Harley Davidson or BMW, USA or Germany?

RALEIGH There are questions not only about the price, but also about the brand of motorcycles imported from Germany.

Harley Davidson, made in the USA, have been the traditional motorcycles of U.S. law enforcement, but Raleigh's police chief says his officers are going with a new choice, German made BMW.

"We say what are the motorcycles that you need, they do the research and they come back and recommend the BMW," Raleigh Police Department Chief Harry Dolan said.

Officials say many law enforcement agencies are going with BMW these days.

Raleigh Police say they will lease nine motorcycles through Capitol BMW in Raleigh.

Ray Price, a Harley Davison dealer in Raleigh, had leased motorcycles to the police department since 1996.

"It was disappointing more than anything, because we had such a long relationship for a number of years," Price said.

Mary Ann Baldwin the chair of the Raleigh City Council Public Safety Committee said Price was never considered when they approved the nine BMW motorcycles. She says the decision was only based on what police commanders said were differences in handling and safety.

Though the BMWs do cost more, the contract was not competitively bid for the lowest price. Competitive bid rules are not in effect, because the City will not own the motorcycles.

However in contrast, the City of Asheville recently shopped for the best price among all motorcycle makes, among different dealers, in different cities.

As a result, an Asheville Harley Davison dealer is leasing two motorcycles to Asheville Police for $2 a year. It's partly a promotional stunt, but Raleigh's three year lease works out to $572 per month, per motorcycle.

"I think it is a good deal," Dolan said. "It's a good deal, because first and foremost, the officers have said first and foremost this is the motor we want to use."

In Ashville at Toxic Customs, a custom bike shop, the owner says the police might reconsider their lease terms.

"I would say that sounds a little excessive if you are getting multiple motorcycles," Michael Causey said. "We think you should try to stimulate our economy as opposed to someone else's on the other side of the pond."

Meanwhile, Raleigh's German built motorcycles should hit the streets in about a month.

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