Since its release in 2014, as a 2015 model, the conversation over whether the Polaris Slingshot® is a car, or a motorcycle has puzzled many. Opinions vary depending on who you talk to. To confuse things further, states differ in their opinions as well. From motor vehicle and insurance classifications to helmet laws.
Some feel because of the front half: equipped with a car engine, steering wheel, stick shift, bucket seats, seatbelts, and three pedals (clutch, brake, gas), they consider it to be more like a car. You sit in it, and not on it. However, the Polaris Slingshot is not an automobile, as it does not have airbags and it does not meet automotive safety standards.
Some argue that because the back half of the Slingshot is built more like a motorcycle: as it consists of a swing arm, with a belt drive, a single wheel, and a motorcycle plate. Similarly, some argue that it is considered a trike, which originally was used to describe a conventional motorcycle with two rear wheels. In this case a Slingshot is considered a reverse trike.
It seems Polaris not only captured everyone’s attention with this radical new vehicle but really confused each state with what to classify it as, and the helmet laws that applied to this new toy. A majority of states have slowly adopted a new classification for the Slingshot, calling it an Autocycle (aka a three-wheeled motor vehicle). This new classification converted driving requirements to a standard driver’s license, therefore removing the need for a motorcycle license. There are only a handful of states left that haven’t adopted this new classification yet.
So, depending on your state's motor vehicle classification standing, this may affect your insurance company's rates as well your state's license class and helmet laws. Polaris does recommend wearing a helmet regardless of the individual state laws but be sure to educate yourself on your state’s requirements before riding without one.