Harley-Davidson's Electra Glide was one of four police motorcycles tested by the Michigan State Police. Photo courtesy of MSP.
Kawasaki's Concours 14P ABS motorcycle turned heads when it was relaunched in May (Kawasaki initially introduced it in 2009), and may have generated the most off-line conversations at this year's Michigan State Police vehicle testing.
Kawasaki converted its civilian Concours 14, adding a tighter turning radius, extra storage, and other police-specific features for motor officers and won the MSP event's Triple Crown of top speed, acceleration, and braking.
Powered by a four-stroke DOHC multi-valve engine that generates 150 horsepower and 100 foot-pounds of torque at 6200 RPM, the Concours 14P can fly.
The driving unit, which has been testing motorcycles since 2007, also tested BMW's R1200 RTP, Harley-Davidson's Road King, and H-D's Electra Glide. Honda's ST1300 isn't tested because a test vehicle isn't provided to the unit.
The Concours 14P recorded the highest speed of the four bikes tested, reaching 131 mph on the 4.8-mile speedway. BMW's bike reached a top speed of 127 mph. H-D's Road King and Electra Glide topped out at 108 mph and 106 mph respectively.
Kawasaki's bike also reached 0-60 mph fastest, hitting the mark at 4.5 seconds. The increment was good enough to nudge BMW's R1200, which reached the mark in 4.7 seconds. The Road King and Electra Glide recorded times of 5.76 and 5.97 seconds.
Because motorcycles are intrinsically more challenging for riders and require specialized skills, acceleration from a dead stop to catch speeders can at times present more perils to the motor officer, according to Sgt. John Steele of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's motorcycle training detail.
"We're looking for a motorcycle to get up to that [0-60 mph] time frame and do it safely," Steele says. "You have to look at the big picture."
Kawasaki's police bike also reached a dead stop from 60 mph quickest of the motorcycles, needing 141 feet to stop. BMW's bike, which also arrives with ABS, was close behind, needing 142.9 feet. Harley's Road King needed 148.1 feet, while the Electra Glide needed 150.5 feet.
In addition, the bikes were tested at the state police headquarters on a one-mile road course, laid out with nine different curves or turns to enhance performance riding. Evaluators consider a bike's weight, speed, and "lean angle" as it runs through the turns. The course includes turns in four categories: constant radius, increasing radius, decreasing radius, and "S" or switchback turns. Turn 7 is a wide sweeping curve known as "the sweeper."
Motor officer training is "one of the toughest schools you can send an officer to," says David "Doc" Halliday, former commander of the MSP's Precision Driving Unit. "It's physically demanding. It's mentally challenging."
The Vehicles Tested
This year's tests were held Sept. 18-20 and included motorcycles submitted by Kawasaki, Harley-Davidson, and BMW.
BMW R1200 RTP
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide
Harley-Davidson Road King
Kawasaki Concours 14P ABS
VIDEO: Michigan Vehicle Tests: 2011 Kawasaki Concours 14P
Kawasaki Edges BMW at Michigan State Police Motorcycle Test