I got the 1960s contemporary photo (above) of the nine Victoria Police Mobile Traffic Section (MTS) solos off the internet. I think the site might have been the State Library of Victoria. The photo shows the funeral procession of Sir Dallas Brooks, a former Governor of Victoria, which dates it to March 1966. I was a 21 year-old Constable at the time. I must admit that the look of these bikes and uniforms, viewed as a teenager, played a significant part in enticing me into the job in 1964.
The bikes are all 600cc Earles Fork BMWs, but they are not all the same. The bike ridden by the Senior Constable leading the escort (CZ347) and CZ362 are R69S sports models, capable of 106mph. Two others whose number plates are readable in the photo (DE198 & DE422) are 96 mph R60/2 models. You can distinguish between the two models from the details visible in the photo: R69S have finned retainers on the exhaust pipe headers, as opposed to plain on the R60/2 and two fins on the rocker covers, instead of six on the R60/2. You can also tell by the alphabetic prefixes of the registration numbers that the R60/2s are newer. They all have blue lights mounted on the handlebar fairings. CZ362 doesn't have the lights. The Senior's bike does - they might have been retrofitted to the boss's bike when they started putting them on the new R60/2s. He no doubt would have wanted to keep his R69S, rather than “down grade to” a new R60/2. The bikes were personal issue to the members and they would keep them at home, riding them to and from work.
I don't know whether the change from R69S models to R60/2s was because, in milder tune, they were more tractable for escort duty, or because they were cheaper than the sports models. They were certainly that.
As it turned out I never did get onto a police bike. Just the point of being senior enough to get trained to ride one, a career opportunity opened in implementing the first police computer system in Victoria. I had at that stage though already, in the same uniform, had some fun hooning around in MTS Ford Falcon V8s. (The rest of the Force called us “Leather Legged Louts”).
Pictured above (after restoration) is the BMW R50 I bought in rough shape in 2002.
It already had the solo saddle, front and rear crash bars and leather panniers, though the latter were not properly attached.
In the course of restoring the bike as a ‘police solo’ I unearthed a discarded fairing and used a very old siren, bought on eBay and modified to look the part. A bloke in country Victoria loaned me the pannier mounts from his genuine, but basket case, police bike to copy and then to fit nice new leather bags.
In the course of figuring out how to attach the fairing I contacted people who had been in the Police Transport Branch. They were able to advise me on making the necessary brackets and also passed on the information that Victoria Police, before selecting BMW as a supplier in about 1960 did have one R50 for evaluation.
Predictably they deemed it under-powered and went for the R69S.
Regards, Lawrie Bradly
Our thanks to Lawrie Bradly for the information about the BMW’s used by Victoria Police in the 1960’s