And the Winner is…

Text: Joetey S. Attariwala • Photography: Joetey S. Attariwala

In keeping with its progressive nature, the Victoria Police Department in Victoria, BC, Canada, set out to select a modern motorcycle for their Traffic Section. While fiscal responsibility has always been a consideration in selecting vehicles for the department, officer comfort and safety are primary concerns, as well as the desire to have a motor that embodies as many current technologies as possible.

Prior to the department's most recent mount, Harley-Davidson's Road King police motorcycles, Victoria Police operated on the BMW K-75. These motorcycles proved to be very capable and popular with officers. The Harleys, albeit popular with some officers and tourists, could not perform like the K-75, or other sport-touring motorcycles. Some of the negative attributes noted include overheating during long idle periods, average brakes, and lackluster performance.

Over a period of months, various makes and models of motorcycles were put through their paces during an in-house selection process, and all members of the department's Traffic Section participated in the testing and selection process. The main denominator in the selection process was safety. However, as police operations are significantly more taxing than civilian riding, comfort, maintenance, acceleration, braking, and handling were also important considerations.

Of the many makes and models considered, the primary contenders were the Yamaha FJR1300 sport-touring motorcycle, the BMW R1150RT-P (police) model, the BMW F650GS-P (police) single-cylinder motorcycle, the Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Nomad, and the Honda ST1300A. All motorcycles tested were evaluated against the department's Harley Road King, and loosely compared to makes operated previously.

The testing process included routine urban duties, the department's in-house motorcycle qualification and training course, and even time at a local racetrack. After riding each model, Traffic Section officers commented and discussed their respective likes and dislikes in a roundtable fashion. Other than the department's qualification and training course, no regimented test or evaluation process was devised. It was hoped that open and frank discussions about each contender's prowess as a police motorcycle would eventually reveal a clear favorite.

The Yamaha FJR1300 had superb acceleration and handling, but was generally found to be uncomfortable to ride over the stretches of time typical of a 10-hour Traffic Section shift.

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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the July/August 2007 back issue.