Tuesday, 7 June 2011


As cycling advocates, we're always pleased to hear of any increase in cycling activity. We recently heard of an increase in the number of Grampian Police officers on bicycle patrol - splendid! Here they are along with former Transport and Climate Change minister 'Fatty' Stewart Stevenson:

Chief Superintendent Mark McLaren said:
"Being visible and accessible within our communities is important to us.
"We know that people like to see us out and about on pedal cycles as it creates opportunities for better engagement which is not always possible when officers are travelling in vehicles.
"The big advantage here of course is that our staff like to use the bikes too, so this is a bit of a win/win situation.
"This is a great opportunity for us as not only do the bikes offer health and environmental benefits, they also have the added advantage of being able to quickly get into areas that aren't always immediately accessible by cars."
In a related development, we recently noticed bicycle paramedics on speculative patrol in central London:

All good stuff. But what particularly caught our interest was the name of the supplier of these public service urban mountain-bikes. Monopolytastic Killingry-mongers Smith and Wesson! Here are the most common specifications of their police bikes:

The 'Smith and Wesson Tactical':
Developed with the experiance and input from officers, the 'Tactical' model delivers the performance and reliability necessary for any department.
The 'Smith and Wesson Perimiter':
An excellent entry level bike offering the same high frame build standard as the higher specification bikes. Ideally suited for patrolling or community policing.
Both specifications include "silent hubs" (for "stealth" cycling) and are available for "civilians" to purchase.

At first we revelled in the thought that this arms-manufacturing company was now engaged in making bikes. We delightedly thought it was an example of swords being beaten into ploughshares. But then we shook off our idealistic naivity and realised that it was, perhaps, an example of the exact opposite of that.

With the exercise of a little healthy perspicacity we learn that the bikes are, in fact, generic bikes of the sort which you'll have seen bike shops marketing under their own names. They are outsource-manufactured in a who-knows-where factory through an agency agreement controlled by the box-shifting US-based bike mass-marketer Cycle Force Group, with the Smith and Wesson brand being licensed for marketing purposes only.
Neither Smith & Wesson nor Cycle Force Group risk any of their real capital in this enterprise. It seems that, perhaps, police forces respond positively to the core-brand-values embodied in the Smith and Wesson trademark. We have also learned that Smith and Wesson have similarly entered into a licensing agreement with North Carolina based Wellco Enterprises for the design and distribution of a full line of 'tactical law enforcement' footwear.
From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan we have supplied our best and bravest with the innovations needed to prevail in the world's toughest conditions. Today this mission continues as we outfit those currently fighting overseas as well as those returning home to face new challenges. It's this commitment that spawned our credo: There and Back. No matter where the battle lines are drawn.
We can, perhaps, learn a little of the mindset of these bicycle and boot marketers via their use of such language. And we can also learn a little of the mindset of institutional procurement officers when we realise that the Smith & Wesson brand is the critical marketing lever which pulls the trigger of their buying decision.

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