What to know about slingshot autocycles in Philly after officer on ATV detail struck

A street legal go-kart that can also be described as a giant toy for adults, a slingshot is not quite a car, even though it has a seat belt and a steering wheel. 

Yet, it’s not a motorcycle either, even though it's got no doors, and only one wheel behind you.

Not even 10 years old, the autocycles came out in 2015 and they were immediately popular. The three-wheeled slingshots have shot up in popularity, populating the streets of Philadelphia now more than ever.

There is no balance required. You sit in a seat like a car and drive it.

FOX 29 visited one of the biggest slingshot dealers in the Philadelphia area and were taken for a test ride.

FOX 29’s Steve Keeley wanted to know more about the motor vehicles after Philadelphia Police say an officer on dirt bike patrol was hit by a slingshot at Broad Street and Germantown Avenue. 


Philadelphia officer struck by slingshot motorcycle in hit-and-run: police

A Philadelphia police officer was struck by a slingshot vehicle in Philly's Tioga section Sunday night.

They say the driver took off after, and police caught up to the suspect and took him and his slingshot into custody 3 miles away.

The officer was treated for an ankle injury and released from the hospital.

Unlike the first three-wheeled motorcycles that are like tricycles with one wheel in front and two in the back, slingshots have two wheels in front and one wheel in back.

In fact, the owner of a classic Harley-Davidson traded it in to buy a slingshot that cost $40,000.   

And buyers like to ride with other buyers. 

Frequently seen riding in large groups of ATVs and dirt bikes, usually the slingshots are the only street legal vehicles in the bunch.

That’s why it’s called an autocycle. It's registered as a motorcycle, but you don't need a motorcycle license to drive it.

"It drives like a car. We have them with automatic or manual transmission, and it's real easy to drive. It has a steering wheel, pedals just like a car," said Vincent Sanginitti Jr., Philadelphia Cycle Center.

Is it safe? 

"It doesn't have all the safety features as a car, that's why it's registered as a motorcycle," said Sanginitti Jr.

Unlike a dirt bike, slingshots are all registered as a legal street vehicle. 

Drivers have to show identification, insurance, driver's license, and a whole list of things.

As far as people riding them recklessly, that can happen to anything.  It can happen in a motorcycle or a corvette.   

One thing you may notice in the city if you are near one of these is that the owners all seem to customize their slingshots with speakers and sound systems that list as high as $4,000.

And if you want a roof, called a sling shade that’ll cost you another $3,000.