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MOTORCYCLE EVALUATIONS – LA COUNTY


February 27, 2013
By Morley Lymburner

2370 words – MR

Police motorcycle ratings

by Morley Lymburner

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department first began testing police motorcycles in 2008 and its findings have become internationally recognized. Its latest test was conducted in October on 2012 models.

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What makes the LA County tests highly credible is the process, which includes real-world tests under patrol conditions. Four officers drive each motorcycle through a 157 mile (250 Km.) loop covering 33 miles of city streets, 75 miles of freeways, 20 miles of coastal highway and 29 miles of mountain canyons. Riders also perform a minimum of ten simulated traffic stops on city streets, each at least two minutes long, and then accelerate back into the flow of traffic.

All major manufacturers were invited to participate and six models were submitted by BMW, Harley-Davidson, Honda and Victory – 2012 BMW R 1200 RT-P, 2012 Honda ST 1300-PA, 2012 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Special, 2012 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, 2012 Harley-Davidson Road King and the 2012 Victory Commander 1. All completed the test satisfactorily.

The two Harley-Davidson motorcycles varied in that the “Special” edition had a water cooled engine. There were only minor variations in performance between the two and this report only gives numbers for the standard air-cooled versions as a comparison with other motorcycles submitted.

The final report produced includes not only statistical analysis but also rider comments. What follows is an aggregate of comments made by four evaluators and more about each bike.

BMW R 1200 RT-P

This is a full size, 1170cc, air cooled, two cylinder sport touring, police package motorcycle.

Acceleration 0-100 km/h = 4.52 seconds

Fuel average consumption = 41.0 mpg

{Comments}

Brakes – Outstanding brake system, levers and pedal provide nice range for operation. ABS smooth, no fade.

Cornering/handling – Excellent cornering, great lean angle. Counter steering was quick and responsive.

Transmission (shift points) – Shifter is positioned to accommodate a variety of foot positions. Smooth and easy, gear ratio matched power bands through all gears.

Engine – Powerful, smooth and controllable. Response quick and consistent from throttle input, strong usable power.

Other – Having the gear selection on the LED screen was a plus during hard, fast deceleration.

{250 KM ride comments}

The seat’s padding and width was sufficient to provide all day comfort. Seat is adjustable by a small hinged bracket under seat. Foot pegs, toe shifter and brake lever are well positioned, felt natural and were easy to use. The lean angle is high and supports turning the motorcycle in slow, tight maneuvers.

The controls/instruments are positioned well and are easy to use. The dials are recessed slightly and shadowed from the direct sun light, allowing the rider to easily refer to them at a glance.

Mirrors are mounted on the outer lower edge of the fairing and provide adequate visibility with no distortion. Adjusting is easy with a light touch to the corners and, once adjusted, hold position.

The wind screen provided excellent protection from debris/wind. The controls are easy to use and the option provides comfort when you need air. Clarity was good with a slight bit of distortion. No helmet buffeting or turbulence.

The handlebars provide a natural riding position. Nicely spaced apart, switches are easy to use and identify. The pedals/levers are positioned well and provide the rider with ease of use and confidence in their feel.

The trunk is noticeably high in relation to rider, requiring a high leg swing to mount/dismount bike. The foot pegs are in a comfortable position and do not interfere with the rider mount/dismount. The side stand is easy to find and provides a quick, stable platform.

The suspension provides a smooth, comfortable ride. The dampening is adjustable by removing the seat and dialing in the desired setting. The suspension minimizes lift and dive under hard acceleration and braking, maintaining a firm predictable line through the corners.

This motorcycle provides the rider with confidence and is surprisingly agile in all aspects of enforcement riding. Great acceleration and torque through the entire RPM range. This motorcycle is inspiring to ride and definitely takes care of the rider.

Honda ST 1300-PA

Full size, sport touring, police package motorcycle, 1261cc liquid cooled 90 degree V-4.

Acceleration 0-100 km/h = 4.41 seconds

Fuel average consumption = 48.6 mpg

{Comments}

Brakes – Lever and rear pedal are adjustable, providing a comfortable range of operation.

Cornering/handling – Handle bars are positioned right for aggressive riding. Steering was quick and responsive.

Transmission (shift points) – Shifts nicely during upshift and downshift without issue. Shifting ratio is nicely spaced to provide good power range.

Engine – Solid, usable torque. Solid power at both high and low RPM’s.

{250 KM ride comments}

The seat is large and well-padded, with three settings for height adjustment. Riding position lean angle was slightly forward, putting the handlebars within easy reach. The application of the foot gear shifter and brake pedal function was easy in all conditions.

The instrument cluster is configured with analog dials for speedometer and tachometer, coupled with an LED display window for a wide variety of functions. All are positioned for ease of viewing and function very well but are dimly lit, making them difficult to read in bright sun.

The mirrors are positioned for good reference to the rear with absolutely zero vibration during dynamic or static mode and were easily adjustable.

The windscreen is electrically operated via a rocker switch on the left handlebar. It provided good wind and debris protection. Wind protection is excellent, zero buffeting at high speeds.

The handlebars have a “pull back” design, allowing the rider to sit back slightly while still maintaining that aggressive seated position. The switches were small and numbered but easily reachable and provided good functionality. The foot shifter was well placed, allowing for solid up and down shifts with ease. The rear brake pedal positioning and configuration is consistent with the style of motorcycle, allowing for ease of application. Controls provided good feedback from roadway surface.

Trunk height on the Honda wasn’t objectionable. There was ample leg swing room while mounting and dismounting from either side of the bike. The foot pegs did not interfere at all. Side stand length was adequate to safely support the motorcycle at a proper lean angle.

The ride was very comfortable and smooth at all speeds. The suspension was solid and predictable in corners.

The motorcycle has more than enough power, which is solidly dispersed through a wide torque range. It was very agile on twisty roads; the engine was very responsive in any gear.

Harley-Davidson Electra Glide

Full size, touring, police package motorcycle, 103 cu in, air/oil cooled, 2 cylinders, Twin Cam

Acceleration 0-100 km/h = 5.87 seconds

Fuel average consumption = 34.1 mpg

{Comments}

Brakes – Levers and pedal provide good range of motion. Consistent stopping distances through entire run.

Cornering/handling – Handle bar rotation is neutral. Hold line diminished lean angle, does not allow very aggressive cornering.

Transmission (shift points) – Solid shifting up and down. Heel/toe shift lever is positioned well.

Engine – A lot of torque through all the gears. Strong usable power at lower RPM’s, pulls out of corners very good.

{250 KM ride comments}

The seat was very wide and the padding firm. The seating position is upright in a comfortable riding position. The placement of the footboards allows plenty of room for foot movement. The foot controls are positioned in a standard configuration for this style of motorcycle and are easily accessed with either foot.

The instrument cluster was mounted above the handlebars within the handlebar mounted fairing. All instruments are positioned for ease of viewing and do not fall short of that purpose. Various status changes were indicated by the illumination of very tiny warning lights that were very difficult to read while riding.

The mirrors are positioned for good reference to the rear. Visibility was nonexistent while sitting stopped in traffic due engine vibration. The mirrors remained adjusted throughout the evaluation ride.

The top of the fairing mounted windscreen is positioned well below eye level and offers more than adequate wind protection.

The large handle bars allow for a natural bend of the elbows, permitting an upright seating position. The handlebars provided good feedback of roadway surface and transition from side to side with ease. The rear brake pedal was positioned above the floor board and was easy to use while drivers rested their heel on the floor board. The front brake lever and the clutch lever were within easy reach, providing good rider feedback. The heal/toe shifter is well placed, with large rubberized controls on both.

Very easy to mount and dismount on either side. The lean angle is diminished slightly, resulting in the foot boards making contact with the roadway surface during higher speed cornering. Side stand length provided a good lean angle to securely park the motorcycle.

The suspension offered a very firm quality ride. The motorcycle had a generally rough ride and tended to bounce harshly when riding over more severe road conditions. The suspension was predictable in the corners.

The motorcycle had quick, smooth acceleration and shifted up through the gears nicely. Great power with lots of usable performance at low and high speeds. The fairing mounted cluster brought the instruments back up to just below eye level, which added a degree of safety for the operator.

Harley-Davidson Road King

Full size, touring, police package motorcycle, 103 cu in, air/oil cooled, 2 cylinders, Twin Cam

Acceleration 0-100 km/h = 5.79 seconds

Fuel average consumption = 40.6 mpg

{Comments}

Brakes – Provides quick and consistent stopping power. No fade or variation in stopping.

Cornering/handling – Handle bars rotate smoothly and provide good feedback. Handles well during aggressive cornering. Lean angle slightly diminished due to foot boards.

Transmission (shift points) – Good gear ratios. Shifter works well in both heel/toe methods. Consistent shifts, with no missed shifts.

Engine – Low end torque pulled really hard, flattened out in upper range. Smooth, consistent power out of corners.

{250 KM RIDE COMMENTS}

The seat is firm and comfortable, supported by a spring and shock absorber, which provides good support. The seat is positioned slightly forward of the center of the bike, positioning the rider up on the lower end of the tank, making the rider constantly adjust seating position. The foot controls are well placed to allow for good manipulation. Floorboards are close to the ground with minimal road clearance when lean angles are input in the handlebars.

The controls are easy to use and easily identified. The lighted display was dim and hard to read in the bright sun.

The mirrors are attached to the handlebars and provide good field of view to the rear of the rider. Mirrors do not hold adjustment and are almost unusable when at an idle due to the vibrations.

The wind screen is rounded at the top and hard mounted to the handle bar fairing. It provides good protection from debris and wind at low speed, however rider experienced helmet buffeting at higher speeds.

The position of the handlebars felt comfortable and gave good rider feedback. The heel/toe shifter was well placed in relation to the foot board and was useable in the normal heel/toe method, as well as toe shifting only.

For the test ride this bike wasn’t equipped with a trunk. Mount and dismount was effortless on either side. The foot boards were comfortable and provided the rider with plenty of room to adjust foot position. The side stand positions the bike in an adequate lean angle and provides a solid hold.

While traversing smooth roadways the bike provides a smooth comfortable ride but when encountering rough/uneven roadways and faster speeds the ride becomes bouncy.

Victory Commander 1

Full size, touring, police package motorcycle, 1731cc air/oil cooled, 2 cylinders, V-Twin overhead cam

Acceleration 0-100 km/h = 6.17 seconds

Fuel average consumption = 32.9

{Comments}

Brakes – Good feel through the lever, transmitting road surface. No fading but weak stopping late in the run.

Cornering/handling – Cornering is very limited due to extremely limited lean angle. Handle bars sit way back and rotate slow for starting corners.

Transmission (shift points) – Smooth and was able to find the gears with ease. Solid shifting up and down with no missed shifts.

Engine – Pulls extremely well out of the corners. Wide range of torque through the power band.

Other – The gear selection LED read-out is a plus.

{250 KM Ride comments}

The seat is large and well padded with nonadjustable rigid frame mount. The seating position is up-right, with a slight lean towards the rear, resulting in a comfortable but non aggressive riding position. The foot controls are positioned in a standard configuration for this type of motorcycle, although their design makes it difficult for consistent ease of application.

The instrument cluster is configured with analog dials for speedometer and tachometer coupled with an LED display window for a wide variety of functions. All are positioned for ease of viewing and function well.

The mirrors are positioned for good reference and have very little vibration but will required extensions for larger riders.

Wind protection was adequate; no wind buffeting at higher speeds.

The large pull back design of the handlebars compliments the large seat and completes the “cruiser” up right seating position. The handlebars provide good feedback of roadway surface and transition from side to side with ease. The heal/toe shifter was well placed. The rear brake pedal positioning and configuration is consistent with this style of motorcycle. The large foot board makes for ease of operation, allowing right foot to rotate unto the pedal. The front brake lever and clutch lever operated with ease. The controls provide good feedback from roadway surface.

The foot boards were comfortable and provided the rider with plenty of room to adjust foot position. The side stand was easy to deploy. The lean angle is low with the floorboard and crash bars contacting the road quickly when negotiating higher speed corners.

The ride was comfortable and smooth at all speeds. The suspension was solid and predictable in the corners.

The motorcycle has plenty of power through a wide range of torque. For a very large motorcycle it handles quite well in all areas – slow riding, high speed and canyons.