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House slingshots 3-wheeled motorcycle bill

ST. PAUL -- The state House says a three-wheeled vehicle like Minnesota-based Polaris produces fits in a category of its own. On a Thursday 129-1 vote, representatives created the "autocycle" category, between a car and a motorcycle. A similar bi...

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Polaris Industries' three-wheel Slingshot and similar vehicles were under debate in a Minnesota Senate committee Monday, April 4, 2016, about whether a driver needs a car or motorcycle license. (Polaris Industries' photo)

ST. PAUL - The state House says a three-wheeled vehicle like Minnesota-based Polaris produces fits in a category of its own.

On a Thursday 129-1 vote, representatives created the “autocycle” category, between a car and a motorcycle. A similar bill awaits a Senate vote.
The bill by Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, would allow Minnesotans without a motorcycle driver’s license endorsement to drive the vehicle, even as the device with two wheels in the front and one in the rear is considered a motorcycle for insurance and license plate purposes.
Other states are divided over whether a motorcycle driver’s license is needed.
While most discussion on the bill centered on the Polaris Slingshot, it also would apply to other similar vehicles such as the newly introduced enclosed Elio. The Slingshot is an open-cockpit vehicle.
“This will allow a lot of people with regular driver’s licenses to enjoy the many effects like people who drive motorcycles do,” Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin, said.
While there are other vehicles with three wheels, most resemble motorcycles more than cars.
Fabian’s bill includes several requirements for an autocycle, including antilock brakes, a steering wheel (instead of handlebars, like cycles) and car-like seats (not a straddling seat like a motorcycle). Helmets would not be required on an autocycle, but eye protection and seatbelts would be.
Fabian and Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, D-Plummer, represent the northwestern Minnesota area where Polaris was founded. But the company now is headquartered in the Twin Cities and the Slingshot is made in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
Slingshot outsells most other three-wheel vehicles. It is an open-top vehicle with an angular design that uses a four-cylinder car engine and transmission and costs more than $20,000.
The Elio is to sell for less than $7,000.
In addition to its namesake snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, Polaris makes Victory and Indian motorcycles.
Polaris does not release specific sales numbers but in its annual report published early this year, the company reported. “The new moto-roadster, Slingshot, significantly exceeded our sales expectations in its first full sales year.”

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