One of the best parts of being a motorcycle riding instructor is getting to meet new and interesting people, and hearing the reasons they want to ride, and what they are riding, or are planning on riding. Sometimes, I’m even lucky enough to form new friendships with some of the people I teach. This is the story of one such friendship forged over a love of what else but BMW motorcycles, but not your average everyday BMW motorcycle.
Sometime towards the end of 2012 I had a gentleman by the name of Allan on one of my L’s courses. During our introductions at the beginning of the course, I had mentioned my mild obsession with the BMW brand. When it was Allan’s turn to introduce himself he mentioned that he had ridden when he was younger, and had decided it was time to get back into motorcycling. He also mentioned that he had already purchased a damaged BMW motorcycle which he was planning to repair and ride when he had completed the licensing process.
Of course an admission like that was only going to lead to one thing, much discussion during the breaks. From our discussion I discovered that the bike in question was a 2007 R1200RT-P. The P designation stands for Police. I think when people think of police motorcycles, two images come to mind. The american Harley Davidson police motorcycles, or the BMW police motorcycles. I think you can probably guess which I prefer, and I also think I’m probably safe in saying that worldwide, BMW would hold the record for the number of “service” motorcycles sold. I use the term “service” because of course it is not just the police who use these bikes. Ambulance services and the military also make up a large portion of this segment, but certainly the police are the most visible.
The bike had been retired from the South Australian Police Service, and had been subsequently crashed before Allan purchased it. When the bikes are retired all of the police signage and equipment is removed, and often the private purchasers replace the radio box with a pillion seat, so the only sign that the bikes were formally police models will be the extra switchgear and brackets for the likes of the lights and sirens. I asked Allan if this was his intention, but his reply was “no, I’m going to keep it in police trim”.
A few months later Allan was back on my P’s course, and no prizes for guessing what our conversation during the breaks was about. Allan had exciting news, not only was he making good progress repairing the damaged bike, but he had added another one to the stable. This bike, also a 2007 R1200RT-P, had been retired from the Queensland Police Service, and was in good running condition.
As much as I love them, I had to ask “why do you want two identical ex-police motorcycles?” The reply I was expecting was something along the lines of “because I can”, or “it always pays to have a spare”, but the response I got was much, much more intriguing. “I’ve got a little plan in mind for them, and I’d actually like your help with it” was the reply Allan gave me. That’s a way to guarantee you’ve got my attention!
And so began my friendship with Allan, and my involvement with NYPD Motorcycle Escorts.The first time I saw the bikes I was amazed at the work Allan had put into them. The repaired bike was almost complete, sporting strobe lights and signage, and the second bike was well underway. I soon realised that Allan has a touch of “the obsessive” about him when it comes to detail. As the bikes were decommisioned Allan had to research and obtain suitable lights for the front of the bikes, a strobe light on a pole for the rear of the bike, aerials for radios, and sirens. Initially he could not source genuine articles, as the police items don’t seem to appear on the open market, so he went with the option of recreating the look using items from other sources. As his search continued he was able to find some genuine lights and sirens from ex-military motorcycles, and because he is stickler for authenticity, he had to get them. If the bikes weren’t proof enough of Allan’s attention to detail, there was the immaculately restored 1955 Austin Champ parked in the shed also. The Austin Champ was the British equivalent of the US Army Jeep, and this one is pristine right down to the radios, shovels, rifles and a dirty great gun on the trailer behind it.
He showed me the research he had done into the motorcycles, and even had a picture of the ex-SA bike in service. The decals for the bikes had been produced in Australia to Allan’s specifications, and the questions of “why NYPD?” was asked, as I know it has been many more times by many more people.
Allan’s aim for the bikes was to give “the impression” of a police motorcycle, while not trying to imitate a police motorcycle. While at first it might seem odd to have mock New York police bikes in Australia, the logic is pretty clever. If you see “NYPD” on a white BMW motorcycle you instantly think “police”, even though we’re in Australia, and even though, as far as Allan has been able to discover, the NYPD never actually used BMW’s in active service. In fact, even though the decals are based on genuine NYPD signage, if you look closely, there is nowhere on the bikes that it actually says “Police”, it is all a trick of the mind. And the other advantage of having NYPD on the bikes is that it avoids any issues with our local upholders of the law.
Of course, that’s not how Allan’s bikes get ridden!
It is however, amazing how much notice people take of these bikes, and how many road users slow down, or give way to you. I even had a motorcycle riding filtering lanes behind me, until he saw the bike and got into one lane quick smart. So the optical illusion obviously works. And that after all is the aim of these bikes, to make people “take notice”.If you are the bride arriving at the church on your big day, you don’t want people to miss your arrival do you? And quite frankly, just having a big white car in this day and age may not be enough. But with a couple of escort bikes leading you down the street, everyone will definitely notice your arrival, whether they are wedding guests or not.
On our first escort with the bikes every person who saw this white limousine approaching with the “police” escort stopped and looked, and no doubt thought to themselves “wow, they must be some celebrity”. We even passed several real police officers, and when we got close enough for them to realise what was going on, they all gave us a smile as we passed. Following the wedding service we escorted the limousine into the Sydney CBD for photographs. More looks, more smiles and waves. The attention these bikes garner is quite amazing, so if it’s attention you are after, having a NYPD Motorcycle Escort could be just the thing you need to make your arrival stand out from the crowd.
NYPD Motorcycle Escorts are available for Weddings, Formals, Engagements, Funerals, TV and Movie Production, Photoshoots, Corporate Events, or Celebrity Escorts.
That way, not only does my friend Allan get to further his obsession with BMW motorcycles, I get to further my obsession with riding them. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
The Perpetual Motorcyclist
© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.