Life on Three Wheels: My Journey on the Polaris Slingshot

Want to get out of your comfort zone and find adventure? We took the Polaris Slingshot, a 3-wheel open air vehicle for a whirl, and we have three words: GO FOR IT!

Memories Were Made With My Friend During Our Polaris Slingshot Odyssey. Photo: Kristin Shaw
Memories were made with my friend during our Polaris Slingshot odyssey. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Excitement, Adventure, and Motorcycles!

I earned my motorcycle license in 2019, and I found that learning how to ride on two wheels made me a better driver in a car. Looking out for motorcyclists is important for the well-being of the rider and others around you, filling in the safety gaps helmets and leather jackets can’t fill completely.

Women represent a growing number of buyers in the adventure vehicle market. In the last five years, the female segment has grown 10 percent, a significant uptick. Companies like Polaris and Can-Am are paying attention, ramping up their offerings for women, and reaching out through communities and programs just for us.

In fact, if you have ever seen a woman piloting a motorcycle or other recreational vehicle and thought, “Hey, that looks fun,” then Polaris would like to have a word.

The brand’s three-wheeled Slingshot is an open-top vehicle that’s categorized as a motorcycle, but it drives a lot like a car. And it’s an absolute blast.

Related: I Was Curious about Motorcycles, so I Did This

The Three Wheels On A Polaris Slingshot Ensure Balance And Inspire Confidence For People Unfamiliar With Motorcycles. Photo: Kristin Shaw

The three wheels on a Polaris Slingshot provide balance and confidence for people unfamiliar with motorcycles. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Like a Motorcycle with Better Balance

Driving the Slingshot is exhilarating. The air whips around you like on a motorcycle, but without the fear of laying down the cycle as an inexperienced rider might; the Slingshot is steady and balanced with no effort. Polaris excels at building power sports vehicles like smooth snowmobiles and off-road-ready side-by-sides. The company also acquired the historic brand Indian Motorcycles in 2011, adding to the already-stellar portfolio it started in 1954.

The Polaris Slingshot base model starts at $21,499 plus destination feels, followed by a stairstep set of upgrades to the SL, SLR, R, and Roush Edition models. At the top of the line, the Roush Edition will cost closer to $40,000 with tons of upgrades like performance brakes, sport seats, and a handsome excursion top to keep the sun from burning your skin as you ride. 

Kicking off at the gorgeous Paséa Hotel and Spa in Huntington Beach, California, I picked up a friend, and we headed out for an all-day adventure in a Slingshot Roush Edition. It was time to experience life on three wheels with a girlfriend next to me and the beautiful California coast in full view. 


The Futuristic And Modern Polaris Slingshot Rousch Edition Offers A Few More Perks Than Other Models. Photo: Kristin Shaw

The futuristic and modern Polaris Slingshot Rousch Edition offers a few more perks than other models. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Made for Second Glances

The Slingshot looks a little like a leaner version of the Batmobile, all folded edges and low-to-the-ground stance. Polaris representatives told me that Slingshot buyers don’t fit into any certain category, but one thing is for sure: they’re people who don’t mind a little extra attention. 

These three-wheeled vehicles don’t look like anything else on the road, and onlookers will stare. When you stop for lunch, to get gas or even at a stoplight, drivers are going to ask questions, take pictures and check it out. Just smile and wave because it’s all part of the Slingshot experience. 

What’s so fun about the Slingshot is that it may feel just outside of your comfort zone, but it drives so much like a car that it’s an easy transition. As my friend Catherine and I enjoyed the 360-degree scene around us, we found that while we couldn’t have a conversation at normal decibels, we loved the comfortable rhythm of the road. 

Related: Why Should Women Own a Motorcycle?

When You Realize How Easy It Is To Operate, You Might Want To Take Your Polaris Slingshot Everywhere. Photo: Kristin Shaw

When you realize how easy it is to operate, you might want to take your Polaris Slingshot everywhere. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Power to Spare in the Polaris Slingshot

Equipped with a 203-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, the Slingshot R and Slingshot Roush Edition have plenty of vroom to get going. Press down the gas and the power kicks up, and you’re off. It can move from 0-60 miles per hour in an impressive 4.9 seconds.

Base model Slingshots have slightly less oomph at 178 horsepower, but the difference is not noticeable at the vehicle’s optimal cruising speeds, which I’d recommend between 20 and 60 miles per hour. While the Slingshot is capable of going 125 mph, that’s not where the vehicle is happiest. It’s best at speeds that allow you to enjoy the scenery around you. 

Note that 91 octane fuel is suggested. With a gas tank holding 9.77 gallons and the Slingshot averaging 23-33 miles per gallon, it will last you a good while. Cruise control allows you to enjoy the ride while resting your pedal foot. If there’s a stretch of road you want to take at a steady speed, hit the button on the steering wheel and it’s ready to go. 

Polaris is careful to stress the fact that the Slingshot is a motorcycle, not a car. It doesn’t have airbags and it’s not required to meet automotive safety standards. And while it’s not mandated in some states, the company recommends wearing a seatbelt and a DOT-approved full-face helmet as precautions. None of that takes away from the ride. 

Climb Right Into The Inviting Driver'S Seat In The Polaris Slingshot.

How do you get into a Polaris Slingshot? You just climb right into the inviting driver’s seat. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Inside the Slingshot

There are no doors on a Slingshot. Climb over the side to slide into the sport seats, and grab hold of the flat-bottomed steering wheel. There’s plenty of legroom for both you and your passenger, and the controls on the dash are nicely laid out. Apple CarPlay is standard, which means you can blast your tunes on Spotify or Apple Music as you wish. 

Most of the Slingshot models are open to the sun, and the excursion top is exclusive to the Roush edition I was driving. After swapping vehicles with my friend Javier Mota, I got to try riding without the canvas top, and I have to say that having protection from the sun is highly underrated. I’d definitely buy the Roush Edition for that alone. 

Psst. Polaris Thinks It Would Be Valuable If More Slingshots Had Female Riders... Photo: Kristin Shaw

Psst. Polaris thinks it would be valuable if more Slingshots had female drivers… Photo: Kristin Shaw

Ladies, Polaris Wants YOU – Get Out There Already!

Polaris Chief Customer Growth Officer Pam Kermisch says the company wants to expand its customer base by 50 percent in the next 10 years. 

“We can find more hunters, farmers, and land owners [who would buy a Polaris vehicle], but we can’t do that with just men,” she says. “It means we want to attract more women and multicultural riders. It’s going to be the voices of the women and other voices in the industry that makes it more relevant for them.” 

The biggest barrier, women tell her, is that they don’t know what to ride, where they can ride, or who to ride with. The company launched a number of Polaris Adventures rental locations with ATVs, side by sides, and Slingshots to try. It’s a great way to pick a few friends and head out to get the feel of these vehicles and explore the country in new ways. Imagine touring a Hawaiian island or the Great Smoky Mountains in a Slingshot, or renting a snowmobile in Maine. Renting an ATV or Slingshot or other powersports vehicles is a no-stress way to see if owning one is for you. 

Memories Were Made With My Friend During Our Polaris Slingshot Odyssey. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Memories were made with my friend during our Polaris Slingshot odyssey. Photo: Kristin Shaw

The Best Part about the Polaris Slingshot? Trying it First!

Would I buy a Slingshot? Absolutely. The best way to enjoy one of these three-wheeled vehicles is on roads where you don’t have to hurry and you can appreciate the scenery around you. And even if buying one isn’t on your radar, testing one out on your next adventure is highly recommended.

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Writer. Car fanatic. Mom. Kristin is the co-owner of auto review site Drive Mode Show and a nationally-published writer... More about Kristin Shaw