The Perfect Hurricane Motorcycle Part 1: The Engine or Powerplant

First it was Hurricane Harvey, and now it is Hurricane Irma.  I live in South Florida, and my family has chosen not to evacuate.  That said, these events have certainly got me thinking.  If we did evacuate, what would make the perfect hurricane motorcycle?

Today is Friday, and we are just sitting here waiting for Hurricane Irma to hit (~projected for Sunday).  Shutters are up, supermarkets are closed – there is nothing left to do, but write.

Therefore, I have decided to start writing this multi-part blog series about what would make the perfect hurricane motorcycle.  Let’s start the series with Part 1: The Engine or Powerplant.

The way I see it, if I had to pick the perfect hurricane motorcycle, I would be looking for the following criteria in the engine or powerplant.

1) Reliable and as New as Possible:  I love my vintage American bikes, but for this particular purpose, I would forgo these in favor of one of the indestructible Japanese brands (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki).

2) Mid-Sized Engine (~650cc):  This part is tricky.  Some criteria suggest a bigger engine would be better, while some suggest a smaller engine.  See below:

a) You want enough engine displacement and power to maintain highway speed with your primary cargo (you, your spouse, a small child, a dog, etc).  You should also consider the need to carry additional fuel, water, clothes, etc.  This all supports a bigger engine size.

b) But you also want a bike that is light enough to be maneuverable.  The bike will have to accomplish two tasks: the initial evacuation and the return home.  Evacuation orders normally come rather late and often involve hundreds of thousands of people jamming the highways in their cages.  Therefore, the bike will need to be small enough to comfortably split lanes.  Similarly, after the storm, there will be down trees, down power lines, and debris everywhere.  Therefore, the bike also needs to be small enough to be able to maneuver around these objects.  This all supports a smaller engine size.

c) Finally, you want something fuel efficient.  The availability of gas is very limited during these storms.  I visited three stations yesterday, and only one had gas (and a two hour wait).  Better to have a bike that gets 40+ miles to the gallon and can take your further between stops.  This also supports a smaller engine size.

3) Easy to Work On:  I love my big, complicated bikes; but for this particular scenario I want a bike that is simpler and easy to work on.  If anything goes wrong while out on the road, I want to be able to perform the maintenance right there on the side of the road with as few tools as possible.  My gut is telling me a big single (KLR650, DR650, XL500, etc.) might be a great option over say a BMW GS .

My plan for this multi-part series is to publish articles covering the following….

Part 2: Gasoline Capacity

Part 3: Tires

Part 4: Communications Equipment

Part 5: Suspension

Part 6: Cargo

Part 7: Tools to Carry (Roadside Emergency Maintenance)

Part 8: Electrical System Modifications

Part 9: Communications Equipment

Part 10: Long-Distance Hot Weather Gear/Attire

Together these posts will sum up all my criteria for the perfect hurricane motorcycle.  Maybe when Hurricane Irma passes, I will put my words into action and go buy one.  I am already stalking some on Craigslist.

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