Motorcycle touring

I took my 150CC scooter from Ilan to the top of Taipingshan with a passenger, and that was no problem. In fact I find it harder to believe that most motorcycles are more comfortble than a good size scooter with a soft comfy seat.

Taipingshan’s a really nice drive, but you have to fill up about 15KM out of Ilan and not make any side trips, because there’s no more gas stations after that.


[quote=“mungacious”]Ocassionally i race against an RZR(135?) two stroke that beats me by a good 10-15kph on the clocks, I suppose his top speed uphill is about 135-140…

Oh, was that you? :wink: I always wondered why the guys on Majesties were so eager for a go. Same goes for guys on FZRs and FZs. That said, at least you guys don’t leave trails of smoke wherever you go…I should probably take my bike to Jeremy for a check-up soon.

I imagine that those 250 scoots are very, very smooth. It’s funny the way they’re set up with mildly tuned engines, though, because from a speed and acceleration point of view scooters’ CVT (continuously variable transmission) is actually ideal for tuned small engines with a narrow power band, such as two-strokes.

Brian mentioned comfort. On a straight, flat road I’m quite sure that a Majesty is one of the most comfortable bikes out there, perhaps comparable with a Honda Goldwing? (Although of course it doesn’t have or need the porky Goldwing’s reverse gear!) A manual geared motorcycle will tend to smooth out bumps better, though, with its longer suspension travel and bigger wheels. Those wheels also give motorcycles more gyroscopic stability and make the bike turn slower, which at out-of town speeds is probably a bit safer.

Ah, but all the 250s around at the moment are still very new and shiny. That would be the problem with getting one of those Hondas, or any 250; they’d be strong thief magnets. My FZ looks very ratty on the outside - the plastic bodywork has a number of cracks in it. Although a lot of its insides are new, I’m keeping the outside as it is to dissuade thieves.

I wishfully like to think of my FZ as the world’s smallest v-twin sport tourer - you can see it at;

I forgot that ‘tyre’ is often spelled that way. I thought for a moment that you meant a fat, tired old bike!

That’s an area I want to spend some time exploring. My Mum’s hoping to visit next year - I’m trying to persuade her to come motorbike touring. We could go over the top at Hehuanshan, down Taroko, up by Qingshui cliffs, spend a couple of days on the north-east coast and then come over YMS into Taipei, stopping at the National Palace Museum on the way, which I think she’d love. It would be quite funny to walk into the NPM straight off the mountain, grimy and sweaty amongst the ladies and gents in their Saturday afternoon outing finery.

Daxueshan from me is around 6 hours there and back. I’ve had a couple of 8 hour riding days this year. The last hour or two of those are a bit demanding on the old butt. The haemorrhoid cushion makes things more comfortable.

Biaochezhu on my tail the other night - turned into little pussycats when they saw the roadblock ahead of us. Got a nice start on the other side - spoilt things by changing into neutral and revving the nuts off going nowhere.

As promised, a little guanxi has gone Mungacious, Bu Lai En and Poagao’s way. Keep those posts coming!

By the way, Poagao, is ‘The foot of Lion Head Mountain’ somewhere you’ve been or would like to be now? That area’s great for biking.

Hmm… a race with an RZR vs a 250 Majesty? Yep no question, would be a short one with someone eating a lot of two stroke exhaust. Before I remorphed my RZX back to a more civil machine, it was a av-gas running, bored piston, custom carbed, 180km screamer from hell. Below 6,000rpm, an electric scooter could beat it, but after that watch out!

I’m not going anywhere near a 250 unless it has 6 gears and at least 40 horsepower! (a scooter? not for this kid!)

Concerning the up and over Yangmingshan ride. Has anyone made it up over the back road that ends up leading into Tamshui? That’s a nice route too and not nearly as frantic as some of the others. You could add it into the tour mentioned above. From San-chr to Tamshui there is a back road which is really nice for motorcyle touring. It’s easy to access and not crowded even on weekends. The best part is the other back road to the top of Yangmingshan starts on this road as well. If you want to hit it from the front side (Taipei) simply take the last left before the top of the main road going over Yangmingshan to Chin-shan. Follow this straight for about 3 km and you’ll hit that small lake (sorry don’t remember the name but it’s pretty well known) from there it’s all downhill (nice twisties and scenery) for about 12k to the bottom. Once down left is to Tamshui and right is to San-chr. On the way to Tamshui there are two more offshoots that go right back up and over to Peitou! Saw my first cobra up there and it’s a great way to miss all of that Tamshui-Kuandu-Tatu Road mess on the weekends. I’ll have to post back with road names and better directions…I have so many more

There is no excuse for not touring here…It doesn’t matter what you are riding as long as it is reliable (Yeek, did I just write that?)

Happy trails to evryone and yes, this is a cool thread.

Yes, I know that route to Danshui from the top of Yangmingshan, it’s very nice. I took the rented Hornet on that road last time and it was great, smooth, perfect for developing cornering technique, and quite scenic as well.

I do live near the foot of Lion Head Mountain, btw. Just moved here a month ago and still exploring. It’s cheap and very nice, and I even have a space I could store a big motorcycle had I the funds to purchase one. Sadly, that won’t be the case for a long, long time, so my RZR’s going to have to do.

If I did have the funds I might get a Hornet, if I could adjust the seat or get a new one, as the one I rode was quite uncomfortable, not wide enough, tilted forward…felt worse than a bicycle seat. But it did have a nice fat rear tire and rock-solid handling.


You are down in Taoyuan then? Awesome! There is such a fantastic availibility of kick-butt, eye- popping excursions down here I don’t even know where to begin!

I’ll give you two: Hmm…from your place?

First a short one. First we need to get off the flats. Probably would suggest Sanshia as access via Inge to get there. From Sanshia up to San-ming (about 16k) That will hook you up with highway 7 (northern-cross island highway) From there you will continue on up past Fushing-shan, past the two large bridges, and then to the official entrance to the northern cross-island highway. At this point you’ll see a cop shop and a gate. You’ll also see a road to your right (highway 118) take it and it’s a really nice, well paved twisty bit of heaven around the back of Shrmen dam. It runs about 40K and ends up in Hsinchu County in the town of Kuanshi. Since it runs right into highway 3, it’s a no brainer back to your place. Figure about 4 hours at a good clip, but you’ll need more as the bamboo forests, mountain rivers and villages all demand a bit of exploring! For those with big bikes, this is the place to wrap them out! You’ll see many out there on weekends. It’s never congested (for now) and well worth the trip! :smiley:

For a full day tour, continue up past our previous turning point heading toward San-Baling. San Baling is about 35km from the entrance, but you’re not going all the way. After passing through a long tunnel and a really nice mountain dam, you’re going to have to keep an eye out for a turn off to your right. (It’s about 4-6k past the dam) This road winds through a fantastic scenic valley for about 20K (sorry can’t even find it on my good map, you’ll just have to ask) then goes up a series of STEEP switchbacks that will have you in first gear all the way. It climbs about 1300meters in less than 5k! Once at the top, a high ridgeback which can be very cold!, it’s an eye-popping descent back to sea level. You will see at least 2 or three cars overheated on your ride down, it’s that steep. You will pop out again on highway 3 in Nei-wan, about 10km south of Kuanshi. You’ll need a full day for this trip.

Please feel free to ask for better directions if you or anyone else is interested in doing these trips. If the timing is right, I’ll be only too happy to join you.

If you do go, let me know how many Majesties you pass on the way up :wink: :wink:

No, I live in Xindian, off Bei-yi Road. Still, those sound like nice trips, but I think I’ll get my bike checked first before attempting them.

Michael: “Would also be very interested to hear from anyone who has taken the big-bike class…Anyone?”

I haven’t figured out how to do the quotes when posting replies, but I have taken the big-bike class and test. Let me know if you have any questions.

FYI, I hear the top selling (legal) big bikes in Taiwan are 400cc.

If you need to blow out the cobwebs on a Sunday morning, I can heartily recommend the Taipei-Ilan road (No 9?), turn north up the coast once you 've descended onto the flood plain, then back to Taipei on the 106 (just north of Jiufen). Twisties, fast bits, great views and a couple of nice coffee “shops” along the way.


No, I live in Xindian, off Bei-yi Road. Still, those sound like nice trips, but I think I’ll get my bike checked first before attempting them.[/quote]
I’m confused. That seems to make three Lion Head Mountains then, as the one I was thinking of is the one on the Hsinchu-Miaoli border with lots of temples on, with its own little section in the Lonely Planet guidebook.

Like I said, the Jade has the same engine but looks a bit more comfortable and practical. How easy do you think it would be to get spares for an import bike like that, though? Have you seen any other Hornets (or Jades) around since the one you rented?

You’re a foreigner, here on an ARC, right? I heard that you have to retake the big bike test every year. Is that true, or just a rumour?

I would hope so, as 400cc seems just right for Taiwan’s motorcycleable roads - powerful enough for comfortable two-up touring, but not too heavy. The only big bikes I’ve seen so far, however, have been 750cc and above - quite a few BMWs. Maybe it’s different down here around Taichung.

No limit on the size of bikes for sale that I can see. My neighboor just came home with a 1,300cc Honda a couple of weeks ago. The big bike shop in Chungli is selling anything you can imagine and then some! On my last few outings (and I mean few), I’ve seen a slew of big bikes all (mostly beemers but saw a group of sporsters down in Hualien back in June)legal.

Little leery of the Bei-ee gong lou (highway 9). It’s known as the ghost road for a reason, ie every amphetamined truck driver plying the Taipei-Illan route uses it. It also has a number of very strange decreasing radius corners that sneak up on you…Pinglin is nice though. Will admit the last section is fun though, heading down to Chaoshi from the top. Bei-hen (highway 7) is better for biking, with a lot nicer scenery and fewer amped out truckers.

The 106 can be accessed via Fulong or Aoti. It’s pretty well marked, and a nice ride to boot. From the Taipei side, it starts at the end of the Shrting exit. 19Km up the mountains, then right up and through a tunnel then down onto Fulong. Juifang is more a sidetrip on this route, because if you continue past Juifang you’ll end up on the northeast coast highway (#2) which is a congested, container filled, Taipei weekend traffiker mess! Avoid this section at all costs, especially on weekends. The locals living around there use the motorcycle lane (cars, buses and trucks) to bypass the bottlenecks. You don’t want to be on a motorcyle with them during this melee.

The main reason Joesax’s Honda Jade sounded so exciting was that you don’t have to deal with all the “hidden costs” associated with the larger displacement machines. That frigging EPA test, special licenses, road and parking restrictions…It seems the attitude is, OK we’ll let the big ones in, but we’ll throttle you so badly with regulations that you’ll be back on a domestic product before you can say “why the hell did I buy this thing?” You can’t even park one with regular motorcyles! Try explaing that one to a Taipei parking attendent. However, I fully agree that no one should be allowed on the freeways here. The death rate would climb tenfold in the first week. Could you imagine a rich scooter punk with 120 horsepower amok on the freeway? (Shudder)

Maybe poagao could give us more details on where and from who he rented the hornet from…For all we know, he might have a Honda Jade sitting in his shop right now for sale…(wishful thinking)

From what I understand, you can transfer your existing big bike license from your home country, ie the Taiwanese haven’t killed enough people on foreign roads to start the “license wars” yet. Am I correct on this? Heard it through the big bike dealer in Chungli who called the DMV while I was waiting…If it’s true guys do it soon…Mine’s expired damnit!

As for Lion head mountain, just a case of mistaken places. We have an area north of Taoyuan with it as a nickname…sorry Shin-dien’s pretty well located for mountain romps too…

See my post on this page, a few posts down, for info on the Shan-kou-zu motorcycle rental shop.

Aaahh… forgot to reread Poagao’s post.

Taipei residents must be a bit more sensible in their choice of bikes. Still think the Hornet’s not the most practical thing around, though; it has a Fireblade 900 back tire which would cost an arm and a leg to replace, and is arguably not necessary on a mere 250. Putting a centre stand on seems common sense.

I’m rethinking my opinions on small cruiser-style bikes. I’ve never really been keen on the cruiser style, but they do look comfortable. Sandman swears by his Yamaha Dragfire as the best (affordable) small bike for touring in Taiwan. On the day that any of us can actually afford a 250, the Kymco Venox, made and sold here, with ease of access to spare parts and dealers, has had nothing but good reviews worldwide.

Whatever any of us ride, it’s enough to get us to and around some nice places. On most of the roads around me, I wouldn’t really want to be doing speeds faster than my bike is comfortable at, because other drivers here are just so unpredictable. It would be nice to have a bit more torque, so I needn’t change gear so frequently, and a bit more horsepower, for getting past things quicker and safer, but after all, it’s nice to have time to stop looking at the tarmac occasionally and look at the scenery. One of the not-too-sensible guys who made the website and videos I linked to above reviewed some Alpine motorcycle touring guidebooks. He complained about some of them that they spent too much time talking about sights, scenery and places to stop. He said that he was interested in the pavement only. That seems quite sad to me.

The only bikes that seem totally unsuited for longer distances are the all-out racer shapes such as the Honda NSR and the Yamaha FZR, just because of their crouched-over riding positions and narrow saddles.

Oops, sorry Poagao,

Didn’t even see it…

That’s what you get for typing away and not taking a sec to learn your way around :blush:

I think Joesax is right in saying that many people will be thinking along the same lines in the future. I mean who in their right minds would be looking at a crotch rocket for urban transportation? On the other hand, if peg grinding twisties are what you crave, then there is no substitute. I’d like to find a happy medium, like the VFR 750 from the mid 90’s before it too transformed into another rice rocket.

For the long run I think the big bike madness will slowly subside as local manufacturers seize the 250cc market with better options and improved performance.

Currently, the best performing 250cc (domestic) only puts out 18 horsepower! Considering that’s on par with an FZR, and under both the RZR (out of production for 10 years now) and the NSR, I’m going to slowly save my shekels until either the domestic bikes up their performance or the big bike regs relax.

Interestingly enough, the demand for Illegal bikes (my area anyway) has increased in a big way this year. Their logic being that they blend in better and no hassles involving smog tests, high taxes or special licenses. Go figure.

Anyway, maybe we chat too much, and ride too little…The only places of interest my bike has seen all week is my daughters school and 7/11

Lastly, I totally agree with Joesax concerning the stop and smell the flowers philosophy…Happy trails

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!