By PoliceOne Staff
PoliceOne.com recently had a chance to sit down with Steve St. Thomas, the Director of Police and Fleet Sales at Harley-Davidson, in order to discuss the significant improvements and changes made to their Electra Glide and Road King police motorcycles for the 2014 model year. Some of his answers may surprise you.
Q: Steve, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about why Harley-Davidson decided to revamp the Police line for this upcoming year?
A: Sure, glad to talk with you. We’ve had an ongoing list of features that we wanted to address and improve over the last several years, based upon feedback we’ve had from our police riders. As it happens, this year we were looking at a major revamp of the touring line of motorcycles with our Project Rushmore, and we were really fortunate to be able to add in the voice of our customers in terms of specific features and functions for the Police models .
Q: You mentioned feedback from actual police motor officers. What form did that take, and how did you get their input?
A: For the last three years, we’ve had a first-in-the-industry board of Police Advisors, made up of experienced motor officers, Fleet Administrators, and Dealers from throughout the United States. This board goes well beyond looking at the existing motorcycles for suggestions about how to improve the motorcycles themselves – they serve as a resource to review all the elements of our “solution” for Law Enforcement. For example, they may identify distribution network inefficiencies and concerns, including parts supply, or review our training program offerings. They really represent a holistic approach to ensuring that we’re listening to all of what our police customer base needs from us as a manufacturer.
We take the Police Advisory Board input as well as other first-hand knowledge of voice of the customer needs to advise and help us in the design of new features such as the hand controls, and storage for the 2014 line, based upon what would work best for officers in the real world of daily patrol in varying weather conditions and operating environments. By using them as a sounding board for our overall plans for revamping features and specifications, we were able to prioritize those changes identified as being higher-impact for production in this year’s line.
Q: What kind of real-world reaction have you seen to the new lineup so far?
A: We just had 110th Anniversary Celebration in Milwaukee and as part of that event held a Police Riding Skills and Training Competition. During that Skills and Training Competition, we had officers taking demo rides on both new models. We also put the new FLHP Road King in particular to the test by having the top 10 competition finalists ride identical brand new 2014 FLHP Road Kings in the Competition Finals. They really put it through its paces on the course! The feedback from the whole event was overwhelmingly positive, with several officers even willing to go on-camera to discuss their impressions. The feel and performance of the braking system and the simplicity of operating the new hand controls were among the most common highlights for officers who tested the bikes, and pretty much everyone was excited by the new HO103 engine’s improved acceleration and performance.
Overall, we’ve really taken the last 105 years of history we have in the law enforcement motorcycle market, and put the full weight of our Brand into the design and backing of these new models – which means that we’re not going away, and that Harley-Davidson and our Dealer network stand behind our models completely.
In some ways, it’s like having a senior patrol officer versus a rookie when you look at how we create our motorcycles for law enforcement: sure, the rookie may have more new ideas which the senior officers know how to incorporate, but overall, nothing beats experience when figuring out what works best and how to implement it in the real world of policing. We’ve put a lot of time and money into this redesign to ensure that the best of both the new and the old are preserved and enhanced, and will continue to do so by working with our police advisory board members and customers well into the future.
For more information on the 2014 Harley-Davidson Police Line, visit www.harley-davidsonpolicemotors.com