2017 Polaris Slingshot SLR

Pure FUN, at any cost

By CD

Your practical side says, “So little storage room, limited protection in a crash, why is there just one tire in back? It’s the answer to a question that nobody asked. Oh and it’s $29,000?!” But then you squeeze into the thing, you fire it up and it’s satisfying…You put it in gear and you pull away, and a smile creeps onto your entirely too-serious face. In your first turn, you realize “Oh crap, I’ve got to pay attention here,” and that pleases you, because it means that not everyone who drives this will do it well…then you settle into the twists and turns and you are smiling fulltime now, or in my case, laughing maniacally.

Pure FUN at any cost? You’re damn right.

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Whether you get the base model at 22k or this pretty, yet untamed beast at $28,500, I truly doubt you’ll spend a single day with regret. There are many reasons this “thing” won’t work for many people. It’s not a motorcycle, yet it’s not a car either. It’s somewhere in between, with some of the shortcomings of both. But it also possesses the raunchier attitudes of both, and that’s where it hooks me.

When you take off in this reverse trike, the first thing you think is, “Go Kart.” Simple as that. Engine, frame, tires, steering wheel. It’s all you feel and most of what you see. And it’s all you need. It’s raw and basic.

When I first reviewed this machine back in QT (Jan. 2015), I had driven it up and then down Mulholland Drive. That canyon carving adventure proved this beast’s prowess, and we all know how that road can test a person’s mettle too. I won’t ever admit to being scared ha ha… let’s just say, the road commanded my attention. And when I demanded more from the Slingshot, it gave it to me.

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So now, almost 2 years later, would I like it as much just buzzing around town, running errands, picking up my daughter from school, and driving to (ugghh) the office on the freeway? Let’s face it – not every trip is gonna be Mulholland, Ortega Hwy. or Jerome, AZ. I think your toy (be in a motorcycle, boat, RV or reverse trike) should be fun the minute you get on it – so those errands and quick shopping trips become more fun too…

Well the first thing I found is I was a bit short on legroom. I’m a six-footer, and many cars don’t give me the legroom I want. So that might be just me. Point is, I noticed this more just running around town, not battling turns and spitting gravel up on the mountain. That said there was still plenty to do and see, to distract me from that, and I enjoyed the hell out of the average quickymart run.

Picking my daughter up at school? Oh baby, lemme tell ya. There is probably no finer drug than when young kids practically fall off their skateboards to get a better look at what you’re riding/driving in on (my theory is, kids are cool and they acknowledge cool, without first deciding if you’re cool, or if they should show you how cool you are, or if you make more money than they do, etc.. Ok I digress). A crowd of teens quickly formed around us, oohh’ing and ahh’ing, asking if was the Batmobile, and could they have a ride. My girl feigned embarrassment, but she was secretly eating up the attention.

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And honestly, kids or not, this happens everywhere you go. Most people will smile, or nod or actually ask questions. The added sweetener for me was, this thing is wife-friendly…it’s comfortable for the passenger, it gives jumpy women a better sense of security than a bike, and it has a BIG glove box, which BTW locks, which is critical. This thing IS short on storage, but behind the seats the compartments have expanded a bit, and the glovebox really is large and convenient. Lisa had a LOT of fun riding around in this Slingshot, and she asked to go out more (praise the Lord!) We kept light jackets, two ball caps, and a few other doodads in the glovebox, and had room to spare. You can even hose down the interior. Not sure I’d do that, but I can tell you that after a night outside, the dew collects right on the seat surfaces, and you can sit in a puddle if you’re not careful. But simply wipe it down and go.

On the freeway, it’s manners are….ok. Nothing to shout about. It’s clearly not meant for that application, but it will do the job. The standard windscreen isn’t much; you look over it easily if you’re near six foot. And to me that’s preferable because I want the wind in the face and no “filter” of the sights around me. But on the freeway, my head is blown around quite a bit. I know some Slingshot owners wear helmets there and not on side streets, but I can’t imagine the helmet being comfortable at all here. Just more weight to be buffeted. You can get at least 2 other size windshields to try, and those would certainly help on the freeway, and keep you from a severe facial impact with a large bug or pebble.

And speaking of helmets – when these machines first came out, no one was sure whether you needed a lid or not. Now most states have clarified what they think these Slingshots are, and thus whether you need head protection. In most states including Cali and the Southwest, it’s generally accepted now that you do not need one. Reason being, you have seat belts, roll-over protection in the headrests, etc. However, and this is a big one – since you register it as a motorcycle, a nasty cop (and I’ve met quite a few of those) could insist that you need to wear a helmet. That said, I drove past literally 4 police cars on 4 separate occasions, 2 of those where I pulled up right next to them, and they barely gave me a look. One did give me a thumbs up, so that was fun.

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Now, climbing in and out of the thing – well there’s no easy way to look cool doing it. True, you can jump in like Thomas Magnum (sorry for the old guy reference) and I even figured out a way to jump out, because getting out is way less cool – you’ve got one leg on the ground, you’re squeezing the other leg past the steering wheel, but in a stiff-leg, Monty Python kind of movement, which quickly becomes an “Oh they can see my panties” kind of knock-knee twist that just feels…wrong. Hence the learning to jump out move. Way more Magnum, Bro.

I could let MANY things go with this bitchin’ ride, but one thing that concerns me is when driving aggressively, and shifting from 2nd to 3rd, I often hit a “wall” in the gearbox, and completely miss the shift. I did this several times. Now, you can blame pilot error (and I’ll take it) but my daily driver is a 6-speed sports car. I was able to adjust my style somewhat but if I was really hot-dogging, it happened more often than I’d like. I don’t yet know if this is just me, or if it’s an area where they saved some bucks, to get this down to a 22-28k package. The Design team at Polaris tell me there’s nothing they’re aware of, and have not heard about this issue from any other owners or test drivers. And I’ll admit that I never had this issue when I first drove the base model back in 2015…

It’s still a hell of a package, especially at that price.

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And the tunes? It’s not the most sophisticated sound system, but like the rest on the Slingshot, it works and it’s all you need. One plus is the volume automatically adjusts with your speed. Granted, when you’re at speed you are hearing more engine and gearing than stereo (and that’s as it should be damnit!) and sometimes the unit sounds more like an old-timey radio than a “Media console with Rockford Fosgate 4-speaker 100-watt system.” But then when you’re slowing down, or cruising up to a light, the sounds are an integral part of the experience and if you liked your favorite tunes before, you’re positively living ‘em now, and it’s part of the music video of your life that you’ll replay when stuck at your desk, like that bitchin’ mix tape you made back in high school. The soundtrack of your youth, man. No reason we have to give it ALL up, though.

So is it a car, or a trike, or what? Who cares. It’s fun, it’s reasonably priced, and there aren’t that many around. Oh and it’s just plain cool. Check the web for many, many accessory and customizing options. But to see and drive the Slingshot, head over to select Eaglerider locations and Reno Cycles & Gear in Nevada!

EDITOR’S UPDATE: Since this writing there have been two recalls on the Slingshot. Both were fairly serious, but I checked with the suits at Polaris and was told that parts were being shipped to their dealers as we speak, as were new Slingshot units produced after the issues were identified and resolved. However, YOU need to be sure, so visit the above dealers and ask lots of questions, drive one and verify that your unit has been fully inspected.

CD

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