Dept. Of Fragile Masculinity: Meet The Slingshot, South Street’s New Stunt Object
BY JOEY SWEENEY
You see the thing, invariably moving slowly down South Street, invariably hovering on a small cloud of bass, and you immediately have questions. Some of them have answers: It’s a Polaris Slingshot, that’s WTF it is. Is that… street legal? Yes! But note: According to its website, “SLINGSHOT® IS A THREE-WHEELED MOTORCYCLE. IT IS NOT AN AUTOMOBILE AND DOES NOT MEET AUTOMOTIVE SAFETY STANDARDS.” Well, okay then. How much does it cost? $20K?! For real? Wow. Do people enjoy them? You betcha, just ask YouTube:
Ah, word. But do people sometimes.. not enjoy them? Mmmhmm:
So this is much is known. Some of those questions, however, don’t have answers: Why do dudes (it’s always dudes) drive these? Is the Slingshot dude what wheelie boys grow up to be? It’s so hard to say. But we did try, we tried, to understand the Slingshot, its small phenomenon and its nascent street culture. To that end, we rang up an actual motorcycle industry expert, Spurgeon Dunbar. Dunbar covers this world, reviewing new bikes and other related products for Revzilla, the noted Philly startup online moto-apparel retailer that has also slid into being a prominent voice in this niche editorially as well.
When we asked him about the Slingshot, he immediately scoffed. “It’s clearly a toy,” he said, seguing into a harangue that will be familiar to many of us, when encountering the Motorcycle Dude species, about the ways in which the Slingshot was, in the MD parlance, “real” or not. (Verdict: The Slingshot exists.) Dunbar did provide some insight into the Slingshot phenomenon, however, telling us that the industry gossip is that the Slingshot is having a hard time, ubiquitous though it may seem outside Lorenzo’s Pizza on Friday nights. “Imagine seeing it in a dealership,” he said, “and you have to buy a manual trans and you can only drive it 4 or 5 months out of the year.” To us, this seemed like the least crazy thing about the Slingshot (after we asked what a “manual trans” was), but he did have a point.
So other than the obvious stuntin’ benefit — even our friend admitted, “they stand out on the street because when you see them, it’s so weird” — are there any others? It turns out there is at least one: In the state of Pennsylvania, the Slingshot is classified as an “autocycle” – meaning that one need not acquire a motorcycle license to drive one down the street, very slowly, at night, in the hope of being noticed. Still, though, one has to keep wondering: Is having a penis worth any of this?