With his bike gloves in one hand and helmet in the other, George Lescallett boarded a plane bound for Irvine, Calif., to retrieve the ZG1400 Kawasaki, the bike that would save his business.
Four months later Lescallett, owner of Mesa-based motorcycle repair shop Probity Cycle Inc., had a fleet of 21 specially tailored Kawasaki police bikes for the Mesa Police Department.
“I did it because I was afraid of going under,” Lescallett said. “I’m a cop-shop, and law enforcement is the cake. Civilian work is the icing.”
The Mesa Police Department purchased the fleet of police bikes with RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations) money, a fund generated by asset forfeitures.
Federal and state laws mandate that RICO money be used only toward efforts to fight organized crime and prevent drug use.
The Mesa Police Department will purchase an additional four motorcycles using grant money from the governor’s office.
Since Lescallett first established Probity in 1999, Arizona’s law enforcement agencies have comprised a significant portion of its clientele.
Probity, which means integrity, honesty and moral uprightness, faced uncertainty when Kawasaki Motors Corp. decided to stop manufacturing police bikes in 2005, Lescallett said.
Many officers use Kawasaki police bikes, and Lescallett was afraid he would lose those clients to Kawasaki competitors when the time came for police departments to purchase new bikes.
Lescallett said he called Kawasaki incessantly to ask if the company would start manufacturing police bikes again.
He said he was almost ready to give up when he had a breakthrough idea. Lescallett was determined if Kawasaki Motors Corp. was not going to make police bikes for him to repair, then he was going to turn the Kawasaki ZG1400 into a police bike called the Enforcer.
After receiving approval from Kawasaki Corp., Lescallett and his mechanics, Jake Walter and Robert LaVar, set to work designing the police package.
Probity Cycle enlisted the help of several police officers while designing the package so that it reflected the officers’ needs.
“Our goal was to keep the officers safe on the road,” Lescallett said. “We wanted this to be the best police bike on the market, so we asked them for input.”
Earlier this year Mesa Police Department Motor Sergeant Cory Calkins, a friend and client of Lescallett, started to shop around for new bikes.
Calkins said at the time the Mesa Police Department had aging motorcycles with outdated brake equipment that wasn’t safe for the officers to be riding.
Calkins said he was intrigued by Lescallett’s idea to transform the Enforcer.
“George developed a perfect package police motorcycle,” Calkins said. “The officers are very satisfied with the new bikes. This is the next generation of police bikes.”
Already, Calkins said he has received calls from other divisions inquiring about his department’s new bikes, which is good news for Probity Cycle.
The package includes a groundbreaking feature called a “drop bar,” which is a piece of metal that protects the bike when an officer has to drop the bike.
This seemingly small innovation has major implications, Lescallett said. Typically, when an officer drops a bike it is very common that the plastic frame, handlebars or the mirrors will be damaged.
Then the bike has to be serviced, which comes at the expense of taxpayers’ dollars.
The first newly outfitted police bike has been dropped 50 times without any signs of damage, he said.
The irony of the new police package is that officers likely will not have to bring their bikes in for repairs as often.
However, Lescallett does not see this as a problem.
“If this takes off, I will be so busy building other packages that I won’t have to worry about (having fewer repairs),” Lescallett said.
Based on the amount of interest he has already received from other potential buyers, Lescallett is confident he will stay busy fulfilling orders for his patented police package.
And if he does find some free time in between orders, Lescallett said he would like to take on more civilian work (repairs on non-police bikes). “I figure, if I can make the police happy, I can make anybody happy,” Lescallett said.