Commuting, traffic, groceries, drive-thru’s even weather sound mundane until you do it in a super car! We’ve taken our Slingshot on long weekend trips and through twisty canyon roads. Until now we haven’t had occasion to commute and run errands with it. We commuted in the Slingshot all last week to see how it can handle low speeds, city traffic, long red lights, drive thru windows and grocery stowage. Could You Live Day to Day with a Slingshot… read on and find out!
‘I had a great time piloting that crazy fun machine through town.’
|Review Model||2020 Polaris Slingshot R|
|Review Dates||October 14, 2020 – November 5, 2020|
|Price Point||Starting at $30,999 US MSRP|
|Reviewers||Eric and Carrie Leaverton|
Running Errands and Commuting in the Slingshot
What is a Slingshot?
Before we get started I want to address the big question. ‘What is a Slingshot?’ It’s a 3-wheeled vehicle with two wheels in front and an enormous 20 inch tire in the back, with two side by side seats and a steering wheel. It is classified as, registers, and insures as a motorcycle. In America, it’s up to your state’s DLD to determine whether or not a motorcycle endorsement is required to drive one. It is classified as, registers, and insures as a motorcycle. In America, it’s up to your state’s DLD to determine whether or not a motorcycle endorsement is required to drive one. Currently, all 50 states are showing a motorcycle endorsement is not required ¹·². This concept is interesting from a commuter’s point of view. Will the Slingshot perform like a car or like a motorcycle? Or somewhere in the middle?
You could just take your car to work, but that’s not near as fun. Motorcyclists will agree with me when I say ‘It’s just fun knowing the end of the work day isn’t the commute, but the adventure knowing your toy is parked outside. With that said, let’s start by setting some expectations for what makes a good commuter. You’re really looking for three things. Maneuverability, some storage, and comfort while sitting still.
Obviously, you want maneuverability because a lot of commuting takes place in the concrete jungle. Intersections, parking lots, pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and city traffic all create an atmosphere of precision. You need to get where you want to go without a lot of fuss on your commute.
Some storage is important because most of us have some amount of provisions or equipment we commute with. Whether it’s just your lunch tote, a full-sized laptop computer, PPE, or some tools, most of us have stuff we carry from home to work and need to stop for provisions on the way home. Having a place to stash and stow those items conveniently without interfering with driver and passenger comfort makes all the difference.
“You’re really looking for three things. Maneuverability, some storage, and comfort while sitting still.”
Finally, if you work a traditional shift and work in a town of any size, you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting still during your commute, mostly at traffic lights and intersections. Some of us who work on military installations may spend a lot of time queued at a guard shack or other inspection point too. So you need a vehicle that doesn’t get out of sorts while maintaining slow traffic speeds or idling at a standstill.
Can the Polaris Slingshot Maneuver?
In a word, yes. The 3 wheel design takes some getting used to as far as straddling objects in the road. When an object is too large to be straddled you can rely on how surprisingly nimble the Slingshot can be when swerving is necessary. Through town I was able to make smooth lane changes and negotiate gaps.
The front of the Slingshot is wide compared to the positioning of the driver and passenger. The fenders stick out far and wide so I really needed to be mindful of their positioning when approaching tight areas, such as fast food and bank teller drive thrus. Also when approaching the automatic barricade at my work facility for scanning in, and then driving through the raised the guard arm.
Parking and reverse can be a little tense because the auto-manual transmission and the brakes seem to work against each other. More about that later in our upcoming Fit, Feel and Finish episode.
Owing to the Slingshot’s predictable throttle response I had a great time piloting that crazy fun machine through town. I turned heads and received so many waves and smiles from some adults but mostly children, whose faces lit up when they saw me coming.
Off to Work I Go
I’m the kind of girl that needs several peripherals for a day of work at the office. Most days, I have my purse, laptop bag, and sometimes a thermos of coffee and a lunch bag. I often carry supplies for whatever project I’m working on, office decorations, gifts and crafts.
‘The 3 wheel design takes some getting used to as far as straddling objects in the road.’
My To Do List
Right away, it was clear to me that running errands in the Slingshot is much easier and efficient than what can be accomplished on my motorcycle. The design provides me with immediate access to my purse and wallet. The center console makes it easy to access my cell phone and a pen, and the dash board provided the smooth surface I needed to sign transaction slips at the bank. Chunky buttons beneath the stereo display made it easy to reduce volume or immediately mute my music, even with gloves on.
The tone of the engine in the Slingshot sounds amazing. It’s throaty enough to be noticeable but purrs quiet enough that a drive through teller can clearly hear my voice through my helmet with the engine on. The design and wind screen provides excellent coverage from wind so there was no risk of losing my purse, or my lunch.
Fast Food Drive Thru
During the current crisis, dining in can be a rare option and with our busy schedules take out was necessary. When getting take out by myself in the Slingshot, I simply placed my bag or container of food on the passenger seat or floorboard next to my purse. When Eric and I ran through the take out window together, there was still ample room to stow a bag of tacos next to the passenger’s legs in the footwell. The time we ordered fish and chips, served in multiple square Styrofoam containers, I was comfortable holding them in my lap as a passenger. Always while seat-belted in and helmet on of course.
Eric and I suffered one casualty though. We were traveling at freeway speeds of 70 mph and had a 32 oz. fountain drink in the cupholder and the lid blew off! Eric was driving and noticed immediately as I did. He looked at me and gave me a shrug. We pulled over at the next safe pull out and I sadly had to dump my beloved soda into the bushes on the side of the road and hold the cup until the next rest area trash receptacle. I had big plans for that Diet Pepsi™. After that, we resorted to bottles of water or soda which are manageable to drink with a helmet on if they are not completely full.
‘The Rockford Fosgate stereo is epic and easily pairs with with Android or iOS devices.’
Drive Thru Bank Tellers
Sometimes payday feels more like transfer day. Even with banking apps available, it’s still necessary for me to visit my local credit unions from time to time. I accomplished several bank transactions in style while seated in the Slingshot. I took care when approaching the drive thru stalls as the front drivers side tire and fender really stick out far. This left me a lot further away from the pneumatic teller tube than I would be in my car. And a whole lot farther than I would be on my motorcycle. It was necessary to remove my seatbelt to reach the tube so I put the Slingshot in Neutral and engaged the E-Break first.
When withdrawing a large sum of cash, I wondered if the teller would ask me to remove my helmet. (A common practice when banking on a motorcycle.) My suspicions were correct and she politely asked me to remove my full face helmet to provide a positive ID. I accommodated her request, but not before turning off the ignition. I wouldn’t feel safe in the ‘motorcycle classified’ Slingshot without my helmet and seatbelt on with the motor running. After she confirmed that my face matched my ID, the transaction was successful.
The Slingshot layout made it simple for me to put my credentials and cash in my purse before putting my helmet and seat belt back on. (This is a task for me on a motorcycle.) I was so confident of the low amount of wind in the cockpit, I continued my errands around town with my purse simply placed in the empty passenger seat. My purse was considerably more valuable than before my transaction.
When approaching my other bank to make a deposit, I again had to remove my seatbelt to accomplish my transaction. One thing I noticed about the Slingshot, and giggled about as I drove away… I didn’t have to bother with rolling windows down like I would in my car. Nor did I have to hold myself up steady as I would on a motorcycle.
The Slingshot exceeded my expectations when making grocery runs. This is the first time in my motorcycle journalism career where I can say I took my review vehicle to the store and came home with a large bag of dog food! Priorities! Each compartment located behind the seats will easily accommodate not one but two gallons of milk as well as many bags of groceries. I bought milk, eggnog for the kids, a loaf of bakery fresh French Bread and several bags of assorted groceries.
Everything fit nicely in the storage compartments with my purse, save the 15 pound bag of dog food. Which rode home in the foot well of the passenger seat. I didn’t have a passenger for this trip, but I still had room for one. If they didn’t mind a bag near their knees for the drive home. Without a passenger, the Slingshot could accommodate a case of bottled water, several cases of soda, and a package of toilet paper or paper towels. I wouldn’t advise bulk shopping in the Slingshot as it doesn’t have a trunk cargo space but it definitely accommodates day to day needs. If you were the sort of person that lived in a location where the weather is decent year around and you were so inclined… I think you could manage with the Slingshot as your primary vehicle for local trips.
Red Light, Green Light… Could You Live Day to Day with a Slingshot?
Sitting still in traffic is a mixed bag on the Slingshot.
Like a motorcycle, the Slingshot doesn’t have heat or air conditioning, but the passenger footwell is equipped with a vent to allow air flow. We conducted our review in the Fall, Utah temperatures ranging from 19 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So we didn’t get a chance to experience what it would be like during a high traffic commute in the summer heat. I would imagine it would be similar to a motorcycle.
The seats are very comfortable and the foot wells provide ample leg room for both rider and passenger. The Rockford Fosgate stereo is epic and easily pairs with with Android or iOS devices. It makes sitting in traffic entertaining, whether you like or don’t like the bump of the speakers thumping near your leg.
The Slingshot owner’s manual warns against continuously idling at 8 – 10 miles per hour. This practice causes friction and excessive heat in the automatic clutch, which can cause damage. Eric and I found ourselves stuck in miles of stop and go traffic on the freeway due to an accident, so we tried not to idle slowly behind the car in front of us. We would stop, allow a gap to open in front, then accelerate and brake again. This made drivers behind us leery at first. They either passed us or gave ample space behind that big Slingshot back tire. This is something to consider if you live in a high traffic area.
We Could You Live Day to Day with a Slingshot for 3 weeks… So the question we have for you is Could You Live Day to Day with a Slingshot?
‘One thing I noticed about the Slingshot, and giggled about as I drove away…’
Have you missed an episode of our Slingshot Review? If so, you catch up on our previous episodes right here:
We would like to thank Polaris for providing us with the Slingshot R to review for you. We have more to come on our review of the 2020 Slingshot R. Stay tuned each week for yet another long term unbiased review from Total Motorcycle!
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Ride Safe & Ride Often!
¹ Federally, the Slingshot is classified as a motorcycle, but not all states classify the Slingshot as a motorcycle. 48 out of 50 states classify the vehicle as an autocycle. Only 2 states classify the Slingshot as a motorcycle and require a motorcycle license and endorsement to operate it.
² All other classification and helmet laws vary based on the state. They generally follow the state’s motorcycle helmet laws (i.e.: In California, the Slingshot is classified as an autocycle, but you must wear a DOT-approved helmet while driving it, like a motorcycle). As you would imagine, Polaris recommends all riders wear a DOT-approved full-face helmet.