Frank 'Ponch' Poncherello - CHiPs

Everyone loves a pull with Ponch. He even kept junk food in a little plastic lunchbox in his pannier

No self-respecting kid growing up in the late '70s and early '80s dared miss an episode of CHiPs. Who didn't play at being Frank 'Ponch' Poncherello or Jon Baker of the California Highway patrol on their pushbikes, pulling over unsuspecting smaller kids for 'traffic misdemeanours.' The only argument was about who'd get to be Ponch because he out-cooled Jon-boy by ten to one.

Ponch (call sign 7 Mary 4) was played by Erik Estrada, a swarthy-looking dude from New York. Born in 1949, he started out in showbiz as a dancer and swapped his leotard for a customised Kawasaki Z1000R when CHiPs kicked off in 1977. Earning $25,000 per episode at the height of its popularity, it proved to be a good move.

Dancing aside, Estrada was no pussy. He crashed the Kwacker while filming in 1979 and the 400 kilo (900lbs) bike landed on him then landed him in hospital for 10 days. But he never missed any filming and fought back to fitness with a punishing schedule of 240 sit-ups and 120 push-ups a day. The reason why the bike was so damned heavy was because of all the crap added to make it look like a pukka police bike. He even kept junk food in a little plastic lunch box in his pannier further adding to the weight. And Ponch was very fond of Tutti-Frutti ice cream, remember?

Voted one of the world's top ten sexiest bachelors in 1979 by People magazine, Estrada perfected the art of looking cool on a motorcycle. Shades, an open face lid, short sleeve khaki shirt, tight khaki jeans and black riding boots maybe doesn't sound like perfect Californian street cred but Ponch pulled it off. Less successful was his squeaky-clean sidekick Jon Baker, played by Larry Wilcox. Best pals on screen, they had little to do with each other in real life. Always a hit with the ladies, Estrada (who's currently on his third wife) was once asked what he looks for in a woman. He simply grinned and replied: "T and A."

CHiPs ran for 139 episodes up until 1983 but has been repeated regularly ever since. The boys even teamed up again in 1998 to make a TV movie called CHiPs '99. The serial franchise was so successful that you could buy CHiPs bicycle sirens, action figures and bikes, helmets and lunchboxes.

Estrada, who still keeps two real CHiPs bikes in his living room has appeared in scores of films including Loaded Weapon 1, Fort Apache: The Bronx and The Dirty Dozen: The Final Mission as well as TV shows like Hawaii-Five-O, The Love Boat, Baywatch and The Six Million Dollar Man. He still appears in Spanish-language soaps in the US. But he'll forever be remembered as the coolest bike cop on TV, especially by disillusioned British bike cops sitting in the pissing rain on knackered old BMWs. Not the same as on the telly, is it boys?