The Baltimore Department of General Services auctioned off 17 dirt bikes this morning that were previously used by the Baltimore Police Department.
The Suzuki DR 350s, all 1996 models, were sold during the regular monthly vehicle auction held by the city. "Part of our fleet reduction strategy is to eliminate underutilized vehicles from the fleet," according to Ryan Trout, a DGS spokesman. He says fleet reduction has been ongoing since 2011: "We examine age, mileage, fuel usage, the maintenance and repair cost for each vehicle... and work with agencies to identify which vehicles can be eliminated from the fleet."
A police spokesman confirmed that the bikes "were previously used by the BPD in various patrol / enforcement capacities."
The auction also included sedans, plows, several earth-moving machines, and a ladder truck from the fire department. About 50 bidders followed auctioneer Larry Makowski of Express Auctioneers from lot to lot. Several bidders said the bikes were sold early on for between $500 and $1,200 each. "Some run, some don't," one bidder, who did not buy anything this time, said.
Baltimore police have been cracking down on illegal dirt bike riders in recent weeks, setting up "traffic calming" details on Reisterstown Road and chasing down—even hitting—some riders. Dirt bikes are illegal to ride in Baltimore City. The police bikes that were auctioned are "street legal," Trout says, and eligible for regular plates. Most of the dirt bikes the department seizes are not street legal—they lack lights or other necessary equipment—and are not registered, police have said.
Those bikes are sold out of state by the city's Department of Transportation, which holds the seized vehicles in an impound lot on Route 40. More than 200 dirt bikes have been seized this year, DOT spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes says in an email. "No surrounding States that touch Maryland are allowed to buy the dirt bikes," she writes.
Until three or four years ago, the city was crushing all the unregistered dirt bikes it seized. It is unclear why the policy was changed.
DGS's auctioneer knows who purchased all the ex-cop bikes, says Trout, but the city agency did not sell only to out-of-state buyers. "These aren't dirt bikes," Trout explains. "They're kind of like a rugged street legal motorcycle... they're a little sturdier than a regular motorcycle but they wouldn't be great for off-roading."
Hmmm. 350ccs... super-long tube shocks... tiny sprocket... knobby tires... If the Suzuki DR 350 Dual Sport is not a dirt bike, it sure fooled those idiots at Motorcycle News.