TP motorbikes: Past, present and future
Ex-TP officers reminisce over old rides as netizens buzz over the 'latest' TP bike
Leaked images of what is thought to be a new Singapore Traffic Police (TP) motorcycle has recently set local motoring forums and social media abuzz.
Photographed in Singapore Police Force (SPF) livery, the motorbike had appeared more than a week ago on Roads.sg. It was identified (by Roads.sg) as the 2019 BMW R1250RT.
While TP has declined to confirm its next-generation patrol bike, it did say that road users will begin to see them on the roads from April next year.
What is known is that BMW's R1250RT and R1250RS are sports-tourers equipped with the latest riding aids and safety technology.
The 1,254cc motorcycle has 136bhp and can sprint from 0 to 100kmh in under 4.4 seconds despite carrying additional load like sirens, panniers, a recording system and cameras.
The latest BMW R1250RT, which has its own "black box" and auxiliary battery, also has safety features that would make former TP officers envious.
It has riding aids such as traction control, lean-sensitive anti-lock brakes and anti-wheelie mitigation, among other things, which makes the BMW possibly the safest and smartest patrol bike in TP's arsenal.
Such technology was unheard of in past patrol bikes ridden by former Traffic Patrol Unit officer Guy Consigliere.
"Some of the old TP motorcycles had kick-starters or a combination of kick and electric starters. Anti-lock brake systems were not available then," said Mr Consigliere, 55, who retired from the SPF in 2014 after 31 years of service.
"I rode both good and bad models (of TP motorcycles), but with better technology came better motorcycles after the 2000s."
The current Yamaha Diversion XJ900P, which came in both white and black frame models, will be retired after 16 years of service. Not every traffic police officer liked the Yamaha.
To Mr Hart Victor, a former officer from TP headquarters in Ubi, the Yamaha was a "budget" tourer that would wobble above 175kmh.
He preferred the Honda VFR800 - a sports-tourer used by the Land Transport Authority and the Singapore Armed Forces Provost (military police).
"The VFR800 was an excellent bike, better than the XJ in every way," said Mr Victor, 39, who was a TP officer for seven years.
"But the XJ900 had the 'look' and presence that people expect from a TP motorcycle."
Interestingly, Mr Consigliere also collects motorcycle brochures of brands that sold police patrol bikes.
He showed Biker Boy 35 police bike brochures dating back to the 1960s. Of the 35 models, eight of them were used by TP.
These included brands such as Triumph, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and BMW. Images of some of these motorcycles are displayed on a wall at TP's Heritage Centre in Ubi.
As expected, each TP bike had its own characteristics and glitches.
Some older patrol bikes had issues with their hydraulic clutches easily overheating when the engine is left on idle for long periods. Others had underpowered engines or were not "corner-friendly".
But a few TP bikes hold fond memories for Mr Consigliere.
"The Yamaha XJ550 (of the 1980s) was a 530cc motorcycle that could fly like a rocket despite its small engine," he said.
"Similarly in the 1990s, the Suzuki GSX750P had a bullet-proof engine, provided you did not over-rev it."
The need for speed and bigger engines was due to outlaw motorists who would flee whenever they saw traffic cops approaching.
Some had been previously disqualified or had no licence to operate their vehicles. Others had non-approved modifications done to their rides.
Catching the culprits required TP officers to ride powerful and agile motorcycles.
In essence, Mr Victor said a perfect patrol motorcycle "shouldn't be too big or heavy as they would affect its manoeuvrability".