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Are 3-wheeled vehicles motorcycles?

Almost every passenger vehicle, from the Ford Taurus to the Subaru WRX to the Toyota Tacoma, has four wheels. Large trucks often have more, such as semitrucks and heavy-duty pickups. Motorcycles, of course, have just two wheels.

But what about those vehicles in the middle, like the Polaris Slingshot? There has been a rising trend lately that centers around three-wheeled vehicles. Some have the twin wheels in the front, while others have them in the back. They tend to look unique, powerful and difficult to classify.

They are. Some argue that the larger size and side-by-side design means that these are basically cars without the fourth wheel. Others argue that the open-air design -- riders often wear a helmet -- makes it a motorcycle, no matter where you sit.

Technically, Polaris says that the Slingshot is a motorcycle. That's how they classify it. This is important for many reasons, one of which is that it does not have to pass car-specific safety tests.

It's also important for new riders to realize the challenges that these present. The stability can feel a bit deceptive, making it seem like you're in a car, but there's a reason that the company says it's a motorcycle. These three-wheelers turn, stop and accelerate differently than cars. They behave differently on the pavement and offer different types of protection in a crash.

If you're riding one of these new three-wheel motorcycles, and you get into an accident, you could suffer some serious injuries. Be sure you know all of the options you have to seek out financial compensation from the driver responsible.

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