Do You Need a Motorcycle License or a Helmet to Drive a Slingshot in NY?
When I pulled into work today I was greeted by a vehicle I had never seen before in person: a Polaris Slingshot. Is it a car? Is it a motorcycle? Well... yes. Classified as an "autocycle", laws have been rapidly changing regarding the requirements you need to meet to drive one.
Polaris Slingshot Laws in New York State
When the Slingshot first came out, its three-wheel setup and open cabin left many people scratching their heads, lawmakers included. How should this vehicle be classified? Originally it fell under the motorcycle category, meaning that drivers in new York needed a motorcycle endorsement on their license to be legally allowed to sit behind the wheel. But the good news for the first question we're covering is that those laws have recently shifted.
Motorcycle License Needed for Slingshot in New York State?
As of April 20th of 2022, prospective Slingshot drivers no longer need a motorcycle endorsement to take one for a spin. While the single rear wheel makes driving an autocycle different than an automobile, the side-by-side seating, steering wheel, seatbelts, and traditional 3-pedal system make the driving experience feel much more like a tiny car than a motorcycle. In fact, the only state you do need a motorcycle endorsement is neighboring Massachusetts. So, you don't need a motorcycle license to drive one... but what about a motorcycle helmet?
Helmet Laws in New York
Motorcycle helmet laws vary greatly from state to state. Seeing enough helmetless riders in the Hudson Valley even led us to ask the question if they were required at all. As far as a Slingshot goes, Polaris strongly recommends the use of a full helmet with eye protection, but what about the law?
Wearing a Helmet in a Polaris Slingshot in New York State
It's a little murky. Anecdotally, I know several owners in New York who don't wear a helmet and have never been pulled over because of their unprotected heads. Furthermore, since the Slingshot has been reclassified as an autocycle and is no longer a motorcycle, individual police officers may consider that to mean a helmet isn't required. That being said, several sources provide that New York does still require use of a helmet in a Slingshot. Also, let's be candid: there's nothing to protect your head in that vehicle, so common sense should lead you to wear one. For what it's worth, it's my recommendation too.
Interested in an actual motorcycle? Check out this cool info below, including the one super-helpful thing that all cars have that many motorcycles don't (no, it's not a roof).