The Olympic Harley-Davidson was made by Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA at their York, Pennsylvania facility and it is designated as an FLHRP Road King Police Special. It is powered by a 45ø air-cooled V-Twin, 88 (1,450cc) twin-cam engine with separate chain-driven five speed manual gearbox with a chain drive to the rear wheel. The materials of construction are aluminium alloys, steel and alloy steel, fibreglass, rubber and plastic. It was used for Torch Relay security for both Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games

In 1998, SOCOG and its Torch Relay Division modeled a relay route that would highlight Australia's history, people, geography and multicultural achievements. Designed to awaken an Olympic spirit, the relay would pass within an hour's drive of 85 per cent of all Australians (some 17 million people), and would visit all States, capital cities and over 1000 communities. By employing around 40 different modes of transport, it would penetrate vast areas of regional Australia as well as many remote locations.

Preparations for the 2000 Olympic Torch Relay proved enormous logistical efforts that relied heavily upon sponsorship, Local Community Working Groups, and hundreds of community volunteers. These efforts materialized rapidly from 12 May 2000 when the Olympic flame commenced its thirty-day journey through Greece, across thirteen Oceanic countries, and on to Uluru. Here, a site of great cultural and historical significance, Australia's first Aboriginal gold- medallist, Nova Peris-Kneebone, commenced the 100-day torch relay around the continent.

This was the longest, most extensive torch relay in Olympic history, and required 130 official personnel to provide media and medical services, assist torchbearers, and assemble stages for daily community celebrations.

On January 31, 2000 Sandy Hollway, Chief Executive of SOCOG issued a media release to announce that Harley-Davidson would supply 102 of its Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycles, 154 bicycles, 60 All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), 15 scooters and 6 off-road motorcycles to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

On the same day Harley-Davidson issued their own media release headed "Harley-Davidson named official provider of motorcycles to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games" and noted that ".four specially designed Harley-Davidson police Road-King motorcycles." would be used by the Australian Police Force during the Torch Relay. The motorcycle police were to provide security for the torch-bearers.

The Torch Relay escort motorcycles, 10 in number, were painted ".'Brilliant Blue Pearl' colour based on the Olympic 'palette' "Sydney Blue" which is reminiscent of the Sydney Harbour and sky"(Q & A draft for launch of 'Look of Convoy' event, 30/3/2000). One of these ten motorcycles was used as a media bike (email 5/4/2000 Terry Benson to Greg Garay). A further ten motorcycles were supplied to SOCOG for auction. These were supplied with the "Look of the Games" insignia but differed in detail from the Torch Relay motorcycles and they were not fitted with police lights and siren. In a fax to Harley-Davidson dated 21/6 it would appear that the latter ten motorcycles were painted different colours. Three were silver, three were purple, two were blue and two were red.

During the course of the Torch Relay and the Paralympic Torch Relay four of the motorcycles were used at any one time to escort the torch- bearers while the others were kept in reserve. All ten provided escort duty at some stage of the Torch Relay and Paralympic Torch Relay.

The Olympic Harley-Davidson is designated as an FLHRP Road King Police Special. It is powered by a 45ø air-cooled V-Twin, 88 (1,450cc) twin-cam engine with separate chain-driven five speed manual gearbox with a chain drive to the rear wheel. The materials of construction are aluminium alloys, steel and alloy steel, fiberglass, rubber and plastic.

The Road King is a descendant of the 'top-of-the-line' FL ElectraGlide introduced into the Harley-Davidson range in 1965. The ElectraGlide was basically an FL DuoGlide introduced in 1958, with the addition of a 12 volt electrical system and an electric starter. Over the years the FL Glides have epitomised the Harley cruisers with their proliferation of fairings, panniers, crash bars, luggage racks, running boards and electrical equipment such as AM/FM radio, cassette player, intercom, cruise control.

However, the Road King, introduced in 1994, rather than following the "heavy weight" theme, possessed minimal touring equipment and it could all be removed easily leaving a stripped bike capable of easier operation in city and suburban areas; more in the spirit of the FX Dyna models; the Low Rider, Wide Glide and Super Glide. Although not as light as the FX series they were lighter than the FL series cruisers.

The first police Harley was bought by the city of Detroit in 1908. By 1924 more than 1,400 police forces across America had at least one Harley-Davidson on strength. In 1926, after setting up an office to handle fleet sales to police forces, a factory police options pack was developed. The most significant item in the police pack was the 'Police Special' speedometer. Until the production of the Road King American Police forces used the FXRP Low Rider (introduced 1985) and the FLHT-Police ElectraGlide (introduced 1993); both of which possessed an up-rated electronics system, coloured pursuit lights, radio carrier and siren switches. The siren was optional. The Police range for 2002 consisted of the FLHPI Road King, the FLHTPI Electra Glide, the FXDP Dyna Defender, the XL Sportster 883, the TLE sidecar (with FLHTPI Electra Glide) and, for the private pleasure of current or retired police officers, an FLHTCUI Ultra Classic Electra Glide Peace Officer Special Edition.

Harleys have been in use in Australia at least since 1912. They held a number of distance and endurance records made possible by their power and ruggedness. In 1924 Harley-Davidson held five major road records: Sydney to Perth; Melbourne to Perth; Adelaide to Perth; Sydney to Brisbane and Melbourne to Sydney.

The first police use of Harleys in Australia occurred in 1922 by traffic control officers in Adelaide. Their use doesn't appear to have been widespread with most police services in Australia seeming to favour the British bikes. However, the decision to buy British was not always supported within the service. In 1945 the NSW Commissioner of Police sent a telegram to "Divimpro" advising that Harleys were 'outstanding' especially in rough country. The English bikes were absolutely unable to cope and the cost of maintaining the English bikes was 'heavy'. The telegram ends with "Harley-Davidson strongly favoured". Despite this entreaty it would appear that the New South Wales Police Force continued to purchase English motorcycles.

The Harley-Davidson is the only large engine capacity touring motorcycle in the Museum's collection at this stage. The collection comprises mostly small capacity English commuter motorcycles or Australian made derivatives. However, like the other motorcycles the Harley still employs a chain primary and secondary drive system (although toothed belt drive is available on Harleys) and standard controls of foot-operated gear lever on the left side and foot operated rear brake pedal on the right. The front brake is operated from a hand lever on the right handlebar and the clutch is activated by a hand lever on the left handlebar. The throttle is a twist grip on the right handlebar.

This motocycle was used as security for the Torch Relay in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It was owned by the Olympic Coordination Authority/Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, before being donated to the Powerhouse Museum.

Limited Edition Road King Police Special, number five of ten, provided for the torch Relay.

Image and information sourced from the Powerhouse Museum
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