Whatever Happened to the Tsunami Harley?

Harley-Davidson drifts 4000 miles across Pacific Ocean

Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been ridden to every corner of the earth, but none has ever made a journey as remarkable as Ikuo Yokoyama’s 2004 Softail Night Train. Yokoyama had his Harley parked in a storage container outside his home in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture when the devastating, 8.9-magnitude Tohoku earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. The resulting 25-foot tsunami destroyed the 29-year-old’s home and swept the storage container out to sea. Remarkably, the container remained sealed and afloat, drifting slowly across the Paci!c Ocean for more than a year. It eventually washed up and broke apart on a remote beach in British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii Islands, more than 4000 miles from Yokoyama’s home.

The bike remained partially buried on the beach for a month before a beachcomber discovered it. Harley-Davidson HQ heard the story from staff at Steve Drane Harley-Davidson in Victoria, British Columbia, who assisted in recovering the bike. The Motor Company offered to repair and return the Softail to Yokoyama, but the owner instead asked for the bike to be displayed at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, as a tribute to the more than 15,000 lives lost in the disaster—including three members of Yokoyama’s family. Harley-Davidson obliged, and the bike is on display at the museum now.