The traffic light in Woodland Park could change, and the drivers wouldn't know it.

Their eyes are fixed on the roadster zipping up the shoulder of the road.

"It's definitely a head-turner," says Drew Stoll, the man steering the three-wheel Polaris Slingshot, which resembles a blue Batmobile or a Transformer, the slick whip that in a kid's imagination could burst into a robot hero.

Its headlights are like bug eyes, its body forming curves like shark fins to the beefy back tire. The Slingshot has inspired more fanciful descriptions since launching in 2015: "[A] biomechanical cross between motorcycle and some sort of giant go-kart," Autoweek wrote, "a wheeled swamp creature halfway between fish and fauna slithering out of the primordial ooze to spawn a new entry in the vehicular gene pool."

And the new entry is set to make its presence known in the Pikes Peak region, thanks to Stoll. He owns Great Outdoors Adventures, which opened last weekend to offer Slingshot rentals along with off-road trips via high-octane ATVs also by Polaris.

Stoll's outfit joins three others in Colorado licensed under Polaris Adventures. The manufacturer's second-year enterprise aims to get the uninitiated into its vehicles amid some of the most iconic nature this country has to offer.

"A high percent of people love to experience the outdoors, but a smaller percentage of that population can actually purchase and own our vehicles," says Jan Rintamaki, director of Polaris Adventures. "We saw this real opportunity to bring the experience to them."

For Stoll, America's Mountain was an easy sell. A GPS installed in the ATVs direct drivers through Pike National Forest's rugged trail network above Woodland Park. Anyone wanting to see what battery-assisted cycling is all about can take one of the outfit's fat tire e-bikes for a spin.

"We're not necessarily focusing on a real extreme type of customer," Stoll says. "It's more about getting the common person out in the national forest and out in the outdoors."

The Slingshot "anchors the on-road side" of Polaris Adventures, Rintamaki says. And while a joy ride up Pikes Peak won't be possible this summer, as the highway is reserved for shuttles, Stoll sees Colorado 67 as a prime alternate, with open views and rock outcrops to the south and the forest to the north.

But the drive doesn't have to be limited to the region. With stick-shift capability and a willingness to pay the daily price, couples can embark as far as they please in the two-seater Slingshot, to the Western Slope or any of Colorado's choice staycation destinations. The 173-horsepower engine and the vehicle's light, maneuverable 1,700 pounds are meant to make any mountain pass exhilarating.

The interest has yet to reveal itself to Stoll. Leading up to Great Outdoors Adventures opening, he kept the Slingshots displayed out front beside U.S. 24, knowing they would at least capture attention.

After all, that was the intent of its designers.

"Let's make it look like this thing is going 100 mph when it's standing still," says Garrett Moore, the product manager recalling the early talks. "Let's make it something so polarizing that when someone sees it, they go, 'I gotta have it.' Let's make it crazy."

Priced at $15,000 to $30,000, more than 25,000 Slingshots have sold in its three years on the market, he says. And if it seems that you've been seeing more on the road, he says, that might be because most states changed their view of the vehicle since its mysterious arrival. Its legal distinction as an "autocycle" rather than a "motorcycle" means drivers don't need a motorcycle license.

And if you see them around more locally, that might just mean Stoll has succeeded in his mission: "Getting people out on adventures they wouldn't do otherwise."


Contact Seth Boster: 636-0332

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