Police forces the world over have chosen to use motorcycles as fast response units since the early 20th Century. Their sheer speed and manoeuvrability in heavy traffic mean they can get to the scene of an incident or tail a traffic offender far more effectively than any performance car.
The British police historically used UK-made motorbikes, predominantly Triumph, Velocette and Norton. But consistent reliability and supply chain issues caused a catalogue of problems which could not be tolerated by an emergency service. Following the closure of Triumph and the dissolution of Norton in the ‘90s, BMW became the main police supplier and by 2004 they were the global market leader in the provision of law enforcement motorcycles, even pipping the all-American Harley-Davidson brand in the States.
Launched in 1982, the BMW R80 RT was the brand’s big-bore sports tourer and came with all the panniers and fairings that the long-distance rider could need. With shaft-drive and a torquey 50bhp boxer engine, it could sprint to 60mph in 6.4 seconds and cruise at three-figure speeds all day.
Widely heralded as the best all-round tourer on the market, it offered a unique combination of comfort, performance, ease of handling and utter reliability. Too expensive for all but the most well-heeled private buyers, it was ideal for police work and they bought them in their thousands.
This late model 1993 example dates from the penultimate year of production and incorporates all the upgrades that were made to the model over its life. It comes to us from a period of storage after retirement from active duty and still bears traces of its police force logos.
There is little documentation bar a registration document and a couple of old MOTs. An online MOT history check implies that it was last on the road in 2010. Although it starts and runs, it will doubtless benefit from a degree of recommissioning before it returns to the road once more.