By Mike Harris, PCI #1125
Mill Creek (WA) Police Department
During the 2006 IPMBA Conference in Dayton, Ohio, I was walking through the vendor area and came across the Volcanic booth, which proclaimed themselves as “The Toughest Patrol Bikes on Earth”. My department had been riding a major brand’s bike for the past 14 years, so we were not looking at other brands. I was intrigued, though, as the bikes were a homegrown product – made in the USA by way of my home state of Washington. Upon my return to Washington, I contacted Eric Kackley, who answered all the department’s questions, resulting in the purchase of an Alpha Approach patrol bike.
The bike came equipped with the following components: Marzocchi MX Comp fork, Canecreek S-1 headset (sealed bearing), Truvativ Hussefelt riser bar, Truvativ XR stem, Truvativ XR seat post, Truvativ Howitzer bottom bracket, Truvativ Hussefelt cranks, Avid Juicy 7 hydraulic brakes, SRAM X9 trigger shifters, SRAM X9 rear derailleur, SRAM X9 front derailleur, SRAM cassette, WTB Speed V saddle, Shimano XT disc hubs, Sun Rhyno Lite XL rims, WTB tires, Serfas grips, Welling flat pedals with PowerGrip straps, bike rear rack, two water bottle cages, and a rear mount kickstand.
I took delivery of the bike during the 2007 IPMBA Conference in Baton Rouge. While there, I was able to put the bike through its paces in stair class, slow speed class, and the ever-fun conference competition. Because the bike was new, it needed a few tweaks to cables, brakes, and components, which Eric took care of as soon as they were brought to his attention.
Over the last five years, I have been quite pleased with the components and the bike geometry. I have ridden the bike on 10- and 12-hour shifts with no problems. It has held up to my attempts to break it.
The bike is nimble and maneuverable and has handled all patrol-related duties, such as stair ascent and descents, static and dynamic dismounts, curb-hopping, and maximum braking drills. General road and extensive off-road riding have presented no challenges or design challenges.
Since taking possession of the bike in 2007, I have replaced all the components on the bike due to normal wear and tear and my more than fair share of duty related incidents, including being run down by a drunk driver in January of 2009. The drive train was destroyed, along with the rear wheel. The frame was inspected and found to have no damage beyond scrapes. I guess it lived up to the company motto of being “The Toughest Patrol Bike on Earth”.
Over the years that I have ridden the bike, I have had the occasion to visit the Volcanic shop, where I have observed the manufacturing process. I have also observed design review where he has taken suggestions and acted on various complaints from officers regarding the bike design. He has figured out the fixes and incorporated the redesign into future models.
As with any small business, the Volcanic staff is usually multi-tasking, so you often have to leave messages. However, when they do get a message, they are prompt in returning the call, and their response time should continue to improve now that they have added a part-time customer service staff member.
Despite the participation of various other bike companies in the patrol market and my own prior dedication to a major bike brand, I have never regretted shifting the department bikes to Volcanic.
The Volcanic “APB” is currently available in three models: Vx5, Vx7, and Vx9. The most popular model is the Vx9, which is equipped as noted in the sidebar on the previous page. All models are available with 26” or 29” wheels and can be upgraded to include FOX Shox, Ergon grips, DT Swiss wheelsets, and/or a Holster Light.
Volcanic is an IPMBA Corporate Member and participates in IPMBA’s Product Purchase Program, offering 25% off Volcanic clothing and other off-duty gear. For more information, visit www.volcanicbikes.com.
2013 Volcanic “APB”
Approach Bicycle: Model Vx9
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ Howitzer XR
Brakes: Avid BB7 Mechanical Disc
Brake Levers: Avid FR5
Cassette: SRAM PG 950
Crank: Truvativ Hussefelt
Front Der: SRAM X-9
Rear Der: SRAM X-9
Fork: Rock Shox Recon **
Grips: Serfas Connector **
Handlebars: Truvativ Hussefelt
Headset: Cane Creek EC34/40
Pedals: XLC Pedals w/ Cages and Straps
Saddle: WTB Speed V
Seatpost: Truvativ Hussefelt
Shifters: SRAM X-9
Stem: Truvativ Stylo
Tires: Serfas Drifter
Wheelset: Shimano Deore / SUN SL1 **
Fork: FOX Shox
Wheelset: DT Swiss
Extra Accessories: Holster Light
Officer Mike Harris is a 25-year law enforcement veteran, serving the last 22 years with the Mill Creek Police Department. He has been a bike officer for 20 years and an IPMBA Instructor for four years. Mike is also a certified Mountain Bike Instructor for the International Mountain Bike Instructor Certification (IMIC) program, founded by two-time World Masters Downhill Champion Shaums March, and an instructor for the Evergreen Mountain Bike Association, Washington State.
(c) 2013. This review appeared in the Winter 2013 Issue of IPMBA News.