Typhoon Times and Motorcycles

Bent Handlebar

First up:

Typhoons 15 (‘Faxai’) to 19 (‘Hagibis ‘) swept through a decent chunk of Japan and especially our region this year, resulting in dangerously high winds and dumping a whole lot of water over the place for several weeks in a row, in a typhoon season seemingly later and stronger than previous years. Not only did this lead to a lot of damage, flooding and power outages, sadly this also resulted in quite a lot of loss of life, so this post is quite far down the list of things to think about during a typhoon – stay safe, have an emergency kit handy and know your evacuation points!

On to the Motorcycle Part

I don’t have a garage or any other enclosed area, so my bike has to rough it outside albeit on concrete and with a nice Nelson-Rigg cover to keep most of the elements off it. Over the years, I’ve come up with some tips for keeping the bike upright in a bad storm.

The main thing is to know your prevailing wind. I know which way weather (mostly) works near me, and pretty much all typhoons and storms channel down the street from west to east. Because of this, I park my bike up close and parallel to my garden wall, and lean it away from the wall on the side-stand, into the wind. The reason I don’t lean it the other way is that powerful gusts can push it over its centre balance point, on over to it’s side – this way it’s pushing it onto the centre stand and if there’s a sudden change of direction, the wall should brace it (I’ve never seen this happen in 10years). When I first moved here and knew nothing, I left my bike out side on to the wind and it was blown over twice – the second time bending the handlbars.

I don’t use the centre stand – I want 3 solid contacts to the ground and keep it lower, not higher. I know some people who do use the centre-stand, I just don’t think it’s a good idea for me.

Next, I have a heavy duty ratchet strap which goes over the seat, under the bike and around our post box post which goes a way down into concrete. I then ratchet that tight. I used to use rope, but unless you’ve got the good stuff it gets loose and slips over the bike bodywork, so isn’t as effective.

Next, I reverse my car right up close to it, to act as a wind spoiler. You can probably do this one by itself as a massive benefit. Beware of odd vortices if you park the bike directly behind the car, out in the wind.

Other tips:

  • Leave the bike in gear. That’s not going to hurt and prevents it rolling.
  • I know some friends who also ziptie the front break on.
  • Place a brick or block behind the wheels. This can help prevent rolling too.

A big topic of conversation is whether or not you should remove the cover. I think when you know it’ll be a very windy one, it doesn’t hurt to remove the cover, and worst case it’ll need a dry and clean in the morning. If you want to leave it on, you’ll want to tie it tight to the bike with rope to stop it bellowing and behaving too much like a sail.

The other option is finding temporary shelter for it. Around us there’s a metal structure carpark for a local pachinko place. I’ve heard some people take their bikes there and tie them to the steel frame. Some other friends chipped in for a storage container between them – not a bad solution if you can find a decent price for 24-48 hour storage. Other people park in sheltered multi-story car parks. On typhoon 19 I decided it was a good time to get my bike yearly check done, or perhaps you need an oil change.

Be a Good Neighbour

Remember, prior to a typhoon, to secure or move inside anything which could blow away, as it’s a mutually beneficial act – the things which get blown away from your house/apartment balcony are the things which hit other houses/apartments, so if everyone does this, additional damage can be minimised.

(The image at the top of this post is my old Honda after it got blown over and bent the handlebar to almost 90 degrees.)