NEW PORT RICHEY - The Pasco County Sheriff's Office motorcycle unit will soon have a new look.
After more than a month of research, the unit will become the second law enforcement agency in Florida to have a fleet of motorcycles produced by Arizona-based Victory Police Motorcycles.
Five of the agency's seven Harley-Davidson bikes will be traded in for six new Victory Commander 1 motorcycles.
As soon as the motorcycles are wheeled off the truck, they are ready to be put into service.
"The Victory is a turnkey motorcycle," said Lt. Troy Fergueson of the sheriff's office. "The Victory rolls off the trailer and goes out onto patrol fully equipped. It has all the law enforcement equipment already installed."
Before hitting the streets of Pasco County, the unit's five deputies must first complete three to five days of training to familiarize themselves with the motorcycles.
The Plant City Police Department is the only other Florida law enforcement agency to add Victory brand motorcycles.
The base cost for one Victory Commander 1 is $29,933.83. That includes the paint job, lights, radio, radar and other equipment, which the sheriff's office will soon ship to the company to be installed.
The total price tag for all six motorcycles, which includes the Harley-Davidson trade-ins, is $146,602.98. County commissioners approved the purchase in April.
The sheriff's office's current motorcycles were purchased in 2008. Prior to that, the agency leased Harley-Davidsons for $150 a month. That cost eventually increased to $400 a month.
The agency hopes to have the new bikes on the road by August, Fergueson said.
The Harley-Davidson base price is $24,250 for one motorcycle, which is just a stock bike. It takes an additional $5,493 to add the equipment needed to put the motorcycle in service.
One of the factors in the sheriff's office choosing the Victory was deputy safety.
The new motorcycles feature an undercarriage skid plate that can withstand a bullet from a .45 caliber gun. That allows the motorcycle to be used as a shield by a deputy if needed. There also are forged steel leg guards that keep the bike from tipping.
Victory motorcycles are designed never to go beyond a 45-degree tilt and for the rear tire to always maintain contact with the road. If a bike does go on its side, a deputy can stay on and motor it to an upright position.
Meanwhile, the Harley, which has a crash bar made of metal tubing, can fall and injure its rider.
"You can take a Harley, and I'm a Harley guy, and tilt it all the way over to where the windshield is touching the ground on those tubular bars," Cpl. Rick Roller said. "They just won't (hold the weight)."
A sticker on the bike, affixed to the tubing, warns riders of the tubing's inability to provide protection: "It is not made nor intended to provide protection from bodily injury in a collision with another vehicle or any other object."
Deputies have already test driven the Victory at the sheriff's office facility. In March, Roller and another deputy went to Daytona and were given Victory motorcycles to drive for half a day. That further solidified their choice.
There is also a drop in maintenance costs.
The price for regularly scheduled maintenance for the new motorcycles will be $60 every 5,000 miles. For the Harley, maintenance every 5,000 miles ranges from $200 to $600. Victory Police Motorcycles also offers a five-year, unlimited mile warranty.
The ride on a Victory motorcycle is much smoother and the engine produces less vibration than the Harley.
"The motorcycle's not vibrating all the radios around, the radars around and all the equipment," Roller said. "That stuff isn't good for the radios and all, all the vibration that the Harleys have."
Roller said a 10-hour shift on a motorcycle that vibrates excessively can be physically taxing to a deputy.
The list of features on the Victory bike made it the obvious choice, Fergueson and Roller said. During the process of researching new motorcycles, the sheriff's office also looked at brands such as Kawasaki, Honda and BMW.
"It will be exciting to see them out there on the road and be the first of its kind in the (Pasco County) area," Fergueson said.