I’m ashamed to say that I am a two-vehicle one-person household. Even the doorman says ‘Two vehicles are too many! They use too much gas!’ (does he think that when I take one out, the other goes out for a sneaky little drive by itself like the brooms in Fantasia?)
BUT… both my vehicles are two-wheeled. One is a tiny little Dio 50cc scooter. The other is a rather bigger Yamaha FZ150 motorcycle with a tall black top box welded on and a frame which looks bulkier than a meagre 150cc would suggest.
They have distinct uses. The Dio is for everyday use; shopping runs, trips to the swimming pool etc. It’s convenient, easy to park and quick enough for the job. The FZ is for weekend trips in the mountains, scaring dogs and other kinds of fun.
Regarding safety; you are undoubtedly safer in a car, the bigger the better as people will steer clear of you. (Although I’m sure cars are also thief magnets and petty vandalism such as paint-scratching is common).
Yet there are a number of things that every 2-wheeled vehicle rider should consider doing;
Get a decent, full-face helmet. 2000NT is a minimum in my opinion; you should really pay more. Around 3-4000NT you can get a reasonably strong Taiwan-made helmet but it will probably be quite heavy, and hot in the summer. Around 7-8000 is the entry price for a DOT, CE and Snell certified helmet made by Arai (the best), Shoei or maybe Suomy (supposed to be nearly as good as the first two but a fair bit cheaper - there’s a dealer in Taipei - let me check this out and get back to you).
A protective jacket, worn at all times while riding the motorcycle, would be a very good idea, not only to protect your skin but also your internal organs. I’m in the process of ordering one now. There are modern ones which have a lot of polyester mesh in their construction and are cool to wear in the summer. Any jacket should have CE certified armour in the shoulders and elbows, and preferably the back as well. Some manufacturers are Brosh, Fieldsheer, Joe Rocket, Triumph and Marsee. Expect to pay between 4000-8000NT.
Perhaps the most important thing; a defensive riding mentality. Some good, experienced riders (even one in Taiwan) have said that you should regard any ‘accident’ you get into as your fault. This may sound a bit crazy but it indicates the type of thinking you need. You must look at the current road situation and anticipate possible happenings at all times. Expect someone to pull out in front of you, etc. There is some useful information and 3-d simulations at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s website;
although some of their recommendations seem a little optimistic given the crowded state of Taiwan’s roads.
I really enjoy riding both bikes, and riding a bike on weekend trips is a great way to see Taiwan’s countryside close up. It’s not so nice in the rain though, and of course you can’t take more than one friend along unless your friends are also into bikes.
Hope this is of some help.