SPU – Jerusalem

Western WallFiltering Jerusalem traffic, two-up on a long-wheelbase hog, in the sun at paddling speeds, is exhausting.

We rode into the square where the Western Wall is.

You don’t DO that, but we did.

Special Police Unit were our escorts.  The SPU aren’t exactly “cops” in the traditional sense.  Ask them whether they are more “cop” or more “soldier,” and they will answer you back — quietly and without thinking twice about it — “soldier.”

The police spokesman doesn’t call them patrolmen or officers or cops either.  He calls them “fighters.”  They ride two to a bike, with teams circulating the city at every minute of every day.  Each team member is trained to ride or pillion.  Each is armed with an M4 SOPMOD carbine customized to their personal preference, and a “baby Eagle” Jericho pistol in a drop holster.

All of them are combat veterans.

None of them wear body armor.  They are not stone-faced — they laugh and smile, frown and arch their eyebrows like any other Israeli — but they are imperturbable.

Acceptance to the special patrol is on a selected volunteer basis.  They must volunteer, but they must also meet all the requirements: physical stamina, veteran of a combat arms unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, mental stability, weapons proficiency, riding ability.  Their training encapsulates everything that other police officers go through, plus more than a few things that regular cops never have to think about.

Not that Israel has “regular cops.”

Oh, and the bikes?  They’re bone stock F800GS BMWs with accessory heat shields and some lights bolted on.  They like the bikes, which have more power and better seats than the KLE500 Kawasakis they replaced.  The Beemers go well through the narrow, polished-stone alleyways and up and down the stairs of Jerusalem’s Old City, always two-up with a full combat load.

But they liked their KLEs pretty well, too.  And if you put them on R1200GSs, KTM 990 Adventures or freaking Gold Wings for that matter, they’d adapt and make it work for them, on the road, on the sidewalk and down the goat trails.

For these guys, even more than for Lance Armstrong, it’s really not about the bike.

Next Post


  1. I do hope you’re getting lots of cool new pics of remarkable experiences like this. keep the observations coming. When you get a moment, tell us how you’re liking the place and the people overall?

Speak Your Mind