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Threesome Report: Autocycle boom and the Reverse-Trike

Laws, Three-wheelers, Batmobile and your gumshoe

by Ujjwal Dey


So after the breakthrough in Florida as of 1st of July 2018 the modern streets and highways are getting young riders and their favorite dealerships all over USA excited about the thrill of three-wheels without the regulations for two-wheels.

In the most-recent legislative session, the revision to the state’s new law made Florida the 43rd state to reclassify its driving requirements to recognize the “Autocycle” vehicle’s unique status as something between a motorcycle and passenger vehicle.


Literally overnight, this change increased the number of prospective buyers from 680,600 Florida drivers requiring motorcycle endorsements to 14.6 million requiring only standard operators’ licenses to go enjoy the open roads in wonderful weather and tourism in Florida. These numbers was according by Polaris, one of the nation’s largest-selling autocycle manufacturers and an All-American company who have already proven their mettle, value and success in motorcycle business with Victory and then Indian motorcycles.



Makers of the hottest selling three-wheelers branded Slingshot, Polaris Industries stated in a news release that acknowledging autocycles are driven more like cars than motorcycles and that drivers should be allowed to drive them with a standard operator license is legal recognition of this new segment in automotive industry in America.


Autocycle drivers don’t straddle the seat, steer with handlebars, shift gears like motorcycle riders, or lean into turns. Yet this does nothing for the other hot selling three-wheeler in the market which is the Can-Am Spyder.



Well, don’t get so happy about it yet – because the laws for autocycles are still not what it should be.


You see, in their eagerness to separate themselves from the motorcycle laws, these autocycles have presented themselves to lawmakers in such a way that the autocycles are getting associated with 4-wheeled passenger cars. 


Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles mentions - Autocycle riders age 21 and younger must still wear helmets, while riders older than 21 can leave their helmets at home as long as they carry at least $10,000 in medical coverage for injuries sustained in an accident while riding one of the vehicles. Drivers and passengers must be restrained by a safety belt, or, if applicable, a child restraint device.



Well, the motorcycle will then sound better to some and others may buy the Can-Am Spyder instead of the Polaris Slingshot. Blurring lines between motorcycle, trike and cars – when we really should have legal definitions that separate an “autocycle” as a completely different vehicle.


The term autocycle emerged out of the revisions to states’ motor vehicle laws. The vehicles are also known to dealers and enthusiasts as roadsters and reverse trikes — so called because unlike traditional three-wheelers, these are configured with a single fat wheel in the rear and a pair of wheels in front so they can be steered like cars.


While the legendary history of “Roadsters” and “Reverse-Trikes” are a lot longer and more entertaining – not so in Federal law – well the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines and regulates three-wheeled vehicles as motorcycles. It was only in 2015 that a bill was introduced in Congress that would prevent some three wheeled vehicles from being classified as motorcycles in the United States, instead creating a new classification for "autocycles".



Yeah, you guessed that right – the only reason for that is some very large manufacturers wanted to make the money on that sitting fat cow market and so it was only in 2015 that Government even looked at all of those considerations. Don’t worry, it benefits us all including all the decades old veterans who were building roadsters, reverse-trikes or smaller companies like vintage type Morgan 3-wheeler or the classy Vanderhall Venice.


Just like cars, autocycles have steering wheels; foot-controlled clutch, brake and gas pedals; seats for a driver and passenger; antilock brakes; a reinforced steel frame; three-point safety belts; and electronic traction and stability control.


State of Virginia defines an autocycle as "a three-wheeled motor vehicle that has a steering wheel and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles." Indiana defines it as "a three (3) wheeled motor vehicle in which the operator and passenger ride in a completely or partially enclosed seating area that is equipped with:(1) a rollcage or roll hoops; (2) safety belts for each occupant; and (3) antilock brakes; and is designed to be controlled with a steering wheel and pedals."



Other bigger companies may also start investing in the Autocycle industry which is good all round for everyone in the business including customers and the US economy itself. Piaggio MP3 may get modelled into something competitive for the US market. Volkswagen GX3 may be interested since that company manufactures everything including sedans and trucks and buses. Maybe ELIO will get the investors’ attention and finally manufacture a vehicle in their production facility at Shreveport, Louisiana.


While we discuss what can be, well there is already a proven luxury class for Autocycles which is the Campagna T-Rex with BMW engines and styling, design, comfort and powertrain that will make you want to dress-up like Batman on lonely nights when the wife isn’t looking.



Starting at $63,999 MSRP the T-Rex alone has sold 2000 units in Canada itself. Campagna development projects include a right-hand drive version of the T-REX for more international sales. This was documented in www.SEC.gov mandatory filing required in USA.


Comfort and stability are two of the autocycle segment’s main selling points, and its target market are consumers who seek those qualities along with the thrill of the wind in your hair and power of racing like a street-legal Formula One race car without the hefty purchase price. That generally means adults ages 30 to 50.



Banks are willing to set up financing lasting 36 months, 48 months and 60 months, but unlike for standard car loans, most want about 30-percent down — not a safe bet for many younger enthusiasts who have received the call of the open roads (or calls about their student loans).


An average dealership in USA sells 4 to 5 Slingshot models a month with 26 dealerships in Florida and 430 Dealerships across USA. This doesn’t include some Polaris dealers who sell both Indian motorcycles and Slingshot autocycles under one roof. Vanderhall and Campagna have dealerships in Florida as well and would certainly see more interest from buyers who would love to test drive to find which set of 3-wheels move them to groove.



As I said earlier, laws would still need more work if the Autocycle industry really wants to build a lifestyle, a brand, a generation of followers for autocycles. On Sunday 8th July 2018 an autocycle passenger died in a crash at Route 45.


The 64 year old woman was riding as a passenger in a Polaris Slingshot without a helmet was heading west when a pickup-truck heading east turned left into the path of the autocycle. The crash happened at 3 pm and the Slingshot’s impact pushed the pickup into a sedan. The pickup driver and the two people in the sedan were not hurt.


The 64 year old woman died from multiple blunt-force trauma. The driver of the Slingshot, a man, also without a helmet is in a hospital but not in a life-threatening condition.


In addition to police, units from William Cameron Engine Company and ambulance from Lewisburg, Mifflinburg Hose Company, a state Department of Transportation crew and the accident reconstruction unit from state police at Montoursville also responded.


The westbound lane of Route 45 was closed for about three hours as emergency workers cleared the scene and police reconstructed the accident. All three vehicles were towed.



Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring Autocycle


Road-tripping does not need more than a cool vehicle, passionate riders and the choice of roads and places that is unmatched in the world by what the 50 States in USA offer. Well at least 43 States will let you ride that autocycle for a fun college road trip or a legendary Jack Kerouac type cross country trip that never ends.


The all-new Slingshot Grand Touring Autocycle takes the helm atop Polaris’ line-up for 2019.


This trim level focuses on upgrades and updates that make the open-air Slingshot a more capable road-trip-worthy ride. The cockpit is semi-enclosed but you may consider it without any doors because of a Slingshade, a removable hardtop with hinged, gullwing-style doors and panels above the driver and passenger.



The center console features a slick, 7-inch touchscreen with easy access to the backup camera, navigation system, and a robust 100-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system. The seats get an upgrade too with softer, quilted material for a more comfortable long distance ride. A 9.5" clear wind-deflector and a backup camera also in there.


The new model shares many of the best components with its Slingshot siblings. The unmistakable, angular, Batman-worthy silhouette hasn’t changed. The five-speed manual shifter and GM 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine remain. The latter produces a healthy 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque for an impressive power-to-weight ratio.


Legal Requirements in your State:



At $30,000 this baby will make you drool as she screams from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 5 seconds. A top speed of 130 mph is reported by riders but not listed by Polaris.


Just like Henry Ford’s modern revolution in motorized travel in the 1920s, this Slingshot GT Autocycle is available in any color you want, as long as that color is black. (Trivia Time: In his autobiography, Ford reports that in 1909 he told his management team, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.")





Well no darling, they are not giving one for free. But, if you just test-drive a Slingshot with their listed Dealerships in USA you can win an “Experience” of being a wild child in the natural setting of Zion National Park, Utah.


Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked – but on a Slingshot Autocycle instead of walking. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky through the quilted pilot seat on the Slingshot which has a detachable Slingshade roof. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.


Test Drive a Slingshot & Be Entered For a Chance to Win 1 of 3 Slingshot Adventures in Zion National Park!




Slingshot is designed, built and engineered purely to wake up the butterflies in your stomach and make the hair stick up on the back of your neck. 


A vehicle where joy rides shotgun, because it has no backseat to take.


It’s an injection of fun purely for the sake of fun. Every Slingshot is an invitation to go for a joyride. It begs to be thrown into a corner, to be whipped into a donut, to spread an ear-to-ear grin across your face.


So surrender to the wild lust for fun and take a test drive during the months of August & September and be entered for a chance to win the Slingshot adventure of a lifetime in Zion National Park!


Three lucky winners will be randomly selected for a week long all-expense paid trip to Zion National Park. But that’s not all. While on the trip of a lifetime, you’ll also experience the ride of a lifetime with a Slingshot Polaris Adventures rental. Just schedule your test drive today and let the adventure begin.


Winner will be presented with a $2,000 gift card to be used for purchasing Airfare, Accommodations and General Expenditures related to the trip. A one-day / one-vehicle Slingshot Polaris Adventures experience will also be included at no charge to the winner.  


No purchase necessary. Must be 21+ years old to enter. Entries accepted until September 30th, 2018 at 11:59 PM CST.



About Slingshade – the Polaris Slingshot Disclaimer (fine print)


Due to the technical nature of this kit, Polaris® insists that this installation be performed by a trained Slingshot® technician. Always secure latches during operation. Failure to secure latches may result in unintended opening or release causing injury to others or damage to Slingshade™.


This top is not a safety device or roll cage. It is not intended to protect the occupants in the event of a rollover or other unforeseeable events. This top is not a roof and is not intended to haul cargo. NEVER attach, strap, or haul objects of any type or weight on this top.


This top is not intended to contain or restrain the occupant or provide additional safety protection. ALWAYS wear a full face helmet, seatbelt, and other safety equipment as outlined in your vehicle owner’s’ manual. Failure to follow these warnings could lead to serious injury or death.



Slingshot is really the best value for money in terms of quality, reliability and performance in factory production model Autocycles anywhere in the world.


So, just because I mention some warnings and bad news here, don’t let that decide your interest until you take a test-drive yourself. I would not be riding motorcycles for 15+ years if I thought any of the above news was scary or unsafe.


The Slingshot SLR starts at US $ 28,999 MSRP. The Slingshot GT starts at US $ 29,499 MSRP. Polaris has offers, discounts, contests and Sweepstakes every year and your Dealership might sweeten the deal based on which State you are in and seasons or events around that place.



I actually even love the Slingshot S entry model and it is the lowest priced one which has a stunning design and looks breathtaking in its “white lightning” colours and gloss black wheels. Primarily because it looks like the Roadster or Reverse-Trike an old-school boy like me would want to buy to ride.


Starting at US $ 19,999 MSRP Slingshot S is the fun in its “pure country” form – I could sing a George Strait song in it all day.  

Open-air, waterproof cockpit — a ride as close to the road as you can get. A 173 horsepower engine that won't let up until you hit its 7200 RPM redline. All the power & torque you need to have as much fun as you want. Electronic Stability Control with specially developed and tuned 3-wheel stability control to give you confidence as you charge every corner. ABS Disc Brakes — controlled stopping power in any situation.


All Polaris Slingshot Autocycles are Street Legal. Slingshot meets all legal requirements and is equipped for use on all public roads. Even now with over 40 States classifying Slingshot as an Autocycle which only requires a driver's license, Slingshot recommends always wearing a DOT approved full face helmet. I appreciate this because as I said, Autocycle laws should not be modelled on a motorcycle or a car – it needs its own industry standard and its own life to live now that the Reverse-Trike is an all adult Wild One who originated Born To Be Wild anyway. That is a cause I can Rebel and Roll along. While we want nice shiny things I agree that such Utopia depends on the prices and freedoms you can negotiate. So Shangri-La and Salvation will have to wait till we define freedom before inventing new laws against our freedoms.

 RIDE ON !!! 



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