by Dominic Scali, PCI #1382
Anne Arundel County (MD) Police Department
Springtime 2012. The Anne Arundel County Police Department Bike Unit was ready to purchase new bikes for 2013. Our lineup has been composed of Fujis and Treks for the past fifteen years, but we’re always open to new products. We became aware of the Safariland-Kona 29er in October 2012 and were able to demo it for several weeks. We made numerous attempts to purchase these bikes through our local shop; however, we were unable to do so because of “red tape.” Therefore, we purchased the new Trek Police 29er bikes for 2013.
The familiarity and history we have with the brand made our purchase easy; however, thoughts of the Safariland lingered in our minds. After a couple of months of waiting, we brought our Trek 29ers home and put them to work.
After taking the bikes for a test ride, my partner, Cpl. Kam Cooke, PCI #1355, and I both observed that the ride comfort was lacking. His frame is 21” and mine is 17”, but we both felt slumped over and stretched out as we reached for the wide handlebars. We made the appropriate adjustments but still did not feel comfortable. To combat the problem we went back to our local bike shop and purchased Bontrager RL stems to achieve a more upright riding position. The ride is more comfortable; however, the handlebars are still too long. Bring back the shorter handlebars from previous years. They made riding through tight spaces like parking lots and negotiating obstacles much easier.
The next thing we noticed were the disc brakes. We were excited because the first time we rode disc brakes was on the Safariland-Kona 29er. Our expectations were high when we mounted the Treks, which have mechanical disc brakes. However, when I attempted to make quick stops, I would instead coast to a stop. I was told by our bike mechanic that the brake pads needed to be worn in, but after several threshold braking stops, I noticed the brakes still sluggishly rolled to a stop. Of course this was an immediate concern, so we brought the bikes back to the shop. We explained to our shop mechanics what was occurring and had them verify what we were experiencing.
Our bike shop contacted their Trek rep and explained the problem. We actually had a personal conversation with the Trek rep and told him what we were experiencing. We were candid and gave the rep full disclosure that we had tested another bike prior to purchasing the Treks. We also told him that Trek may want to step up their game because a new police bike was available. The solution was to switch out the Shimano mechanical disc brakes for Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brakes, which was a huge improvement.
Earlier Trek police bike models were equipped with a combination tire that was great for our line of work. While on patrol, citizens would sometimes comment that our tires were worn out in the middle. Of course, we kindly informed them they were combination tires, which often led to further discussions about public safety cycling. Instead of a combination tire, the new 29er was spec’d with a lower profile, knobby mountain bike tire. There is a huge difference in rolling resistance, smoothness of the ride, and noise. Bring back the combination tire, Trek…please!
The drive train of the Trek is great and we have had no issues since deployment of the bike. Overall, Trek still provides a quality product; however, I believe they fell asleep at the wheel when developing the 29er for the police cycling community. Trek has a lot to learn from the new Safariland-Kona Police Mountain bike. If they will put some more time and attention into their police mountain bikes, I believe customers will remain loyal to the brand.
The MSRP on the Trek Public Safety bicycle is $1269.99. For more information, visit http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/town/urban_utility/police/police/.
Dominic has been a police officer since 2004 and on the bike patrol unit for about five years. He enjoys physical fitness and loves to ride bikes on and off the job. He can be reached at P91704@aacounty.org.
(c) 2014 IPMBA. This review appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of IPMBA News.