Last weekend we took the bikes out for a day of riding. As usual, I'll wave at oncoming riders out of a shared enjoyment of the motorsport. I don’t always receive a wave in return, most clubs simply refuse to acknowledge other riders, but I am fine with that. So went the day until one of these abhorrent things pulled onto the road, came in our direction, and the operator did the bike wave at us.
I am usually quite tolerant of differences of opinions on subject matter. When it comes to these things though, I have an opinion and I don’t really care what others think. To begin with, only 3 states as of 2019 require a motorcycle license to operate it. Here is a link from Slingshot, which designates those states. There is a reason you don’t need a motorcycle license to operate it. It’s not a motorcycle; that seems straightforward enough. The same risk factor, coordination, and skill level it takes to ride a motorcycle fail to apply to these things.
Then I see their online commercials and ads that say “Come Ride With Us. “ RIDE?!?! Did I just hear and see that correctly or is my understanding of ride incorrect? Did the word “Ride” get a new context in a literary sense that I am unaware of? Well, let’s see… According to the dictionary, the verb sense of the word “Ride” is: to sit on and control the movement of (an animal, especially a horse), typically as a recreation or sport. I don’t see the drivers of these things sitting ON TOP of them, looks to me like their sitting inside of it, like in a car, in that nice comfy bucket seat. Do any riders reading this have a snug bucket seat on their bikes?
Literary Meaning of the Word Ride
Next. The noun sense of the word “Ride.” A journey made on horseback, on a bicycle or motorcycle, or in a vehicle. In the noun translation, the part about being inside a vehicle is applicable. The horseback part, on a bicycle, or motorcycle though is not. What I get out of the word ride from an overall perspective from the verb and noun translations is something you would straddle that would carry you along. Other translations talk about riding camels or other animals and being borne along on. Borne along ON means to be seated on, not IN the object of conveyance. Motorcycles are also often referred to as “Iron Horses” because of similarities of which both are ridden. I don’t see much straddling of the Slingshot happening. That does not put the Slingshot into the world of the motorcycling community. Motorcyclists “Ride” their machines, Slingshotters “Drive” theirs.
If you search the definition of Motorcycle, the first definition that pops up, which is the Oxford translation, is this: a two-wheeled vehicle that is powered by a motor and has no pedals. That throws the Slingshot out the window in terms of similarity to a motorcycle.
Obvious Motorcycle Differences
Now for some obvious differences starting with motorcycles:
- Motorcyclists ride- thus, the need for a motorcycle license
- Motorcycles have handlebars
- Motorcycles have two wheels and require the ability to balance the machine
- Motorcycles lean in curves
- You straddle a motorcycle when riding, similar to riding a horse
- Motorcycles do not have a hood
- Motorcycles are affected severely by high winds, rain, and snow, thus requiring a level of skill to operate
- Motorcycles have a throttle- That means you twist it with your hand to accelerate (this clarification is for Slingshot drivers)
Differences Slingshot Differences
Now for some obvious differences with Slingshots:
- Slingshotters drive- thus no need for a motorcycle license
- Slingshots have steering wheels
- Slingshots have three wheels
- Slingshots corner like automobiles; they do not lean into curves
- Slingshotters sit inside the vehicle in the comfort of bucket seats
- Slingshots have hoods like an automobile
- The weather has no severe effect on a Slingshot. It’s just like driving another car.
- Slingshots have a gas pedal- just like a car
Effectively Slingshots are just another car. Albeit a car with three wheels but still a car. It takes no more skill to drive a Slingshot than a car which means even the dumbest person can operate it. Yet you are beginning to see these things sliding into the motorcycle community. They are beginning to show up at biker hangouts, motorcycle shows, bike rallies, and events, and now the drivers are even waving at bikers as if they have something common, a camaraderie of sorts, an understanding without words of what it means and feels like to ride a motorcycle. I kind of understand their mentality though, because if you Google a Slingshot, most link titles are calling them Slingshot Motorcycles.
The only similarity I find between the two is that both operators feel the wind. You can roll down the window of your car and stick your head out if its wind you want. I wonder what the drivers of Slingshots were trying to figure out when they purchased the abomination. Did they want a convertible? Did they want a Trike? Did they want a Can-Am Spider? At least the former two are somewhat similar in riding style to a motorcycle. Did they want a sports car? Did they want a sportbike? It seems they couldn’t make up their mind at all.
For all the Slingshot DRIVERS out there, I do not respect your choice of Motorsport vehicle when you have it in your head that driving those things somehow integrates you into the motorcycling community. You are not part of the bike world. You don’t deserve acknowledgment from motorcyclists as you are not assuming the same risk or utilizing the same skill sets it takes to RIDE a motorcycle. If motorcyclists are to wave to a Slingshotter they should wave to every convertible or Jeep that’s rolling topless. It’s fine if Slingshotters want to have their own little 3-wheel, heated seat, and steering wheel world while living some fantasy dream of camaraderie with motorcyclists. Just remember: You are not a rider.
If this blog post has tickled your desire, here’s a link in case you want to purchase a Slingshot to drive around: Polaris Slingshot