and Police Motorcycles
Paladin Publishing published our book,
Police and Military Motorcycles, in May 2001. In researching this book, I found many
interesting motorcycle photographs showing motorcycles in both military and
police applications. I only photographed a few of the images on this page;
most were provided either by the manufacturers, police agencies, motor officers,
||Is this cool, or what? Wow....six years in the making, a very
patient publisher, and the result is a dream come true....The
Complete Book of Police and Military Motorcycles, available from
Paladin Press. The photographs in this book are fabulous,
including many from police department archives around the world, BMW in
Germany, Kawasaki in the United States, and more than a few that I grabbed
with my Nikon in the U.S., China, and other countries. Hey, I've
thought about this a lot, and I've decided you should buy this book!
|Quite a photo,
don't you think? It shows Captain Ralph F. Dowgin, a New Jersey State
Police Trooper, in 1936 on Route 36 in Keyport, New
Jersey. Captain Dowgin went on to become Troop Commander of
Troop D (which patrols the New Jersey Turnpike), and he retired in
1963. Captain Dowgin rode a Harley-Davidson, and when I was a kid, I
actually met him. He lived near us and he was a
friend of the family.
Back in the old days, the
New Jersey State Police rode their motorcycles year round. The fierce snowstorms typical of New Jersey
winters didn't stop these guys - the New Jersey State
Police put chains on their Harleys and continued to patrol. The
New Jersey State Police have a fascinating history. This department
set the tone for many of the state police agencies in the United States,
maintaining a strict military bearing and professional approach from the
outset of the organization's formation. Colonel Schwarzkopf, the
first New Jersey State Police Superintendent, founded the New Jersey State
Police Academy in Sea Girt, New Jersey. The New Jersey State Police
training was based on that presented by the United States Military Academy
at West Point (where Colonel Schwarzkopf had been previously
assigned). Colonel Schwarzkopf modeled the NJSP police uniform
on the U.S. Army uniform, and was also a key
figure in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. If his name sounds
familiar, it is because General Norman Schwarzkopf, hero of the Gulf War,
is his son.
Mike Beltranena (Police
Director, New Brunswick Police Department) provided this photograph from
the New Brunswick Police Department archives. Mike and I went to
high school together, and we have stayed in touch through the wonders of
the Internet. The above photo became the cover of The
Complete Book of Police and Military Motorcycles (as shown on the
right), and it looks great!
Here's a blurb from the
Complete Book of Police and Military Motorcycles
From Pittsburgh's adoption of motorcycles for police use in 1909 to Gen.
John J. "Black Jack" Pershing's 1916 pursuit of Pancho Villa
into Mexican territory on Harley-Davidsons, Indians and Excelsiors to the
deployment of motorcycles in both world wars, this book tells the
fascinating tale of these machines from their 20th century
beginnings to their current use by police departments and militaries
throughout the world. Joseph Berk, author of The Gatling Gun,
explores every aspect of police and military motorcycles, including the
history of their manufacture by Harley-Davidson, Indian, Kawasaki, BMW,
Honda and others; details of their procurement by selected U.S. police
departments; critiques of the "Big Three" police models employed
in the United States from officers who have put them to the test; a
detailed outline of the intensive 10-day training program required of U.S.
motor officers; an inside look at how specific police departments from
Atlanta to L.A. utilize motorcycles on a day-to-day basis; and a look at
the specific makes and models used by Special Forces and other military
units from World War I through the turn of the century and beyond.
The author is a motorcycle enthusiast who has owned and ridden
Harley-Davidsons for many years. An engineer with roughly 25 years in the
defense industry, he also enjoys photography and writing and has published
short stories in EasyRiders, Iron Horse, and Motorcycle
|Whoa, what's this? The
latest urban assault motor?
Check out the new Military and Police
series from CSC Motorcycles.
These 150cc puppies are perfect around town. They are lightweight,
they'll do over 60 miles per hour, and they get close to 100
miles per gallon! Everybody loves them. At just under $5,000,
these bikes are made in the United States and they may be exactly what
your department needs to get expenses down and community relations up.
Want more information? Just call the
California Scooter Company at 800 884 4173 and ask for TK, CSC's M&P
Or, you can check out the CSC
press release on this motorcycle.
Take a look at CSC's military
bikes in the YouTube video below, too. It's cool!
|Okay, on to more police
motorcycles and more good stuff! Check out these two guys and what
they did almost a century ago...folks, you couldn't make a movie this
officers have always been heroes, but did you know the tradition
of service and extraordinary heroism goes back nearly 100 years?
Did you know that two motor officers became known as the
Paul Reveres of Santa Paula based on their heroic midnight ride?
monument above (The Warning, sculpted by Eric Richards) was
erected in 2003 in Santa Paula, California, to mark a heroic
evening in 1928. Motor
Officers Thornton Edwards (on the Indian) and Stanley Baker (on
the Harley) were on duty the evening of March 12, 1928, when
California experienced what remains the second worst disaster in
the state’s history. The
recently completed St. Francis Dam, 36 miles upstream in Santa
Clarita, collapsed shortly after midnight.
The collapse released 52 billion gallons of water, and that
water was headed directly toward Santa Paula. The
Santa Paula Police Department learned of the impending danger
shortly after the dam broke.
Thornton and Baker spent the next 3 hours riding their
motorcycles throughout Santa Paula, notifying residents and
evacuating the town. Thornton
actually worked for the State Highway Department, which became the
California Highway Patrol. Baker
was a Santa Paula Police Department Officer.
Although the records from this era are sketchy, legend
holds that Thornton’s bike had to be repaired during his
midnight ride when it ingested water.
As a result of these two officers’ actions, the residents
of Santa Paula were successfully evacuated, and few Santa Paula
residents died that night.
water released by the dam (the reservoir had just filled, and the
poorly-designed dam was not strong enough to contain it) mixed
with mud and debris to form a wall of slurry that advanced 54
miles to the ocean at about 12 miles per hour.
The disaster killed an estimated 470 people, and to this
day, it is still the second worst disaster in California history.
Only the San Francisco earthquake and its resulting fires
resulted in more death. The Warning contains no
mention of either motor officer’s name; rather, it is intended
to honor all acts of heroism, and to honor those killed during the
St. Francis Dam collapse. If
you head through downtown Santa Paula, The Warning is hard
to miss, and it’s worth a trip to this beautiful town just to
thanks for the above research to Peggy Kelly, a reporter for the Santa
|Another great shot of a couple
of motor officers on Harley Electra-Glides in San Fernando,
California. This is a four-page spread I did for the January 2010
issue of Rider magazine. Writing the article was a
hoot, but the real fun was reading the letters to the editor in the next
edition. The motor officers loved it! Here are a few
|Well done, for the
best article I've read in quite a while.
Great piece about the people and
the bikes that protect and serve us.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
for the article "Motors: The best job on the force" in
your January issue. Finally, someone puts it in writing.
... The article was right on, even down to the very last
I was a motor officer for 25 years
and enjoyed every second. Yes, we write tickets, but we do so
much more. The motor can get to places faster than any
four-wheeler. Thanks for making a mature (old) motor cop
BMWs, BMW Clones,
and German Military and Police Motorcycles
Here's a World War II German
350 DKW motorcycle. The Wehrmacht used these two-stroke 350 cc
motorcycles for dispatch duty.
I grabbed this photo at the
World War II Museum in New Orleans.
World War II
Wehrmacht Motorcycles. This is a BMW with a sidecar.
This picture came from HP-Hommes in
This picture came from the Ural brochure.
|One of the more interesting military motorcycle applications occurred in
the German Wehrmacht during World War II. In most other military
motorcycle applications, the motorcycle has been used primarily as an
escort or messenger vehicle. The Germans actually used motorcycles
as infantry weapons. Each motorcycle in a German motorcycle
battalion (that's right, the Germans organized motorcycle units up to the battalion
level!) carried three soldiers: A driver, a rifleman on the back
seat, and a machine gunner in the sidecar. The Germans used these
motorcycle units when they invaded Russia. By the time the Russian
winter rolled around, they figured out this was not such a bright idea.
How about the picture on
the right? More Nazis?
Nope, not quite.
|The Russians, realizing a war was coming in the
late 1930s, purchased a handful of BMWs from a dealer in Sweden and
secretly reverse-engineered the German machines in Moscow. The
Russians actually fielded a copy of the BMW military motorcycle during
World War II, so troops in Russia on both sides of the front lines were
fighting atop essentially the same motorcycle. After the war, the Russians continued to build these machines.
The Russians shifted production to the Ural mountains, and the
Russian BMW copies became known as "Urals." (Hey, I
couldn't make this stuff up!) The Russians continued to improve the machines, and after the collapse
of the Soviet Union, the motorcycles were offered for sale to the public.
Prior to that time, Russia sold Urals to eastern European and other
third world communist nations. You can actually buy these machines
today in the United States, without the machine gun, and own a brand new
World War II-era motorcycle. The Russians also make a civilian
version. The civilian versions are available with whitewall tires
and with or without the sidecar.
|Ural is not hesitant about showing their motorcycles in extreme
applications. This is another photo from the Ural brochure.
They also show motorcycles with rocket launchers, grenade launchers,
and the 7.62mm PK machine gun. Just the thing for LA traffic!
||A LongTech-mounted police
officer in rural China. I grabbed this shot in
2001. Note the OHV
BMW-clone engine. China has three or four companies making clones of
the older BMW-boxer engine bikes, including some with early-1930s-design flathead engines!
|This is the BMW R1100
RT-P, on duty at night somewhere
in Germany. The German police BMWs are green and white. The factory
provides the bikes in a range of standard colors, and for an additional
$400 per motorcycle they will paint the motorcycle any color already in
the BMW system (for either their cars or motorcycles). Based on the
research I did for Military and Police Motorcycles, I believed the
BMW R1100 RT-P to be the most advanced police motorcycle in the world at
the time it was introduced.
It has a range of officer comfort features, a torquey 1100 cc twin
cylinder engine, and unlike all other manufacturers' police
motorcycles, an antiskid braking system. Every motor officer I
interviewed for Military and Police Motorcycles spoke highly of
||The R1100 RT-P,
in black and white, is now used by the California Highway Patrol and many
other U.S. police departments. If Harley-Davidson isn't nervous,
they should be. This is a wonderful police motorcycle. The
photograph on the left came to me courtesy of Willi Nagel at BMW in
The photo above shows
the BMW R1100 RT-P, but this time in the CHP
colors. I photographed this motorcycle with the N70 and the 24-120
Nikon lens while visiting CHP headquarters in Sacramento, California.
BMW upgraded this to the
R1150RT-P (with the 1150cc engine), and then the R1200RT-P (with the
1200cc hex head engine).
|It's not too hard to guess who these French motor officers are
escorting. This photograph, which came from BMW in Germany, shows
the Pope in France a few years ago, with a group of previous-generation
BMW police twins for an escort. BMW is the dominant police
motorcycle in Europe and many other parts of the world.
||A couple of CHP officers
checking out the classic bikes at the 2004 Hansen Dam Norton Rally.
Note that the lead bike has LED strobe lights, while the trail bike is
equipped with conventional police lighting. These are BMW R1150RT-P
My friend Ben sent this photo
to me from Paris, France. This is a vintage photo showing the
Gendarmerie from the presidential escort group.
|This is Ben's personal bike, a
former French police BMW. It's a 1977 R60/7, in a configuration
never made available to civilians.
The French police ordered these with a
600cc engine, the RS fairing, spoked wheels, and leather
These were the first bikes the French
police ordered in blue; before that they were all black. This
is pretty cool stuff.
||Here's another period photo from
Ben, showing the Swedish police. Nothing slowed these guys
down...check out this ski-equipped BMW!
|An K1100LT BMW formerly in
service with Belgium's federal police. Ruud Willems sent this photo
BMW no longer makes these
motorcycles. Their early K-bikes used 3 or 4 cylinder engines (this
is a 4 cylinder) that were oriented in an unusual manner. The
crankshaft was parallel to the frame, and the engine was oriented with the
pistons moving in a horizontal plane (the engine laid on its side).
The cylinder was on the bike's left side. BMW tried to enter the US
market with these motorcycles, but they made little progress until they
offered the 1100cc boxer twin.
|Another cool photo from Ruud,
this time showing an 1100cc BMW boxer twin formerly in service with the
Belgian federal police.
||A cool photo from Ian showing
police BMWs in Birmingham, England.
||A pair of La Verne, California's
finest...on their BMW R1200RT-P police motorcycles in 2009.
This is the latest edition of the BMW
|An F650 BMW police bike with ABS
in service with Egg Harbor Township in New Jersey. The Egg Harbor PD
likes this bike's ability to go off road. They also use the larger
R1200RT-P BMW, which you can see in the background.
||One of Egg Harbor's Motor
Officers on the F650 BMW providing an escort to the Police Unity Tour.
Here's a great photo
from my CBX friend Ian Foster of Hong Kong showing two BMW R1100RT-Ps and two Honda VFRs in
Hong Kong. How about that...Honda VFRs as police
bikes! And, a special hello to the CBX750P club members in
Hong Kong from your friends here in the United States!
A Hong Kong BMW in Causeway
Bay, sent to us by Ian.
||When police BMWs are retired
from service, they are picked up by civilian motorcyclists. Although
the bikes may have a few miles on them, they have usually been
meticulously maintained, and they can continue to be reliable machines for
years and years.
Converting a police BMW to civilian use is
straightforward. The blue and red strobe lights, the police radio,
and the insignia come off, and it's ready to go. Most civilian
riders also remove the R1150RT-P's extra battery to save weight.
This is a photo of my good friend Bob
staying two steps ahead of Hurricane Norbert in Baja, Mexico, on his
|A cool shot of a 1200 cc BMW
police bike in the Netherlands from my friend Danny Hoek.
|Danny also sent this shot, along
with detail photos below of the Netherlands-based BMW police bikes.
|An 800cc twin BMW police bike in
the Netherlands from Danny Hoek.
|And Danny's shot of the BMW
R1200RT-P police bike in the Netherlands.
|At the time I wrote the
Complete Book of Police and Military Motorcycles, Kawasaki
was a dominant police motorcycle in the
United States and in many other countries. Kawasaki's Police 1000
has been on the scene in the United States since shortly after Kawasaki
introduced its ultra-performance KZ-900 in 1973. Kawasaki used to be
dominant U.S. police motorcycle west of the Mississippi, while
Harley-Davidson was the dominant machine east of the Mississippi. BMW
came on strong in both areas. The Kawasaki police motorcycle cost about $8,500 new, but it
had a very low resale value. The
Harley-Davidson police motorcycle used to cost about $11,500 to $14,000
new (when I wrote the book), but
the Harleys sell for more used than they cost new. The BMW police
motorcycle costs about $18,000 new, and it also has strong resale value.
One motor officer laughed when I asked him about the much higher
cost of the BMW. He said he could generate $18,000 in a week by
writing traffic tickets! Having collected a few of those tickets
myself, I know what that guy was talking about!
|These typical Kawasaki Police 1000s
were in service with the Atlanta
Police Department when I wrote the book. The Atlanta PD was very
||An Atlanta police officer attempting to make the Special Operations
team. As is the case in many large metropolitan police departments,
the motor officers are part of the Special Operations group.
Becoming a motor officer is an elite assignment.
A Kawasaki-mounted officer in
||Here's a very cool, fully
restored 1980 Kawasaki Z1000 C3 with 23'000 original miles. Darren Buckley took 4 years to restore this motorcycle.
The engine's never been turned over since the restoration; the motorcycle
is for display only. Darren purchased the the bike from
California in 2002.
from New Zealand, and he sent this photo to me to share with you.
Thanks, Darren, and job well done!
|Check this motor out...a
Kawasaki sports bike pressed into police service in Northern Ireland!
||The Kawasaki with a BMW police
|We received this very nice
photo and press release from the Newport News Police Department showing
MPO Hale and her awesome Kawasaki Concours 1400 police motorcycle.
This is the very first photo we've received of this awesome new police
motor...thanks very much, Officer Hale!
News is a sixty-nine square mile city with a population of
approximately 185,000 residents and is located in Southeast
Virginia. The Newport
News Police Department has 440 sworn officers and 153 civilian
employees. The Department is the fourth largest municipal police
department in the state of Virginia and has been a nationally
accredited law enforcement agency since 1986.
Newport News Police Department has utilized motorcycle officers
since 1910. Currently the motorcycle officers are assigned to the
Special Operations Division. The
unit’s responsibilities include enforcing traffic laws, escorts
including Presidential and other dignitary motorcades and other
Police Officer Sonia Hale has been with the department since
January of 1990 and has been a motorcycle officer for eight years.
During her time as a motorcycle officer, she has ridden four
different types of police motorcycles. Currently, MPO Hale rides a
2011 Kawasaki Concours 1400. Kawasaki
has incorporated many different features that provide additional
safety for the officers. MPO Hale looks forward to riding this
bike for many years to come.
|The good folks at the Newport News
PD were kind enough to send along this dynamite 1911 photo showing
their officers with bicycle and a very, very cool Indian police
bike...check this out! Wow!
This photograph came from the American
Motorcycle Association Historical Museum.
This photograph came from the American
Motorcycle Association Historical Museum.
|This is the motorcycle the U.S. Army went to war on during
World War II. It is a 750cc flathead v-twin, affectionately known as
the "45." Harley made tens of thousands of these machines
during the war, but unlike Indian, Harley continued to make civilian
machines. It kept them alive after the war, unlike Indian. When the was ended, Harley had kept its civilian dealer
network and customer base intact. Indian did not, and Indian had a
tough go of it after the war. Indian finally went under. Indian
built their military motorcycles to Army specifications. Harley told
the Army their bike was a 750cc (the "45"), and if the Army
wanted Harleys, that's what they had to buy. The Army knuckled
was about as died-in-the-wool a Harley-Davidson fan as you
will ever find, but I have to tell you that our military engineers and
planners were so impressed with the German BMW military motorcycle that
they asked both Harley-Davidson and Indian to reverse engineer the BMW
powertrain and incorporate it into a U.S. military machine.
Everybody was copying BMW. The Harley Davidson version became
known as the XA-750. Note its horizontally-opposed cylinders. Harley built about a thousand of these machines, none of
which ever saw military service. By the time this motorcycle came on
the scene, the U.S. Army had already fallen in love with the Jeep.
|Here's a restored Harley WLA,
the famous "45" military bike. I grabbed this shot at the
Hansen Dam Rally in 2007.
It's really cool, isn't it?
|In 1998 I stayed at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. while
testifying as an expert witness in an Armed Services Board of Contract
Appeals trial. This is the same hotel in which Vernon Jordan used to
meet Monica Lewinsky for breakfast when he wasn't trying to help her get a
job as a political payoff for not going away when she wasn't having an
affair with Bill Clinton. We actually saw Vernon Jordan in the hotel
restaurant for breakfast one morning while I was there, although Monica
wasn't around. When I checked in, it was already starting to get
dark out, but I noticed these sidecar-mounted motor officers with U.S.
Park Police Harley-Davidsons in front of the ANA Hotel across the street.
It was during the middle of the winter and it was cold. I
spoke to the motor officers and asked if they rode all year. They
said they did, and in the winter months, they attached the sidecars to
allow them to ride on icy roads. Wow. Talk about hard
core riding conditions. These officers provided VIP escorts
regardless of the weather. I asked the officers who they were
escorting, and much to my surprise, they told me it was Yasir Arafat. I was able to get fairly close to ol' Yasir's limo with my trusty N70
and the 24-120 Nikon lens. Talk about lucky breaks! You can
just make out Arafat's trademark black-and-white checkerboard kefiyah in
the right rear seat of the Cadillac.
Here's a larger section from
the above photograph, showing the classic kefiyah Arafat always wore.
Yessir, that actually is Yasir!
|Sergeant Bob Sabantino on his Police Harley-Davidson Dyna
Defender, photographed by Mike Beltranena, at the Mid-Atlantic Police
Motorcycle Rodeo in Fairfax, Virginia, in September 2000.
||A hundred thousand dollars worth of Police Harleys from an
unidentified Virginia department, though the lens of Mike Beltranena's
Minolta SRT 200. Mike shot this photograph at the Police
Motorcycle Rodeo in Fairfax.
|Wow, take a look at this vintage
photo showing a motor
officer from Ecuador on a Harley-Davidson! This is Guayasense,
a motorcyclist and Lord of the Transit Commission of Guayas Province in
Ecuador, and the photo was probably taken in the 1940s or 1950s. What a
This photo is one of several sent to us by
Captain Jose Paredes, who heads Ecuador's
presidential motorcycle escort unit. You can see more
great photos from Captain Paredes by clicking
shot from my friend AJHC showing himself and friend on a couple of Royal
Canadian Mounted Police Harleys in Edmonton, Canada, in the 1950s.
||A very cool classic shot from
our friend Juan Giménez, the police Sub Commissioner in Montevideo,
Uruguay. Juan, this is a great photo and we're glad you sent
it to us.
||Check out this photo from Al
Donovan....he's the motor officer on the bike in this photo, and here's
what he had to say about his days as a Clearwater PD motor officer...
Donovan on his 1950 Harley 61 ci. It would run 93mph with a tail
wind. But with big a big sprocket it was good for a drag which made
it practical for city work. The radio had tubes and we had to
keep the transceiver shut off as the battery wouldn’t hold up. To
send a message we had to stop and turn it on. The siren was run by
friction off the front wheel so it was useless if you slowed way
down and stopped. One of my favourite non-approved things to do was
to go downtown at late night and rev the engine in a low gear and
retard the spark and cut the throttle and enjoy hearing the great
loud backfires reverberate off the building walls of the empty
businesses. The steering head had damper which was manually
tightened or loosened to help control handling. All bikers learned
early to retard that spark when kick starting the bike or else it
could throw you up and off. My regular police cap was without the
wire shape stiffener as with it in the thing would blow off even at
slow speeds. So when we ran down the highway it looked really silly
as it billowed up like a large blue chef’s cap. My regular beat
and the causeway over to the island. We worked 6 days a week back
then and the key word was we worked a minimum of 48 hours week. If
your day off came on a holiday you just lost it, there was no such
thing as overtime. Our starting pay was $150 a month but after a
year it rose magnificently to $175. We were allowed to park the bike
when it rained or if the temperature got below 32f. That only
happened once. I remember one cold day riding by the beach on New
Years day and looking at all the Yankee tourists swimming in the
water while I had on every bit of clothing I could get on and
freezing to death. Ah! The good old days!
Thanks very much, Al!
||And take a look
at this one! How about 1924! Yep, this photo was shot in
Lompoc, California, showing their motor officer detachment. It
came to us from James in Santa Barbara. Thanks, James!
||Mike Beltranena, my good friend and
former Police Director, New
Brunswick Police Department, next to a custom 350 cubic inch Chevy-powered
motorcycle. This is not a police motorcycle!
|Harley is pushing their Sportster
as a police motorcycle again.
When I was in the Army in the 1970s,
I saw old iron-head Sportsters used as police motors by the MPs at Fort
One of the folks who visited this website
sent the photo and message below.
||I received this photo from John
Peehl, a former MP at my old stomping grounds (Fort Bliss, Texas).
Here's what John sent to me...
|I thought you might like this picture
of me taken in 1969. I was there
from late 68 thru early 1970. We had 5 motors, when I was there. We were
one of three bases in the United States with motors. We had Harley
Sportsters 900s. We were an unorthodox squad in the uniforms we wore. When
I first got there we wore army greens in the winter. That was cold on a
bike. Than the post general allowed us to wear air force flight jackets
and army green pants pegged Than instead of combat boots, we first had
black high boots made in Juarez but they fell apart. So each of the motors
went on an AWOL collection trip to pay for highway patrol boots. In the
summer we wore tw's or tropical wear like in the picture I sent you. We
were the chase vehicles for the radar van and we did traffic control for
the tank convoys going out into the desert. That is when we rode with the
El Paso motors. They rode 74's. We also rode escort for
army vehicles going to El Paso when President Johnson gave back some land
to Mexico when the Rio Grande shifted. It was great duty. I
was back to Fort Bliss last year to see if they had the bikes in the
museum. I was told they were moved to the MP
museum in Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
Jim Rogers is the curator at the museum. If I can answer any questions
please let me know.
Former Sgt - E5 John Peehl or Motor 68.
||Much to my surprise, the traffic
cops in Guadalajara are now using Harley-Davidson Sportsters. This
fellow graciously consented to having his picture taken. He turned
on his flashing strobe lights for me to add a bit of zip to the photo.
|Two motor cops in
Guadalajara back in the early 1990s. I had ridden from Los Angeles
to Guadalajara on my 1992 Heritage Softail when I grabbed this shot, and I
was curious to learn if the police officer liked his Harley.
I asked the motor officer on the Harley
how he liked his motorcycle. He shrugged his shoulders, uttered an
expletive, and then added "but it runs…"
The other motor officer is
on a Honda CBX 750-P police bike. Honda never sold that model in
the U.S., but it looked like it makes a lot of sense as a police
||This is the control mechanism
for Harley's police motorcycle ABS unit. It looked to me like it
takes up a lot of space in the right rear saddlebag area. I
asked the Harley factory rep about the weight and he told me that it only added a couple of pounds
to the bike.
Maybe it's made of helium...
||One of our Swedish viewers sent these
photos in from a museum in Belgium. This is an old Harley
panhead. These were called panheads because of the valve cover
Here's an input from another viewer in
I dear te say the photos from
"One of our viewers" who claims: "from a museum
in Sweden" ar the motorcycles comming from the Belgium "Gendarmerie"
or "Rijkswacht" (French & Flemisch).
Later came the BMW 900 and K100 + 1100RT en TL and the R1000. Now
we drive on the Yamaha FJR 1300 under the new flag "Federal
|Here's another Harley from that
same museum. This one is a shovelhead.
check out this nice note I received from Danny Hoek in the Netherlands...
I thought you might like these pictures. I'm from the Netherlands
and this is my 2003 HD FLHTPi (with me on it) which i imported from
the States. It
had done service(so i was told) in Mayfield Township, Michigan. I
restored it with the strobe-box and par 36's and of course a Whelen
also added some photo's of police bikes in the Netherlands. The
officers wore white/orange jackets but a couple of years ago they
changed that to Fluorescent Yellow. They are all BMW's. In
2010 BMW and the Dutch police force signed a contract for another
BMW R1200 RTP's and X650 GS's.
Dutch officer on the Harley, though, is a PR-stunt or a privately
owned vehicle I assume.
||Here's another one of Danny's HD
This photograph came from the American
Motorcycle Association Historical Museum.
recently, Honda has never had a significant presence as a police motorcycle
supplier here in the United States, but that hasn't occurred for a lack of
trying. One of Honda's earliest "big bore" imports
to the United States was its CB 450. The bike was technologically
advanced, but it didn't attain the sales success Honda expected.
Before the company regrouped to introduce the wildly-successfully
benchmark CB750 in 1969, Honda actually modified 25 CB 450s for police
duty and imported them into this country. They didn't catch on.
||Honda's ST1100 Police
Motorcycle. This bike uses a V-4 engine, with the crankshaft in line
with the motorcycle. Honda also offers their ST1300 in police
configuration, but it was not on display at the 2004 IACP convention.
||Check out Greg Holliday's
fully-restored 1969 CB750 Honda. This is an amazing machine.
It is the first year of the CB750 Honda. Greg sent this photo to me
|Another interesting Honda
450-based police motorcycle. Ian provided this shot of a late-1960s
Dubai police motorcycle, on display in London in 2006.
||Here's an award-winning,
concours-condition Honda 450 police motorcycle, the 1969 Honda K1 CB450P.
Charlie O'Hanlon completely
restored this motorcycle.
That's my friend (and the bike's owner)
Toastacia, talking to Richard Backus, editor-in-chief of Motorcycle
Classics magazine, at the Legends of the Motorcycle Show in
Toast's motorcycle won 1st place in the
Japanese Production (1957 to 1969) category, and the competition was
Karen Krenis grabbed these awesome photos,
with the Pacific Ocean in the background.
|Another shot of Toastacia's
CB450P. It just doesn't get much better than this. What an
Check out that 1969 Honda CB750 Four in the
This photo is also by Karen Krenis.
||Check out this shot of the
mechanical siren drive. The motor officers on these machines used a
lever on the left side to press a friction drive against the rear
tire. Karen Krenis photo.
|And here's a shot of the
speedometer on Toastacia's CB450P, showing the button that held the needle
in the "tell tale" position. Karen Krenis photo.
Here's another great
shot from my friend Ian...four Hong Kong Honda VFR police
bikes. Don't they look great?
|This is another
photo sent in to us from a reader in Sweden. This is the Honda 750
CBX-P police motorcycle.
Here are another couple of photos from
Ian. The one on the left shows two Honda CBX 750-Ps in Dalian.
The other is a great shot of a motor officer in Hong Kong on a Honda VFR.
The fluorescent green on his vest makes a lot of sense. I have a
jacket in that color, and it is quite visible. I'm not too sure
about his bare hands, though...that would not be a good situation in a fall.
A photo from Ian when he was
riding with the CBX750P club in Hong Kong.
|Another one form the CBX750P
club in Hong Kong, courtesy of Ian. "HQ Escort" means
these bikes are no longer in government service. It's similar to
what riders in the US do when their former police bikes say
"Traffic" instead of "Police."
||A Honda CB250 in police service
in Macau from Ian.
Ian sent a couple of great shots of smaller
Hondas, too, both from Hong Kong. These are 250cc bikes. The
yellow one belongs to the airport police. Smaller bikes like these can
make a lot of sense for police duty.
||Here's a motor officer in the UK
on a Honda Transalp modified for police duty.
And how about this...check out the email we
received from our new friend Sam in Ireland...
through your pictures and I came across the Honda Transalp in
Police Livery in Northern Ireland on the Friday of the North West
200 motorcycle road races, just a wee note to let you know it is
me, Constable Sam Picken of the PSNI on the bike. I see you have
an interest in handguns as well. For your info we carry as
standard a Glock 17, 9mm with 17-round mags. Good pics, keep up
the good work.
||Here's something you don't see
every day...a CB-350-based Honda police bike. This photo came
from my Eamonn Newton, along with this note:
|My Name is Eamonn
Newton from Dublin Ireland. I have a 1972 CB350P Police Bike. It was
a demo model along with a CB500/4 and the CB750/4. The Irish Police
or GARDA tryed out all three bikes and only wanted the two bigger
bikes. The 350 was left in storage in the Honda Importers Reg
Armstrongs. From 1972 till 1982 when a relation of mine who worked
for Reg Armstrong and assembled the bike (CKD) came across it. He
purchased it from the then new owners and took it to his Bikeshop.
When I went to see it I had to have it. After some haggling I got it
for the sum of 700 Irish pounds. The bike had only covered 717 miles
at that stage of its life. It now sits in my garage with only one
years driving on it since I got it. Intotal it has covered less than
10,000 miles in it's 38 years.
Eamonn, thanks very much!
California motor officer on the new Honda ST-1300 based police motorcycle.
|Yamaha Police Motorcycles
Here's a photo from
Ian showing a four-cylinder Yamaha in Macau at the 2004 Grand
A Yamaha Police 650 in the
Philippines, courtesy of Ian.
This is a 250cc Yamaha police bike in Macau
(this photo is from Ian).
Another Ian photo of a 650 Yamaha Maxim-based
police motorcycle, also in Macau.
||My friend Ruud on his police
FJR1300 in Belgium. Ruud has been a federal police motor officer for
That white holster made me curious about
the handguns these fellows use, so I asked Ruud...it's a Browning 9mm Hi
Power from Fabrique National.
This is one of John Browning's classic
designs, and it was the first high-capacity, double-column magazine 9mm
|Now here's something you don't
see every day...a Yamaha XS650 police bike! I had not known these
even existed, but apparently they were used in Persia before the nuts took
over. Check out this cool email I received from Jos Van Meel:
great interest I have been viewing your site with
police/military motorbikes. As I was looking for some parts for
my own police Yamaha XS650. I hope you like the pictures as the
bike is now. Its a 1977 Yamaha XS650 with frame number
1E5-100847. The bike was made for the shah in Persia but as the
Islamic Ayatollah Khomeini came into power and Persia was
renamed into Iran the bike was banned from the streets. A Dutch
Harley dealer imported the badly damaged Yamahas and sold them
in the Netherlands and Germany.
|Jos Van Meel's very cool 1977
Yamaha XS650 Police bike.
||Another view of Jos' dynamite
Persian Police Yamaha.
|A police Yamaha in Hong Kong in
||Ian sent this photo from Guizhou
in southwestern China. These are 150cc Haojue Chinese motorcycles.
|Here's a photo from my friend
Ian in Hong Kong showing three ex-police bikes he recently picked
up. Looks like a couple of CBX650P Hondas and a comparable Yamaha
XJ650P. It's fascinating to see the bikes pressed into police
service service in other parts of the world. The Yamaha appears to
be leaking a bit of oil.
||These two police officers are
riding single-cylinder Enfields in Mumbai, India. Ross Thomas
provided this photo.
|Two motor officers on 125cc Xingfu Chinese police
motorcycles. China has a helmet law, but helmet use appears to be
discretionary, even for the police.
Here's an earlier GS-series BMW
in police service in Istanbul, Turkiye.
discovery...a Triumph Tiger police bike on Princess Island in Turkiye.
|Here's a photo sent
to us from Graeme in Australia, along with a description of what it was
like to be a motor officer on a Triumph Thunderbird in New Zealand a few
||Hi there, Graeme
from Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia here. Being
an ex police officer (Road Transport Division) in New Zealand in the 60's,
I thought you may be interested in this one of myself on a Triumph
Thunderbird 650cc. As you can see
we didn't have flashing lights in those days, or any weapons, but did
have radios, which was at least was some sort of help. The
bikes were replaced every 2 Years with the mileage was around 40,000,
they were reliable but a bit slow with the screen and the leg guards
Don't know if you know about the system
we had out here. We
had the New Zealand Government Police Force, and The Government
Ministry Of Transport, which I suppose was the same as your Federal
Police, but some of the local towns, or town councils, sometimes had their
traffic cops, just a few, but only had jurisdiction in
the city limits, while we had the whole of NZ. They were two complete separate identities.
The police had complete power of arrest, while we only could arrest a
driver who was intoxicated. If
we wanted any further help, we had to call the police. They also were
tuned to our radio frequency.
I at that time was 24 years old and was posted
in Hamilton, in the centre of the North Island for a couple of years, then
was transferred down to the South Island to Oamaru on the East Coast.
There was a Senior Officer in Charge, and 2 cars and 1 m/cycle patrol in
that small town of a few thousand. I
had a very large area to patrol of several hundred square miles in a car,
a 1964 Vauxhall (an English car costing 12,000 NZ pounds, app; $US20.000). This took all day, mind you, I only did that every 2nd
week or so, the rest of the time was town patrol.
Please see the car photo....it is '65
Ford Falcon which was replaced after the Vauxhall had done its 2 years. I
liked the Vauxhall best, as it had a top speed of 115 mph. Not bad for a
3.3 litre. Hope this is of
interest to you.
I am now 67, and still reminisce of the great
time I had in that job. I
loved it as I was alone all the time, and only saw my boss now and then.
12 months ago I purchased a Honda Shadow, VT-750 (an ’08),
and the wife and I love it.
in Other Places!
||Here's a motor officer on a "Tiger Boxer" in Bangkok, courtesy of Ian.
Ian believes these are manufactured in Thailand. I could be
mistaken, but that sure looks like a .45 ACP 1911 sidearm this fellow is
Another Ian photo, showing
the Bangkok "Tiger Boxer."
Here's one I grabbed in
Bangkok just a few weeks ago...a Thai motor officer in traffic...
||My shot in Bangkok of a couple
more of the Tiger Boxers. This photograph was just outside the
Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Ian reported to us that this
Hong Kong Moto Guzzi V50 was used on a trial basis only. They were
never officially brought into the police motorcycle fleet.
|These are pretty cool shots from
Guangzhou, China. I grabbed them on a business trip in December
Police motorcycles are the only motorcycles
or scooters you'll see in Guangzhou. The city had a crime problem
with purse snatchers and other crooks on scooters...so they solved
it: No more scooters or motorcycles in Guangzhou.
Just like that!
||These bikes look like they were
rode hard and put away wet. Check out the rear tire on this one.
Here's something cool...a New Orleans Police
Department Vespa. Here are a few comments from a NOPD officer...
website, interesting pics. I
am a Police Officer in New Orleans (for the last 12 years). I am not in
Traffic, but did work in the 8th District (which is the French Quarter)
and I rode the scooters, at first we had Yamaha 125cc, I think they were
"Rivas," then we switched to Piaggio Fly 150's and Vespa
150's. The blue one in your pic was reserved for the on duty Rank
(SGT or LT). The Senior Sgt in the 8th District is assigned the unit
number 820, all of the other scooters are silver with other numbers. There
are also two other bigger Vespa's I believe GTS250's (they are 810 and
800). Unit 810 is the shift LT and 800 is the district Major.
||Another police scooter, this
time in Singapore, from Ian.
|A shot from Hong Kong (that's
Ian in the middle) showing the made-in-the-USA electric Vectrix
Scooter. It's receiving the "Bike of the Year" award
for helping to clean up the city's environment.
a photo from my friend Ron Bowers. It's an Iraqi police
Suzuki. Here's what Ron had to say...
my second tour in Iraq I was stationed in the Northern city of Mosul.
Very dangerous place, I would not recommend it for any kind of
vacation site. But just to the north is the city of Dohuk
(duh-Hook) which is almost entirely Kurdish. They have very
little tolerance for the Arab troublemakers to the south. In
fact, you can see how little security we have. No Armor, heavy
weapons, etc.. Just a pistol in my belt. We saw a
Motorcycle Police officer several times that day and he waved each
time. We flagged him down to talk and each one of us got
a chance to take a picture on his bike. I was an E-7 in that
photo. On my birthday, my Iraqi Army counterpart made
arraignments for me to ride several scooters. He knew that I
liked to ride so he had his soldiers round up as many scooters and
motorcycles as he could and we spent the day riding! Lots of
thanks for your service and thanks for this great photo!
it's only tangentially-related to police motorcycles, but an interesting
photo nonetheless...a modern M-22 color case hardened 1917 S&W .45
You gotta love these big bore revolvers (not much has
changed in the last century...a testament to the original N-frame Smith and Wesson
designers). Their accuracy is just awesome!
here's another modern classic...a Ruger Mini-14 with a Circassian
walnut stock, one of a very limited run offered through
Davidson's. These are awesome rifles.
Based on the same operating principles as the venerable Garand,
these rifles are reliable, hard-hitting, flat-shooting, and
accurate! I'll go out on a limb here and tell you my
opinion: If Ruger had offered the Mini-14 a few years
earlier, I don't think there ever would have been an M-16!
|Do you have an
interesting shot of a military or police motorcycle? Send it to us,
and if possible, we'll post it on this page. Just click here for our
Check back here often, as we frequently add