In the world of US law enforcement, police on big, heavy bikes patrol the roads. Loaded up with lots of specialized equipment, the general “rule” was that big, powerful gasoline powered bikes are necessary to handle the rigors of patrol.
Currently, more than 4,000 police departments around the US use big gasoline-powered bikes. Harley-Davidson and BMW make up the vast majority of these bikes.
But it appears that there are two wheel predators out there. Companies like California’s Zero Motorcycles are making headway into the market for police bikes. Zero claims they are the world’s most successful and largest manufacturer of e-Bikes. It’s this leverage that may help them move deeper into the police motorcycle market.
They claim to have sold e-bikes to 125 police departments in the US. That’s only a small portion of the police departments across the US, but it shows that they are making inroads into law enforcement.
For law enforcement purposes, having an e-Bike provides tactical advantages. Zero boasts that with no gears, clutch or noise, their bikes are easy to operate and improve officer situational awareness. e-Bikes have instant torque from 0 RPM, idle silently and can handle non-paved surfaces better and more easily. Stealthy approaches are much easier when your vehicle emits almost no noise from its engine or exhaust.
Depending on the “mission”, Zero offers police, several different models. Police can select different models from urban to off-road duties. Agencies can pick and choose from a number of options as well.
Big Bikes In Danger?
So will all police bikes soon be electric? It’s not likely since internal combustion engine bikes have a long and storied tradition in police departments. One police department motor officer was quoted as saying:
“Other than the fact that you are balancing on two wheels, they are very different motorcycles. We need to go from stop to 110 miles per hour and back to a full stop all day long to do our business every day. The Zero’s not a motorcycle for that.”
That officer has a very good point. For many law enforcement duties, waiting hours for a charge just is not in the cards. Perhaps as battery technology improves, the full charge operating longevity will meet law enforcement’s daily demands.
Even Zero’s Company Sales Director, Kevin Hartman said:
“We aren’t going after those frontline motorcycles like the Harleys. We have positioned ourselves as another tool for law enforcement.”
So for the present, it seems Zero is OK with its niche role. But as battery technology increases, so may the number of police issued e-Bikes. With Zero teasing a totally new e-Bike platform just this week, it will be interesting what the future brings.