3-wheeled fleets

Alternative vehicles have shaped themselves a patrol niche


   Roth explains the electric motorcycle is not a highway motorcycle, but a street motorcycle that will reach 65 mph, and the ATVs and UTVs are used in more of the rural and wooded areas. The 6.5-foot long Electric Police Motorcycle can go approximately 100 miles per charge, depending on speeds driven during operation.

   Xtreme Green by name is taking initiative to be a part of the greening movement to create clean energy. Roth explains his company's models do not require oil changes and have no automatic transmission fluids.

   "If you take the police motorcycle and compare that to another motorcycle, there are 90-percent less moving parts than say a Harley," Roth says. "There's just a total reduction in service requirements." The company estimates it costs about 1 cent per mile to operate.

New niche: Carving vehicles

   Another three-wheel vehicle now available to law enforcement began as a recreational sporting good: the Trikke Tribred, originally a human-propelled unit, looks like a mash up of a bicycle and skis. Company CEO John Simpson, who came from the sporting goods industry before joining Trikke, says the units are different from what might be considered a traditional three-wheel electric transportation unit. He explains the Tribred moves with the rider and is lightweight and portable, differentiating it from other alternative patrol options.

   Trikke's has sold more than 400,000 of the human-powered version since 2002 worldwide. Simpson says it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that the company started adding electric power supply and a hub motor to the unit.

   "It was just kind of a no-brainer putting power on our three-wheel platform. Since we've started doing that, we realized we've got a lot of different markets we can go after with the powered vehicle like the police market and the security market, large corporate campus transportation and green consumer transportation. But what people really seem to like about our option is its portability. It only weighs a little over 40 pounds and you can fold it up and put it into the trunk of your car."

   A rider stands on the foot platforms that are connected to the front and as one turns on the unit, the arms will tilt, too. So as one turns, or "carves" as the company calls it, the frame leans with a rider.

   "It's all very fluid," Simpson says. "The frame is right where you want it to be. The same goes for the electric [Trikke version]; you're just throttling with the right hand and the frame is right with you as you carve your turns."

   On the two-wheel front, Segway announced two new Patroller models last May. The company says Patroller models are identifiable by their highly reflective surfaces and an integrated lighting system. Additional product enhancements in the new generation include a newly designed LeanSteer frame, a front bag designed to carry officers' cargo, and an upper shield for affixing the organization's insignia.

On patrol

   Over the last decade alternative lightweight patrol units have carved their way into the patrol fleet. Anderson explains that in the beginning, the specialty vehicles were seen as novelties. And while they did attract a lot of attention at law enforcement trade shows, some reluctance persisted because the models were still new. However today's vehicles have been on patrol long enough for officers to experience results, and have transformed the personal mobility patrol vehicle from novelty to need-to-have.

   In some ways, three-wheelers still compete with other transportation outside a patrol car, such as bicycles and horses. But given their utility, increasing affordability and growing environmentally savvy "green" contribution, three-wheel models have become a better beat tool.

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