These photographs circulate via email and have also been posted to numerous blogs, online forums and social networking websites.
The photographs are genuine. Such specialized motorbikes do indeed exist and have been put to use in various parts of the world, including Asia, North America, South America and Europe.
The innovative motorcycle recovery vehicle dubbed the “Retriever” was distributed by a Swedish based company Coming Through. The tow bikes are based on the Honda GL 1800 GoldWing motorcycle.
The advantage of this type of recovery vehicle is that they can be operated as a normal motorbike on the way to the recovery site and are therefore much more maneuverable through heavy traffic than a conventional tow truck. Once at the site, the tow unit can be easily deployed by one operator. The stricken vehicle can then be rolled or winched on to the tow unit and towed to the designated destination.
While such tow bikes certainly do exist, exactly where and when the photographs in this message were taken is currently unclear.
Many versions of the message claim that the photographs show highway patrol offices in Japan operating the tow bikes and use the subject line “Japanese Tow Trucks”. However, the cityscape in the photographs along with the number plate of the vehicle being towed suggests that at least two of the photographs may have been taken in China, not Japan.
And a 2006 article on Korean news website dkbnews that includes the same photographs indicates that they were taken in Shanghai, China. The article notes that the tow bikes were deployed in Shanghai in June 2006.
And information previously available on the website of the North American branch of Coming Through noted that the “Chinese Police piloted Retriever and within a couple months decided to negotiate for 100 more units to be used extensively at 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing”.
Some sites that display these photographs claim that the tow bikes were actually invented in Japan. However, this is untrue. While the base model motorcycle used is from the Japanese company Honda, the towing conversion was designed and developed by a Swedish inventor.
Some versions of the message claim that the tow bikes are recently developed technology. However, as noted above, the bikes have now been available for several years.
The following YouTube video shows The Retriever in action:
Subject: FW: Japanese Tow Trucks
New! Used by Japanese highway patrol!
If I hadn’t seen these pictures, I would not have believed it !!!
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!