Return to Sender

May 31 2012

Never doubt the savoir-faire of Harley-Davidson’s marketing department. When a motorcycle manufactured by the Motor Company washed ashore in a remote area of British Columbia after a nomadic trans-Pacific voyage in a storage container, a publicity light bulb flickered to life in Milwaukee.  

Original plans for the beached cruiser have drastically changed since it was found. Initially, a magnanimous gesture of good will spearheaded by Steve Drane Harley-Davidson in Victoria, B.C., and then adopted by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, called for the waterlogged 2004 Softail Night Train to be restored and returned to its rightful owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, in running condition.

A grateful Yokoyama respectfully declined the offer.

A Harley-Davidson press release recently stated that Yokoyama has requested his bike be interred at the Harley-Davidson Museum in honour of the more than 15,000 lives lost during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s east coast. The 29 year-old survivor had lost much more than a Harley-Davidson during the disaster; he lost his house and three family members in an event that has forever changed his life. Still recovering from the upheaval, Yokoyama has been living in temporary housing in Miyagi Prefecture for over a year now.

“It is truly amazing that my motorcycle was recovered in Canada after drifting for more than a year,” the humbled Japanese man commented. “I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to Peter Mark, the finder of my motorcycle. Since it was recovered, I have discussed with many people what to do with it,” he continued. “I would be delighted if it could be preserved in its current condition and exhibited in the Harley-Davidson Museum as a memorial to a tragedy. I would like to thank all the people around the world once again for their wholehearted support of the areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami.”


As a result of his request the world’s most famous Night Train has become a win-win situation for all involved. Harley-Davidson gains an artefact of historical importance for their museum, and in return, Yokoyama will visit his motorcycle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – when his life is more stable.

Summing up the situation, the museum’s Vice President, Bill Davidson, stated: “The Harley-Davidson Museum is honoured to receive this amazing motorcycle to ensure that its condition is preserved and can be displayed as a memorial to the Japan tsunami tragedy.”


“I have always felt that Harley-Davidson motorcycles have a soul. Their owners have an emotional attachment to their bikes and I wanted to help reunite this Harley-Davidson with its owner.” Steve Drane of Steve Drane Harley-Davidson

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