Thursday, October 13, 2011

2012 BMW R1200RTP Scores Well at MSP Testing, by Chad Gillen

This year I was sent to the Michigan State Police 2012 Police Vehicle Evaluations on September 17th through 19th. With the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor no longer in production most law enforcement departments are looking for a replacement. SFPD is one of those departments. As a side benefit I was able to see some of the testing for police motorcycles as well. With 6 police motorcycles and 19 police pursuit capable vehicles to test, the most they have had at one time, I was in for a once in a career opportunity.

The Police Vehicle Evaluations cover four areas: Acceleration and top speed, Braking, Vehicle dynamics, Ergonomics & communications. Acceleration and top speed tests are done with optical timing sensors connected to the bike and a laptop and run at the Chrysler Chelsea Proving Grounds where they have a 3.3 mile oval course with 140 MPH neutral steer banked turns. Two runs in each direction, and average times reported. Braking is also done there with the same sensors. Twenty 60 to 0 MPH impending skid stops are done with a cool down lap in the middle. A deceleration rate is computed from the data and a projected 60 to 0 MPH stopping distance is reported. Vehicle Dynamics testing is done at the Grattan Raceway. The road course is a winding, hilly, complex assortment of almost every conceivable corner imaginable for a road course. The ten turns include both uphill ascending radius turns, a flat out dog leg off the 160 degree hairpin turn, a hidden apex, a monza bowl, S turns, and even a challenging downhill reverse camber turn. It has been said that if you can master Grattan Raceway you can drive anywhere. Every motorcycle is ridden 5 laps by 4 riders each. Overall average is the average of each riders average lap times. Police equipment aftermarket outfitters and the MSP Precision Driving Team score the ergonomics and communications category. Scores are given on visibility, comfort, ease of use of controls, and ease of installing lights, siren, and communications equipment.

I was able to personally see the BMW make its speed runs at Chelsea Proving Grounds. To stand along the guardrail while the bike passes by you 10 feet away is sweeter than candy. It had the highest top speed of 131 MPH, beating its nearest competitor the Kawasaki Concours 14 which posted a 126 MPH top speed. However the BMW’s 0 to 60 time was 4.41 seconds while the Kawasaki was 4.02 seconds. Also the 0 to 100 times for the BMW was 10.75 seconds, and the Kawasaki was 8.29. As you can imagine the engine computer on the Kawasaki was limiting its top speed.

At the Grattan Raceway in the Vehicle Dynamics category the BMW came in first. The BMW came in with an overall average lap time of 1:40.19 seconds, Kawasaki second at 1:43.26, and Harley Davidson Road King Police third at 1:49.63.

In the Braking Category the BMW came in second with a projected stopping distance from 60 MPH at 140.0 ft. First was the HD Electra Police at 139.0 ft, and third was the Kawasaki at 143.7 ft. Ergonomics and communications scores are not available at this time, but I think the BMW will do well with the new handlebar controls, new accessory switchgear, and new instrument cluster to reduce glare.

The newcomers this year were the Victory Commander 1 and the Victory Vision. As you may notice they aren’t mentioned above, because they didn’t score very well on the tests. In speaking with the police rep. I found that they have a lot of features motor officers want. However by their own admission they are running with over 100 lbs more weight in aftermarket equipment than the other bikes. They are doing this on purpose! Supposedly it is to get real world numbers. However, I doubt the published MSP test will reflect this and it will look bad for them. Better luck next year Victory.

The only change in the HD bikes from last year is the rear view mirrors! Talk about investment. While BMW has the new DOHC engine, improved fairing and windshield design, new handlebar controls and switchgear, new instrument cluster, new cruise lights and alley lights. Also BMW was supposed to have another police bike there, but for some reason I never saw it and it never went through the tests. It was supposed to be an F800GS-P! The final MSP report isn’t out yet, but as you can see the BMW did extremely well. I wish I could’ve brought back pictures of the bikes, but cameras for the non-press is VERBOTEN!

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