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While driving through Austin, TX about 18 months ago on my way and back from San Antonio, I saw probably 6-8 pairs of Austin police on RT-Ps. They looked awesome patrolling up and down I-35 in pairs! I probably would have had a different opinion had they been pulling me over!! The only mounted police I saw in Austin were on RT-Ps. They looked great! (but given my affinity for the bike, I may be just a tad biased)

My question, directed at any former or current police in the group, is do you as a mounted patrolman pick your bike, or does the municipality dictate what bike you ride. In Kansas City, as in most cities I am familiar with, you see all makes, mostly Harleys and relatively few BMWs. The fact that I probably saw a dozen RTs in Austin, and no others makes on that trip, made me question my perception, that te patrolman chooses the bike.

Do some cities chose the bike that must be ridden? And how prevalent are RT-Ps in service in the US (I understand that they are the most prevalent in Europe, but not so much in the US).

What's the story?

Lawrence
 

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I got pulled over in Montgomery, Al by an officer on an RT-P. I had the cruise set on 120 for the last 90 miles since i got through Birmingham. Was on my GT back then. He just wrote me a warning for 55 in a 45, blew my mind. And then we talked about bikes for the next half hour so by then I lost all the time I had gained on the way down to the gulf. He liked the Electra Glides better for some strange reason.
 

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In Topeka the city has gone with HD for about the last 20 years due to the factory-backed law enforcement program. Basically the dealership sells the city the bikes so cheap that the trade-in value makes it almost like riding for free when the bikes are traded back in. Then the bikes are sold to the public so the dealer makes out alright on the deal as well. My opinion is that the RTP series is a superior cycle. It's faster, (by a bunch) stops quicker, and is more durable. The city however looks more at the bottom line for ride cost per mile and it's tough to beat the HD boys with the way it's set up and backed by the company. Many jurisdictions (such as California) which purchase outright and then sell the bikes themselves do choose the RTP. The maintenance schedule on the HD is more expensive than that of the RT. One example: HD recommends a 30,000 mile rebuild on the top end as routine maintenance. That comes more often when the bikes are ridden hard. I have seen Lawrence PD on RTPs and some Kawasakis back when the KZ1000P was being marketed. They also have a Japanese dirt bike or two they use for the river park. Since the Harley dealership closed up in Lawrence I doubt you'll see any HDs in Lawrence PD but you never know. If you ever get the chance to watch the PD guys getting certified out at Heartland Park it's pretty impressive what they have to go through to ride for a living.
 

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Municipalities decide what brand/model they will purchase for their respective departments which is usually done through a bid process. The county I live in just changed over to Honda ST's after many years on RT's. They said the maintenance costs of the RT's was too high. Seattle has been and still is committed to HD's. Washington State Police ride RT-P's.
 

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This past summer I had a chance to speak to an officer at Gina's in Iowa City. They had just switched to RT-P's from Harley's. He must preferred to lower seat height of the Harley. He said when you are getting on and off your bike a hundred times a day it can get old real fast having to lift that leg up high. I totally agreed with him on the point. The officer was probably only 5'6" and the bike did not fit him well. He had to think more about not tipping over his bike than about the job at hand. He did say he had no choice in bikes because the municipality told him what to ride. I think he said he was from Dubuque. Quite a haul to get ones bike serviced too.
 

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Hi Lawrence!

One thing you will notice about departments: If there is long "tradition" of using some kind of tool, be it a motorcycle (Harley) , a particular gun (Smith and Wesson anything), the cruisers (Fords mostly) , and even radios (Motorola), you will be very hard-pressed to have that department make any kind of change at all, even in the face of evidence that there are better solutions to a problem available, even at a cheaper price operationally.

As to motorcycles, officers tend to stay with whatever they learn on and have ridden for long periods of time. Interestingly, I once had the Chief of a local department tell me that while he knew the BMW RT was a superior machine, he did not want his young officers hurting themselves on such a high-performance motorcycle ! That was not too long before he crashed his Road King and broke some bones !

Let us not forget the ever-present ugly head of politics getting involved too!

We have a local agency that had purchased two RT/P's just prior to an election for evaluation. The new guy who got elected immediately sent the RT's to surplus property without ever having been used on patrol. One never left the dealership. Any guess what the new guy likes to ride ?

Never mind that all the officers in the motor unit said the RT brakes were unbelievable as compared to the Road Kings they have used for years.
 

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Unions...

I won't go off into a heated discussion about that, but the police unions sometimes have strong ties to other unions (UAW, etc) and in some cases, department purchases are decided upon those ties. This is especially prevalent in the North East.
 

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There's really only one true choice for a police bike, isn't there???
Book em Deno! :cool:
 

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When Kawasaki stopped making its old police models, Tucson switched to Harleys. Why? The lieutenant in charge rides a Harley.

All departments in Wisconsin, including the state patrol, ride Harleys. Why? Where is Harley's headquarters?

Most departments in Arizona ride RT-Ps, but that is changing. I see more Honda STs now.

California, which has hundreds of RT-Ps, just switched to the new Kaw Concours because, I understand, it is more powerful.

Yes, the department picks the bike, but someone in the department in charge of motors and who has a personal bias can make the decision regardless of the facts.

So the choice of police motor often faces personal biases and politics.
 

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Around the Phoenix area we seem to have an equal number of RT-P and ST1300 riders. I can't remember which department uses which. They sure are a lot harder to outrun than the KZ-1000...

I had the cruise set on 120 for the last 90 miles since i got through Birmingham
He liked the Electra Glides better
I bet you like the Electra Glide better too, since at 120 he would never have caught you!
 

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Lawrence_D said:
Thanks Ponch! The LA County report is a great data resource!

Lawrence
The RTP still didi very well and I think it was a 2009. I am surprised they are switching to the C14. I found the riding position more cramped and bent over than the RT.
 

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Lawrence_D said:
My question, directed at any former or current police in the group, is do you as a mounted patrolman pick your bike, or does the municipality dictate what bike you ride.
Yes. ;)

In most cases, the motorcops have input into the decision-making process, but the agency (or the state, county, city, town, whatever) makes the final decision.

As a general rule, they will take the specification set and let it out for bid, letting dealers and manufacturers' reps write proposals. Sometimes they will specify make and/or model, to fill in gaps in their current fleet (most agencies running BMWs started with the 1100, then went through the 1150 to get to the 1200).

CHP has started buying Kawasaki Enforcers (aka "The Batbike"), which are a modified Concours and tagged "Police Special 1400." They got there by specifying a feature set which both the BMW and Kawasaki met, then Kaw gave them better pricing. I would be surprised if Kaw is making a dollar each, they wanted to get a foot in the door on a new relationship with CHP, and as CHP goes, so do many other agencies.

Next time around, you can expect BMW to make come aggressive cuts in pricing to try to get CHP to stay with the RT-P, and you can bet that BMW, Kaw and every police agency in the West are watching this new batch of motors very carefully, to see if there are weaknesses that BMW can exploit before Kaw can correct.

Usually, an agency will have two or more generations of motor in the detail, and smaller departments may have one of everything -- a 2004 Kawasaki Police Special, 2006 Road King, 2008 BMW and 2010 Batbike -- each ridden by an officer who thinks that his is better than the others in the way which is most important to him.

Once the new motors arrive, they are usually offered on the basis of seniority, but I know supervisors who stayed on the Kawasaki when the HDs arrived and even to this day keep the old motor rather than go to the BMWs.
 

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Ponch said:
The LASD report is available as a PDF:

http://www.lasdhq.org/sites/motorcycle-test/2010.pdf

Take the Michigan numbers with a grain of salt. That's Harley territory, their riders know the Harley VERY well and are able to get the absolute top performance from them, which they would not get from the BMW or Kaw.

For instance, note the higher 0-20mph and 0-30mph numbers for the BMW and Kaw -- yet we know that we've got a rate on the Road King in the first ten feet. I'm going to guess that this was due to the riders' fear of bringing the front wheel off the ground.

Note that the extra couple of hundred CC on the Kaw made a difference, so I predict a 1400 or even 1600 RT-P in the near future (especially if the CHP evaluation comes down in favor of the Batbikes).
 

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For instance, note the higher 0-20mph and 0-30mph numbers for the BMW and Kaw -- yet we know that we've got a rate on the Road King in the first ten feet. I'm going to guess that this was due to the riders' fear of bringing the front wheel off the ground.
Or fear of grenading the motor by running it over 3000 RPM.
 

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the shierff's in Travis county ( austin ) are going to the st-1300. I talked to their test driver who was in charge of what had to change for the bike to get on board...talked to him a year latter...there arfe more st 1300's ...the patrolmen liked the BMW better...but...he said that the st's were comprable to about 100, after that the BMW were the better choice...I new that there was a lot he wanted to say but could not....
 

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calvarez said:
Or fear of grenading the motor by running it over 3000 RPM.
Possibly, but they watched their tachs to keep out of the limiters. LASO got similar numbers (though closer together), but their RT-P was fully equipped (as supplied by BMW), while their HDs were "slick" with no top boxes and empty saddleboxes.

Note that the HDs never got up to 100mph in the out-of-hole acceleration tests because of "size constraints" of the track.

Since all of the numbers were within a second or so of each other, the differences aren't really worth mentioning.

Handling and rider evals give it to the BMW -- a skilled rider will get more out of the RT-P than the RK.
 

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Politics, unfortunately, outweighs logic in all aspects of L/E. Not JUST equipment purchases such as motorcycles or firearms, etc. This is a problem because most captains and above FORGET that they're police officers, and start acting like politicians.

The "best" m/c would be the one that "fits" the rider best and allows for maximum competence of that rider. Perhaps a 5-6 officer would have trouble with the bike that is best for a 6-5 officer? We see this "one size/brand fits all" mentality regularly.

Some officers can't shoot a .40 cal worth a shit, but can qualify with a 9mm. Or the grips on one brand do NOT fit an officer with small hands, BUT another brand, same caliber, does fit his hands.

Who do you want backing your ass when it's getting kicked? The officer who's not competent, because of the "one size/brand fits all" mentality? No thanks!

This is why you see a "diversity of equipment" in some "enlightened" agencies.

Ok, did I hit all the PC buzz words? :D
 

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Solo6 said:
Yes. ;)

In most cases, the motorcops have input into the decision-making process, but the agency (or the state, county, city, town, whatever) makes the final decision.

As a general rule, they will take the specification set and let it out for bid, letting dealers and manufacturers' reps write proposals. Sometimes they will specify make and/or model, to fill in gaps in their current fleet (most agencies running BMWs started with the 1100, then went through the 1150 to get to the 1200).

CHP has started buying Kawasaki Enforcers (aka "The Batbike"), which are a modified Concours and tagged "Police Special 1400." They got there by specifying a feature set which both the BMW and Kawasaki met, then Kaw gave them better pricing. I would be surprised if Kaw is making a dollar each, they wanted to get a foot in the door on a new relationship with CHP, and as CHP goes, so do many other agencies.

Next time around, you can expect BMW to make come aggressive cuts in pricing to try to get CHP to stay with the RT-P, and you can bet that BMW, Kaw and every police agency in the West are watching this new batch of motors very carefully, to see if there are weaknesses that BMW can exploit before Kaw can correct.

Usually, an agency will have two or more generations of motor in the detail, and smaller departments may have one of everything -- a 2004 Kawasaki Police Special, 2006 Road King, 2008 BMW and 2010 Batbike -- each ridden by an officer who thinks that his is better than the others in the way which is most important to him.

Once the new motors arrive, they are usually offered on the basis of seniority, but I know supervisors who stayed on the Kawasaki when the HDs arrived and even to this day keep the old motor rather than go to the BMWs.

Kawasaki is touting cheaper clutch replacement. Ok. So how often does that have to be done on either bike?
 
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