Photo of California 1400 by Paul Clinton.

Photo of California 1400 by Paul Clinton.

Milan-based Piaggio S.p.A. has begun offering its Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring ABS and Moto Guzzi Norge 1300 ABS motorcycles to U.S. law enforcement agencies.

The Moto Guzzi brand makes a return to the police market after four decades, from when it was used by the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1970s as a patrol motorcycle. The agency once issued a California 1400 ancestor known as the Moto Guzzi V7 Police.

The current Moto Guzzi motorcycles performed well enough at the Michigan State Police's annual vehicle testing in September, leading to Piaggio's decision to reintroduce the cycles to U.S. law enforcement, according Michael Babich, Piaggio's corporate sales manager. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department tested the two cycles this month.

The California 1400 underwent a full redesign for the 2014 model year. Moto Guzzi motorcycles are in use by police agencies in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Babich told Government Fleet.

"Because of our involvement in law enforcement around the world and the reintroduction of the California, we decided to put our feet in the water and try to get a part of this business," Babich said. "At the Michigan testing, we performed well."

The California is a cruiser-type cycle powered by a 1400cc engine that would compete with Harley-Davidson's Road King and Electra Glide. It arrives with a clear windshield rather than a batwing faring.

Photo of Norge 1300 by Paul Clinton.

Photo of Norge 1300 by Paul Clinton.

The Norge is a sport-touring cycle powered by a 1200cc engine that's about 50 pounds lighter than the California. It would compete with the BMW R1200-RTP. Both cycles offer ABS braking and traction control.

"The Norge would be better suited to state highway patrol applications, where they have to travel at high speeds," Babich said. "When you look at the CHP, most of the guys ride BMWs because of the aerodynamics of the bike."

Currently, Piaggio only offers a police package for the Norge. The manufacturer is developing a police package for the redesigned California, which debuted in the spring, Babich said.

By Paul Clinton