Don’t be surprised if you get pulled over by a police officer riding a motorcycle that you don’t recognize.
For the next year, the Ottawa Police Service will be testing two models of “adventure,” or sport touring, motorcycles as they evaluate whether a move away from their fleet of Harley Davidson’s is warranted.
According to Const. Jon Hall, the OPS master motorcycle instructor in traffic services, the force began questioning whether newer alternatives to the Harley should be introduced to the fleet after Calgary police added eight Suzuki V-Strom bikes to it’s fleet of 15 Harley Davidson motorcycles.
“I guess Calgary Police Service switched half of their fleet to Suzukis and we’re just keeping our minds open on that stuff. See what they can offer,” said Hall. “We’re testing them out for a year and seeing if they serve our purpose or not. Comparing them to the Harley Davidsons.”
The force has secured four motorcycles from Ottawa dealerships, free of charge, for testing purposes. Police have two Suzuki V-Strom bikes, and two Honda Africa Twin motorcycles. The Suzuki’s have already hit the road, but the Honda’s are still being outfitted with the necessary emergency lights and sirens. They are expected to be released for police duty in the coming weeks.
Both bikes are sportier motorcycles than the traditional Harley road cruiser that people are familiar seeing. They will be loaned out to officers on the motorcycle squad over the next year in order to collect feedback and prepare a report that will be sent to the Police Services Board.
Police are responsible for paying for maintenance and any damages that they may cause to the units.
The bikes are lighter and cheaper than the Harleys. However, Hall said, that unlike the Harleys the new models don’t come pre-wired for police lights and sirens, which adds additional cost that bring the final price of the bikes up to a level that’s comparable with their current machines. He also said, the new cycles’ higher centre of gravity is something that some officers may not like.
On the other hand, the new bikes have better acceleration, can be used in some off-road situations and consume less gas than the Harleys do. Hall said the new bikes will not be used in police pursuits, they are exclusively for traffic control and escort duties.
“We’re just looking at those pros and cons,” said Hall. “The purchase price for the civilian model is less expensive, but keep in mind because they aren’t pre-wired, there is an expense to that. How much is it maintenance wise? how much will it cost damage wise? How much more will it cost to outfit them with the proper wiring and the proper lights? Those are all things that will need to be looked at.”
All of the force’s findings will be compiled into a report next summer which will be forwarded to the Ottawa Police Services Board, which will make any final decisions about whether to purchase the new motorcycles and which models.
Hall said one of the surprising early findings is how the new-look police bikes are catching people doing things they shouldn’t.
“I can tell you, because they’re a different look, we’ve been catching a lot more distracted drivers with them. But, we just started riding the Suzukis within the last couple weeks,” he said.
The vehicles also garnered a positive response on the unofficial, but important Twitter index. Hall’s first tweet showing off his new ride garnered almost 200 likes and dozens of retweets.
Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L
Engine: Parallel Twin with 270-degree crank, liquid cooled
Transmission: Manual six speed with slipper clutch, or dual-clutch (twin-clutch) transmission
Wheelbase: 62 inches (1574.8 millimeters)
Weight: 512 pounds (232.24 kilograms) with the manual transmission, or 534 pounds (242.22 kgs) for the dual-clutch version.
Suzuki V-Strom 1000DL
Displacement: 969 cc
Engine: 4-stroke, dual overhead cam, 90-degree V-twin, liquid-cooled
Transmission: Six-speed Automatic
Weight: 232 kg (511.5 lbs)
Harley Davidson Electra Glide Police Edition
Engine: Overhead Valve Twin Cam 103 High Output Vibration Isolated VTwin, air-cooled
Wheelbase: 1625 mm
Weight: 617 kg (1360 lbs)