City motorists will soon see a newer and sleeker presence keeping Calgary’s roads safe.
Considered a universal part of any traffic cop’s motor pool, the city’s fleet of 15 Harleys will soon be joined by eight brand new Suzuki V-Strom “adventure bike” motorcycles — a sportier breed of bike than the traditional road cruiser.
“It’s kind of your SUV of motorcycles,” said Insp. Ken Thrower, the city’s top traffic cop.
“It’ll go on-road, off-road, dirt, hill — wherever you want to go.”
Last year, CPS took delivery of two Suzuki V-Strom 650DLs to see how they fit into their existing motor pool, currently consisting of 15 police-package Harley-Davidson Road King and Electra-Glides.
Response from city motorcycle officers was overwhelmingly positive, Thrower said — especially among officers from the UK, who found the nimble Japanese bikes a familiar experience to those they rode back home.
Approval was granted to the Traffic Section to order an additional six bikes — upgrading the order to the larger-engined 1000DL models, addressing concerns the 650s were somewhat under-powered to meet the needs of Calgary police.
Police expect to have the new bikes on the road this summer.
Calgary’s one of the few police forces in Canada to add the Suzukis to their motorcycle fleet, a move Thrower said will add versatility to the city’s traffic unit.
“There’s advantages to that … having to go down gravel roads in the city, or having to go into parks looking for missing children, rescue missions, floods, any sort of disaster,” he said.
Calgary traffic cops had a chance to try out the new bikes during a pre-season skills session on Friday, and the response was positive.
“I love the bike — personally I prefer it on patrol,” said Const. Kevin Starblanket, a senior Calgary motorcycle officer.
“They’re a little bit more forgiving and easier to use — they’re powerful enough, they’re nimble enough, and we can go places we couldn’t get with the Harley.”
While impressed with what he’s seen of the Suzukis, Harleys hold a special place in Sgt. Dale Seddon’s heart — both as a cop and a rider.
“The Harley-Davidson’s the typical prototype for police motorcycles,” he said.
“It’s got that cool factor, so I really like that motorcycle, but I know the Suzuki’s got a bit more mobility to it — it’s lighter-weight so some guys might like that, but the Road King’s the bike for me.”
Aside from weighing nearly 400 lbs. less than the Harleys, the Suzukis are also half the cost — making the bikes a sensible addition to the fleet, Thrower said.
“At first, there was some head-turning going on, we had some guys who were staunch Harley-Davidson riders, but once they rode them for a bit, they were sold.” he said.
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Suzuki V-Strom 1000DL
Displacement: 969 cc
Engine: 4-stroke v-twin, liquid-cooled
Weight: 236 kg (520 lb)
CPS motorcycle officer facts
- All Calgary police traffic officers are required to be motorcycle trained
- PatroTraffic enforcement
- Radar speed enforcement
- Parades and special events
- VIP/funeral escorts
- Search and rescue
- Missing persons
- Evidence collection