On November 4, 2014, Polaris Industries received notification from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles that, despite previous approval, the Slingshot three wheeler would not be allowed to be registered as a motorcycle. This change in classification means that the Slingshot would not be licensable for use on Texas roads because it lacks many features required for classification as an automobile. At issue, according to Polaris, is the definition of a saddle:

“The Texas motorcycle definition refers to a ‘saddle’ which has been interpreted as requiring the seat to be between your legs, which is not the case with Slingshot.” Other than the expected statements of looking ”forward to working with DMV, DPS, the legislature and the Governor’s office to develop an appropriate vehicle classification for Slingshot and operator licensing classification for its drivers,” Polaris has been silent.

Duke’s Den – That’s Not A Motorcycle!

Privately, Polaris notified its Slingshot dealers in a confidential internal memo that was leaked to the internet about 10 seconds after it was sent out. This memo gives a tad more information pertinent to the dealers. First, customers who plan to get around Polaris’ withholding of Slingshots from Texas dealers by purchasing one out-of-state will find themselves thwarted when they attempt to register the three-wheeler in Texas. The second takeaway from the memo is that Polaris really has no idea how long this fixing of the vehicle code to make it more Slingshot-friendly will take: “There is no set timeline, though we are exploring multiple avenues to resolve this as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

At issue: Are these seats or saddles?

At issue: Are these seats or saddles?

The manufacturer’s advice for what dealers should say to potential customers was straightforward: If you’ve already made a deposit, hope for the best, and write your state representative. (Or you are entitled to ask for your deposit back, but hang tight, we really are trying to remedy this.) For folks who are anxious to put their money down, the advice is the same as above.

2015 Polaris Slingshot Review – First Ride/Drive

The section of the motor vehicle code causing the Slingshot’s trouble can be found in the definition of a motorcycle: “’Motorcycle’ means a motor vehicle designed to propel itself with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, and having a saddle for the use of the rider.” Yes, the Slingshot’s operator support is really more of a seat a driver sits in than a saddle that the rider sits astride. However, if the issue really is over the definition of the word saddle, Texas’ stance on the Slingshot is confusing since, according to posts by Texans on Slingshot forums, both Morgan and Campagna T-Rex three-wheelers are eligible as motorcycles while still utilizing side-by-side seating.

This seems to mesh with the law governing passengers riding on a motorcycle as outlined on the FindLaw website: “(c) If the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, a passenger may ride only on the permanent and regular seat, if designed for two persons, or on another seat firmly attached to the motorcycle behind or to the side of the operator.” Neither of these two vehicles offer saddles in the traditional sense, either.

Any difference in rider/driver accommodations?

Any difference in rider/driver accommodations?

To verify that both the Morgan and the T-Rex were legal in Texas, we contacted representatives from both companies to get their statements. The Los Angeles rep for Morgan said that the Morgan is 50-state legal and she would hear through her personal customers if they had difficulty licensing a Morgan in Texas. A T-Rex sales representative said the company was in the final stages of penning a contract for their first official dealership in Texas. So, apparently, it’s full speed ahead for T-Rex and its more roadsterish sibling, the V13R, too.

We have to wonder why the Slingshot is being treated differently from the T-Rex and other three-wheelers.

We have to wonder why the Slingshot is being treated differently from the T-Rex and other three-wheelers.

  • DickRuble

    Texas has a very peculiar climate and obviously Polaris doesn’t know how, where, and how much to grease the wheels in the state…

    • Kevin

      BS

    • Kenneth

      Yes, how peculiar that the Bush-loving state so opposed to government regulation (along with the other “slave-states” of course) would object to the relatively innocuous Slingshot.

  • Luger Drmc

    And what about the Thoroughbred Stallion? It has car-like seats for two, enclosed, etc. Only difference is front and rear seating instead of side-by-side…. Freaking morons!

  • Auphliam

    Perfect example of how a politician’s brain “works”…

    “We can’t let you register that as a motorcycle because its obviously not nearly as dangerous as it needs to be”

  • kenneth_moore

    Polaris should order a truckload of horse saddles from a Texas tack outlet and bolt them into any Slingshots shipped to those idiots. The best thing about Texas and Texans? They make my state (Florida) look normal.

    • Greek7

      Not true I have so much Pain after a car accident and now we have to go to the dr once a month to have a dr look at you and say that will be $150.00 for the script. Are you kidding me. Its hard to move like this. This whole usa is going down hill. People like me love the 3 wheel motocycle and yes it is everyone is doing the same thing trex and the list goes on what a joke. I feel bad for Texas and Florida and the usa. Look at the cops they are a big joke and we pay them to do what. Not go after the drug dealers but give tickets to drivers. Free country my ass. Yes people will say if you don’t like it leave. Leave why I was born here change the dam laws and do you’d job or get out and let someone else do it. Most of them sit up there and get payed for what then they adk for money. Hell use your own you want to run and you want people to send you money $5 , $10 $ 1000 who ever gives them money you know they some how get a kick back. People are not dum. I can wait for God to come and see what people have done with his creation. I am just mad at this law that law free free my ass.

      • JDubya Adams

        WTF?

    • Goose

      I’m no fan of Texas but nothing could make Florida seem normal to me, I’ve spent a fair amount of time there. FWIW, I think that is a complement to Florida. Normal is boring. From the red necks in the north and west to little Cuba in the southeast to whatever you call the people in the Keys, Floridians are interesting folks, Florida is an interesting and fun place to visit. It is just too humid and doesn’t have enough curves for me to live there. 😉

      As far as the Slingshot, it isn’t a motorcycle. It isn’t a car either, I’m not really sure what it is. Maybe the new description of “Auto-Cycle” EcoMouse mentions needs to become recognized nationally.

  • EcoMouse

    California has just recently created a new classification for 3-Wheeled Vehicles if they meet certain qualifications over being a Trike. It’s called an “Auto-Cycle” and Elio has been granted that status and they are moving forward. Perhaps Texas can create a new classification. Since it’s revenue they would otherwise be missing out on if they don’t.

    • Goose

      Has Elio actually shipped any vehicles yet?

  • VVVtop

    So Polaris tried to use a loophole to get past the safety requirements for cars and Texas them on it. I’m surprised that more states haven’t. Motorcyclists recognize that this isn’t a motorcycle — it leans the wrong way — so it’s not surprising that states are unloading the Slingshot.

    • JDubya Adams

      The Can-Am Spyder doesnt lean either way but it’s a motor sickle

  • Rob Alexander

    Sounds like a shakedown to me….

  • HeDidn’tWeDid

    If there is no work-around for Polaris on this issue then this is huge financial hit for them. Texas has several very wealthy markets and Polaris will miss out on a huge market. Think about this: Texas has roughly 27 million people. That is like combining the populations of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Alabama, and Missouri.

  • GhostRider25

    “We have to wonder why the Slingshot is being treated differently from the T-Rex and other three-wheelers.” Seems pretty simple to me. Either some moron(s) in the Texas legislature is/are getting paid or they are just dumber than dirt. I’m leaning towards choice “B”.

  • HeDidn’tWeDid

    I have to wonder too how much pull/influence the insurance companies hold when a manufacturer puts a product like this on the market.

  • dbc105

    Leave it to Texas. The state where Rick Perry did all he could to get Tesla to build their new battery plant there although the entire time him knowing Texas doesn’t allow Tesla to sell cars in Texas. The car Consumer Report rated as “the Best Car they ever tested”. A state run by the Far Right that claims to be for “Capitalism and Free Market”. Funny that they say one thing on TV but that has nothing to do with what actually happens. Nothing surprises me about Texas. They have some of the best politicians money can buy though we in Alabama have them beat having been recently found to be “the 6th most corrupt state in the Nation”.

    • JDubya Adams

      I thought that the good citizens of Louisiana had the most corrupt politicians. Edwin Edwards and Mary Landrieu come to mind.

      • dbc105

        You make a good point.

  • Rich

    Maybe I’m confused….will Texas (and other states) allow the vehicle to be registered as a car? If so, what’s the big deal? Unless you have an “MC only” class on your DL….

    • stupid-is-as-stupid-does

      “cars” must meet specific standards and have specific equipment that the Slingshot does not have.

    • JDubya Adams

      Cars have been over regulated with mandated airbags, seat belts, and all sorts of crap and that’s why a company would want it listed as a motorsickle

  • JDubya Adams

    Polaris obviously has not greased the right Lone Star hand yet!

  • QuestionMark

    This, the various trikes, the Can-Am Spyder and the T-Rex are not MOTORCYCLES. MotorTricycle, Auto Car, or abomination, no matter what you call them just don’t say motorcycle.

    I think this manufacturers trying to scam the system and make a almost car are going to draw regulatory interest in motorcycles and the modifications their owners make to them.

  • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

    Not sure whey they singled out the Polaris. Obviously the TREX and Morgan fit the same format as the Slingshot.