Patents Reveal Polaris Developing Trike
Is this the Polaris Slingshot?
Polaris has had its hands full lately. In addition to its lineup of off-road machines, snowmobiles, electric vehicles and now two motorcycle divisions, Victory and Indian, Polaris has applied for a patent on a road-legal, motorized three-wheeler. Like the Can-Am Spyder, it will have two wheels in front with a single driven wheel out back. The Polaris design differs by having its occupants sitting side by side rather than front to back like a motorcycle.
This new Polaris, believed to be named “Slingshot,” is looking to capture a niche market of people who are drawn by the open nature of a motorcycle but worry about the inherent risk of falling over. A reverse trike design like this isn’t groundbreaking, however, considering models like the Campagna T-Rex have been around for years. And let’s not forget others like the aforementioned Spyder and even the Morgan three-wheeler.
Of course, another reason why Polaris might be looking down the three-wheeled track is because it would allow the company to have a road-legal “car” without having to spend the mega bucks required to pass stringent government mandated safety tests like traditional four-wheelers. A three-wheeled vehicle, technically, is generally classified under the law as a motorcycle.
But back to the Slingshot. The patent specifies its chassis will be an open-cockpit, tube-frame design, utilizing car-like bodywork including a hood and fenders. Sticking to the car theme, it will have a steering wheel instead of handlebars, double A-arm front suspension and a windscreen for both driver and passenger.
The driver’s seat folds forward to reveal what is sure to be a tiny storage compartment, while the battery rests behind the passenger seat. Rear suspension is handled by a single shock centrally located on the swingarm, attached to a point on the frame behind the seats. Linkages are not used.
The Slingshot calls for rack-and-pinion steering. Though not specifically shown, the current engine choice is a 2.4-liter Ecotec from General Motors, mated to a standard transmission, longitudinally-mounted at the front of the vehicle.
Power is then transferred from the driveshaft to an output sprocket connected to the rear wheel via belt drive. However, the patent mentions the possibility of electric or hybrid power sources in future variants. It also mentions attachment points for a roof, should one be desired.
While the Slingshot doesn’t have to pass crash safety tests, Polaris is leaving room in the patent for a number of electronic safety features. Among them are traction control, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, electronic brake distribution, and even a slipper clutch.
While electronic nannies sometimes kill the fun quotient for enthusiasts, not including them would invite the inevitable lawsuit when an owner runs out of talent and ends up in a ditch. For our sake, we just hope there’s an “off” button.
There’s no word yet whether Polaris will actually produce the Slingshot, though considering the company’s history in producing fun people movers, we wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
To read the patent in its entirety, click here to visit the Patent Scope website.
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