Picture Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego and his girlfriend out for a night on the town — and maybe a high-speed chase for good measure.
Unveiled last year, the vehicle goes by the name Slingshot. Don’t confuse the two-passenger, three-wheeled cycle from ATV and motorbike maker Polaris Industries with the round-edged coupe from the campy ’60s TV show sporting a glass top and shooting flames. A more accurate comparison would be one of the futuristic machines rescued from a dark corner of Wayne Enterprises to fight against Gotham’s most sinister.
The 1,741-pound Slingshot, available new at American Biker in Ladson for $21,900-$27,000, is no comic or movie creation. Yet the angular model, considered a motorcycle or trike in South Carolina despite boasting a steering wheel, five-speed manual transmission and Ecotec four-cylinder engine, unabashedly stands out from the crowd.
“You see it on the highway, what the heck is that,” American Biker owner Worley said. “(It looks like) the Batmobile is going on this highway.”
Worley calls the vehicle, sporting two wheels in the front and one in the back, “super cool. We’ve had the Slingshot a year-and-a-half,” he said. “We’ve done pretty well with it,” he said. The bike can ride “out in the open — no doors,” he said. Optional features include a protective top. Worley said the vehicle has a fan base but is waiting to catch on in a big way in the Charleston area market. “People don’t know about them,” he said.
The Slingshot includes a black exterior base model, red SL edition and various specialized tones including silver and blue. “We can even do custom painting,” he said. “A lot of people are customizing neon lights and (high-end) sound systems,” he said.
The Chevrolet engine develops “great gas mileage” as long as the rider drives the bike at a cautious speed. Conversely, the Slingshot’s sports car tires help bikers command a 2.5 g-force in corners, a greater pull than the new Ferrari, Worley says.
Standard electronic features include an audio system as well as center screen that provides a rear camera view when in reverse. Side-view mirrors assist with visibility. The manufacturer plans to introduce saddlebags at some point to increase carrying capacity, he said.
Worley said the Slingshot caters to a few demographics, including outdoors people who want the open feel of a two-wheeler but find motorcycles a bit too dangerous. The model also displays muscular looks that don’t make the husband embarrassed to ride with his wife out to a nightclub, for instance, he said. The cost, Worley said, is reasonable. He noted another slick three-wheeled model called T-Rex was priced at $65,000. At $27,000 or less for the Polaris brand, “that’s not a whole lot of money,” he said.
The Slingshot may be the most exotic vehicle sold now at American Biker. But the company includes scores of two-, three- and four-wheelers at its retail outlet off Treeland Drive.
American Biker is a full-line Polaris dealer and sells the manufacturer’s new all-terrain vehicles, side-by side utility vehicles and its Victory and Indian two-wheeled motorcycles plus a large selection of pre-owned Harley-Davidsons and extensive apparel and accessories.
American Biker earlier this week showcased a 2016 Polaris Slingshot Reverse Trike SL in red pearl priced at $25,499.
• Premium 18-inch cast aluminum front wheels and 20-inch rear wheel
• 2.4-liter dual overhead cam engine generating 173 horsepower
• Five-speed manual transmission
• Three-point seat belts
• LED taillights and projector-beam headlights
• Electronic atability control
• Adjustable, waterproof seats
• Twelve-foot, 5.6 inch length, 6 foot 5.6 inch width.
• Fuel capacity of 9.77 gallons.
In a 20-minute ride and drive, the Slingshot was a thrill in the passenger’s seat and behind the wheel. Idling, the bike’s sound is muted but the noise picks up like a cycle when accelerating in low gears and shifting. A short gear throw made the five-speed transmission easy to use, except for a few slip-ups into fifth gear instead of the intended third speed.
Seats are reasonably comfortable and fairly roomy. The windshield, which can be tailored to the riders, provides ample protection from gusts and flying insects. The Slingshot handles well and picks up speed smoothly coming out of bends and turns. Braking is precise, if requiring a stiffer punch on the pedal than in a typical passenger car.
What’s most exciting about the three-wheeler — with or without a caped crusader outfit — is the convertible-like openness of the vehicle on a frontage road, country drive or busy highway, while at the same time a comparatively safe excursion for riders not yet ready for or uncomfortable with a two-wheeled trip.
For more information and photos, go to www.postandcourier.com/automotive.
Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.