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Old 11-23-2013, 09:58 AM   #4
Wreckchecker
Ungeneer to broked stuff.
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Damascus, MD
Oddometer: 2,422
This ain't an Edelweiss Tour ;)

There's not much info on Taiwan and so rather than doing a ride report, I'll put the following here as a resource for those who go.

I went early November 2013 for a work trip and rented 2 bikes from Jeremy, an ex-pat Brit in Taipei. He owns:
http://www.bikefarm.net

The country has about 23 million people and 15 million scooters. Most of the population lives in the cities, which are very large and traffic is dense. The only way to move frequently is by scooter, and outside of monsoon season the weather is good for it.


There are very very few actual full motorcycles in Taiwan, and only partially because of the dense traffic. Taiwan has a series of highways wh84,000ere vehicles can do 100 kph, freeways up to 70 kph, and regular roads of 40 kph. It doesn't matter if you have the biggest fastest bike in the country, only cars and trucks are allowed on the highways, so even a Goldwing or Hayabusa gets restricted in speed and access. Plus, vehicles are marked up 175% for sale, so the Harley dealer has an Electra Glide Ultra Limited selling for nt$2,469,000, which is about US$84,000. And THEN they pay registration, taxes, and insurance that is based on engine size. So while we did see a single Goldwing, single BMW1200RT, and a few other big bikes, nearly everything is 150cc or less.


Jeremy normally rents with a 4 day minimum but was willing to rent shorter for a price. We paid roughly US$34/day each for a 150cc Kymco scooter and a 150cc Yamaha SR150. At first that seemed expensive for Taiwan, but he is pretty much the only game in town. It also is a lot less than $100/day 650s in Europe or North America. (If anybody knows of others, post below as a resource)

This was my Yamaha, about 20 years new and painted in a nice rattle can black. It ran and ran reliably, which was all that I asked for.


Jeremy's description after was that it was designed to be the world's postman bike before Chinese scooters flooded the market. I know that Yamaha designed it and sold a LOT of them in the 1990s, then stopped. But parts are extremely easy to get, because there have been at least 4 Chinese copies and they are still being made. Due to the small size, my thighs were screaming the day after being on and off this bike for a dozen hours. But the worst part was trying to overcome a lifetime of motorcycle habits with the shifter. Rather than one down and 5 up, the little Postman bike has what is called a rotary shifter. While functional it sucks BIG TIME. It's a heel/toe shifter that is BACKWARDS and does not stop at first or top gear. If you keep pressing your toe DOWN to upshift, you will go right past top gear into neutral, and if you don't realize what you've done, the next downward tap is into FIRST while at speed. LURCH! By the end of the long day I swear that my shifting was only getting worse as I got more tired, occasionally thinking I was upshifting, but going into neutral.

Standardization is a wonderful thing!

In addition to needing the ol' International Drivers' License (go to AAA or your country's equivalent Driver's Association), Taiwan also has a few unusual rules and lanes for all of the scooters. For example, the big bridges have a segregated scooter lane with it's own access. Scooters can not leave the right-most 2 lanes and aren't supposed to exceed 40 kph/24 mph. But the most inventive are the "scooter boxes."

Imagine having a hundred scooters trying to turn left at every intersection from the RIGHT 2 lanes, which would grid-lock the city. Instead, big intersections have a painted box on the pavement, just before each traffic light. To make a left, scooters cross the intersection and pull into the box in front of the traffic which would enter from their right. They then wait for the light to change and then take off in front of the cars and other traffic. Pretty clever and other than for how long some of the lights take, it works. Here's a photo off the web, as it was something I didn't shoot a photo of:


My colleague had almost no motorbike experience, so we took a nice long day ride, starting at about 9am. The route was east from Taipei into the green hills, up the 106, stopping often for photos, west along the coast, then south on the 101 back to Taipei, arriving close to 10pm.

I'll have to embed more photos some other time. Here are a few in a Photobucket album: http://s198.photobucket.com/user/Che...Taiwan%20Japan
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Wreckchecker screwed with this post 11-23-2013 at 10:06 AM
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