Skip to main content

If you’ve driven distances on the scenic highways of California, you’ve likely seen California Highway Patrol units out and about. What’s more, if you’ve seen “CHiPs,” you’ve certainly seen West Coast coppers on motorcycles cruising up and down the Golden State’s many scenic vistas enforcing crime and having a laugh or two along the way. So, does the California Highway Patrol still use motorcycles to enforce traffic laws?

The storied California Highway Patrol still uses motorcycles to enforce traffic laws after decades of service

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is one of the most famous police units in the entire world, let alone the United States. As such, it’s no surprise that the California Highway Patrol still uses BMW motorcycles to carry out their highway-bound duties on two wheels. 

What? A German motorcycle with a gun-toting California cop aboard? Yep. You’ll have to get over it. According to the Los Angeles Times, CHP has been fielding BMW bikes for decades. However, a glance at the old-school CHiPs series will reveal classic bikes like the Japanese Kawasaki KZPs with big, fat, dinner plate-style disc brakes.

A California Highway Patrol Officer shoots a radar gun.
A CHP officer uses a radar device | IPGGutenbergUKLtd via iStock

Of course, the latest CHiPs nostalgia grabber, the 2017 “CHiPs” movie starring comic actors Michael Peña and Dax Shepard featured another unlikely two-wheeled hero. The bike? None other than the Ducati Hypermotard. Well, as fancy as that might sound, it’s far from the bike you’d expect cops to use. 

Do California Highway Patrol officers get to keep their motorcycles when they retire?

Whether they’re cops in reality or on a TV show, it’s unlikely that they’ll get to keep their service motorcycles. Police motorcycles used by the CHP or another law enforcement agency endure hard, dynamic lifespans. As such, agencies send bikes to auction or the junkyard following their service lives.

Of course, if a police officer or family member feels especially misty-eyed and nostalgic, they can buy a police motorcycle at auction following its service life. That is, granted they can find it and it hasn’t been wrecked.