Police bikes upgrade after back wheels buckle under the full force of The Law

Issue comes to light after bills for repair at local bike shop in Brixton go unpaid

by Simon_MacMichael   December 13, 2010  

Metropolitan Police.jpg

It appears that it’s not just the neighbourhood beat that’s getting a pounding from some of London’s more burly police officers, with the news that their bikes are to be upgraded to tougher models after wheels buckled and spokes broke due to the weight being placed on them.

According to the Evening Standard, the issue came to light after what is said to be a “large number” of bills for repair for work carried out by Brixton Cycles for police constables and PCSOs were left unpaid due to the required paperwork being missing.

An anonymous employee at the shop told the newspaper: “We see the officers in regularly for maintenance work and a lot of them are big guys.

“They burn through brakes and chains, especially in this weather when they salt the roads. We get police guys who weigh 16 stone and then have to carry 20 kilograms of gear.

“It's amazing how much effort these guys exert zooming around after criminals.

“The one thing the bike cops destroy with alarming frequency is their rear wheels, and that's due to the weight they are carrying.”

The shop employee added: “They are up to date with all their bills now.”

With a full service at the shop costing £70, police in Lambeth are now understood to be looking at swapping their existing bikes, made by Smith & Wesson of Dirty Harry fame – the largest handgun manufacturer in the US, it now also supplies law enforcement agencies with equipment such as bikes – for police bikes made by Trek.

The Evening Standard reports that Trek has been selected because police chiefs believe that the bikes are “durable, sturdy and practical,” are likely to have less of a requirement for servicing than the Smith & Wesson models, distributed here by Cycle Force UK, which come in at around about the same price point of £750.

While recommending the bike, comments made on the US law enforcement community website Police Link regarding Trek police bikes do raise the suspicion that any potential servicing savings might be minimal, however, with one saying “Good strong bike with a smooth and silent ride. High maintenace [sic] but will last as long as you take care of it,” a sentiment echoed by another user of the site who says, “they really last if you maintain them.”

The unpaid invoices were revealed as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request for minutes of an internal police briefing, and a spokeswoman for Lambeth police told the newspaper: “There are no outstanding invoices for Brixton Cycles and officers in Lambeth have been reminded of the correct procurement process.”

14 user comments

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They should be riding something based on a Rohloff hub. Rear wheel is really strong due to symmetrical dishing and short spokes.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1450 posts]
13th December 2010 - 14:22


Glad the great guys at Brixton Bikes aren't being short changed anymore. As cat1commuter says hub gears build stronger wheels but I guess police bikes are mtb based for cheapness. Handbuilt 48H tandem style rear wheels are pretty bombproof and should do the trick though.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [393 posts]
13th December 2010 - 14:37


Some FR/DH wheels are probably in order.

I'm not even British, but think they should consider some homegrown manufactures/brands.

posted by Shiny Flu [84 posts]
13th December 2010 - 16:18


I agree with above, it's all down to the number of spokes and lacing pattern.

These guys should indeed be riding 48 on large flange hubs with at least 3x, indeed 4x. 32 on the rear is not enough for constant weight/pannier work and it's surprising how this number has become popular. Not sure if they're riding 32 however (maybe 36) but I would doubt they're on 48. 32 will just not hold up over time regardless of spoking or wheel form. 48 is the only way to go particularly as the bikes are used over city roads every single day.

posted by 5339 [21 posts]
13th December 2010 - 16:26


Yep, I had heard when I was in Brixton Cycles that there had been an issue over payment, but that was a while ago. And there are often police bikes their in the repair queue.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
13th December 2010 - 16:51


Yeah bring back some decent forty spoke rims and not just for bobbies, I'd like some nice narrow rims for fixed wheel building.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1108 posts]
13th December 2010 - 17:30


Somehow I doubt it's the weight that's the factor there are some big professional riders that ride "reduced spoke" wheels (for want of a better expression).

I suspect it's the quality of the roads that are causing the problems with buckling.

This reminds me of the person I rode in the 2007 TDF with (as part of the opening ceremony) who genuinely believed we might hit a bump in the road...

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
14th December 2010 - 19:47


20 Kilos of additional weight...... why?

posted by carl j [23 posts]
14th December 2010 - 22:48

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5 or 10 lbs is a lot to wear on a belt - do cops really carry 10 or 20kg? In Vancouver BC some ambulance responders are on bikes for special events and even with defibrilator they are under 10 kg. any heavier they should have a motorbike - they'd be too slow on a bicycle. (Lights and siren help then too)

posted by chickeee [14 posts]
15th December 2010 - 5:30


Wow, £70 for a service - glad I live up north where it's a bit cheaper!!

mrpuncture's picture

posted by mrpuncture [19 posts]
15th December 2010 - 9:06


20 kgs of gear??? I had only slightly more than that when I did my LeJog, and that was with full camping gear. What on earth are they carrying?

posted by RuthF28 [99 posts]
15th December 2010 - 16:41


RuthF28 wrote:
20 kgs of gear??? I had only slightly more than that when I did my LeJog, and that was with full camping gear. What on earth are they carrying?

Standard police gear plus spare spokes and rims by the sound of it Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9521 posts]
15th December 2010 - 16:51


Standard Police gear - 20kg of Doughnuts

Huff, pant, need a rest and doughnut!

But all you did was squeeze into your Lycra!

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [380 posts]
15th December 2010 - 21:31


Fish_n_Chips wrote:
Standard Police gear - 20kg of Doughnuts

Huff, pant, need a rest and doughnut!

But all you did was squeeze into your Lycra!

Yay! It only took two and a half days. When I posted this story, I told Tony I reckoned we'd get a doughnut reference within five minutes. Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9521 posts]
16th December 2010 - 0:58

1 Like