We wanted to write a post like this, combining our two greatest passions, motors and design, for quite some time now. We’ll be presenting a brief history of motorcycles used by police forces and examples of motorcycles used by the police forces of various countries. We hope this will be an enjoyable read.
It seems the first time motorcycles were used by police forces was ate the beginning of the 20th century. Chief August Vollmer of the Berkeley, California Police Department is credited with organizing the first official police motorcycle patrol in the United States in 1911. However a few police departments used motorcycles before 1911. It’s documented that the first Harley-Davidson police motorcycle was delivered to the Detroit Police Department in 1908. Also, the police department in Evanston, Illinois purchased a belt-driven motorcycle for its first motorcycle police officer in 1908, and the Portland, Oregon Police Bureau had a police officer who used his personal motorcycle to patrol the city as early as 1909.
Back on the home front in the 1920s, state police forces were being formed in several states of the US to protect rural areas from lawlessness and to enforce Prohibition. The motorized vehicle of choice on rutted rural roads was the motorcycle.
Police motorcycles in the United States typically use purpose-built motorcycles marketed by Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Honda, or BMW. Kawasaki Police Motorcycles, which were built for the US market in Lincoln, Nebraska, ceased production in September 2005.
In Germany, BMW is by far the largest provider of motorcycles for authority use.
In the United Kingdom the most common police motorcycles are the BMW RT series, the Honda ST series and the Yamaha FJR1300, although most forces have withdrawn the ST1300 Pan European since the death of an officer was blamed on the machine. Some police forces also use scooters within towns.
In 2004, BMW claimed to be the largest seller of motorcycles for authority use, as more than 80,000 BMW motorcycles were in official use in over 150 countries on five continents. BMW produce police-specific models such as the R1200RT and R900RT, the latter not available to the general public. More than 140 U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, had BMW authority motorcycles in their fleets of patrol vehicles.
Harley-Davidson has maintained a long relationship with police departments and law-enforcement agencies. As of 2007, Harley-Davidson offered the FLHTP Electra Glide, the FLHP Road King and the XL883 Sportster in police and fire/rescue editions.
Police Motorcycle Designs old and new organized by countries :