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.
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.
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.”
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.
Below you can watch video of Quinn Redeker’s two runs at the San Francisco rodeo.
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:
- Ride Like a Pro (ridelikeapro.com): DVDs, books and training at multiple U.S. locations
- ProRider (proridermc.com): training at multiple U.S. locations
- Midwest Police Motorcycle Training (midwestmotorcycletraining.com): Michigan
- MotoMark1 (motomark1.com): North Carolina
- Motorcycle Training Academy (motorcycletrainingacademy.com): Colorado
- Northwest Motorcycle School (ridelikeacop.com): Oregon and Washington