Police Motorcycles From Around The World

A look at some of law enforcement’s finest two-wheelers, past and present.

Police bikes
One size does not fit all: Police agencies around the world use a dizzying variety of two (or no) wheelers to get the job done.Goldfrapp from Pixabay

With images from movies like the Judge Dredd (2012) and RoboCop (2014) reboots bouncing around our collective unconscious, it’s probably no surprise that many of us have completely jaded and unrealistic expectations of what a law enforcement motorcycle should look like in the 21st century. We might think the Man is relegated to some pretty pedestrian rigs at the moment, but the truth is there’s still a cool assortment of crime-busting hardware out there to gape at, so we’ve rounded up a bunch of better-known examples from around the world. None of them look like the rig Officer Murphy’s riding below, but we’d bet they can lasso bad guys just as well.

Robocop
Word is that’s a Kawasaki ZX-10 beneath all the bodywork in that bike from the 2014 Robocop reboot.Courtesy MGM

We’ve listed each manufacturer’s recent police models, with each OEM’s other recognized or lauded machines from the not-too-distant past. You’ll also find the occasional non-OEM outfit like Victory Police Motorcycles LLC (whose site currently appears to be non-functioning) and Enforcement Motors out there, which exist to retrofit stock bikes for police duty; Enforcement Motors carries a full line of metric OEM-based police motorcycles customized to fit various department’s needs.

Two agencies in the US currently test law enforcement vehicles (for braking, acceleration, vehicle dynamics, fuel efficiency, and ergonomics) and publish the results: the Michigan State Police (MSP) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). BMW, Harley, Honda, Moto Guzzi, Yamaha, and even Victory have all participated in the LASD and MSP tests of recent years, but only three motorcycle manufacturers participated in the 2020 MSP regimen—BMW, Harley-Davidson, and Yamaha.

1911 7-A model
1911 7-A model used by the Berkeley, California, police department.Harley-Davidson Archives

The Birth Of The Cop Bike

You probably expected Harley-Davidson to have delivered the first-ever motorcycle sold for police duty, and that was to the Detroit police department back in 1908 according to the H-D archives. Pictured is a 1911 7-A model used by the Berkeley, California, police department, which is credited with creating one of the earliest official motor patrol units in the United States.

2020 Electra Glide Ultra Classic Police
A familiar sight to plenty of riders all over the US, Harley-Davidson’s police versions of the Road King and Electra Glide have been in consistent use for decades. Pictured is the 2020 Electra Glide Ultra Classic Police.Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson

FLHP, FLHTP, XL 883

Some of us may be far too familiar with Harley’s FLHTP model of the ’90s, having had numerous run-ins back in the day with LA’s finest on their V-twin bruisers (no names, please). ’Course that was many moons ago; the LAPD uses BMWs these days, but plenty of us still get flashbacks every time they see a white Electra Glide.

Harley-Davidson offers three pursuit-rated models for the 2020 model year: the 1,868cc FLHP Police Road King and FLHTP Police Electra Glide, and the 883cc Sportster Iron 883, though other bikes have also been used over the years, and you’ll see many older versions of each of the above still in use. As you might expect, the newest cop cruisers are packed with H-D’s latest electronic features, like RDRS (Reflex Defensive Rider Systems) and H-D Connect, both powered by an oil-cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine claiming to crank out 123 pound-feet of torque. The 2020 FLHP Road King weighs in at about 842 pounds, while the 2020 FLHTP Electra Glide weighs about 844 pounds (plus optional police gear). You’ll see it cruising through plenty of cities and towns around the world, but especially throughout America and Canada, in both huge metro areas as well as tiny communities.

R 1200 RT-P
BMW maintains a huge presence in today’s law enforcement communities globally, with models like the R 1200 RT-P and R 1250 RT-P.BMW Motorrad

BMW Motorrad

R 1250 RT-P; F 850 and F 750 GS-P

A decade ago BMW claimed to be the largest seller of motorcycles for authority use, with 100,000 of its bikes being used in more than 150 countries. Today the marque still packs an oversize presence in law enforcement, with one of the most common bikes in police fleets around the world being the BMW R 1200 RT-P and the updated R 1250 RT-P. The newer model adds displacement and the electronic suspension adjustment option to the standard ABS, traction control, riding modes, and heated handlebar grips of its predecessor among other coveted features.

Like the standard model, the 1250 RT-P packs a 1,254cc, 136-hp flat twin, and boasts all kinds of options for gun racks, radar/lidar equipment, and more. The boys in blue also get a full emergency lighting system including take-down and alley lights, handlebar switch system, and power management for accessories. The R 1200 RT-P was featured in the 2017 CHiPs movie reboot of that cheesy series from the ’70s (you can watch a Motorcyclist riding video of that model here), and various iterations of the RT and F 750 and F 850 GS-P do steady service in America, Britain, Germany, Slovenia, Scandinavia…and on and on and on.

F 850 GS-P
Other popular law enforcement choices worldwide are BMW’s F 750 and 850 GS models. Pictured is the F 850 GS-P.BMW Motorrad
ST1300PA
From its inception, Honda’s ST series has been a police fleet favorite. Here’s the ST1300PA.Honda Motor Co.

Honda

ST1300PA, ST1100, Africa Twin

The popular ST1100 Pan European is still in wide use around the world, but these days the ST1300PA is doing much of Honda’s heavy lifting for the boys (and girls) in blue, with a compact 1,261cc V-4 engine longitudinally mounted for max drivetrain efficiency, a low center of gravity for easier low-speed handling, a specialized handlebar, patrol speedometer, and mounting brackets. A remote preload adjuster makes it a snap to change the suspension settings, and the seat is three-position adjustable; lockable, integrated saddlebags hold 35 liters each, and a special rear cowl and rack offer additional carrying capacity. ABS, a motor-driven, adjustable windscreen, and the 7.7-gallon, dual-section fuel tank round out the list of desirable features. It’s the standard choice for Malaysia and surrounding countries.

Of course you’ll spot the still-capable ST1100 in places like Scotland and Western Australia, while the VFR800P model gets rolled out by Japanese police forces, most commonly for training. We’ve even seen CBX750s in use on Gibraltar and Uzbekistan, as well as CBX500s and even Gold Wings repurposed for traffic duty.

Roland Sands-modified Africa Twin
The Redondo Beach Police Department was the lucky recipient of two Roland Sands-modified Africa Twins back in 2017, with the RSD team rigging both bikes with an Öhlins FFHO 101 fork, Dunlop D908 Rally Raid tires, and the full complement of “cop stuff” including a custom police wiring harness, a locking AR-15 gun mount, AltRider crash bars with custom PA system, laser/radar gun mounts, a SoundOff Signal Blueprint LED police lighting kit, and level IV rifle plate armor.Roland Sands Designs
Concours 14P
The four-cylinder Concours 14P (a.k.a. 1400GTR) was widely used by a variety of police departments before Kawasaki dropped out of the police market in 2012.Kawasaki Motors

Kawasaki

KZ1000P, Concours 14P

No doubt you’re familiar with the KZ—Kawasaki’s KZ1000P and KZ900 C2 were legends in their own time thanks to starring roles in the buddy cop show “CHiPs” (1977–1983). The KZ-P was the police version of the 90-hp air-cooled Kawasaki KZ1000 and was produced in Lincoln, Nebraska, for nearly 25 years (1981 to 2005)—a testament to its durability. Before the bikes made famous by Ponch and Jon were discontinued in 2005, the P-series Police Specials offered run-flat tires, side boxes, a distinctive fiberglass fairing with pursuit lights and windshield, folding footboards, and a larger charging system than civilian-spec models. Then in 2009, the four-cylinder Concours 14 (a.k.a. 1400GTR) came along, and after top scores at the Michigan test, drew the attention of various police departments. The base 1400GTR was well-suited for police duty, with a 1,352cc inline-four that offered 153 hp and 100 pound-feet of torque at 6,200 rpm, and a claimed top speed of more than 170 mph (depending on modifications). The police units weren’t directly manufactured by Kawasaki, but modified through dedicated builders.

KZ-P
The KZ-P had a starring role in the buddy cop TV show “CHiPs,” which ran from 1977–1983. It was the police version of the 90-hp air-cooled Kawasaki KZ1000 and produced in Lincoln, Nebraska.Courtesy Mecum Auctions

Alas, Kawi dropped out of the police market in 2012 (at least in the US) after a number of electrical failures on the Concours. Still, we’ve seen lots of other modified Kawasakis being used around the world for police duty, most notably the Versys and Ninja 650.

Note: No Kawasakis were entered for the 2019/2020 LASD or MSP tests.

V7 California
The bike that kickstarted Guzzi’s coveted status among California motor officers back in the ’70s was the V7 California, similar to this one.Moto Guzzi

Moto Guzzi

California 1400 ABS, Norge 1300 ABS

Four decades after its first historic signing with the LAPD back in the ’70s, Guzzi returned to the US police motorcycle market with yet another California model—this one the updated California 1400 Touring ABS (as well as the Moto Guzzi Norge 1300 ABS). As you probably know, the original California was famously designed in consultation with the Los Angeles Police Department Traffic Division to replace the department’s V7s, and saw duty in the 1970s as a patrol bike.

The California 1400 saw a full redesign for the 2014 model year and performed well enough at the Michigan vehicle test in 2013 that parent company Piaggio decided to reintroduce it to US law enforcement agencies. It also brought in the quicker Norge, meant to compete in the highway patrol segment according to a Moto Guzzi spokesman: “The Norge would be better suited to state highway patrol applications, where they have to travel at high speeds.” We can’t confirm if any US police agencies currently employ Guzzis in their fleets, but they are in use by police fleets in Europe and the Middle East.

Note: No Guzzi models were entered for 2019/2020 LASD and MSP tests.

FJR1300P
The newest bike on the purpose-built police motorcycle model to enter the US market is the FJR1300P from Yamaha.Yamaha Motor Co. LTD

Yamaha

FJR1300P, XJ900P, XJ600P, XV250P

America's newest cop bike is made by Yamaha, who entered the US police bike market in 2018, filling the hole left behind by Kawasaki with the inline-four FJR1300P. The FJR1300P is a police version of the FJR1300 standard model and gets many of the same features, except for the electronically adjustable suspension. The bike is powered by a 1,298cc DOHC inline four-cylinder with 16 valves, and a six-speed transmission to transfer power aided by a multiplate assist-and-slipper wet clutch. The lightweight liquid-cooled engine is rated at a reported 145 hp at 8,000 rpm and 102 pound-feet of torque at 7,000 rpm (a touch more than the stocker), and the bike is configured with a 6.6-gallon fuel tank and LED lighting as well as ABS, traction control, cruise control, and adjustable engine mapping. For added comfort, the FJR1300P brings an adjustable rider seat height and handlebars, as well as an electronically adjustable windscreen. Other features include knuckle visors, wind deflectors, engine guards, and a rear-mounted radio box; police lighting can be configured through the dealer and added at the factory. It’s widely used in Europe, including Germany, the UK, and France.

Yamaha also offers a robust selection of other police-spec’d two-wheelers on its global website, with the XJ900P, the MT09TR, and XJ6SAP models making the rounds as well. There’s even a 250cc Virago-based version, the air-cooled, carbureted XV250P.

XJ900
Since its debut in 1999, thousands of XJ900s have been adopted by police departments in nearly 40 countries. Although getting long in the tooth (it's still carbureted, air-cooled, and runs five gears) you'll still find this bike used by Indonesian and other Asian authorities.Yamaha Motor Co. LTD
XV250P
You can even have an air-cooled cruiser on the beat. According to Yamaha’s website, the “XV250P carries police equipment on a substantial body powered by an economical 250cc engine…coupled with a sturdy body.”Yamaha Motor Co. LTD
Zero DSRP electric
West Coast communities in particular have been stocking Zero’s DSRP electric for use in patrols.Zero Motorcycles

Zero Motorcycles

DSRP, FXP

Oh, the times they are a-changing, for yes, there’s an electric bike to run down the bad guys too. As of late 2018, more than 100 law enforcement agencies had begun using Zero electric motorcycles, and we’d guess there’ll be more coming. Zero Motorcycles offers two models for police use, the DSRP and the FXP. The benefits of electrics are obvious: The machines are virtually silent; can handle on- and off-road terrain with ease; are exhaust-free; and need virtually no maintenance. But there are drawbacks too; a 90 mph high-speed chase can sap the Zero’s battery in just 60 miles, so for now, they’re better used as urban-based short-distance vehicles.

Nevertheless, the DSRP offers 116 pound-feet of torque and 70 hp, and can travel up to 196 miles per charge in those city environments (claimed). The FXP is more compact and nimble than the DSRP, and is better suited for tight, crowded areas, though its motor produces a less forceful 46 hp and 78 pound-feet of torque, propelling the bike up to 88 miles on a charge. The FXP may be lighter, but the DSRP is still probably Zero’s most popular police model. Over the last few years, Zero has also boosted battery capacity and range across much of its lineup, and launched a new high-speed charger option that speeds up charging times.

Commander
Victory’s big push into the police market some years back came in the form of the Cross Country-based Commander, which we last saw being used in Wyoming.Victory Police Motorcycles

Victory

Commander I and II

Although Polaris Industries’ first cruiser company waved the white flag back in 2017, Victory made a serious push at the law enforcement market while it was still in operation, from roughly 2007 until its demise. The touring-based Commander I and Commander II models were police-spec’d conversions of the consumer Cross Country and Cross Roads upfitted for police use, tested in Michigan and Los Angeles and adopted by several smaller agencies. Each Commander sported a 1,731cc engine making 97 bhp.

S3 hoverbike
The S3 hoverbike from California-based Hoversurf is hoping to get a regular beat with the Dubai Police later this year.Hoversurf

HoverSurf

S3 Scorpion hoverbike

How’d you like to catch a glimpse of this in your rearview? Police in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai hope to deploy these electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) hoverbikes by 2020 as a way to allow officers and first responders to reach hard-to-access areas. Liftoff and flight comes courtesy of electric ducted fans and propellers, and a lithium manganese nickel battery allows the hoverbike to fly just 10 to 25 minutes with a pilot. The 253-pound, monocoque-framed Hoversurf is limited to an altitude of 16 feet above the ground, with maximum speed capped at 60 mph, so there are obvious limitations. And, yes, they’re available for sale to anyone—provided they pony up $150,000. Still not sure how this qualifies as “a motorized vehicle for one or two passengers that has two wheels” (Merriam-Webster’s definition of a motorcycle).

HoverSurf
If you’re not quite ready for a hoverbike, rest easy in the knowledge that there are plenty of these two-wheelers still roaming a Main Street nearby.Harley-Davidson