There is nothing particularly sexy about an aluminum 26-inch hardtail mountain bike with toe-clip pedals, bar ends, cantilever brakes, and an aging Manitou fork that appears to be covered in lint. But something changes when you stripe the word “Police” across the top tube, and acknowledge the fact that this bike (a black Trek with white lettering) plays an integral role in keeping the peace within the San Francisco International Airport.
At least, that was my thought process a few days back when I spotted the untended Five-O steed parked across from a food court where I was waiting out a flight delay. Not one to leave curiosity unscratched, I ambled over with cell phone camera in hand and started snapping away. There didn’t seem any harm in documenting what was essentially a beater mountain bike that had been lucky enough to be born into a life of indoor-only riding.
The parts spec was decidedly unimpressive: oversized comfort saddle, external cable routing, a semi-slick tire that’d have little chance on a real trail, old brakes, old pedals, old wheels, old everything. Never mind a riser stem that had so much spacing underneath you’d have thought it belonged on the end of a boom mic. Heck the damn thing even had a kickstand.
Still there is something innately cool about this black beauty beater. What crimes had it helped solve? Which criminals had it tracked down? What was top speed when charging down a concourse straightaway?
I asked all these questions when its owner showed up. But the polite but stern SFPD officer declined to enlighten me — or reveal her name. Instead she humored me with a slightly awkward pose in front of the bike, explained that the panniers contained paperwork and her lunch, then hopped aboard her two-wheeled squad car and quickly rolled away.
Eat your heart out Poncherello. This police bike is way cooler than yours.