If you’re inclined to rev up both the automotive and motorcycle forums, take a look at what Polaris Industries – home to Victory and Indian motorcycles, as well as ATVs built and marketed under the Polaris moniker – did on the last week of July. After months of speculation (and weeks of tease), the Minneapolis-based firm officially took the wraps off of its Polaris Slingshot, a 3-wheel ‘reverse trike’ with the potential to upend both the motorcycle and car biz in a very big way.
This, of course, isn’t the first time someone has installed an automotive-type drivetrain into a 3-wheel platform. In the teens and twenties – of the last century – numerous manufacturers marketed 3-wheeled ‘cycle cars’ to the public. But those eventually fell out of favor when autos built in volume put the price points of cycle cars above that of conventional motoring. Today, with its classification as a motorcycle rather than automobile, Polaris’ Slingshot avoids any number of safety and emission hurdles on its way to production. And with a weight-to-horsepower ratio right at 10 pounds/horsepower, it should provide one very visceral experience for not much more than that new Corolla you’ve been eyeing. (Not, of course, that a Corolla can’t be visceral…in, maybe, Baghdad.)
With a curb weight reported to be less than 1,800 pounds (with fluids), an overall length of under 150 inches, and a longish wheelbase of 105 inches, the Slingshot sits but five inches above the tarmac. And from Polaris’ own promotional video, the ride-and-drive would seem to come closer to piloting a kart than a conventional sports car and/or motorcycle. While early comparisons have been made to the Danica Patrick-endorsed Can-Am Spyder, that reverse trike is much closer to a bike in layout, with a motorcycle-type drivetrain and its operator/passenger sitting in tandem atop the chassis. Wait ‘til Danica sees the Slingshot.
Arriving in selected Polaris showrooms in late September, the new trike will be priced at between $20K and $24K (SL model), plus destination and prep. As the Polaris disclaimer suggests, the Slingshot is a “three-wheeled motorcycle. It is not an automobile…does not have airbags…and does not meet automotive safety standards.” After but one drive – and we can’t wait – we don’t think the target demographic (anyone with an automotive pulse) will care.