The image of motorcycling consist of many things. Each rider has a perception of what it should be. This includes such things as to how a rider looks, attire, the type of motorcycle used and how others may or may not see all of it. Some motorcyclists may deny that, claiming their choice is based only on what is most practical or the best for them, which is true to some degree, but is that all of their concerns?
The people who do not ride and know nothing about that, what do they see and what do they think? Is there one image of motorcyclist that is the most impressive and will receive the most attention? Responses to that question may vary and I have one. The most impressive is a motor officer on a police motorcycle. Who can ignore that image and if someone fails to notice they had better hope they are legal in every way. In my opinion that image represents law enforcement. The history of a uniformed police officer is intertwined to the use of a motorcycle.
In the early 70s I was sent to attend a seminar sponsored by the California Highway Patrol. The participants attending were from state police organizations. The lectures were not interesting to me, but a bus tour of the training facility really got my attention. As the bus moved along, driven by a California Highway Patrolman on that misty morning, I saw a long line of what appeared to be some kind of large garages side by side, with overhead doors open showing many police motorcycles inside. In the front was more police motorcycles lined up perfectly. Standing there with them were two men dressed in military type jump suits looking very impressive, neck scarf's neatly tucked in their collars, pants legs tucked into their boots, what an impressive sight!
"STOP THE BUS," I shouted. I was the only one to get out. We were not there for that purpose, but I just could not resist. I spent a long time visiting with those old motorcycle instructors who were long time motorcycle patrolmen, now assigned to training new officers. I wanted details of the training and what was required to qualify to become a motor officer with CHIPS. To spare space in writing it seemed to me they were attempting to train stunt riders and only about 50% of each class graduated.
Next, they showed me the motorcycles, three different brands, painted and equipped the same way. Only a motorcyclist could identify the different brands. There were Harleys, Guzzis and Honda 750s. I had never seen the Honda police model before. It was explained those who completed the training could specify their choice of the three brands. As we were being bused back to the seminar site, two old motor patrolmen were up front in the bus, one driving and the other one standing near him. I had guessed they had been disabled in motorcycle accidents and assigned to the training academy. It did not take long before they were in a heated argument about what brand of motorcycle was the best for patrol duty. One of them preferred a Harley and the other one said the best was Moto Guzzi. This appeared to be a debate that might end in a fight.
On the flight back to Texas I was trying to think of a way to sell the idea of re-establishing the use of motorcycles in the Texas Department of Public Safety. That is another story for another time perhaps.