CLOSE The three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot looks like a Batmobile, but it is all motorcycle. USA TODAY The Slingshot is best appreciated on curving roads.(Photo: George Petras/USA TODAY) At our first stoplight aboard a 2017 Polaris Slingshot SLR, a 10-year-old kid leans out of a nearby Dodge Durango and shouts, “Hey! Say cheese! Say cheese!” and raises a smartphone. He snaps away while dad in the driver’s seat looks over and grins.
In front of them is a black satin BMW Z4 convertible, a truly stunning machine costing upwards of $60,000. Father and son don’t even notice. In a world of jelly-bean sedans and cinderblock SUVs, this is what you get while driving the Slingshot, an eye-grabbing vehicle that sort of looks like the Batmobile. ► Sept. 1: Women help rev up the motorcycle industry► Aug. 24: He's ridden the same Honda Gold Wing for a million miles Let’s be clear: Though it resembles a sports car, the Slingshot is classified as a three-wheeled motorcycle.
It’s actually a reverse trike, with two wheels in the front and a single drive wheel in the rear.It has a steering wheel and twin bucket seats but no airbags or the usual automotive safety features. To drive it, some states require a motorcycle license.Polaris insists you and your passenger wear motorcycle helmets and use the seatbelts. ► Aug. 23: Harley-Davidson reveals eight revamped cruiser motorcycles► Aug.
8: Motorcycle-riding execs become highway heroes Got that? Let's continue. Driving a Slingshot is a dual experience, one outside, the other inside the vehicle. Outside: The first thing you notice is how many people stop and stare as you go by. Kids wave. Girls out jogging give a thumbs-up. Guys lower their minivan windows and raise their sunglasses. It's almost surreal at first, but we pretty much got used to it.
If you enjoy being the center of attention and having total strangers come up and start conversations, the Slingshot is for you because everyone — seriously, everyone — asks about it. ► July 25: Harley-Davidson, Indian hope to rev up new motorcycle riders► July 20: Indian goes dark with Scout Bobber motorcycle “Hey, what is this?” Yeah, you’ll hear that a lot, at stoplights, gas stations, parking lots and your driveway.
It will knock the introvert right out of you. And you'll love driving it. Which brings us to: Inside: The triangular stance is stable and responsive though the rear wheel can skip around a bit on quick tight turns. It’s a joy to take on winding country roads. On the freeway it cruises easily at speeds up to 95 mph. (Or so we're told.) The powertrain is a 170-hp four-cylinder GM engine and five-speed transmission.
Acceleration is brisk and the short-throw shifter is easy to slip into gear. ABS is standard. Note: This is not a Ferrari. The Slingshot weighs 1,749 lbs., a bit heavy for the horsepower. You may feel like Steve McQueen, but you're not going to place at Le Mans. However — and this is an important distinction — while most car drivers will feel at home in the Slingshot, it becomes less of a car and more of a motorcycle when you’re driving it.
As author and long-distance traveler Mark “Tiger” Edmonds says, riding a motorcycle is a constant, hands-on experience: ► July 18: Harley-Davidson can't rev up motorcycle sales, will cut jobs► June 4: Harley-Davidson recalls 57,000 motorcycles for oil-line defect► June 3: Harley-Davidson teaching whole town to ride motorcycles "(You can’t) put it on cruise control and lay back with a soft drink and one finger on the wheel.
No, you have to ride it. All the time.” In a similar way, you’re riding the Slingshot, all the time. A small windscreen deflects most of the air streaming over the hood, but you’re out in the open, no doors, no windows, no roof. Your butt is a scant 17 inches off the pavement. You can reach down, lean over a bit and touch the pavement. As on a motorcycle, you're living in the moment, feeling both vulnerable and adventurous.
► March 20: Five things to love about a motorcycle vacation► Nov. 26: Motorcycle black box lets riders monitor vital info This isn’t to say the Slingshot’s for everyone. The cockpit is open, you and your companion are wearing helmets, so conversation is nearly impossible unless you enjoy yelling at one another. As on a motorcycle, storage is limited; you get a glovebox and spaces behind both seats, each large enough to stow a helmet and not much else.
And if it rains, you will get wet. The rear end looks rather unfinished. (Photo: George Petras/USA TODAY) The seats are waterproof, which is good because it has no overhead cover though we're told Polaris is developing one. And we've seen at least one aftermarket framework that will support a cover, but we were unable to talk to the owner. As for the rear end? Look, let’s be brutally candid here.
It's like Polaris' best designers lovingly and painstakingly crafted the first seven-eighths of the vehicle, went on holiday, and someone’s nephew snuck in to finish up. ► Nov. 12: Bikers help Springsteen, stranded on side of road► Oct. 7: The Dragon: Super-twisty N.C. road is the ultimate fall ride The rear wheel set-up reminded us of a wheelbarrow. It’s not terrible, just terribly jarring.
It doesn’t match the breath-taking sweep of the overall design. We kind of hate thinking that because the rest of the Slingshot looks so good. Polaris Industries, maker of Indian Motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles, introduced the Slingshot in 2014. They’re made in the U.S. ► Oct. 7: Man, chihuahua travel 82,000 miles on motorcycle to support military► Sept. 25: Honda's Africa Twin motorcycle is fun even in rain The Slingshot has four models.
The entry vehicle costs $22,000; the high-end SLR is about $28,500. They can be accessorized as little or as much as you like. The Polaris Slingshot is bound to attract both motorcycle riders looking for something different and car drivers seeking a taste of motorcycle excitement. Whichever your preference, you’re in for a good time on the road. Follow George Petras and Linda Dono on Twitter: @GeoPetras and @LindaDono Show Thumbnails Show Captions Last SlideNext Slide Read or Share this story: https://usat.
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