Larger motorcycles

Government may still try to ban big bikes, even though this could bring sanctions against Taiwan for violating WTO rules.

Seems like mainland China isn’t the only new member we should worry about breaking WTO rules.

My RZR is getting on in years, and I am loathe to replace it with a scooter, even one of those mammoth scooters like the Majesty or Grand Dink. I was hoping eventually to legally purchase a second-hand 400-600cc bike, but it looks like the government (I would bet that those making these decisions all drive black benzes, that is if they drive at all and are not driven everywhere, and we all know how car drivers feel about two-wheeled traffic) has other plans.

So what exactly did you hear about this? Some sites I read suggested that they would allow licensed drivers of 125cc class bikes to by 250cc machines and some higher class of up to 400cc would be introduced, but news is sketchy. Are you just taking about 500cc+ superbikes here?

On another topic…
The thing I hate is the ripping up the sidewalks to create motorcycle parking bays. It halves the amount of space. Cars and taxis are always parked in front of them. Taipei train station and Xi (Hsin) Men Ding area have both been redeveloped with huge sidewalks and other open spaces. In the meantime all the surrounding residential streets and alleys are crammed with parked bikes that have been displaced. One wonders where the voters live??? Surely motorcycle parking can be provided, alongside the many car parks?

Ignoring the obvious construction of additional car parks, one could argue that this is a policy to create change. Given that there are more registered motorcycles in Taipei than cars, the MRT does not go to most part of the city, and buses are slow and crowded; it will be a long time before there is likely to be any real impact on scooter usage. This policy seems unpragmatic at best, and mean spirited at worst.

I don’t care much for super-bikes, but it sure would be nice to be able to pick up even a nice 750cc cruiser, say a virago or a shadow, load up the saddlebags bring a tent, and see some of Taiwan’s natural scenery. It sucks not being able to do Taiwan on a nice fat throaty machine!!

I really don’t understand why the ROC government is so vehemently against larger bikes. Is there any reason? Or better, does anybody know the official explanation why in 1982 bikes exceeding 150ccm were forbidden? When you ask people now, many will answer that such big bikes are “dangerous”, which is complete nonsens. Also, if traffic accidents were the official reason, was there a decline in traffic accidents (involving bikes) after 1982? Unfortunately, the Times article does not give any reason or figures…
And one more thing: Why does the article speak of 125ccm? AFAIK, 150ccm is the limit. Or does the author of that article only drive cars?

Now I love a big Bike as much as the next guy and I myself would love to get something bigger then the whimpy 150 I drive now. I’ve driven bigger bikes though and they ARE more dangerous especially in these driving conditions. ANd I wouldn’t look forward to the day that every idiot on Taiwan’s roads could get a larger bike. Have you seen the bonehead moves that people pull here as a matter of routine. Granted a lot of those people who would end up smeared on the pavement will be those same idiots but they’re a danger to everyone else as well. I think if Taiwan wants to continue to ban bigger bikes all power to him - all this fair trade is a load of bunk anyway-if Taiwan decides its in her best interest to keep its imbeciles down to 150s then so be it. No dumb world governing body should be able to make decisions on behalf of local people or governments. The traffic situation (and brainless drivers here) just don’t make a good environment for those biger bikes. As much as I like them I’d be just as happy knowing that those jacked-up losers out there are all kept at the same speed

But don’t you think that one of the reasons for the way people drive scooters here is the fact that everyone is on these little machinese? As for pure speed, some of these little bikes can go quite fast, certainly fast enough to kill you. My bike is plenty fast just for speed if you just wind it up, it only takes a few seconds to go 0-100, but in the city there are few roads where one could really open it or even a larger bike up. What I’m looking for is something a bit larger, more stable and with more low-end torque for those long, steep mountain roads and round-the-island trips. The government should implement a stricter licensing test and requirements for larger bikes, not just ban them altogether. I think that once they get used to larger bikes, people’s riding behavior will adapt, just as it has already adapted to the present situation. I know this is a shaky analogy, but should we ban the use of English here because so many people can’t use it correctly? I know, using English poorly doesn’t usually get you killed, but I think Taiwanese people can adapt with surprising speed to new situations, no pun intended.

But that’s just it…a bigger bike doesn’t necessarily mean a jacked up rocket. I don’t understand how a large bike is somehow instantly equated with a sport bike. You know, I’d buy a Husky in a heartbeat if they had a 750cc displacement model and it meant I could get on the freeway, do some camping, and see some of this island in the coolest way that I know how…on a nice fat cruiser. Since sport bikes generally just appeal to kids and speed freaks (and the occasional actual experienced bike enthusiast), yes, they are generally dangerous machines. Not in and of themselves, but because of who generally rides them. But you just can’t rocket around on a Virago. That’s not the deal. It’s about riding, cruising, MOTORCYCLES, not racing and speed. And I don’t see why it is that nobody can ride for real in Taiwan because a bunch of kids want to scream around on crotch rockets.

A better idea? Just ban the sport models, and import some nice large displacement Vulcans, Intruders, Shadows, Viragos, etc. for the riders who love bikes for touring, travelling, and just plain riding.

'Cept for me. I’m still looking to replace my Laverda.

A lot of the above is true, and hell yes I would love a nice cruise to move around the island and all. But the point is there are a lot of idiots out there and the moment they see some open road they gun it. (I know 'cuz I do it too). The added power just sets you up for trouble when you have to stop and start all the time. I was cruisin on just a 250 in Pnomh Penh and that required a hell of lot more thinking than driving around in Taipei and the traffic is much tamer there. With a big bike you just have to be a lot more sure of what you are doing. Sure people could eventually get use to driving a larger bike and the responsibility that goes with it… but , with the speed of change around here being what it is … and considering the level of responsibility that people take whilst they’re driving. I still say that while you as an individual maybe perfectly suited to driving a bigger bike and all that that entails… there are a lot of idiots out there and the public at large might be bettter off without all that extra juice on the roads… I guess if generally somehow people started following some kind of consistent logic to their driving and the cops cracked down and enforced some kind of standard driving procedure with any kind of cocsistency… then the roads would be suibtable for the larger bikes… but when is that goiing to happen?

… Anyway, I don’t think too many folks’ll be getting big bikes anytime soon – prices are farkin’ astronomical. The Yamaha Majesty 250, which is still just a crappy wee lawn mower when all’s said and done, will set you back a cool NT$200,000. How much d’you think it’ll cost for a real bike – even a small one?

Mmmmmm. I love Italian machines. What year? Displacement?

Can’t remember. Early 70s 1000cc Jota. 140mph and NOTHING on the road could touch it at the time. Dirty bitch to ride, though. I liked it mainly for the noise it made at traffic lights

Who said motorcycles were dangerous? Come on people, check the facts before you take your dogma for a walk.

In the US motorcycles represent about 2% of total vehicles, but less than 1% of the accidents. Most accidents happen in cars. More people are killed in cars by percentage also.

Bigger bikes are more dangerous? The mean speed in US motorcyle accidents is 30mph (about 50km/h) - probably less in Taiwan. Most accidents happen on short trips, near home, on city streets and usually because a passanger car violates the motorcycle’s right of way. You can have this accident on a 50c.c. scooter. Large bikes will actually reduce accident rates due to various factors (equipment saftey, crash/roll bars, average driver skill & age, travelling on safer road (freeways)).

Larger bikes do have less accidents, although injury severity is higher in those accidents.

Accidents correlate more stongly with young drivers, learners, occupation of the driver, alcohol use, racey type bikes, unlicensed drivers, previous traffic tickets, lack of visibility of the bike, female drivers (!) and lack training of the driver. Neutral factors are: Size of the machine, the weather (surprise to me), obscured view, wearing a helmet, presence of passangers, road rage, and paint color. Curiously females have less accidents in cars!

The chances of injury extremely high in motorcycle accidents compared to cars (96% some injury, 45% some injury). Deadly injuries are to the head and chest. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, unless you are brain dead or want to be. The data show that helmets do not contribute to accidents by obscuring vision etc.

Unfortunatly I don’t have the data on Taiwan although considerable accident statistics are published online (in English!). I doubt the differences are significant. In any case I guess you would all say it was incorrectly reported or something.

Certainly if Taiwan cared about motorcycle saftey they would mandate:

    [*]Helmet laws (and enforce them for small children)[*]Daytime headlights (as in Germany)[*]High visibility clothing[*]Low level read crash guards on trucks[*]Better general enforcement of traffic laws, such as stopping on red, looking before turning left, illegal U-turns... [/list]I'm tempted to add 'Banning Taxis'. Banning large bikes would not change anything accident wise.

    Think: Just because you have a larger bike does not mean you want to drive it faster (same applies to cars, most people with 1600cc Tercels drive about as fast as the 3 liter Benzes)

    -Malkie

I agree with you Malkie, but I do know that I’ve been bumbed by these Japanese scooters several times. No big deal. Light weight plastic. A scratch. If I were bumped by a heavy Harley or Honda machine on the road, I think the “impact” would be a bit more severe. The point here is not big to small bike statistics, but the fact that Taiwanese driving habbits are undiciplined. If a small bike hits me on average three times a month, then it stands to reason that a bike weighing three times as much has a proportionately good enough chance of hitting me … Why? Because the driver is still Taiwanese. The Taiwanese driver is not going to get all responsible all the sudden because he has a big bike. The point is that their driving habits will remain the same, and when they do hit someone, the damage will significantly more.

I dunno, Malkie, I’ve driven all kinds of bikes over the last 30 years, from little tiny ones up to some of the biggest around, and I think they are VERY dangerous – in the wrong hands, which in Taiwan, unfortunately, is pretty much everyone.

This would change with education, of course, but honestly, what are the chances of the government having the gumption to set up a driver education program that works?

I had a spin on my brother in law’s Fireblade last time I was in UK, and I nearly filled my keks. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like if kids here started riding around on these monsters.

lol, a good way to cure constipation! A quick tour on a Fireblade! Imo, those bikes are for the track, and serious race enthusiasts. I don’t disagree, that the riding conditions are a bit wonky here at the best of times. And I certainly think that a plethora of sport bike sales in Formosa will inevitably lead to a plethora of young dead Taiwanese. But by the same token, riding in Paris, or Malaysia is not exactly smooth and orderly. And yet you can pick up a Ducati or a Bimota or a nice cruiser over there, no problem. I think that the fact that everybody zipping around on their wheeled electric toothbrushes contributes to the laissez-faire attitude of the riders here. It’s like “these aren’t real vehicles”, so then road rules become optional. Much the same way as it was when we were riding bicycles as kids.

In any case, I’m all for large displacement bikes in Taiwan, because I want to cruise the freeways and see the island on my downtime. It’s not about the common good here guys, sorry ! It’s just about ditching this present piece of shite that I’m condemned to ride and to be able to actually enjoy my weekends without being forced to take a bus, or a train everywhere I want to go. Having a freeway cruiser would enhance the quality of my life here a thousand-fold. But beyond that, like I said earlier, to have so many people riding “not-quite-vehicles” over here, not even riding in middle of the lane like a normal vehicle, contributes to the general style of riding we see here now.

And anyway, I don’t think that you’d see a huge increase in the number of big bikes here anyway. There’ll be some kids who will buys their sport bikes to show off to their friends, the tourers will buy their cruisers for touring the island, and most people will probably stick to their a/c cars, and their scooters which are eminently more practical for going to get groceries and pick up the kids from school. The big bike thing (500cc and over) will most likely end up being just a specialized niche market anyway. So let’s have em!!

The other thing people won’t have here is any kind of gradual moving up the scale – I began riding on a tiny little 175cc BSA machine and moved up to a little 200cc Triumph before being given my Dad’s old 350cc AJS. I rode these things for many years before moving up through various bigger, more powerful bikes. All these machines would be left in the dust by even a 50cc scooter these days, I suppose.

Even my first big bike was a slow beast of a thing, but by the time I eventually got a big fast bike, I knew exactly how to control it safely.

One good thing, though – people in Taiwan are reluctant to buy used machines, especially if someone has died on it, so there’ll probably be big fast used bikes on the market before long that no-one wants.

However, I for one won’t have too much of a problem with a bit of blood or hair mashed into the chromework if the price is right.

I don’t think the Bimota or Ducati dealerships will be swamped…

The point of my previous post was that introducing big bikes per-se would not significantly affect accident rates - the US experience would suggest in fact they would decrease.

I am not arguing that motorcycling is without risk - although motorcycle accident rates are lower than cars, if you are in an accident your chances of serious injury are significantly higher. Unlike cars though, most of the injuries are to people who chose to participate in the activity. Other drivers and pedestrians are more likely to be killed by cars and trucks than if they were involved in a tangle with a motorcycle. Sumarizing: If you don’t find the risk acceptable, don’t drive one, you will be safer on the bus - and once you are riding the bus you will not be at very high risk from motorcycle accidents.

One respondant was concerned that if you were bumped by a larger motorcycle then you are more likely to be injured. My guess is that may be true, but the incidence might decline too. Small motorcycles weave in an out of stationary cars and inside parked buses. This is where they find unsuspecting pedestrians. Big bikes can’t do this (even the Yamaha Majesties get stuck). In any case - forget this line of reasoning! It’s cars you have to be worried about… cars, cars, cars.

The point is that if Taiwan cared about accident rates then there are other things that one should do - helmets, driver education, visibility etc. The reason for resistance to large bikes could be due to other factors… rational or irrational, for example:

    [*]The mistaken belief that large motorcycles are more dangerous[*]They take more space to park (but less than cars of course)[*]The mind numbing noise of small motorcycles is part of the character of the island[*]Car drivers do not like them on the streets[*]Poorer people buy motorcycles, these are not the people Taiwan whats to give a break [/list]

    The advantage of larger bikes, as others have mentioned is that it is feasible to drive on the freeway, also if you drive on in the mountains with a passanger or luggage, you can keep up a reasonable pace up the hills as well as down. Social advantages include lower emissions (2-stroke motorcycles are terrible polluters) and a lot less noise.

Akosh, I see your point and I’m pretty sure a number of bikes will be crushed on whatever surface in the first weeks after the ban is lifted. But I’m also sure people will soon notice that the bike they just downsized was about the price of a car (or more?), so they will act a bit more carefully next time. And as others already stated: A larger bike does not necessarily mean a Suzuki Hayabusa or the like. What I probably didn’t express very clearly: Yes, a larger bike has more power than a smaller bike and can be more dangerous if not handled correctly. But would you agree that the same comparison applies to cars with 1.3l vs. 3.0l engines? Look what combat vehicles some people made out of their cars and tell me a Virago 1100 is more dangerous than such a monster.
That is my doubt: How can larger bikes be that more dangerous than all the other legal vehicles on the roads that they should be banned? Usually, there should be some very good reason to explain such a step. And that’s why I asked for the original official reason of the ban - if anyone still remembers… And if that reason is “traffic accidents” then I would like to see a few statistical data that verify the ban was a correct and reasonable measure.
Actually, if you really want to fly through the streets with 1000 or more ccm beneath you, just put the money on the table and the bike is yours - every somehow larger settlement on this island has its “heavy bike shops”. The ones who so far can not ride a larger bike are those who care for the law, the others have never worried anyway…