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CHP Adopts Harley-Davidson for Highway Enforcement

The H-D Electra Glide will begin rolling out for highway enforcement in California.

August 21, 2013  |  by - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of Mike Genthner.
Photo courtesy of Mike Genthner.
An Oakland Harley-Davidson dealer has begun delivering Harley-Davidson police motorcycles to the California Highway Patrol following a contract with the agency to provide up to 400 new motorcycles.

The state signed an initial purchase order for 120 Harley-Davidson FLHTP Electra Glide motorcycles so the agency can begin replacing aging BMWs that now make up its fleet of enforcement motorcycles. The contract was awarded May 15.

The agency performed an extensive evaluation of the H-D Electra Glide at its West Sacramento facility after the state cancelled a 2010 purchase order for Kawasaki Concours 14P motorcycles after that cycle was pulled from the market in August 2012.

The Oakland H-D dealership has begun delivering five bikes per week and plans to have all 120 delivered by the spring, said Mike Genthner, H-D Oakland dealer principal.

The agency will receive 32 Electra Glides from model-year 2013; the remainder will be model-year 2014 cycles.

The C.H.P. chose the Electra Glide over the H-D Road King because it has a faring that provides the officer better protection and offers more real estate to mount speakers and other police equipment, Genthner told POLICE Magazine.

The police Electra Glide cycles bear many similarities to the civilian versions, including the V-twin 103cc engine, and have been upgraded for police use. The dealer is changing out the stock cam for H-D's SE-255 Cam kit to increase torque and "give it a bit more out of the hole, more horsepower, and more top-end speed," Genthner said.

The bikes also include a robust charging system, heated hand guards and grips, and a push-to-talk system.

Tags: Harley-Davidson, Motorcycles, Police Vehicle Dealers, California Highway Patrol, BMW


Comments (22)

Displaying 1 - 22 of 22

JimB. @ 8/23/2013 7:47 AM

Ugg, I hate harleys.

Capt. Crunch @ 8/23/2013 9:30 AM

Nice Hog. When you ride a Harley "you the boss".

Carlson @ 8/23/2013 9:47 AM

Why would they buy these? They really couldn't find a modern bike? Harleys still have push rods!!! Maybe CHP brass just wanted to make sure their motor officers do not chase anyone.

James @ 8/23/2013 1:55 PM

About time...........American police on foreign bikes, what a shame. Carlson and Jim B. are not worthy of riding an American Icon, stick to your foreign crud, we dont want you riding a legend!!!

josh @ 8/27/2013 7:21 PM

Your right we should be riding American motors but when will the U.S manufacture a motor that's not over priced, is built with speed to run traffic. When its time to get new motors I'm gonna push for the victory. I want American built but Harley is over rated n over priced. Love the Victory and the ride is AMAZING!!!!.

CubsFan @ 8/27/2013 8:38 PM

You naysayers out there probably drive Toyotas & yearn for foreign patrol cars too. American cops should drive American cars & ride American motors. After all, Harley was making police bikes when these import companies were not even in business. Besides, it's nice to support our own country whenever possible. Bravo CHP!!!

Wolverine @ 8/28/2013 6:27 PM

Chp had to go to Harleys because of how the state bid process works. Which is that they have to go with the lowest bidder. Harley has a way of lowering the price to take the bids. LAPD has Harley Davidson bikes with lots of issues...including cracked frames and a large amount of their fleet out due to service problems. I have spoken to many officers who do not like the bikes. Harleys can barely reach a 100mph....That should be interesting to chase a vehicle at high speed when the officer is at a standstill doing radar enforcement and then has to accelerate from a stop to catch a speeder....Good luck with that!!! Harleys are great cruiser bikes....just not good police bikes.

T.J. @ 8/28/2013 6:52 PM

All of those that are knocking the Harley has not really looked at the new Harley. The Department testing is not based on name or origin of Manufacture. It is based on performance and safety. There are also more Foreign Countries that ride the Harley Police Motorcycle because they are just that good.

They should get the facts before showing how little knowledge they possess.

Ret. @ 8/28/2013 8:58 PM

A Honda ST1300 was my issued motor but I envied the next city that was riding Harley Road Kings. The HDs get up and go just fine, as we would work laser together on the border. Never once did I EVER “need” to get up to 100. My old Kawi definitely could not have made it to 100 either and never lost a GSXR or an import racer. I guess its all in the rider and not the bike.

Sam Johannes @ 8/29/2013 10:00 AM

Did they evaluate or even look at BMW police bikes? The beemers are a wonderful ride. More modern engineering and design. And they look sharper than the H-D as well.

J. Charles @ 8/29/2013 10:13 AM

It is ridiculous to choose the cheapest bike rather than the best one. The initial cost of the book is dwarfed by the costs of fuel, maintenance, and of course personnel. Why not choose the best bike? And I've never seen a head-to-head test where the H-D came out on top of Honda, BMW, Kawasaki.

Motor2of7 @ 8/29/2013 1:06 PM

CHP will end up regretting this decision. LAPD proved through many years of use that the per mile total cost of ownership is lower for BMW than Harley. They're now undergoing their second fleet-wide inspection for cracked frames. It only figures that the dysfunctional CA procurement system would ignore such data and spend our money unwisely. I'll also bet, that given the poor condition of our roads in CA, and the limited suspension of a Harley, that many officers will end up with disability claims for back problems.
Riding a Harley for pleasure is one thing. Riding one for 10 hours a day month after month is another thing entirely. I currently ride a Harley for enforcement and a BMW for personal use. Harley's are surprisingly nimble but they're heavy, hot and the vibration is tiring. They're best for long distances in relatively straight lines, not enforcement riding in and out of traffic.

Rev. Lowrey @ 8/29/2013 2:51 PM

I ride a 76 Shovelhead and love it. It won't go over 75 and starts shaking like crazy at about 65 so my highway speed is 60 unless I want to pick up parts all along the way. I usually put on about 500 miles per week in warmer weather, but do ride all year round.
To me, the post 84 Harleys don't shake at all. They are like riding on a cloud and cruise plenty fast.
I don't think many parts of a modern Harley are made in the USA and suspect that Honda likely assembles in the USA also.
If the issue is supporting American workers then the Brand should be less important as the place of assembly as every company uses parts from practically everywhere but the USA.
If I was going to ride for work, especially police work, I think I would want something much more nimble than a full cruiser.

tagshin @ 9/2/2013 4:24 AM

I now own both Harley XL 1200 and Kawasaki 1400 for personal use. I used to own BMW R1150RT-P and Kawasaki 1000P. All of them have strength and weakness. But I prefer Kawasaki 1400 for its power and nimbleness.

RetdNY @ 9/6/2013 12:01 AM

With regard to the comments on buying American, I found that most LEOs(local, state) in my area were anti(non-police)-union, and voted Republican most of the time. Union-busting was one of the main reasons why manufacturing went overseas, and why so little is made here in the USA. Is the attitude of active LEOs towards worker unions any different today? Amusing!

PhilS @ 9/11/2013 1:39 PM

CHP really doesn't have a lot of say in the bid process. The California Department of General Services handles the procurement process; CHP is just the customer. DGS has never liked the idea of the CHP riding the "expensive BMW." This year, DGS gamed the bid process by requiring a pre-paid service contract at the final hour. BMW had no such program and withdrew from the bid process. The HD bid was $4,000.00 more than the BMW. The pre-paid service contract, at $5,000.00 for 13 services over 60,000 miles, is anything but a good deal for the state. Bottom line is that if the entire 400 unit purchase is completed, California is paying an extra $1.6 million to ride a motorcycle that has nowhere near the performance for highway traffic enforcement of the BMW. One only hopes that none of the CHP motor officers, whose only enforcement riding experience is on the BMW or Concours, is injured or killed attempting to ride an HD with the same expectations.

Glen @ 9/21/2013 8:24 PM

I spent many years on the Road King for work in the city I retired from. The Harley held up very well and took a lot of abuse in the course of duty and training. I will not argue that the BMW is faster. Most departments, if not all, discourage the use of a motor unit in pursuits, although it can happen. I had my share and never lost a car on city streets. I don't believe for one second that this bike will result in a higher claim of injuries. The officer should know the limitations of his or her bike.

Patrick Daly @ 10/14/2013 8:15 PM

All this bias against the HD I find amusing. Particularly interesting is that the CHP machine hasn't hit the street in enough numbers to determine actual fleet costs or "shortcomings" but yet folks are already throwing stones. Naturally there is going to be some differences. Any machine (car or otherwise) in law enforcement service is going to be subjected to heavy use. Some machines perform better than others while others that do "OK" aren't as expensive to operate. Only time will tell. The BMW did well but wasn't the most AWESOME in all categories. Maintenance costs/downtime put BMW in a league of their own. Falling over opposite its side stand was a $5K incident. A clutch job was a 2 day ordeal and major tear down was required. Battery replacement was not a simple task either. A dealer service department that could put out good service or repair to fix a problem the "1st time" were hard to find. Many U.S. and foreign dept's have been using HD for years. Lets give it 24 months.

West @ 2/12/2014 1:10 PM

Cost should be less of a factor than safety. The sound levels alone make the HD a workplace safety issue. It's terribly loud when accelerating and above 70mph. The heavy slow HD simply allows a interstate speeder a longer distance to get down the road. The motor officer has to then acclerate longer and harder to catch up. The quicker BMW can acclerate and close the distance quicker without requiring higher speeds.

Roddger McEwan @ 4/3/2014 3:22 PM

First off let me say there are more HD police motorcycles in use in the US than all the other brands out together, way more. And to the guys that are slamming the Harley's...have you ridden one lately, the new bikes are light years ahead of bikes from just three or four years ago. This isn't the last time the CHP will use Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. You want to discuss cost of maintenance, the BMW's were in the shop constantly for recurring issues. I spoke with a CHP officer less than three weeks ago whose BMW was in the shop for a new clutch, the cost $ 2,000.00 and three days out of service,
for the third time. Not cheap.

Trucker @ 5/1/2014 1:17 PM

When I was trucking, about once a month I would go to Laredo Texas and pick up a load of Harley motors bound for the Milwaukee assembly plant. Even American motorcycles aren't made in America.

DLS @ 5/22/2014 2:50 PM

Most of you guys have no idea what your talking about on this issue. I ride for the CHP now. This is a good bike and does everything required for enforcement. I have rode all the bikes since 1995 starting with Kawasaki through all 3 BMW series. The BMW is a great bike but is very expensive for service and repair. The Harley performs as well in low speed and is quicker until 90-100 mph and is only 5-10 mph slower on top. Some guys complain about Harley but they have never been on one before. We get what the state buys and the bikes are tested. If it passes we ride them. There is always a reluctance to change like when we changed to BMW from Kawasaki. This bike is a Great ride performs well and looks great. I have 9000 miles on mine and have no complaints. There is a wobble occasionally at high speeds but that problem is gone with some adjustments at the shop. If your a good rider then you adjust adapt and do your job!

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