After almost two years of speculation by the motorcycle community, a Polaris press release (01/03/14) confirmed the planned release of a street legal side-by-side reverse trike in 2014 named Polaris Slingshot.
Speculation was ignited by Polaris’ March 11, 2011 filing of a design patent describing a uniquely designed three-wheeled roofless roadster. Since then, the company has also trademarked a logo bearing the Slingshot name, and secured the web address polarisslingshot.com.
Not just another three-wheeler
The question on cyclists minds is whether this new design is a competitor to the Can-Am Spyder or the Campagna T-Rex or V13R.
When asked to compare the Polaris Slingshot to the Can-Am Spyder, Polaris’ Chief Operating Officer, Bennet Morgan called the Slingshot, “…a different spin and a different solution in what I would say has been a somewhat created category. So it's not all new. But we think we got a way better solution."
Polaris’ spin on the trike begins with side-by-side seating instead of the tandem seat straddle seen in the Spyder, and a steering wheel instead of handlebars to direct the two front wheels. The patent indicates rack and pinion steering but state that power steering could be incorporated at some point.
The single rear wheel would, according to the patent, be belt-driven and powered by a GM 2.4L Ecotec 4-cylinder engine that produces roughly 200 hp. Hybrid and battery powered electric systems are also described. The engine of the Polaris Slingshot is mounted longitudinally in front with power going through a transmission and driveshaft to a final drive system mounted behind the seats with an input U-joint and an output sprocket.
The patent also contains provisions for additional features to improve safety and stability. Antilock brakes and traction control are complemented by an MSR system that limits rear wheel slip while downshifting and rear wheel locking on slippery surfaces, and electronic brake distribution (EBD) to modulate front and rear brake pressure, and vehicle stability control (VSC) that modulates throttle input and applies the outside front brake all to limit yaw rate in turns.
Polaris even added a consideration for international marketing, describing interchangeable lighting to accommodate the country of sale.
Will the Polaris Slingshot be on target with riders?
The reverse trike designs like that of the Slingshot offer a unique combination of benefits. The single wheel in back provides more stability than a motorcycle or a traditional trike configuration (one in front, two in back). High engine power and low weight, however, provide riders with an enjoyable riding experience.
The reverse trike is still an emerging segment that some analysts suggest may or may not grow. On the other hand, there are more optimistic views of Polaris’ chances with the Slingshot, suggesting that Polaris could see an increase in 2014 revenue of $60 million from sales of 3,000 vehicles for a wholesale price of $20,000 each. Only time will tell.
Get a sneak peek of the new Slingshot! Polaris has launched some videos of the new Slingshot. Check them out!
About the Author: This article was written by R.J. Foster, Owner of Wordsmithing by Foster LLC, a Wisconsin-based business dedicated to helping people and businesses share their message more clearly, and more effectively.