Canadians return tsunami bike to Japanese owner

VICTORIA — Call it the brotherhood of the travelling bike. For many Canadian bikers the storied journey of the Harley-Davidson bike from Japan to B.C.’s rocky shores after last years’ tsunami will not be complete until it is reunited with its original owner.

VICTORIA — Call it the brotherhood of the travelling bike.

For many Canadian bikers the storied journey of the Harley-Davidson bike from Japan to B.C.’s rocky shores after last years’ tsunami will not be complete until it is reunited with its original owner.

Since it was pulled from a remote beach on Haida Gwaii, volunteers have looked after the bike every step of the way — ferrying it across Hecate Strait and then driving it about 1,600 kilometres from the northwestern, B.C. city of Prince Rupert to Victoria, where it will be shipped back to Japan.

“I thought, you know, if I lost one of my bikes it would be pretty important to get it back,” said Ralph Tieleman, a Tofino, B.C., man and motorcycle enthusiast, who trucked the bike to Victoria.

After dropping off the bike at Steve Drane Harley-Davidson Sunday and returning back to his home on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tieleman figures he’ll have travelled at least 3,000 kilometres.

The 2004 Harley-Davidson Night Train bike — caked in salt and damaged by pounding surf — may be one of the most unique and improbable artifacts to hit the west coast of Canada since the disaster.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Coast Guard sank an unmanned fishing boat because it was a hazard to shipping and to the coastline. Last month, a soccer ball lost by a Japanese teenager also washed ashore on an Alaskan island.

The bike was found in April on Graham Island, the largest Haida Gwaii island, by Masset, B.C. resident Peter Mark.

The motorcycle had made it across the Pacific stored in a large container and packed in Styrofoam.

Traced through the bike’s licence plates, the motorcycle’s owner was identified as Ikuo Yokoyama, a 29-year-old Japanese man who lost three family members in last year’s disaster.

Tieleman, who began riding Harleys at the age of 15, said he heard about the bike and decided to get involved.

He said Mark went through exceptional effort to get the Harley, driving about 60 kilometres off road and in a four-by-four to reach the buried bike and winching it out of the sand.

The bike was then taken to the ferry and arrived Friday in Prince Rupert, where it was met by Tieleman and his truck.

Tieleman said he drove east to Prince George, south to Vancouver, and then hopped on yet another ferry that took him to Victoria.

Along the way, people, and even police, stopped to look at the bike, some even taking photos, said Tieleman.

“It’s caked in salt and corrosion,” said Tieleman, after arriving in Victoria. “There’s rocks jammed everywhere. It got beat up on the beach a bit.”

The bike’s frame is still good and so are its engine and transmission cases, he said, noting that even the bike’s front end is in good shape.

According to a statement, Steve Drane Harley-Davidson will prepare the bike for shipment to Japan, where it will be restored by Harley-Davidson Japan and returned to its owner.

Tieleman said the journey provides a powerful lesson to others who find tsunami-related debris on B.C. beaches.

“Remember that it’s somebody’s property and what people there went through,” he said. “It’s not just junk. At one point, it was part of someone’s life.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A commercial building, housing two businesses, in Stettler was completed destroyed by a fire Thursday. (Photo courtesy Stettler Regional Fire Department)
Fire destroys commercial building in Stettler

A commercial building just outside of Stettler was destroyed by a fire… Continue reading

Almost half of Alberta's population should have at least one shot by the end of May said Premier Jason Kenney Monday morning.
Alberta poised for economic ‘renaissance’ after pandemic, says premier

Economic recovery is Alberta’s “next big challenge,” says the province’s premier. “It’s… Continue reading

Red Deer has a new welcome sign at the south end at the new entrance from Hwy 2. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Red Deer ranks 241st on MacLean’s Best Communities list

The list features 415 Canadian communities

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

A FedEx worker loads the 255,600 doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine which came from Europe into a freezer trailer to be transported during the COVID-19 pandemic at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada’s incoming vaccine supply from Moderna will… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Have an opinion you'd like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
Letter: MLAs who are against tougher restrictions have no plan for consequences

The group of UCP MLAs pushing to end lockdowns are exacerbating what… Continue reading

Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair leaves the police station after being charged with two counts of sexual assault dating back to 2014, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Preliminary inquiry in September for ex-PQ leader Boisclair charged with sex assault

MONTREAL — Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair will have a preliminary… Continue reading

Three vials of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are pictured in a new coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccination center at the Velodrome-Stadium in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Sohn, pool
Trudeau sending help to Ontario as Pfizer vaccine supply bolstered by 8 million doses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more doses of COVID-19 vaccines are coming… Continue reading

Teachers demonstrate outside a school during a morning walk out in Longueuil, Que., Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Around 73,000 Quebec teachers say they will walk off the job for several hours on April 27. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
73,000 Quebec teachers plan to walk off the job for more than two hours April 27

MONTREAL — Around 73,000 Quebec teachers say they will walk off the… Continue reading

People line up in the rain for a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic at the Masjid Darus Salaam in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in Toronto on Sunday, April 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario science advisers urge six-week stay-home order as province pleads for help

TORONTO — Ontario’s science advisers called for a six-week stay-at-home order and… Continue reading

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Students in Alberta town ready to return to school after quarantining

ATHABASCA, Alta. — A superintendent of schools in northern Alberta says the… Continue reading

Britain’s Prince Charles, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits the gardens of Marlborough House, London, Thursday April 15, 2021, to look at the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Prince Philip. (Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via AP)
Princes William, Harry won’t walk side-by-side at funeral

LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry won’t walk side-by-side Saturday as… Continue reading

Most Read