuries could be much more severe than with a car. This is an insurance and liability issue, not about “car” vs “motorcycle” nomenclature. I suppose the insurance industry will be the one to shake this out..

    • Saab?, No. GM builds that engine in a very sophisticated plant in North Tonawanda, NY. They have an open house every year and it is well worth the time. Saab, ppppssssssssshhhhhh.

      • Scarecrow800 says:

        Yeah it’s built by GM in their plant … but … the design was a Saab engine originally. I am assuming it’s the same old engine that was in the Saturn Ion, Chevrolet cavalier, malibu and cobalt and other assorted GMs. It was called the Ecotec motor, a 2.2 liter engine. But it was originally from the Saab back before that. It’s nothing new for GM ( or Ford or Chrysler ). The Chevette was an early Isuzu I-Mark with GM sheet metal and accessories. The later I-Mark was called Geo Spectrum and the only thing that was changed were the little logos. The Prizm was a Toyota. They haven’t done much in the way of original engineering, they just buy stuff that’s already been done. Much like Harley went and bought a bunch of Rotax motors so they could race 500cc flat track and stuck HD stickers on them or went to Porsche for their V-Rod or went to Aeramacchi for their 70s mid size bikes.

      • Grover says:

        Every SAAB owner has a SOB story!

  70. First Turn Ern says:

    Reminds me of the cycle cars of the early years of autos and motorcycles. Health no longer allows me to ride a motorcycle but one of these I could enjoy.

    Do you think a dealer would accept a spleen in trade?

  71. WSHart says:

    Allow me – It’s got four wheels. One of em’s for steering.

    Not a bike, not a trike and not for me. All the same, I wish them well but I would much rather have a VW Beetle powered Manx.

    One could make the claim that this is exactly what Polaris is trying to drive home but home or not, I don’t wear a helmet driving my cars.

  72. mickey says:

    It may be fantastically fun to drive, and certain state gov’ts may call this a motorcycle, but we all know it really isn’t.