Polaris Industries are better known for their four wheeled creations, making a wide variety of big boy’s toys (ATV’s) alongside proper light commercial vehicles. In fact, most motorcycle enthusiasts may only have heard of the name in passing due to the company owning both the Victory and Indian brand of bikes.
Perhaps however your interest may be piqued by this creation – the Polaris Slingshot. Polaris is publicizing it as a three-wheeled motorcycle – and to drive (ride?) one you’ll actually require a motorcycle license and need to wear a helmet in jurisdictions where it’s mandatory to do so for a bike. So while many of us find cars somewhat boring in comparison to the incredible performance and freedom that a motorcycle offers, I have to say this thing looks like a lot of fun.
It’s configured with two wheels up front and one at the rear, with the GM sourced 2.4 liter i4 Ecotec engine sitting just behind the former. It’s mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox with a claimed 173 bhp @ 6,200 rpm and 166 ft-lbs @ 4,700. Red line is a very un-motorcycle like 7,000 rpm. All of that is in a package that weights 1743 lbs wet. That power to weight figure may not look impressive next to a liter bike, but it most certainly is if compared to a sports car.
Because of the unconventional layout of the vehicle, Polaris has had to utilize modern electronic aids to ensure it’s drive-able. Stability control comes standard, as does ABS and traction control. With or without such aids, is still promises to offer go-kart like handling. And basically, this is what the Polaris Slingshot is. It’s not a three wheeled motorcycle, it’s a three wheeled go-kart. With the seat only inches from the ground, a steering wheel and even a reverse camera for the SL model, most people will view it as more car than bike.
And that could be it’s biggest problem. As fun as it looks, it probably won’t win away too many motorcycle riders. But in order to drive one, you need a bike license. And how many motorists will go to the effort of getting such a license just to be able to drive this? That said, Polaris should be applauded for bringing out a product that breaks the mold and offers something different.