Motorcycles are a valuable tool for police forces around the globe.
Police motorcycles are an iconic part of our culture. The police motorcycle’s long history in the U.S. dates back to at least 1908, when Harley-Davidson sent a motorcycle to the Detroit Police Department. Motorcycles offer police increased mobility and access to places unreachable by car. They are perfect in cities that have a lot of traffic congestion. A police chopper can readily weave in and out of traffic. There are a handful of companies that account for most police motorcycles on the market.
BMW is the most popular police motorcycle on the international market, bolstered primarily by very lucrative contracts with large European police forces. BMW motorcycles are also used by hundreds of U.S. police departments. The R1200 RT-P is BMW’s flagship motorcycle for police use. It features cruise lights as a standard feature, and the best gas mileage (49.9 mpg) of any large-class police motorcycle.
What BMW is to Europe, Harley-Davdison is to America. Since 1908, Harley-Davidson has maintained a close relationship with police departments all over the U.S., and has even branched out internationally. Harley offers an assortment of motorcycles for police use. The Sportster XL883L is a simple street cruiser that is the least powerful (883cc engine) and most inexpensive of police bike options. The next step up is the Road King, weighing over 800 pounds and delivering 1690 cc of power. The classic Harley police bike is the Electra Glide, a 1690cc motorcycle immortalized in the 1973 film “Electra Glide in Blue.”
Yamaha is an up-and-comer in the police motorcycle market. Yamaha’s appeal is the quality of construction and the lower price. In Europe, for instance, Yamaha has taken several major contracts away from BMW. Yamaha’s police bike is the XJR1300P, a 1,251cc variation on their power XJR1300 street bike.
Honda’s ST1300PA police motorcycle has a 1261cc V-4 engine that makes it a powerful option for law enforcement. It is priced below BMW or Harley-Davidson. In Washington state, for example, the entire state patrol switched to the ST1300PA, partly for economic reasons.