Back in December of 2016, I wrote an article regarding a bill that was pending which would classify a “Slingshot” type vehicle as a “motorcycle” under the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code.  For those unfamiliar with the Polaris Slingshot or "The Original 3-Wheeled Roadster" as it is called on the Polaris website, below is a photo of one.  It has 2 open wheels, a two passenger go cart looking cockpit complete with steering wheel and 5 speed manual transmission, and one wheel supporting the rear. 









Senate Bill 160 which would change the definition of an autocycle to read "A motorcycle that is equipped with safety belts, rollbar or roll hoops, steering wheel, and equipment otherwise required on a motorcycle, has not more than 3 wheels in contact with the roadway at any 1 time, and is not equipped with a straddle seat."  The Bill would change the definition of motorcycle to read "a motor vehicle that has a saddle or seat for the use of the rider and is designed to travel on not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground.  Motorcycle includes an autocycle, but does not include a tractor." 

            By virtue of including an autocycle in the definition of a motorcycle, vehicles such as the Slingshot would be deemed a motorcycle for purposes of the Michigan Vehicle Code given that it meets the definition of an autocycle.

            Since my last article on this, the House Fiscal Agency prepared an updated Legislative Analysis.  It states that during committee discussion on the bill, on May 30, 2017, a representative from Polaris testified and distributed information in support of the bill.  It notes that the bill’s supporters argue that the legislation ensures consistency with federal classification of motorcycles and would insure consistency with federal VIN coding and required body type classifications as required on product manufacturer’s certification or origin at registration.

            Those in opposition of the bill, including ABATE of Michigan which testified in opposition to the bill in June, have argued that a Slingshot is wider than any 3-wheeled motorcycle and can’t share a lane with another motorcycle.  Also, having bucket seats, roll bar, gas pedal, foot car brake, roll bar, seat belts and a steering wheel, it is not a motorcycle and should not be classified as one as such classification will skew statistics collected on “motorcycles”.  Perhaps the most meaningful statistics would include those regarding analyzing the number of accidents, fatalities and helmet usage in accidents.   

            Despite the opposition, the bill has been passed and presented to the Governor on July 12, 2017.

            This will mean that under the Michigan Vehicle Code, any regulation which applies to a "motorcycle" would by definition thus apply to a Slingshot or any other similar 3-wheel vehicle that meets the definition of an autocycle.  Such regulations include but are not limited to Michigan's modified motorcycle helmet law and noise regulations regarding decibel levels of noise that the vehicle produces. 

            However, while the Legislative Analysis states that autocycles would be required to pay the same registration tax as motorcycles, it would appear, that Slingshot riders would not be required to get a motorcycle indorsement on his/her license, as the motorcycle indorsement law specifically excludes persons riding an "autocycle" from the requirement.

            As always, if anyone has any questions or if I can be of legal assistance to you or anyone you know who has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I deal with these types of claims on a daily basis on behalf of injured motorcyclists statewide.

            Further, if you would like to have me come out to your Region to speak or give a presentation on the legal rights of an injured motorcyclist or on any specific topic that your region may be curious about, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (248-569-4646) or shoot me an e-mail at Dondi@buckfirelaw.com.  I give presentations to Regions state-wide and there is never a charge associated with having me out.  I enjoy having the opportunity to come out and meet motorcycle enthusiasts from all parts of our State!   


Fighting for the rights of all motorcyclists since 1976

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shifting gears

Dondi Vesprini dondi@buckfirelaw.com

Phone: 248 569-4646

ABATE of Michigan Inc.
P.O. Box 99
​Constantine, Mi. 49042

​Call: 269 435-2058