How the Coppers Pick Their Motorcycles
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department really puts a potential police motorcycle through some paces to analyze their next choice of fleet bikes.
This fall, they looked at seven brands of motorcycles and rated the bikes based on performance, safety, and comfort factors.
Motorcycle deputies and officers assigned to the drivers’ training divisions of the LAPD took a hard look at the BMW R1200, Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, Harley-Davidson Road King, Honda ST1300, and Kawasaki Concourse. They also considered the relative merits of Victory Motorcycles – specifically the Commander I and Vision. The rigorous evaluation included tests like a 32-lap run at high speeds on a closed course, checking the bikes for how they handled in simulated pursuit situations, emergency braking tests, and a review of rider comfort.
As part of the lap evaluation, four riders took each motorcycle out for eight laps where they run the bikes up to their top speed. The lap times are recorded using a GPS device, and they were then each given ratings from 1-10 in regard to steering, lean angle, suspension characteristics, brake fade and pull, and the effectiveness of their ABS systems.
So which machine came out ahead?
The BMW R1200. The German entry scored the highest overall ratings garnering at least a nine out of ten in six categories and a 9.5 in when it came to steering and lean angle. The test riders rated the BMW brakes as “smooth and controlled, easy to modulate” and added that the ABS operation was, to use their word, “transparent.”
Harley-Davidson’s Electra Glide notched solid eights in most categories, but fell to a six when it came to testing lean angle and just under eight for steering. The rider’s said the brakes had a firm feel and no fade, and they liked the H-D’s gear ratio, calling it “well-spaced.”
The Harley-Davidson Road King came in with a group of sevens, but fell again to sixes for lean angle and ABS performance, but they did say the bike’s steering input was “light and predictable” and that the Road King provided good low-end torque.
The Honda’s ST1300 scored well, mostly nines, when it came to brake performance like fade, pull, and ABS response, but fell off to seven when it came to lean angle. The riders said the Honda “rolls quick and consistent into corners” and added that the machine held a firm line through the corners.
The Kawasaki Concours managed at least 8.2 in every category with a high score of 8.7 for lean angle. Testers said the bike’s transmission was a good match for the engine and that the traction control helped when it came to exiting corners.
The Victory Commander failed to impress with riders not impressed with brake performance which they said “felt spongy.” The Victory Vision fared slightly worse and came in at a disappointing five on lean angle, exhibited slight brake fade lost more points for a shift level the riders said was hard to find at times.
On the demanding pursuit course (a 2.45-miles of city streets) is meant to simulate actual riding conditions officers face and presents the riders with few straights and a series of roadway obstacles.
It might come as a surprise, but the stopping distance leader from 60-0 mph was the Harley-Davidson Road King which needed only 126 feet to quit moving.
If you want to check out the report in full detail in .PDF format, you can download it here…