Autocycles Gain New Ground in 38 States

Good news for open-air autocycle fans—Michigan is the latest state to reclassify its operator licensing requirements for freaky, three-wheeled vehicles like the Polaris Slingshot. Drivers no longer need a motorcycle license to operate one, but most bikers will still make fun of you when you roll up on one.

Newbies in states like Michigan can ride autocycles with a valid state driver’s license, though getting a motorcycle endorsement wouldn’t hurt, and it would most likely increase your chances of survival out on the road.

Michigan law defines an autocycle as “an enclosed motorcycle that is equipped with safety belts, rollbar, windshield wipers, steering wheel, and equipment otherwise required on a motorcycle, and which has not more than three wheels in contact with the roadway at any one time.”

Laws still vary from state to state, but at least 31 require an autocycle to have three wheels and 27 require a steering wheel. Three-wheeled trikes like the Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra still require a motorcycle license and are equally silly looking.

The Slingshot made its debut in 2014 and most consumers were required to hold a motorcycle endorsement or license to operate it. These days it is not required in a number of states.

“We are proactively educating states about the innovation Slingshot delivers to consumers. As we do this, policymakers recognize that although Slingshot resides in the motorcycle classification which has long provided for three-wheel designs and non-straddle seating, operator skills are similar to those required for passenger car,” said Rachael Elia, Slingshot marketing manager in a statement.

“Our goal is to gain a unified classification and operator licensing scheme across the country to provide more opportunities and driving freedom for consumers looking for the ultimate thrill experience that Slingshot offers.”

The new law in Michigan went into effect on October 11.

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