Thursday, May 3, 2012

Undoing (a little bit) of tsunami damage

OK. I admit that I take the piss out of Harley-Davidson. But I do it because there's much that I admire about The Motor Company, and I think they can take it. Now, I want Harley-Davidson -- and in particular H-D's Canadian distributor -- to give me even more to admire.
This Harley looks surprisingly good, considering it just spent a year drifting across the Pacific to Canada.
After the tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, millions of tons of debris were swept out to sea, where currents took them towards Canada. A few days ago, a Japanese box van washed up on the shore of a small island off the coast of British Columbia. A beachcomber found the van, opened it up, and lo and behold there was a rusted but surprisingly intact Harley-Davidson motorcycle in it.

Since the license plate was clearly legible, it was a pretty easy matter to trace the bike's owner. He is Ikuo Yokoyama, a 29 year-old guy who lost pretty much everything he owned in the tsunami. (Surprisingly, Harleys have long been popular in Japan; for a while they licensed their designs to the Rykuo company, and Soichiro Honda himself rode and loved a hog.)
Ikuo was pumped to learn that his bike had been recovered, and told reporters that some of his fondest memories of life before the tsunami were of the rides he's taken around Japan. 
Someone at Harley in Japan, apparently, has said they're considering bringing Ikuo's bike back and restoring it.

That's a great idea, but not the best idea. You see, some of the most skilled Harley restorers in the entire world live and work in Vancouver, not far from where the tsunami Harley washed up.

Way back in 1917, Fred Deeley Ltd. became the first Harley dealership in Canada, and then the Harley importer for the entire country. Fred's son Trevor eventually took over the business and renamed it Trev Deeley Motorcycles. Trev played an important role for Harley, eventually serving on the Board. The Deeley family and their businesses -- including their dealership, Trev Deeley Motorcycles, which is still in operation in Vancouver, and Deeley H-D Canada, the distribution business, which operates out of Ontario -- are great supporters of all branches of motorcycle sport, including racing. Trev Deeley's little Twitter avatar is a flat track racer.

Along the way, Trev amassed an amazing collection of bikes, which were housed in the Trev Deeley Museum -- now known as The Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition, located at 1875 Boundary Road, in Vancouver. If you're anywhere near Vancouver and love motorcycles, it's one of the best collections I've ever seen, and well worth the detour.
Why send Ikuo's hog back to Japan to be restored, when the ace restorers who fixed up these bikes live and work in British Columbia? The Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition is one of the best motorcycle museums in the world.
Japan's been through enough, and still faces huge challenges restoring infrastructure and its economy after the tsunami. I think Harley-Davidson Canada should cover the costs of getting the bike to Vancouver, and that the expert restorers on staff at The Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition should return it to its former glory (and maybe then some, go nuts, you guys.)

Then, I think H-D should bring Ikuo to Canada for a ride through the Rockies, and fly man and bike back to Japan.

If you agree with me, tell Harley-Davidson Canada and The Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition. H-D Canada doesn't publish an email address, but you can Twitter message them at @HD_Canada. You can email the museum here: For good measure, why not email Mike Bellegarde, who handles marketing chores for the Vancouver dealership at

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