South Milwaukee Police add motorized, locally built ‘Cheata Bike’ to their relaunched bicycle patrol
By Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Published 2:34 p.m. CT July 2, 2018
SOUTH MILWAUKEE - The police department has added a new bicycle to its fleet, but this one has the added feature of an engine.
Partnering with South Milwaukee-based Cheata Bikes, officers participating in the city’s recently relaunched bicycle patrol can now buzz around town at up to 30 miles per hour on a custom Cheata bicycle complete with lights and siren.
“If you can ride a mountain bike and start a lawn mower you can ride it,” said Officer Dan Doering.
Officer Tim Lewison took the new law enforcement vehicle to Grant Park June 27. He said a lot of people were asking questions but many knew it was a locally made Cheata Bike. Compared to a regular bicycle, Lewison said this enables police on the bicycle patrol to get anywhere in the city quickly.
During a special reveal at the South Milwaukee Police Station, 2424 15th Ave., on June 28, Chief William Jessup said the bicycle is part of a new initiative of “community policing,” allowing officers to be more engaged with the residents whether on foot, on a bicycle, or now on the Cheata bike.
“The motor bicycle gets us to areas where we otherwise can’t,” he said. “It allows us to patrol the streets and the park.”
Jessup said the bicycle will be used in the park areas, around the farmer’s market, and throughout the downtown area.
Cheata Bikes owner Ravi Bhagat said this was a “unique partnership” with a local company and local police.
“My enthusiasm for this collaboration stems from the fact that the South Milwaukee Police Department will have an additional tool to engage members of the community in a positive way,” Bhagat said. “We are proud and excited that the South Milwaukee Police Department will be the first in the nation to roll out this program.”
The police department’s Cheata bike is based on the “Goliath” model, which typically costs $2,695. There are a few additions to the law enforcement edition such as a storage rack on the back, police decals, and red/blue lights on the front and back along with a siren.
The partnership spawned after Bhagat introduced himself as a local business owner to the incoming Jessup, who took over as chief in January 2018. Jessup said the partnership grew from that first meeting.
The bike is currently on a modified lease agreement for a trial period. Over the next few months, the department will pay a small user fee and then decide whether or not to commit to purchasing. The exact cost, if purchased, would be negotiated after the trial period.
If the bike works out, Jessup said more Cheata bicycles could be added in the future.
Other Cheata partnerships
Anjali Peterson, vice president of strategic partnerships and Bhagat’s sister, said she is currently in talks to potentially partner with “a large security firm” in the Chicago area. Additionally, she is working to potentially start a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. She said the bikes could have applications for airport security, security at events, and more.
Additionally, Peterson said she is considering partnerships with larger manufacturing plants, including possibly looking into a potential relationship with the new Foxconn plant in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.
Cheata Bikes has five dealerships in multiple states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. Ryan Rosenthal, director of sales for Cheata Bikes, said the dealerships provide better customers service to the local end-user.
About Cheata Bikes
Cheata Bikes started in 2016. Bhagat said the bikes are shipped all over the country and around the world to areas like Europe and the Middle East. He said it’s important to him and the company use as many local part vendors as possible in the construction of the bicycles.
There are three models, which range from the $1,795 “Varuna” up to the “Apollo,” which costs $3,995. The higher prices offer more options such as wider tires, more paint options, and other part additions and upgrades.
The bicycles are equipped with 49cc, 4-stroke engines that get about 150 miles per gallon. The tank holds a half-gallon of gasoline and will get the rider about 75 miles per fill-up. The bike offers pedals, as well, which Bhagat said are a requirement by law — otherwise, the bikes would be classified as mopeds. As configured, anyone with a regular license can ride one both on city streets and in the bicycle lane.