Motorcycle touring

The Kymco Venox can put out around 27bhp. The only significant complaint reviewers had about it was that the gearbox was a bit clunky and stiff.

One thing I don’t understand about it is that the given c.c. is 252, but the TW big-bike threshold is 249! How does that work?

I’ve wanted to go to this place for a while, and finally made it this morning. It’s on Henan Road, way down below ChungKang (Zhonggang) Road, and into the bit where it’s narrower. I’ll put a photo and full details on my site in due course; in the meantime PM me for full directions if you need.

The 1st floor has a specialised big-bike repair shop and next to it a BMW showroom, which has quite a few BMW motorcycles of different kinds, and some BMW helmets and apparel.

The 2nd floor, reached through the BMW showroom, has various other makes of bikes and quite a comprehensive range of helmets, apparel and accessories.

There were certainly some shiny nice bikes there but as they might as well have been starships for my ability to afford them, I concentrated on other things. There were no 250cc manually geared motorcycles there at that time, but the friendly and enthusiastic staff told me that they could order bikes in, and that they could do all necessary servicing and repair work inhouse. They sell the Kymco Venox, and told me that indeed it does have a standard white number plate and the c.c. is 249.4. That figure of 252 I quoted above must be an error on one of the Kymco sites. They also sell Honda Hornet and VTR 250s. The Hornet is around 270,000NT and the VTR (a v-twin as opposed to the Hornet’s four cylinders) is cheaper at 220,000NT. I imagine the Venox is around list price of 180,000NT.

They told me that, as I thought, the most popular size of big bike was 900 and above. Don’t know why Taichungers like such big bikes. They do mostly seem to attract an older, BMW-riding crowd, and I don’t think BMW makes anything below 600cc; at least not that that shop sells. They told me they have a riding club that goes places at the weekends. That club doesn’t yet have any small-bike riders, but I imagine I’d be able to keep up if I went out with them on the back roads, because they’ll want to look after their expensive BMWs so won’t be pushing it.

They have a fair range of four different brands of helmets; Shoei and Arai, plus an Italian and a German make which I forget the names of now. Unfortunately their Shoeis, Arais and the German make are all designed for Asian shaped heads - that is wider and flatter than so-called ‘European’ heads. They don’t stock the American models. The most comfortable make for my head shape was the Italian one and at 10,000NT it won’t break the bank. They have a breath deflector and decent-looking vents.

The apparel they stock is not bad, although tending towards the flashy and perhaps a bit over-the-top. How many people can really be bothered to don a full race suit for pottering about in the hills? For more practical and versatile protective gear, I’ll post more info. later. They have some nice mesh jackets for hot-weather riding and a good variety of raingear at various prices. They have a good range of gloves of all styles for racing, hot weather, warmth or rain protection. They sell back protectors and Terminator-looking body armour.

Of accessories, worthy of mention are some magnetic fuel tank bags and some decent pollution masks. I bought one of the latter- it’s actually designed and made in the UK and has replaceable filters made of Dynamic Activated Charcoal Cloth, which sounds very impressive.

Checked out the specs for the Kymco Venox… You are correct at 27bhp. However the damn thing weighs 419 pounds dry! (no fluids, gas or battery). Also with a paltry 14 foot pounds of torque, this thing will be the laughing stock of many in the performance department, including possibly someone riding a Majesty. Will admit it’s pretty good looking for a cruiser, but 180,000NT?

Gives the word Hog whole new meaning!

We have a similar shop up here. The layout sounds so familiar that it might be owned by the same people. Having the helmet selection is a godsend, but again exuberance is tempered by a lack of sizes.

As for cruising with the big boys, don’t count on them to hold a sedate pace. I’ve been out with them on several occasions (on a borrowed TZR 250cc 2-stroke…fun fun fun) and from my experience, they’re not afraid to push it. Plus that opposed twin on the beemer is a torquey bastard, ideal for clipping along at a pace in the mountains that would frustrate the hell out of a small displacement twin. Come up one weekend and I’ll show you what I mean.

I empathize with the “stargazing” effect these bikes have on you. How many of us have 10-25 thousand US just lying around for 2 wheel transportation. Big machines belong to the realm of the rich for now, and they can afford to drop them at their leisure…

Happy trails

This thread may be of interest…

Yes, Michael, the Venox wouldn’t pull you out of bed.

Why so many big bikes in Taizhong? Big roads and plenty of sunshine.

I ride with clubs. While they can be very accomodating for slower/lower CC brethren, they are not all a bunch of Sunday drivers worried about stone chips. Unfortunately, with limited riding experience, this does result in a lot of broken plastic and bones. I have seen too many wipe-outs to keep count.

The Hornet is an excellent city bike. Very slim profile (underseat pipes), very manoeuverable and decent height advantage to see over cars in front. To ride a cruiser in a Taiwanese city would be a nightmare. Agreed the seat on the 600 is small and uncomfortable and imagine the 250 is worse.

Yes, biking does appear to be the reserve of the wealthy in Taiwan, but my own experience would not support that view whole-heartedly. Most of the people I know who ride big bikes are serious enthusiasts who have saved their hard-earned bucks to buy into their dream. But the laws and tax regulations in Taiwan are a joke, a sick one at that.

1: Anything below 1-2000NT is a complete joke; maybe the only protection it offers is from getting a ticket for not wearing a helmet.

2: While wearing any helmet costing say 2500NT upwards is vastly better than nothing, the best kind is a full-face one with a chin bar and a visor. Numerous studies including the Hurt report confirm this. The visor should be worn down as much as possible; a large proportion of motorcycle accidents involve some irritation or obstruction in the eye.

3: From a safety point of view, the International Motorcycle Safety Conference 1990 found that “A cheapo $70 helmet offers protection very close to what you get from a $300 helmet with similar coverage” (paraphrased on a page on VFR safety; ) My $3000NT M2R claims to be Snell approved; as M2R export to other countries, I don’t think they’d want to lie about that.

4: More expensive ($10,000NT and upwards) helmets offer a slight increase in safety, but a big increase in comfort. They are lighter, have more ventilation and, if you choose carefully, fit the head better. This latter point is important for long-distance riding- a tight spot unnoticeable for the first 5km can turn into a source of pain over longer distances.

A couple of P.S.s; it’s well worth checking out that VFR safety page I linked to above. It has a summary of both the seminal Hurt report and of the findings of the International Motorcycle Safety Conference 1990.

On the thread Maoman mentioned above;

I saw a site for a company that makes photosensitive adhesive visor strips. They get darker in bright daylight but lighten up in dark conditions. They are also scratch and fog-resistent. I’ll try to find the site again.

And I continue my support of the Venox; if anyone does a search on Google they will find a number of complimentary reviews from various countries. It does seem unnecessarily heavy to me, but reviewers found that the wide bars made it easy to handle and that the engine is more of a revvy number than a true torque-y cruiser unit.
The bike will get cheaper over the next year or two, both new and secondhand. At that point it will be one of the more affordable, cheap and easy to maintain, and comfortable 250s in Taiwan.

Well, I went back to the big-bike shop and bought that Italian-made helmet, an AXO. It cost 10,000NT but fits my head better than the pricier Shoeis and Arais they had. It’s lighter than my other helmet, has better ventilation, cheekpads and a better quality visor and is much quieter with the visor down - a bit strange at first actually as you feel a bit separated from what’s going on.


I feel it’s very important to say to people that you can get decent safety from a helmet costing maybe 2500 or 3000NT. My other helmet, an M2R, has Snell certification but only cost 3000NT.

Of course a top-level helmet such as Arai will be slightly more protective than a 3000NT helmet, but the main reason for the price difference (apart from the label!) is comfort. More expensive helmets are lighter and have better ventilation and padding.

I don’t really notice the weight difference when I’m riding, and at the comparatively low speeds we do here, noise is maybe not too important. If you need ventilation, you can always open the visor a notch (only one notch, mind you; remember what uncle Joesax told you about eye irritation or obstruction being a significant factor in accidents).

So what I want to say is: the choice is NOT between a 300NT night market helmet and a 20,000NT Shoei or Arai. There are plenty of models from around 3000NT upwards that do a good job. Get yourself protected!

Sensitivity and control sound like relationship issues, but rest assured that I am talking here about strictly solo pursuits and you had better be very nice to your boyfriend/girlfriend to persuade them to let you take the time to do this.

I read on an advanced motorcycling forum about this instructor who, when he was waiting for a student outside his house, would practise very slow figure-8s to improve bike control and sensitivity.

I decided to try this myself. I took the scooter out because it has a much smaller turning circle than the FZ and also because I didn’t want to risk dropping the latter. I went to a very quiet dead end of a wide road.

I practised in two ways. Firstly, I tried to get maximum steering lock in the corners; this meant that the bike was fairly upright. Then I tried to get maximum lean angle by firmly and smoothly applying countersteering going into the corners (I also shifted my body weight but at a lesser angle than that of the bike; you get better traction in slow-speed turns this way). The Dio has pretty good ground clearance and this time I didn’t manage to scrape the sidestand. Little by little is my philosophy - although I was wearing protective clothing I didn’t want to scratch it up, so I’ll push the lean angle a bit more next time.

Of course there was a sequence to acceleration and deceleration; 1 On the gas a little; 2 tip the bike over; 3 rolling on the gas a little more as you straighten up, 4 decelerate.

I found myself getting smoother and loosening up. It seemed to be important to relax the shoulders and keep the grip on the handlebars light; a motorcycle can self-correct a lot of problems in corners if you let it by not holding on too tightly.

The next day, taking my FZ up in the mountains, I found my riding ability, confidence and enjoyment increased.

I should say that in my view, practising stuff like this alone is not in and of itself an instant route to greater safety unless you combine it with other stuff. In my opinion, riding safety is 40% protective gear, 40% mental work and preparation and only 20% actual physical riding skills.

i’ve been riding in Taiwan for four years now, mostly on my trusty kymco 150cc mini cruiser, but also on real bikes…by ‘real’ i mean almost anything with capacity over 150cc… A Taiwanese mate of mine owns a bike shop, and he’s a damn good mechanic if you catch him in the right mood, but more importantly he has a passion for biking and he owns several bikes and more than knows his way around servicing them too…

over the years my 150cc has become more and more lackluster, a combination of wear and tear, the physical limitations of a tiny engine, and my ever increasing desire for performance that can do these wonderful taiwan twisties justice has seen me knocking more and more often at the door of my local bike rental shop…

now taking a proper bike out into the mountains of taiwan is an extremely dangerous thing to do… the ride itself both in and outside city limits is infinitely safer than any 150cc or below toy machine can offer, but the danger lies in the fact that once you’ve tasted the unadulterated joy of a real bike, with real tyres, real torque, real brakes, real control and performance… the 150cc experience is forever tainted, a kind of bland watered down version of the experience you know is possible… now don’t get me wrong i’m not of the “ride it like you stole it”, unhappy at less than 100mph school of thought, but i find i can far better appreciate the quiet slow cruise along looking at the butterflies in the grassy verges, and bing lang grove covered hillsides if i’m sitting on something that I know has the acceleration, handling, cornering and braking of a finely honed piece of Japanese engineering artistry, than on some half assedly slapped together, corners cut at every turn (<–intentional), de-engineered to a price point, just barely scraping adequate functionality level, taiwan designed and made knock off… i’ll admit however that the reasons behind this preference have a lot to do with knowing that i can, should a particularly delicious set of nice wide sweeping curves present themselves, cane it like a moron whilst leaning it over so far that said roadside butterflies are swishing only inches away from my visor as the scraping foot pegs leave lovely curves on the asphalt… er… lucky its a rental then…

renting bikes in taiwan is however far from ideal, the locals who run these type of rental shops seem to go for 1.) bigger = better, and 2.) supersports bikes only unless that contradicts rule 1.)… hence the massive number of over sized, but under horse powered BMWs and rediculously fast in a straight line Suzuki hayabusa 1300’s in Taiwan bike shops… not to mention the fact that you have to practically sign over rights to your first born child before they let you even see the keys, but i guess that’s understandable considering the risk…

buying a bike in taiwan… actually a fairly simple process, or at least it would be if it weren’t for the fact that two parties unavoidably involved in the purchasing process, are out to lie, cheat, scam and rob you blind… namely the dealers and the government… the dealers are all putting ‘at least’ NT$100K profit on each bike, offering some vague lies about 100% import duty, tariffs etc. and presently the competition isn’t enough to drive the prices down to a more realistic level… next in line to beat the prospective bike buyer over the head and make off with their cash is the government… NT$50K for the same pollution test that costs a couple of hundred for smaller bikes, NT$23K+ annual licensing fee for any bike over 599cc, over 1000cc will cost you over NT$30K per year, restrictions about where you an ride and park… all add up to a very thinly disguised govt. policy to continue their underhanded protection racket with Kymco and SYM, despite their signing WTO free trade agreements to the contrary…

personally i’ve given up and i’m going to import my own bike from Japan… the process is actually quite easy and since i deal with import/export a lot at work anyway i’m not too concerned about the details… all told i will save around NT$110K on my 2004 CB600 Hornet which is the perfect bike for riding in Taiwan… unlike the FireBlade in the pic below… absolutely brilliant bike, completely unsuited to taiwan’s roads, but still a barrel 'o laughs to blast down the 136 to Pu Li… and yes, i realise that not wearing any kind of protective gear other than a helmet is stupid, but it was hot as hell that day etc. etc…

Different strokes…
I’m glad you’re getting onto bikes that make you happy. I know a couple of guys who had big sport bikes back in the States who still get a lot of enjoyment from riding 125s or 150s round the back roads here, though.

My dad recently bought a new bike after a thirty-year break from biking. Of course he has a full UK bike licence and is legal to ride whatever Hayabusas etc he wanted to, but he bought a Yamaha 125! Actually I think even he may be a bit disappointed by the lacklustre power output, but give him a 250 and he’d be quite happy putting around.

For me, I think a reasonable 400 would be great for Taiwan’s roads and I would neither want nor need anything bigger.

For a very interesting take on biking philosophy as regards fast, skillful, controlled and safe riding, see; Pace (better cut and paste that into your browser so you get the last two words in, or alternatively click on ‘The Pace’ on the index)

I’m interested in that. The crucial process seems to be the ‘type approval’ or whatever they call it, where they approve a bike for Taiwan’s roads. Isn’t that hideously expensive for a single import?

If you know about this process I’d be really interested.

Useful biking tips:

How to light a smoke without stopping.


Stable bike.

Prince flamethrower lighter.

Full pack of mild sevens.

Sand bag on tank. (For your butts)

First, find a nice stretch of long road with no turnoffs for a least 1km. Remove hands from bars. Lean back slightly and keep foot over the brake. Remove helmet (full face only). Slide left hand through visor and hold helmet with forearm. Grab lighter and cigarette. Check traffic. Cup hands and light. The prince lighter will hold it’s own up to about 50km. After that, you’ll have to cup it to light it. Enjoy an intense nicotine hit. They don’t last very long at speed, so don’t waste it! Rule of thumb; You’ll get about 6 hits below 50Km, 70km, about 4 hits. If you are crazy enough to try over 100km, only 2. Stub butt into sand bag clipped to tank. Replace helmet. Return hands to their handgripped positions.

Repeat as needed.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibilty whatsoever for anyone trying this out themselves. But, if you need more details…

Joesax, you are correct with your figure 8 practice. That’s why it’s standard practice in virtually every riding school (at least in the US). It’s also part of the motorcycle test in most states. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of trying it out on a scooter, I cut my teeth on my 750 Virago… Also, it’s a lot more fun at 12,000rpm with your front brake semi-locked and back tire spitting smoke!

Hey, can you ride wheelies on your dio?

Plasmatron, please, more details…I’ve been doing my best Bart Simpson impression with my wife…Can I huh? Can I huh? Can I huh huh?..OK! Now will you please shut the hell up?

Who says nagging is only for women! Let me know what you find out!

Finally, got a spectacular ride in on Friday…Northern Cross Island highway to San-Baling, turned right onto the 120 and up, over and down to Neiwan. Home on the three 4 hours and 170km later. Because of the Fireworks display in Tashi (The entrance to the #7) most roads were closed to traffic. The result? 120km of twisties all to myself… :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: No joke, at one point didn’t see another vehicle for over 40 minutes!

[quote=“Michael J Botti”]How to light a smoke without stopping…
Return hands to their handgripped positions.
Is this in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation training literature? :wink:

You asked me if I’ve wheelied the Dio. The answer is no. My Dio is a put-put model with a Betty Boop decal on the front. I’ve seen some heavily modified Dios around though - no doubt they could pull a few wheelies.

I’ve run against a few souped up Dio’s in the past year. One girl had the requisite spinning kick starter(annodized blue, of course) and the exposed variator(annodized blue, natch). Looked like a 50cc…Green plates…

We took off when the light turned green and she ripped ahead. At 40km, i swept up to her side, and she gunned the accelerator again and kept pace with me until around 80km. I don’t know what kind of modifications were made, but that thing sure was fast. I’d love to get one as a weekend ride to race around town. :sunglasses:


See, that’s where a scooter and a non-full face helmet is better (I have a helmet with visor that covers the ears, but not the chin.

Keep right hand on throttle. Can also use the breaks (ABS means will brake both, so no worries).

Reach into pocket with left hand, pull out smokes, and shove a fag into your mouth.

Put the fags back and pull out a lighter.

Pull the visor down a bit to shield against the wind.

Light your ciggie.


My friend’s can do 140 for a few seconds, then breaks. I don’t want to tell you how I know that.

Plasmatron; how fast did you do the Taichung-Puli run on the 136? As you know I’m pretty sedate - a bit of a fogey really - but I want to know what the young folks can get out of their bikes these days.

Are you sure you mean ABS? Sounds like you mean linked brakes; that is when you pull the front brake lever, the back brake is also applied a bit, and when you press the back brake pedal, a bit of front brake is applied as well. That’s a very good safety feature in itself.

Real ABS would be a superb thing to have on any bike, but is prohibitively expensive for small bikes. You can get modules with ‘ABS’ written on the side that fit inline with the brake fluid cables, but actually all they do is limit the pressure that can be applied, which might prevent a skid but does so by reducing your braking capacity.

Then you sound like a suitable tour partner for me :wink: . I’m very interested in Michael’s run over from the Beiheng to Neiwan. I was up at Smagusa (sp?) on Saturday and passed the turnoff that takes you over to Balin. Sounds and looks really good.

SBS I think. Simultaneous breaking system.

Front break applies some rear, but the rear doesn’t apply front.


For me, I think a reasonable 400 would be great for Taiwan’s roads and I would neither want nor need anything bigger… [/quote]

agreed 100%… 400cc is just the thing for taiwan… a Honda CB400 would be a wonderful bike for Taiwan, more than enough power for anything Taiwan has to offer, outside a track… my only concern lies in the V-Tech system… a wonderful and effective system from Honda for getting better power across the entire rev range from a smaller engine, but an extra set of valves and cams for inexperienced taiwanese mechanics to try and deal with could lead to expensive headaches come the valve reset service at 32,000km…

I’m interested in that. The crucial process seems to be the ‘type approval’ or whatever they call it, where they approve a bike for Taiwan’s roads. Isn’t that hideously expensive for a single import?

If you know about this process I’d be really interested.[/quote] [/quote]

yes, they really are little sods about the licensing process, but luckily there’s ways and means of laughing them off… here’s the lowdown on the import process as clearly as anyone will tell me after 2 years of research…

I feel it’s split into 3 main phases, so I’ll describe what I know in three parts:

1.) Getting the bike to Taiwan:
first you need to find a dealer that does international sales… most will give you a price EXW, which means “ex-works” ie. crated and ‘maybe’ loaded onto a truck outside their warehouse and from then on it’s your responsibility… some may offer CIF pricing, which is “cost, insurance, freight” ie. the price you pay gets it delivered to the port of your choice, but that’s expensive… regardless make sure they quote you the price for direct export via a bonded warehouse to be sure your not paying any taxes to the country of origin… for shipping you can get a freight forwarder to deal with it for you, presently i’m checking to find out if it’s cheaper to ship a whole 20’ container with one lonely bike in it sea freight, or just air freight the crate…

2. Getting the bike through customs:
i’m waiting for the chimps at the customs and immigrations dept. to get back to me with regards what specific paperwork is required, although I’m fairly sure certificate of origin, Form A, and/or Bill of Lading will be enough to silence their insatiable lust for beurocracy… currently import duty for “heavy motorcycles over 249cc” is 24%, add 5% VAT to that and the government tax thugs will be placated… btw, this is all imposed on the value reflected on the air waybill, and like all things in taiwan a well timed hong bao can see a zero being “accidentally” knocked off the total :sunglasses: this process is best handled by a customs broker who know the lay of the land and have the guan xi to smooth the import process… play your cards right and you will have yourself a brand new shiny bike, and a fist full of documents to say that you’ve paid your dues to A-Bian and his cronies, and let no man claim otherwise… these will be important later…

3. Getting those much sought after yellow plates:
a fairly simple, yet financially daunting process… admittedly it’s the part i am least clear on, but let me tell you what i know… you need to present said tax documents to prove that you’ve paid your dues and the bike didn’t “fall off” a container ship in Gaoxiung, as many big bikes in taiwan do… that then grants you the privilege of paying a further NT$49,000 to have some grunt shove an emissions probe in the exhaust to make sure it complies with Taiwan


Not sure where you were so I’m not sure what to say…Mr. He was with you though, correct? He lives a couple of blocks from me so let me check it out and get back to you… Beihen rocks for motorcycle touring!


The only way my spouse will give the green light for large displacement is if it’s totally legal…So, anything other details (Especially for that F----g EPA test) would be appreciated by many here besides myself. Your lonely bike in the container may have lots of company if you can figure out how to do it!

I’ve seen some wicked fast Dio’s as well. One of them blew the socks of my RZR a few years back. Was so disgusted I spent 10,000NT plus on high-performance engine hop up so that would NEVER happen again! It didn’t :smiling_imp:

I’m perfectly happy on a 250 2-stroke when I’m at speed in the mountains. But, at 42, man my back gets sore…A CB 400 or 600 is more than enough for Taiwan. I saw a CB 400 in Chungli for 340,000NT out the door. If you can knock a hundred grand off that, I’m sure a LOT of people would be interested…What were you looking at cost-wise to bring in your 600?

Smoking while riding? Well, not in the safety course, but have you ever had a better smoke? Oops, I can think of at least one better time :wink:

Taipei to Ilan is a nice ride, I forgot the road number but just went through Hsiendien and kept going. Did it early evening - very quiet and took less than 2 hours. The gravel trucks were generally very courteous.

Does anyone know where you can get a SYM 150 scooter modified in Taiwan to improve performance?