If you need further proof that electric bicycles are becoming more mainstream, than look no further than the Los Angles Police Department. Earlier this week, the LAPD announced that it was adding 20 ebikes to its vast fleet of existing vehicles, giving bike-mounted officers an extra boost of speed and power to help them respond to emergency situations more efficiently. As you would expect, this bike includes some impressive features, although it isn’t much different than consumer models that are already out on the road.
The LAPD purchased its ebike fleet from Bulls USA, a company that offers a wide selection of electric bikes for riding on and off road, as well as commuting through urban settings. Bulls and the LAPD spent nine months designing the custom-built bicycle, which was specifically created to meet the department’s needs. The result is a model that is built on a mountain bike platform that has been modified to include smooth tires for urban riding, a cargo rack for hauling extra equipment, and a kickstand to prop the bike up when stopped. Bulls appropriately dubbed the bike the “Sentinel.”
The Sentinel features a Bosch Performance Speed motor, which is a mid-drive system that is paired with a 500-watt battery pack that rests on top of the bike’s down tube. This electric drive allows riders to achieve pedal-assisted speeds of up to 28 mph which is fast enough to keep up with — or even exceed — the speed of Los Angeles traffic. There is no word on the expected range of the bike, but with a removable battery pack it should be easy for officers to swap out depleted power cells should the need arise.
The first of the 20 ebikes are expected to be rolled out next week and are part of a pilot program to explore how well electric bikes work when deployed in the field. If everything goes according to plan, more units could be added in the future as part of the police department’s ongoing efforts to be more environmentally conscious without sacrificing response time.
When asked to comment on the new additions to the department’s fleet of vehicles, police chief Charlie Beck said, “ebikes are the future of bicycling in my opinion. … Especially in an urban environment, you can cover long distances at a really good speed, and it gives you as much of a workout as you want.”
The new ebikes are believed to cost about $5,000 each, although the department was able to get the first 20 under contract for $70,000. That’s an affordable price for a well-equipped electric bicycle, but considering the LAPD has more than 500 traditional bikes in its inventory, it will be some time before all of its models could be updated. Still, this is a step in the right direction in terms of offering speed and versatility without compromising performance.