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Police Fleet Expo: Police Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson Session

By Michael Blackmer

George Petropoulos, Harley-Davidson Motor Co., led the session on police motorcycles. Nearly the entire Harley-Davidson sales and marketing force for police motorcycles is ex-law enforcement. They can sincerely talk the talk because they have walked the walk. The most popular use for the motorcycles is traffic enforcement. Harley-Davidson offers four different models for police use.

The Road King for 2009 has an enhanced frame that features 50% fewer parts and 50% fewer welds. This should result in less maintenance due to fewer assembled parts. The new swingarm accommodates a larger rear tire and complements the frame enhancements. The larger rear tire is common with the retail version but still meets all police requirements and makes it easier to find a replacement tire when needed.

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) increased by 100 pounds, but 30 pounds of additional equipment results in an increase of 70 pounds available for the officer. An improved anti-lock braking system (ABS) further improves braking performance, especially in challenging conditions. Rider comfort is enhanced with a re-routed exhaust system and midframe air deflectors.

The handlebars are adjustable, and the Lexan windshield has a safety break-away feature. While good for the officer in an accident, it does mean the equipment, such as a radar unit, should not be mounted to it. The luggage rack has been redesigned to accommodate the larger rear tire. Standard law enforcement saddlebags have special latches that provide easy access while seated on the motorcycle.

Also new is a variable displacement engine. The rear cylinder can be cut out, but it must be manually activated by the officer in an easy maneuver with the throttle control. This feature has actually been included on units built since March 2008. About 80% of all police sales are for the Road King.

The Electra Glide is the same as the Road King with the exception of the fairing. The Road King provides better air flow, greatly appreciated during the summer, while the Electra Glide has a full fairing that provides more protection in cooler weather.

New for the Sportster in 2009 is a new tire-hugging front fender and improved handling characteristics, resulting from an enhanced suspension calibration. Electronic fuel injection is now standard as well. The Sportster appeals to agencies that want a customer-friendly appearance for public relations purposes. They are widely used by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department, as well as others.

New for police use in 2009, the Buell Ulysses combines the soul of an adventure sport motorcycle with all the features law enforcement officers depend on, taking intuitive handling to paved and unpaved roads alike. Although the rider sits higher, an officer with a 30-inch inseam can reach the ground to steady the bike. Standard equipment includes heated hand grips, handlebar deflectors, a tall windshield, and an integrated helmet lock. A very interesting feature is the removable saddlebags, useful when the motorcycle is shared by multiple drivers. Changing of the saddlebags from one driver to another makes the shift change a snap.

The Harley-Davidson Police Tour-Pak system is a “plug-and-play” option for touring police models. They are designed for ease of installation and service. The Tour-Pak system plugs into the vehicle wiring harness and eliminates the cutting and splicing required with other light boxes. The unique self-contained design allows the LEDs to function without draining the vehicle battery. Because the Police Tour-Pak systems, including the storage box, are all designed for the narrower tire, an adapter plate, P/N 53196-09, must be used for installation of any of these components on 2009 models.

Harley-Davidson completes its motorcycle offering with professional partnerships to provide outstanding operator and technician training. For more than 20 years, Harley-Davidson has worked with the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety to make motor officers safer through training. Classes are scheduled in as many as 13 locations each year. Motorcycles are provided by Harley-Davidson.

Training for technicians who serve law enforcement agencies that use Harley-Davidson police motorcycles is offered at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, FL and Phoenix. Five classes are held in the spring and fall: Vehicle Maintenance, Electrical Diagnostics, Air-Cooled Powertrain, Engine Management Systems, and Chassis/ABS Service.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Sep/Oct 2008

Rating : 10.0

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