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2012-10-22 09:54

BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS, WHATCHA GONNA DO: Dave Fall considers why SA traffic cops sport such a variety of bikes in their pursuit of criminals.



CAPE TOWN - It’s often crossed my mind when I come across a South African traffic cop on his motorcycle why they seem to use so many different brands as they go about their business.

One day they are on BMW’s, the next Honda Pan Europeans, the next, well, who knows what as they appear to sneak up on motorists like ghosts in the night, illuminating their blue lights only at the last second.

Back in the 1960's I got to know the County Constabulary traffic police in my area of the UK quite well. It wasn’t that I broke the law on a regular basis and was brought to book, it was simply that I worked night shift at a print shop and frequented the same roadside café as the cops during my "lunch" break.


I used to ride a Triumph Speed Twin, a bike, incidentally much loved by the fuzz on their Triumph Saints (Bonnevilles with a single carburetor, in case you were wondering) but boy, could they go when required!

Woe betide anybody who tried to outrun them on the freeway into London. Take a chance in your Jaguar E-type, for instance ,and the constabulary would be on your case, even if they had to call up their Daimler Dart SP250 for help.

I mention the above because I’ve just come across a report issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in its quest to evaluate new motorcycles for its police. Every motorcycle manufacturer was given a chance to put forward their suggestions. but the department whittled down the list to seven bikes.

The final selection (in no particular order):
2011 BMW R1200 RT-P
2012 Kawaski Concours 14 abs
2012 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide
2012 Harley-Davidson Road King
2011 Honda ST-1300 PA
2012 Victory Vision
2012 Victory Commander 1

Another patriotic US manufacturer which made the list was Victory with its Commander I and Vision machines.


Reading through the report, it was interesting to discover the evaluation protocol that meant the above manufacturers and their bikes put forward were subjected to a 32-lap high-speed course, a pursuit course and a braking test where the rider had to “hit the brakes at 75km/h on a dry/wet road”.

The bikes were also subjected to a heat evaluation (every SA rider knows about this horrid anomaly, especially if a fairing is fitted to the bike) and fuel efficiency.

Before I tell you the winner you might like to know the HD Road King came out tops in the 100km/h to zero brake test, but came up short on lean angle, go figure!

Over the 252km fuel effieciency test, the Kawasaki Concours took top honours with a fuel comsumption figure of 6.9 litres/100km.

The Honda Pan European was tops for riding comfort but the demanding pursuit course (a five km circuit in downtown LA) sorted the men from the boys and the BMW proved the best all-round machine to catch American criminals.

So there you have it, you’ve been warned: perhaps it doesn’t really matter which bike the cops use when blue lights are flashing, they’re sure to catch you as you run a red traffic light or speed along just a little too quickly for your own good.


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