Motorcycle touring

I’ve finished this section of my website at last. Like the Round TW section, it has stories, photos and maps and also has some practical info., addresses and links for anyone thinking of motorcycling, or any kind of holiday in north-west Thailand. It’s at;

Of particular interest to readers of this thread may be the page on interesting bikes I saw in Thailand; … ailand.htm

All comments very welcome.

The RX-7 and Quantums are a different shape from other Arais and are on sale here. I think Arai have three helmet shapes. I have been told that Asian riders prefer Shoei because it fits their heads better. But as everyone’s head is different, it’s best to try on a few.

hello, folks. just want to say that I have enjoyed this thread immensely. I currently ride an old Honda 550 - 4 in canada (Vancouver) and have done so for years without any problems. Mountains, prairies, freeways, no problem. I keep my machine in good shape and have become fairly adept at any problem that arises with a 25 year old bike. What I would like to know is…
Can I get something similar in Taiwan (Coming early FEB) and still enjoy all of the benifits that owning a motorcycle entails there?
I really don’t see myself as a scooter kind of guy. I have been riding bikes safely for 17 years now, and want to continue as much as possible. I have heard through chat rooms and such that larger displacement bikes are not all that welcome as they are not easy to park, not allowed here and there, etc. I would just like a definitive source. I am not too fussy as to my choice of bikes, but I do like something that can get me around the Island with power and comfort as well as some cargo capabilities. I like 4 strokes and nothing smaller than a 250 if possible.

Any info regarding registration, insurance, etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, all

[quote=“canucktyuktuk”]hello, folks…
I really don’t see myself as a scooter kind of guy…
I like 4 strokes and nothing smaller than a 250 if possible…
Any info regarding registration, insurance, etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, all
Hi and welcome.
You’ll need quite a lot of money if you want to ride anything above a 150 here. Bigger bikes than that were only legalised last year so the only ones sold are basically new, and are taxed quite heavily.

You should bring your riders’ licence and an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) with your bike qualifications on it anyway, but even so I’m not certain that you’ll be able to use it for anything above a 250. For more info, check this thread out, and the threads which it links to:

Most of us think we are not scooter kinds of guys when we come here. A surprising number of us go native and get scooters. They are just so practical for the crowded cities here. By the way, do you think you practise pretty good defensive riding skills? Be prepared to learn them all over again here! A friend of mine who rode for many, many years in the States has been knocked off his bike 3 times in the last year.

Unless you buy a new bike, insurance is third-party only. To have the bike registered in your name, you need an ARC (Alien Resident Certificate) which you get through work or being a full-time student.

One great thing about biking here is the low cost of maintenance - at least for small bikes. Often, mechanics only charge for parts and not labour.

For a second-hand small bike and the cost of getting some decent tyres and aftermarket parts, you’re looking at 40-60,000NT. A lot of people here would recommend you get a 2-stroke such as a Yamaha RZR or RXZ (not made anymore and the ones I see are usually in pretty bad condition, although I think all parts are sitll available), or a Honda NSR (pricier secondhand, uncomfortable race-style saddle and seating position, but still made AFAIK and the fastest small bike around). I too like the idea of four-strokes, but sometimes I get a bit frustrated with my heavy, none-too-fast Yamaha FZ150. Still, you CAN tour on just about any bike, even a scooter. I see young people up in the mountains, 2-up on scooters, every weekend.

I haven’t heard of any second-hand 250s around yet; for a new one (Kymco Venox) you’d be looking at 180,000NT, but I’ve heard rumours of some reliability issues with those bikes at the moment. For something a bit more upscale such as a Honda Hornet 250 you’re looking at around 300,000NT. Plus you’d have to find somewhere safe to park it.

For bigger bikes, the sky’s the limit and you’d probably also have to take a 5-day ‘heavy bike’ course and test.

Sorry if this dampens your hopes. You can have a lot of fun and see some great places whatever you ride here. Just make sure to bring your protective apparel and helmet.


I’ve been lurking around this site for a few months now and have appreicated all the information you all have put together here. I’m in the US and ride a 650cc BMW F…for a couple of years now. Thanks for taking us through all the details for getting things in. I’m about to trade up for a K1200RS and I hope in about a year to be moving to Taipei for my current employer. I apprecaite all the work you all have put in.

well i’ve finally gotten my act together enough to try and put up a little suggestion for a sunday blast round the mountains route that i’ve put together… it’s only really feasible if you live in Taichung, but if you do it’s a well spent afternoon on some really tasty twisties in the foothills and mountains surrounding Taichung… the total distance is around 150km…

well here’s a really low res map, just to give you an idea of where the route goes… you’ll need to check your own map to really get a clear picture of where to go though…

it starts on wen xin rd, taichung city, just follow wen xin all the way out of town, without turning… if after around 20-30 mins you reach a traffic circle just out of town in da-ken with a large tree and a mini temple inside it, you’re bang on to continue straight past it, up into the hills on what will become the 129… the 129 goes up onto the plateau, past chicken farms and mountain tea shops… there are usually cars on the weekends, but it’s worth persisting… after a while, at a T junction you’ll need to take a right onto the

Sounds like a nice ride. I’ve done all those roads, but maybe not in that particular combination. I’ve only been along the 21 twice; your post makes me want to go there again. I find parts of the 136 a bit tricky and take them pretty gingerly; I want to practise there because I think with greater road knowledge and confidence I’ll be able to take them faster and still be safe.

A couple of clarifications. After going up the 129 and arriving at the little village (Zhongxingling) at the top, it doesn’t really look like a T junction to me. The 129 goes over to the left, but you go basically straight ahead, passing the 7-11 shop and joining the 93. You should see a blue-cloloured sign advertising the ‘Lavender Cottage’ - a well-known tea shop in the hills up there.
A little while later, the road curves through maybe 270 degrees left - you follow that and do not take the smaller road straight on up the hill. It’s worth mentioning this because on a lot of the 1:100,000 maps around they don’t show this clearly. (If you do take the road straight on, however, it’s interesting and goes to the Taiping back roads area north of the 136). Just a bit further and you come to a crossroad. You take right. (There’s another blue Lavender Cottage sign, so you follow that direction).
After a while, coming down a hill, there’s a triangle with the 95 to the right and the 95-1 straight on. For Plasmatron’s original route, take the latter, straight on, but if you have company you wish to impress, you might want to take them up the 95, through a little village with a very pretty shrine, up the hill a bit further to where a handmade sign points up a track on the right to the ‘Rose Garden’ cafe or something like that. I’ve been there three times. They have relaxing new-agey piano music, a well-maintained garden and perfectly decent food and drinks. The female owner can speak some English. On late April evenings it’s ticket entry because a lot of people come to look at the fireflies there. You can eat your dinner under red lights, which don’t disturb the fireflies. They’re really pretty.

A longer detour, to Huisun Forest:
Go along the 21, past the turnoff for the 133. At one point you’ll come to a T-junction, which isn’t very clearly labelled. If you take right, you’ll continue on the 21 and eventually end up a little east of Puli. If you take left, however, the road goes to this pretty-looking ‘forest recreation area’ which has a write-up in the Lonely Planet. I say pretty-looking becuase I didn’t actually go inside; I was in a hurry to get to Puli and had got to Huisun by accident. I waved at the surprised ticket seller/gatekeeper then turned round and went back down the road.

Have you ever been along the 136 after dark? There’s one point, maybe about half-way, where the Taichung lights look very impressive in the distance.

Closer in to Taichung, there’s a waterfall with a pool deep enough for swimming (Xiannv pubu). There’s a turnoff over a long bridge, on a corner of the main road, maybe 200 metres east of the temple with the big white standing Guanyin statue. Go along that road and follow it through a very small village. Soon after crossing over a little bridge, you’ll see a big white square temple-type building just to the left of the road. A little further is a bus stop and shelter. Between those is a track leading up and left. Go up it. Pass a tea house on your left, and stop at the little wooden bat sign on your right (look carefully; it’s small.) Park your vehicle then walk down the path by the bat sign. Don’t cross the river at the bottom; instead keep on its left side and head upstream. Always keep left otherwise you’ll get wet socks. You’ll soon come to the pool. It’s deep enough for swimming. People like to jump off the big rock to the left: I wouldn’t recommend it when the water level is low. When the water’s high enough, you can swim against the current, not moving at all. It’s like the swimming version of an exercise bike.

There are a few interesting things around that area and they’re trying to attract more visitors - there are maps by the roadside at various places.
A bit west there are some interesting half-made roads, concrete and dirt tracks which would be great fun on a dual-purpose bike, but are still do-able on a road bike. One of them comes out on a beautiful, deserted saddle, but I don’t know whether I could remember how to get there again!

hmmm… thanks joesax… those spots all sound cool… i remember being interested in that waterfall jumping spot you mentioned, i think i saw the pics on your website? not too sure, but regardless when summer is once again upon us (probably in about 2 weeks time :wink: :unamused: ) i’ll almost definitely be hassling you for the directions again…

thanks for clarifying the route too… as i said, i usually just wing it, and check the route i took once i get home… also my map is in pretty bad shape and in 4 years has been taped back together many times… we once tried to ride the no.3 to Kenting during a typhoon, and got lost… so considering what it’s been through it’s in okay shape but it still didn’t scan too well…

oh, and i see from the transfers list that you’re responsible for my new found guan xi wealth joesax, thanks… i’ve got 100 bucks now… i guess it’s time to go shopping… but er… there’s nothing i really need… oh i came across this avatar on an indian bike export site whilst looking for some royal enfields if anyone wants it…

That’s a nice avatar for someone, Plasmatron; for myself I’ll stick with the one I have for the moment because it’s cute and goes with what Michael J Botti described as my ‘smell the flowers’ philosophy.

[quote=“plasmatron”]I’ve been looking into the 2004 Shoei XR1000 lid that has met with some high praise indeed in UK based bike magazines… unfortunately my local helmet shop, , despite claiming they are now the biggest bike and apparel shop on the island, say they won’t have them until mid 2004 :roll:

in the interim I went with a HJC which is Snell approved, well made, light, very quiet, with removable lining, good venting, excellent visor quick release and airtight seal, anti misting mask and chin cover… all for only NT$6K… no doubt there’s a fair difference between the Korean made HJC and the NT$17K Japanese Shoei… but I feel confident the HJC will do a good enough job…[/quote]
The HJCs didn’t suit my head shape. The AXO was much better for me. At least they have a fair selection of brands/prices/head shapes.

I was back there again today, buying a second summer jacket I can lend to people when they ride pillion with me. They have a good selection of Taichi (a Japanese brand) ones, some on special offer. I got one without a zip-out lining, but offering reasonable abrasion resistance, for 4,800NT. Seems like it will be nice and cool to wear in the summer. The shop guys installed some Taiwan-made CE-approved elbow and shoulder armour in it. I like those guys; I always have a good chat with them.

My FZ’s in with Eric for a while getting those front-end renovations. Hoping to get a multi-day trip in on the Christmas weekend.

Eric changed the brake fluid reservoir and put two new pistons in the calipers.
He took a look at the fork springs but said they weren’t too bad: put heavier oil in and new seals. (You can’t buy new springs only; if I want them I’ll have to get all-new shocks.)
He put a bigger, stickier front tyre on.

The front brake is great now - responsive and plenty powerful.
The shocks are not bad; the damping going over bumps is much better. They still dive with a lot of braking force, but at least I can’t get them to bottom out (hit the stops) now.
The tyre is nice. As with my new back tyre, it helps the bike turn in quickly. Apparently old tyres get ‘squared off’ as you mostly ride in a vertical position, meaning they wear in the centre portion first, squaring off the tyre profile and making it slower to turn.

Have to go on a nice little ride at the weekend to try it out properly - maybe Plasmatron’s route.

good to hear your back in business… it’ll be interesting to see if you experience the same deterioration in braking power over time that you mentioned happened to you original brake system… if braking function does go south over time, it’ll also be interesting to see if it’s 1 badly engineered component that causes it, or just a general deterioration…

yes, squared off tyres are crap, and since it’s a gradual process you don’t notice it too much until you get fresh ones and feel the difference… also it’s not so much that you spend most of your riding time on the centre strip of your tyres… taiwan twisties will see to that… but that almost all hard acceleration and braking occur when the bike is upright, causing much more wear on your tyre than ordinary cruising does, and all on the centre strips…

enjoy your test ride this weekend… i may go for a ride out too if this cold front doesn’t amount to too much inclement weather…

In this post;

Sounds like a nice trip. I suppose you’ll be going down the no.3 provincial highway to Taichung - it’s a good speed, twisty road. If you have time, it’s worth the detour east a little to Shitoushan and Nanzhuang. You could take the no. 124, a narrower road that goes through some nice hilly countryside, through Nanzhuang, back down and round to where it rejoins the no.3.

Bike looks OK from the photo.
Don’t know if you seriously wanted advice, anyway here it is and if you don’t need it someone else planning a multiday bike trip might.
Make sure tires have enough tread left, don’t have fine cracks and are at the correct pressure.
Change oil before you set off; consider changing it part of the way round. Normally small-bike mechanics here say once every 1000km, but hours of riding will get a small engine pretty hot so it could be worth changing oil earlier.
Make sure the chain’s in reasonable condition, clean and well-oiled.
Preload on the rear shocks might benefit from tightening up if you’re carrying a passenger and/or luggage.
I believe I’ve made my views on helmets (which are shared by a large number of the motorcycling fraternity) well known, hence will say no more.

Have a great trip!

My friend and I did Plasmatron’s route today. Pretty much all the way, the road was in good condition. Apart from bits near Taichung city, and that short stretch on the 14, there was little traffic.
I was bundled up against the cold and riding conditions were fine. The bike handled excellently with no nasty surprises.
Saw a nice CBR1000 on the 136 near the big Buddhist temple. Felt a bit guilty because we waved and he waved back, causing him to wobble.
Didn’t take the 136 right back into Taiping: took a right along a narrow road, the 100 I think, then about 15 minutes later after a left turn and a left fork, turned left up a hill (somebody has painted the characters Taizhong on a wall in white, with an arrow). After a while came out on Taiyuan Road, injecting us straight into town, avoiding the nasty traffic around Taiping City.
Very enjoyable route. Perhaps next time I’ll remember to look at the scenery a bit more!

Ilan to Taipei on New Years Eve.
Gonna take the bike to Taipei on Wednesday night if anybody wants to tag along. Amazing view from the top of the mountain at night. Will be leaving at Ilan at 21.00.

My Mum’s coming to visit around Chinese New Year. We’re going to do a tour of the north. I’m planning the itinerary; each day’s total riding time should not be more than about 3 hours.

a) What is the approx. riding time Ilan- Taipei, along the coast road and over Yangminshan?

b) Would 1 day be enough for this leg, including sightseeing at Longdong, Chiufen (Juifen) and Yeliu? If not I would consider an overnight stop somehere around Keelung.

Thanks in advance.

Joesax, the riding’s not too far, but there’s a lot of sightseeing, so you might want to cut it in two. Jiufen’s probably the best place to stay (or Jilong for the nightmarket).

Maybe something like:
Yilan-Luodong: about an hour, maybe less
Longdong: never been there,so don’t know how much time you want there
Longdong-Jiufen: maybe 1/2 hour up to Ruifang, then go up to Jinguashi (10 minutes) and you spend 1/2 hour there, then back down to Jiufen, where you spend anywhere from 1/2 hour to a few hours at a teahouse
Jiufen - Jilong: 1/2 hour then you could spend anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours looking aroung Jilong
Jilong - Yeliu: 1/2 hour to 1 hour (I forget) and spend 1-2 hours at Yeliu
Yeliu-Jinshan: 10 minutes? then maybe 1/2 hour having a look around
Jinshan over Yangmingshan to Shilin: maybe an hour, but you could stop for hikes

That’s about 6-12+ hours.

There’s hotels in Jiufen that are good. Lots of hotels in Jilong too - it’s hardly scenic, but you could check out the night market (best in Nth Taiwan). There are few if any hotels in Yeliu and Jinshan.


Some of that coast road is fairly unpleasant due to the large amount of heavy trucks using it. Think about going round the coast as far as Jiufeng and then taking the mountain road (highway #7 or could be #9 check your map, avoiding the Keelung conurbation) over into Shenkeng and Mucha.

I think if you’re going through, you may as well stop at Jilong, but you don’t need to take the coast road. There’s a couple of places (check your map) that the road headss from the coast up to Ruifang. Use one to go to Jiufen. Then you get a different road straight down to Jilong through the hills. That road’s fine. The road from Jilong up to Yeliu’s fine too.

Another thing to consider would be skipping most fo the coast almost entirely and heading up into the hills through smaller roads going through places like Shuangxi. On the other hand, I like the coast - it’s just those trucks.


Loudong is worth a day at least!
The sports park is stunning and so are the surrounds. Shua beach is a must see and so is the colourful fish market. The hotsprings in Jioshi are also a must. Would not suggest riding from Loudong to Hualien with your mom. The road is hectic, train the bikes to Hualien from Loudong.

Thanks everybody. Basically it has to be the coast road because of the places I mentioned, although I’ll try that shortcut Jiufen - Keelung.

I assume the trucks are heading for the docks at Keelung? Any thoughts on whether north-bound traffic will be better/the same/worse on Tue 20 Jan (C.N.Y. eve is on the 21st)?

We’ll have to face the trucks anyway for the previous leg; Tianxiang (in Taroko) by Qingshui cliffs to Ilan. That road is spectacular although the trucks are tiresome. When I was there before, I didn’t find them to be dangerous drivers on the whole - some were quite courteous - but it was a hassle getting past them, and of course I won’t be taking any risks with my mum on the back. At least there shouldn’t be much north-bound holiday traffic. I assume everybody will be going south for C.N.Y.

C.N.Y. was also what made me cautious about staying another night on the north coast, e.g. at Keelung. That night would be C.N.Y. eve, the 21st, and I’m afraid that Keelung would be dead, with nowhere to eat (my mum’s vegetarian). That’s why I thought it might be better to head straight for Taipei. Any thoughts on that?

Thanks again.