Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

The Japan earthquake (9.0) rates in the top four with the 1952 Kamchatka quake, the 1960 quake in Chile with 9.5, the Alaska quake in 1964 with 9.2 and the Sumatra quake in 2004 with 9.1.

I’ve visited Tokyo and the surrounding areas a number of times and want to express my sympathy to those affected by this tragedy during what can only be described as very painful times.  Faced with the horrific news and pictures from Japan, everybody wants to do something, and the obvious thing to do is to donate money to some relief fund or other.  Or if you prefer something different (I’m not making this up) someone set up a well-intentioned “Socks for Japan” drive.

I’m not insensitive to the nuclear dangers, but the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami will likely dwarf the damage caused by the problems associated with the nuclear plants, however, the media is now doing a “Charlie Sheen” minute-by-minute obsession with these plants.  According to a number of reports (including the more negative HERE) the Japan situation isn’t going to be another Chernobyl.  And speaking of Chernobyl, next month marks the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl (April 25, 1986) accident.   Back in 2009 I blogged about the Chernobyl Motorcycle Ride and due to recent events in Japan it seems to be getting a lot of hits. Unfortunately.  But I’ve digressed.

There will be repercussions in the Worldwide motorcycle community as the economic impact and stories of the prices we pay and heavy losses are just beginning to ratchet up.  All the motorcycle manufactures are cooperating with electricity conservation efforts and the rolling blackouts to help in the prioritizing of the relief and recovery of affected areas.  For example the motorcycle production facilities at:

Honda: The company reported on some of the more serious damages including the death of a 43-year old male employee at its research and development center in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, as the wall of a cafeteria crumbled. Honda said that more than 30 employees at several facilities in the same prefecture were injured.   The company also decided the following:

  1. As of March 14, all production activities are suspended at the following Honda plants: Sayama Plant at Saitama Factory (Sayama, Saitama), Ogawa Plant (Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun Saitama), Tochigi Factory (Moka, Tochigi), Hamamatsu Factory (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka) and Suzuka Factory (Suzuka, Mie).
  2. From March 15 through 20, Honda will suspend all production activities at its plants listed above as well as at Kumamoto Factory (Ozu-machi, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto).
  3. From March 14 through 20, Honda will suspend regular operations at all Honda facilities in the Tochigi area, where damage was more serious, (including Tochigi Factory, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. R&D Center (Tochigi) , Honda Engineering Co., Ltd., etc.), and focus on the recovery of each operation. Honda associates will not come to work during this time.

Yamaha: reported one employee injured and sections of the roads surrounding their Motor Sports facility had collapsed.

Suzuki: shut down all of its plants (including Takatsuka and Toyokawa facilities) and will consider re-establishing operations after March 17th

Bridgestone:  reported no serious damage to five of its production facilities in the affected regions, however the company has a number of sites in the Tochigi Prefecture, including the Nasu tire plant. The Nasu facility is the sole motorcycle tire production site for Bridgestone worldwide. The production at these sites was stopped, pending safety evaluations and Bridgestone plans to resume production “based on electricity restrictions and other issues.”

Wild Road Choppers: the owner Souji Abe is located in Sendai City and while he personally is safe the damage to the area where his shop is located is clearly extensive.

Motorcycle Show Cancellations: Osaka Motorcycle Show and the 38th Tokyo Motorcycle Show (March 25)

In addition there is unofficial word about the Japanese Grand Prix which was to be held April 24th at Motegi is being reviewed and dependent on the Mobilityland complex and physical structure may get cancelled.  For reference, Motegi is about 110miles from Sendhai (near the epicenter) and Fukishima, where the damaged nuclear reactors are located is about 75miles north of Motegi.

The area of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami produces around 4.1% of the country’s GDP, suggesting that first-round economic effects could be limited, yet at this stage, with the fate of the Fukushima nuclear reactors still unclear, it’s too early to come up with any meaningful estimates of the overall impact to the motorcycle community.

My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors and the families.

UPDATE: March 25, 2011 – A couple of weeks after all the destruction in Japan some of the motorcycle manufactures have reopened with limited production.  A good report HERE at Power Sport News.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

ginza-3Gravity is more of a nuisance than a law until the day you go flying off your motorcycle.  Then the landing hurts!

Three years ago I was on an extended trip in Tokyo, Japan.  I had a fair bit of time for shopping and remember running across motorcycle riding apparel which incorporated technological advancements for safety.  It was no ordinary riding apparel.  The jacket included an air bag shock buffering system which provided protection for the neck, back, hip and torso.  All of this in a department store that included routine groceries!

I did a quick yen-to-dollar conversion and remember thinking wow it’s pricey, but still tried on the jacket.  I immediately had more sales help than I could neither understand or wanted, but do recall the fit being comfortable before putting it back on the rack.  I grabbed a product flyer and made a mental note to contact the company when I returned home.  The airbag jacket was not approved for use in the U.S. as they were processing regulatory approval.  Since that trip a number of airbag jackets have made their way to the U.S. market.  One notable is the Hit-Air system. The idea of using a type of “air bag” for motorcycle apparel has been around for a long time and while early versions were bulky and hot that is no longer the case.

apc_helmetNow comes another technological advancement.  An airbag-equipped helmet from APC Systems.  The helmet features a collar-shaped airbag incorporated into a standard motorcycle helmet. Inflation of the airbag occurs without cables or other physical elements linking the rider to the motorcycle. A small control box fitted under the motorcycle’s seat is synchronized wirelessly with the helmet.  Depending on any outside stimulus the determination algorithms tell the helmet to inflate in less than 15 hundredths of a second.

The technological advancements in motorcycle design have in some cases exceeded the skills of riders.   I believe this is one of many reasons for an increase in motorcycle accidents.  With ordinary helmets or riding apparel very little separates you after gravity kicks in from the pavement other than leather or maybe some ballistics textile. An air bag shock buffering system and an air bag equipped helmet might just be the protection devices mandated by the government in the future.

Interested in more?  Give the web sites a look.  The APC site includes high speed camera footage of various scooter accidents which help visualize air bag deployment during point of impact.  If you can watch those and not get a little queasy then more power to you.

APC photo courtesy of web site.

 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: