Managing a Police Fleet

2018 Police Motorcycles Tested in Michigan

October 5, 2017

by Paul Clinton - Also by this author

Photo of H-D Road King by Paul Clinton.
Photo of H-D Road King by Paul Clinton.

Police motorcycles provide an appealing option for law enforcement agencies tasked with highway enforcement – they're more nimble, quick, and carry a lower acquisition cost that a four-wheel option.

Harley-Davidson, BMW, Yamaha, and Zero will offer five base motorcycles for the 2018 model year tested by the Michigan State Police in September. Harley Davidson will offer four "stage kits" to its two bikes that allow agencies to increase performance attributes, and Yamaha will offer a bike that's been used by police in Europe and Australia.

Michigan troopers tested the motorcycles for acceleration, top speed, braking, dynamics, and ergonomics. Let's take a closer look at what's new for 2018.

Harley-Davidson Boosts Performance with Stage Kits

A year ago, Harley-Davidson began testing higher-performance versions of its FLHP Road King and FLHTP Electra Glide. H-D tested bikes with "stage kits" – equipment from the Screamin' Eagle division that can be added at a dealer to enhance performance. A year ago, H-D tested a Stage 3 motorcycle. This year, the company tested Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 4. H-D has begun offering the four variants.

A Stage 1 upgrade increases air flow with a high-flow intake and exhaust components with ECM tuning. Other stage kits build on Stage 1. Stage 2 adds a camshaft change for torque or horsepower, and provides a 24% horsepower improvement.

A Stage 3 upgrade would increase the engine displacement and compression. Its camshaft helps improve horsepower by 39%. A Stage 4 upgrade adds higher flowing upper end components to the increased displacement, compression and properly matched camshaft. This upgrade adds 52% more horsepower.

In testing, the four H-D bikes reached top speeds of 110 mph for the FLHTP Stage 4, 109 mph for the FLHTP Stage 1, 109 mph for the FLHP, and 108 mph for the FLHP Stage 2. The zero-to-60 mph times came in at 4.3 seconds, 5.1 seconds, 5.4 seconds, and 4.8 seconds respectively. The zero-to-100 mph times came in at 11.7 seconds, 16.4 seconds, 20.3 seconds, and 14.5 seconds respectively.

In brake testing, where the motorcycles must come to a full stop from 60 mph, three H-D bikes were closely grouped – the FLHTP Stage 1 at 135.3 feet, the FLHP Stage 2 at 135.33 feet, and the FLHP at 135.52 feet. The FLHTP stopped at 139.18 feet.

Photo of Yamaha FJR1300 by Paul Clinton.
Photo of Yamaha FJR1300 by Paul Clinton.

Yamaha Enters Police Market

Yamaha is introducing its FJR1300 sport touring motorcycle this year. The motorcycle arrives with a factory, rather than dealer-added, police package, said Chris Peterman, Yamaha's motorcycle wholesale operations manager.

The FJR1300 is a police version of a retail bike, and crosses over most of the features, except the electronically adjustable suspension. Police lighting can be configured through the dealer and added at the factory.

The bike is powered by a 1298cc liquid cooled DOHC inline-four cylinder with 16 valves. It uses a six-speed transmission with a multiplate assist-and-slipper wet clutch.

In Michigan testing, the FJR1300 reached a top speed of 143 mph, which was the top mark. The bike reached zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and zero to 100 mph in 9.2 seconds. Both of those were also top marks. The bike needed 142.9 feet to stop from 60 mph, which was seventh.

Photo of BMW R 1200 RT-P by Paul Clinton.
Photo of BMW R 1200 RT-P by Paul Clinton.

BMW Adds Traction Control for Cornering

BMW's R 1200 RT-P returns for 2018 with several updates, including ABS Pro, which offers better traction control around a corner. The motorcycle can also now run on 87 octane fuel due to updated engine programming.

The R 1200 RT-P reached a top speed of 135 mph, which was second of the seven tested. It's zero to 60 was 4.1 seconds, and its zero to 100 mph was 9.8 seconds. The increments were also second best. The motorcycle topped brake testing with 130.04 feet.

Editor's note: This version corrects an earlier version that mistakenly listed braking distances in inches. This article does not include information about police vehicle testing by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.


  1. 1. Scott [ October 19, 2017 @ 09:37AM ]

    Someone misunderstood the braking distances. Braking distances of 130-140 feet are normal and take just over 2 seconds to complete with a good rider.

    Saying they stopped in 130-140 inches is physically impossible. A bike is travelling 87 feet per second at 60 mph and to stop in 130 inches would have to stop in .08 seconds.

  2. 2. Harlan [ February 16, 2018 @ 07:07AM ]

    Things you forgot to include, purchase price, maintenance cost and by-back programs. The Yamaha and BMW are far above the others. With the 3k plus to make the 900lb HD motor even come close the choice is clear. Law enforcement solos are some of the best riders in the world and deserve the best. Riding around cones in a parking lot is not the same as riding with crazy people for 8 hours a day. Sorry, the HD doesn't compare.

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Paul Clinton

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Paul is the senior web editor for Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet, Green Fleet, Vehicle Remarketing, and Work Truck. He has covered police vehicles for Police Magazine.

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