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Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Coolest Cop Bike?

Robert Emslie February 22, 2011 Hooniverse Asks 41 Comments

Jon and Ponch rode Kawasakis, while in the movie, Electra Glide in Blue, Robert Blake’s bike was, not surprisingly, a Harley. These days, the California Highway Patrol rides BMWs, thanks to that company’s cost-cutting guaranteed buy-back program, and a number of Japanese makers established production capability here in the U.S. to overcome anti-foreign maker sentiment. There have been a lot of bikes that have been part of John Law’s motor pool, but which one do you think has been the most cool?

Sure, cool and the TV show CHiPs don’t go together, and the portrayer of the squeaky clean non-Latino portion of the staring duet only recently had his own brush with the law, but those Kawaski KZ1000s really did look like they were willing to let the good times roll.

One bike for which I always harbored a major jones was Honda’s CX650 Turbo, a bike that looked like a police special, even though I don’t think that here in the U.S. it ever was. One of the major visual cues of most law enforcement bikes is a significant cowl and, typically, full bodywork ending in a pair of roomy saddle boxes on either side of the rear wheel. That bodywork allows for less fatigue on the road, as well as a place to keep your extra clips and zip ties for the hippies.

So, while you probably don’t like to see any of them looming in your rearview, lights a-blaze, there’s no denying the fact that cop bikes are the cool, the question is, which one do you think is the coolest?

Image source: [tampagov.net]

Currently there are 41 comments on this article:

  1. Smells_Homeless says:

    You take that back! CHiPs is the epitome of cool, albeit in a very VERY 70s kind of way. Think about it – that series represents one of the very last visions of Southern California as Fun Central. It presented LA as a clean haven for every kind of fun that you didn't get in the Midwest. Desert racing? Check. Skate parks? Check. Roller disco? Well, okay we had that too, but still. The point is that Ponch and John were protecting what amounted to America's amusement park from cartoon bad guys while riding bitchin' motorcycles, Minis, Chevy stepsides, T/As, etc. Heck, the precinct even had its own drag racing team, even if the bad guys had stolen Grossman's tunnel ram from the speed shop.

    Also, compare California as presented by CHiPs to the SF presented in Bullitt or Dirty Harry. Shit was real in SF, but LA was one giant party.

  2. west_coaster says:

    Most people probably never knew this, but the LAPD used Moto Guzzis in the early 1970s.

    To hear it now, the bikes were horribly unreliable. But at the time, they just seemed so cool and exotic especially to my Cub Scout den when we toured the local station and saw them lined up in the parking lot. I'd see them on the road, and loved that V-twin throb that was definitely different from the Harleys they had used previously.

    This was the same era when their squad cars were AMC Matador 401s, whereas every other department seemed to use Dodges and Plymouths.

    • Tanshanomi says:

      Actually, at the time they weren't any less reliable than the Harleys (not saying too much there), but the real issue is that they were not any better, and were measurably more expensive.

    • CptSevere says:

      Even better, when I was stationed in Italy in the early 80's, the Carabinieri (federal cops, more or less) rode classic 500 horizontal single Moto Guzzis. Like freakin' maniacs, no helmets, with ancient Beretta submachine guns slung crossways over their backs. Whenever we convoyed somewhere in our Deuce and a Halves, they'd escort us, and I'm telling you, those dudes could ride.

  3. engineerd says:

    It can only be the Vincent Black Shadow:

    [youtube wfesJUWRD4k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfesJUWRD4k youtube]

    But only for short sprints.

  4. OA5599 says:

    <img src="http://www.ukemergency.co.uk/police/dsc06670.jpg&quot; width=500>

    Any decent cop bike needs a sidecar for hauling perps back to the station.

  5. Rust-MyEnemy says:

    Norton Interpol 2, used by Her Majesty's finest all through the 80's and until BMWs and Pan-Europeans took over in the 90's.

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/SL-Norton-Interpol.jpg&quot; width=350>

    I'm going to be taken alive, coppa, I want it to be by someone riding an air-cooled wankel rotary powered British bike.

  6. Alff says:

    I'll take Goose's Kwaka, even if it didn't end well for him…

    <img src="http://www.whouse.jp/goose_photo/goose_slideshow/images/05goose_left45front.jpg"width=500&gt;

  7. Tanshanomi says:

    A Dual-sport Guzzi adventure bike is a pretty cool starting point…
    <img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_aANqTQ3FfnQ/Rsq-3ZcFjpI/AAAAAAAACEE/cvL6rICOm6k/IMG_8725.JPG&quot; width="500">

  8. Tanshanomi says:

    And there was at least one forkless GTS1000 used in law enforcement.
    <img src="http://www.gts1000.net/schoenheiten/Pranger.jpg&quot; width="500">

  9. EscortsForever says:

    <img src="http://images.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/20090114/425.paulblartmallcop.hames.kevin.lc.011409.jpg"width="600"&gt;

    hey, it's got two wheels right and malls are always fairly cool, right?

  10. IronBallsMcG says:

    Every time I see one a GTS1000 it sends me into a fit of justifying one as a primary bike.
    Sometimes I wish the odd didn't hold such appeal, but then I guess I wouldn't be here then, would I?

  11. Jimmy7 says:

    <img src="http://www.policemotorunits.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/webassets/36RedCycle.jpg&quot; width="600">
    I love the style of Indians.
    And I'm posting this because I think motorcycle teams is a good subject for Two Wheel Tuesdays. Ladies and gentlemen, the Victor McLaughlen Motor Corps.
    <img src="http://alan927.jalbum.net/Alan927%20Motorcycle%20Racing/In%20Sight/slides/Pyramid.jpg&quot; width="600">

  12. smv says:

    Maybe not the coolest, but not something I'd want chasing me. <img&gt <a href="http://;http://artbikerworld.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/photo.jpg” target=”_blank”>;http://artbikerworld.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/photo.jpg

  13. Slow Joe Crow says:

    The British bikes had the cool names like the Norton Commando Interpol and Triumph Saint, offset by the Velocette LE "noddy bike", but for looks and reliability I'd go for a German police BMW R100RT or R1ooRS with matching antifreeze Green leathers.

  14. P161911 says:

    This should be mandatory for speed enforcement duties:
    <img src="http://www.cycle-helmets.com/imgs/victextmessage.jpg"width=500&gt;

    • Mr_Biggles says:

      We have those here in Toronto, but I'm reasonably sure he would have to cite himself for texting while riding.

    • AlexiusG55 says:

      The Metropolitan police bicycle units are crazy. There was an article in the Evening Standard where an experienced bicycle patrolman described having ridden his bike down the stairs of a Tube station to catch a pickpocket- who promptly gave himself up…

  15. ZomBee Racer says:

    For me the KZ900/1000P will ALWAYS be the coolest cops bikes ever. I still hear the theme-song every time I fire up my own GPz550, and often watch old episodes just to see all the old/new cars and bikes. It's what I've always known a police bike to be, other than the occasional Harley. Our local PD even has some late model Kawasakis still in service.

    In the early 90's I was on I-5 in San Diego with a car full of Japanese friends who barely spoke a lick of English. A pair of CHP bikes overtook us causing my passengers to excitedly blurt out "Ponch & John!" (the Japanese name of CHiPs). Evidently it was wildly popular there too, which I thought was awesome.

    <img src="http://terceiramargemdaestrada.blog.terra.com.br/files/2010/11/chips_tv_show_image_erik_estrada_and_larry_wilcox__2_1.jpg&quot; width ="500" />

  16. vft says:


    Harleys? We don't ride no stinkin' Harleys!

  17. 4DoorNoMore says:

    I fondly remember a Polizei BMW sailing past me at ~220 klicks on a trip to Germany. This would have been around 2001…so R1100RT, probably? Cops in full leathers get the win for me.

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