In 2016, I got rid of all my other vehicles and found the world’s coolest bike. It is a 2009 BMW R1200 RTP. The “P” at the end stands for “Police”. It is a retired local Police motorcycle. As my new year-round car on 2 wheels, it is comfortable and wicked fast. This post describes some of the upgrades for which this blank canvas begs. Here are some pics from when I first got it.
Where to get one
I found it at the local BMW dealer. They sell or lease these vehicles to the local police departments and when the police are done with them, they take them back. Then they mostly convert them back to a consumer bike. That entails a $2,000 conversion to remove the radio box behind the driver and add back the passenger seat. Word has it that the police are hard on the clutch, so confirm they replaced the clutch at some point. Replacing the clutch entails splitting the vehicle in two parts, so is somewhat expensive.
Mine has all the police-specific handlebar controls present and the fairing posts still stick up where the police strobes use to be. It had 17,000 miles on it when the dealer got it back. I got it with 29,000 on it and it had full service records. I’ve put over 2,000 miles on it since purchase and it has ridden like a dream! So far, I’m glad I didn’t pay literally twice as much for a brand new R1200 RT. The service records showed that it had the kick-stand engine kill switch replaced 5 times! That’s because the police get on an off it so much when they are pulling people over.
Why so awesome?
The R1200 RTP is such an amazing machine because it is comfortable and fast. It comes with a heated seat (with 3 settings), heated hand grips (with 2 settings). The fairing is wide enough that the only extra equipment I need when it is cold are cold-weather gloves. The windshield adjusts up and down to increase or decrease wind resistance. ABS brakes, which I’ve rarely engaged, are an extra safety mechanism. Combine all those features with the quickness of a sport bike and it becomes, in my opinion, the world’s coolest motorcycle.
The first couple of upgrades for the bike were to make it safer and easier to ride. With an inseam of 30″, a sport tourer is bound to be a little tall for me. So I got a Sargent World Sport Performance driver’s seat (heated) that is an inch lower than the stock seat. Now I sit mostly flat footed. Next up was a VStream touring windshield which channels the air better than stock. I swapped the horn out for a Denali Sound Bomb so I can be heard easier (though I rarely use the horn). LED turn signals and upgraded Halogen headlights help with visibility. Reflective decals on the back of the saddlebags show up as bright white at night. I added Denali D2 LED lights on the upper police strobe stalks and wired them to the headlight circuit. They are at 40% on low-beam and 100% on high-beam.
I added a Kaoko Throttle Lock cruise control for long ride wrist relief. A Sena 20S bluetooth helmet system lets me talk on the phone or listen to the radio while motoring along. Finally, Ram mounts on the fork top allow me to put my cell phone and even a cup holder in easy view/reach.
So here I have this awesome police motorcycle that is just plain old white all over. I decided to add a custom fairing graphic. I contacted a vehicle graphics designer and found that the cost would be over $500 for a custom applied design. No way! I decided to try it myself. I went to a local print shop and they said all they needed was an image file and they could cut the graphics. I would apply them myself. Total cost for BOTH sides: $35! So I came up with the design and now my motorcycle is named “War Eagle”! Here is the end result:
The full bike view:
The Rest of the Story
After riding this police motorcycle for about 14 months as my only vehicle, getting stranded twice by battery issues, and needing to haul more than the saddlebags would hold, I decided to put it up for sale. 🙁 The dealer had one much like it sitting there unsold and I got one hit on a Craigslist post. As I was showing it to a prospective buyer (who was too short for it), I decided that this vehicle brings me joy. Even if I don’t ride it all the time. After I bought a good used car, I decided to keep War Eagle and continue enjoying it.
Motorcycles are death machines. I ride assuming nobody sees me and I believe in formal training. If you ride, go to the free BikeSafe training offered by local police departments. It is a day of learning. The police actually follow you on their motorcycle, observe your bad habits, and give you tips to be a better, safer rider. The police who followed me actually knew my motorcycle and sent me a picture of the officer who rode it on the bike before they turned it back to a civilian bike. Very cool!
Update on 10/1/2018: After much agonizing about never riding War Eagle due to travel, I finally decided to sell it. I have great memories of riding the best bike in the world AND I never got hurt after to riding many bikes for many years.