The history of motorcycle engines powering other vehicles goes back a long way. Look at the original Morgan 3 Wheeler, for example. Almost a century ago, J.A.P. bike engines were plunked onto the front of a strange piece of machinery with two wheels in front and one in the back. It proved to be popular and a rather high-performing vehicle in its time. For this Top 10 list we take a look at other applications for motorcycle engines. As you can imagine with a list like this, there are a wide variety of vehicles. Some are production cars, while others are one-offs or boutique items. And yes, even though this is Motorcycle.com, I want to get behind the wheel of every single one of these! So, if you’re a rep from one of the below companies (or are simply a kind soul who owns one), give me a jingle and let’s make it happen!
Technically, and by that I mean according to the way in which the vehicles here are registered through the DMV (except Texas, but more on that later), each of these three-wheelers qualifies as a motorcycle. In California, at least, a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license to legally operate them is not required, and the two with seatbelts eschew the state’s helmet law. Still, without a more explicit category available and the law being what it is, “motorcycle” becomes the default label for this trio.
Your eyes aren’t fooling you. Yes, this is Motorcycle.com and, yes, the thing you’re looking at has three wheels, a steering wheel, bucket seats, seat belts and three pedals on the floor. It’s called, simply, the Morgan 3 Wheeler, and because it’s missing a fourth wheel, the Department of Motor Vehicles classifies it as a motorcycle (yes, even in Texas). And so, since we are Motorcycle.com afterall, it’s our duty to give the 3 Wheeler a whirl.
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: