Profile: Quinn Redeker, Ventura Police’s ‘Top Gun’ Rider

Quinn Redeker competing at the Third Annual International Police Motorcycle Skills Competition, held in San Francisco, California, on August 1, 2015. Negotiating tight cone patterns with speed and precision requires remarkable clutch and throttle control, excellent balance and laser-like focus. (Photography by the author)
Quinn Redeker competing at the Third Annual International Police Motorcycle Skills Competition, held in San Francisco, California, on August 1, 2015. Negotiating tight cone patterns with speed and precision requires remarkable clutch and throttle control, excellent balance and laser-like focus. (Photography by the author)
Quinn Redeker is a Corporal with the Ventura Police Department in Southern California.
Quinn Redeker is a Corporal with the Ventura Police Department in Southern California.

On a cloudy Sunday morning, Corporal Quinn Redeker queued up for his first timed run on a pier at San Francisco’s Embarcadero, beneath the massive Bay Bridge. Dressed in full uniform, with a gun belt, dark sunglasses, a three-quarter helmet and tan roper gloves (a nod to the character Jon Baker on CHiPs), Quinn raced down a narrow, traffic cone-lined chute and began working his way through the first of six tight, complex cone patterns.

Over the PA system the emcee told the crowd, “For those civilians out there watching, if you’re wondering who’s the best, it’s this guy right here. Quinn has won more motor competitions than most of the officers out here have competed in.”

Speeding up then braking hard, turning the bars lock-to-lock and tossing the 700-pound BMW R 1200 RT-P side-to-side, Quinn moved like an acrobat, shifting his body to counterbalance turns and taking his foot off the inside peg like a trials rider. He was fast and smooth, and his elapsed time of 2 minutes, 28 seconds was the best yet. Unfortunately, he missed a small section and the run was disqualified. If Quinn had a chance of winning, it would come to down to his second and final run, with no margin for error.

After five years as a motor officer, Ventura Police Department policy required Quinn to rotate off the motorcycle. He’s still the department’s motor officer trainer and rides for special events, but for the past two years his beat has been on four wheels instead of two. During his motor officer rotation, Quinn participated in more than 70 “motor comps”—motorcycle skills competitions, or rodeos—throughout the Southwest, winning all but two of them. At his first rodeo, Quinn had the fastest time but lost due to penalties because he hit a few cones. At another he fried his clutch.

To prepare for competition, Quinn rides tight figure eights over and over in an empty parking lot. The patterns allows him to practice full-lock turns in both directions, counterbalancing (notice his inside foot is completely off the peg) and clutch/throttle control. On the new liquid-cooled BMW R 1200 RT-P, Quinn disables the ABS and turns off the traction control so he can lock or slide either wheel as needed.
To prepare for competition, Quinn rides tight figure eights over and over in an empty parking lot. The patterns allows him to practice full-lock turns in both directions, counterbalancing (notice his inside foot is completely off the peg) and clutch/throttle control. On the new liquid-cooled BMW R 1200 RT-P, Quinn disables the ABS and turns off the traction control so he can lock or slide either wheel as needed.
Atop the gas tank are Quinn’s trademark tan roper gloves and labels printed with mnemonics to remind him to use certain riding techniques. (Photo by John Cutright)
Atop the gas tank are Quinn’s trademark tan roper gloves and labels printed with mnemonics to remind him to use certain riding techniques. (Photo by John Cutright)

No longer a motor officer, Quinn took a break from competition, allowing him to spend more off-duty time with his family and to focus on other types of training as a member of Ventura’s SWAT unit. But then Quinn got a call from Chuck Downing, a retired California Highway Patrol motor officer who now works for BMW Motorrad, inviting him to compete in the Third Annual International Motorcycle Skills Competition, in San Francisco. Downing wanted to showcase the new 2015 BMW R 1200 RT-P police motorcycle, with its more powerful, liquid-cooled boxer twin, wet clutch and other features, and he wanted Quinn to be the pilot.

Riding through a motor comp’s cone patterns with speed and precision is a remarkable display of throttle and clutch control. For years, Quinn had honed his skills on the air-cooled, dry clutch version of the R 1200 RT-P. With just a few weeks’ notice, he had to adapt to the new clutch, as well as the riding modes and semi-active suspension. Quinn practiced figure eights—akin to a basketball player practicing free throws—and he did a shakedown rodeo a week before the San Francisco event.

Riding fast comes naturally to Quinn. As a kid he rode a dirt bike in the hills surrounding the San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles. His older brother, Brennen, says Quinn was always competitive and never wanted Brennen to let him win. Quinn raced in the desert and on motocross tracks, and he got his first street bike, a Honda Nighthawk, when he was 15. Quinn’s desire to learn anything and everything about riding led him to try his throttle hand at dirt track, trials and roadracing.

Though precocious on a motorcycle, Quinn came late to his career as a police officer. After studying business in college, he traveled around the world as an executive for a manufacturing company. Burned out by the corporate grind, Quinn found inspiration while collaborating with his father, a screenwriter, on a project about human trafficking. The project opened his eyes to the plight of victims, and he decided to apply for the police academy in his mid-30s.

During a motor competition, police officers must ride through half a dozen different cone patterns, where the cones are tall and tightly spaced. Time penalties are assessed for hitting or knocking over cones, so riding clean as well as fast is the name of the game.
During a motor competition, police officers must ride through half a dozen different cone patterns, where the cones are tall and tightly spaced. Time penalties are assessed for hitting or knocking over cones, so riding clean as well as fast is the name of the game.

When Ventura PD needed new motor officers, Quinn’s riding experience helped get him a berth in the rigorous training program. During his motor officer rotation, Quinn reported to Commander Ryan Weeks. “He’s a great rider and has a great reputation in the department,” Weeks said. “He’s got the right personality and a strong work ethic. Success at the rodeos is good training and keeps you sharp. His wins were good exposure for the department, so Quinn had support all the way up the chain.”

Sergeant Eddie Chan, a motor officer with the San Jose Police Department, has faced off against Quinn many times, and over time they became friends. “Quinn is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever met. He puts in a lot of practice and puts a lot of thought into riding. And Quinn’s been a great influence on the sport. He showed many of us the value of counterbalancing, and he’s very approachable, always willing to teach others.”

Drawing upon his years of riding and racing dirt bikes, Quinn is a master of counterbalancing--putting his body on the outside of the bike during tight turns and weighting or unweighting the footpegs, while at the same time modulating the clutch and throttle and turning his head to look where he wants to go.
Drawing upon his years of riding and racing dirt bikes, Quinn is a master of counterbalancing–putting his body on the outside of the bike during tight turns and weighting or unweighting the footpegs, while at the same time modulating the clutch and throttle and turning his head to look where he wants to go.
Quinn queued up for his final run at the Third Annual International Motorcycle Skills Competition. The transponder on his right forearm is used to electronically time his run. Quinn let us mount a GoPro camera atop his helmet; click on the link to the left to see video of his runs.
Quinn queued up for his final run at the Third Annual International Motorcycle Skills Competition. The transponder on his right forearm is used to electronically time his run. Quinn let us mount a GoPro camera atop his helmet; click on the link to the left to see video of his runs.

Quinn’s reputation for winning motor comps got the attention of Lee Parks, who runs the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic and now holds the contract for the California Motorcycle Safety Program. “Quinn is very well-rounded, combining lots of different skills—he’s like the MacGyver of riding. And he has a great attitude.” Parks was sufficiently impressed by Quinn to hire him to teach slow-speed riding skills to 400 motorcycle safety instructors.

Quinn’s diversity of riding skills, obsessive training regimen and ability to perform well under pressure contribute to his success at motor comps. But watching him compete, Quinn clearly has something extra—that almost supernatural blend of talent, grace and forethought often seen in professional athletes. He makes it look easy when it most certainly isn’t.

Going into his final run in San Francisco, Quinn had to ride clean, making no mistakes that could cost him time penalties, but he also had to keep up the pace because he was up against some formidable competitors. He ran a penalty-free 2:29, just a second off his earlier time. By the end of the day no one else rode faster than 2:30, which earned Quinn the Top Gun award for the best overall rider. Not bad for a guy who came out of “retirement” to compete on an all-new bike.

Click HERE to see video of Quinn Redeker’s two runs, or view them below.

For his first run, we strapped the GoPro camera on the back of his motorcycle:

For his second run, we mounted the GoPro camera on his helmet:

Police motor officer-style training is available for civilians:

15 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t try that combination of body positioning, motorcycle lean angle and front wheel direction at home, kids. Especially not on a 700 lb bike. Great job, Officer Quinn!

  2. Very skillful! Reminds me of trials riding in a way. Just making a U turn on a narrow street on my FJR1300 is hard enough for me!

    • In the past couple of weeks I’ve had two riders on FJR 1300’s come to my class. One had the automatic trans. On that bike I found starting off and staying in 2nd gear thru all the low speed exercises worked very well. This past weekend a rider on the standard FJR 1300 did so well he won the the best rider in the class trophy in our timed event. You can see him on Ride Like a Pro inc. facebook page. If you know the proper techniques, low speed maneuvers on the FJR are a breeze.

  3. What an amazing rider. I ride an 870 lb ultra classic and have always wished for skills like this during slow tight turns. Good for him. Most riders could use improvement in this area. I have taken one of Lee Parks courses. Well worth the time.

  4. I can’t help but think that to truly aquire the exceptional level of profiency exitibited by officer Quinn one must be both willing and financially able to drop their motorcycle not once but repeatedly. Practice requires the acceptance of failure and for one using their own bike that is a lot of acceptance.

    • Well, it’s not his bike so dropping it just means the department pays for the repairs. Taking away the fear of damaging your personal bike let’s one push the limits. I would love to have a beater bike to do this (or at least a separate set of tupperware).

      • The bike has crash bars front and rear. If it falls over, nothing happens to it. But there are a million excuses to not become a skilled rider. The, ”I’d be just as good as this guy if I could use somebody Else’s bike” is just one of them.

  5. From personal experience I can strongly recommend Northwest Motorcycle School (in the recommended links), especially if the fantastic instructor and fine gentleman, Zsolt Dornay, is still teaching there.
    Also strongly recommended from personal experience is a program in the Chicago area not listed in the links, Lock & Lean – see lockandlean.com. Lock and lean also has a fantastic instructor, Ben Wolfe.
    I have no personal interest in either, but my skills and safety margins and the fun of riding have all been tremendously improved at both schools.

    As for scratching your bike, many bikes like Harleys and BMWs can easily be set up so that scratches occur almost always only on the bottom side of crash bars or cheap pucks attached to crash bars. Anyway, what’s more important, being an excellent and safe rider with a few scratches in your chrome, or being a crummy rider with a high probability of having your smashed up bike on the back of flat-bed and you in the hospital or worse?

  6. sheeeett; that aint nothin that Leroy can’t do on a stolen crotch rocket after chuggin four tall boys & smokin three blunts. He can do it on the rear wheel only with big Shirley on the back carrying a stolen big screen TV too.

  7. Just curious, in the interest of small bikes now becoming more popular, Janus motorcycles’ Halcyon is a new company producing some 1920’s retro bikes. These are quite interesting and rival the Suzuki TU250 and other smaller motorcycles. It sure would be nice to see a review of these bikes. The 250 size motorcycles offer a step above a scooter.
    Early thanks for your time, John

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