Motorcycle touring

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?

Hi there,

Who likes to join me on a short motorcycle trip (2-3 hours) and a 2-3 hour hike tomorrow Sunday Octobre 19?

Starting from Sanxia (Taipei County) over the mountain back roads to Fushing. Having lunch at the Swiss village restaurant. Than going on to Tashi for a hike up White Stone Mountain. Returning to Sanxia via Ingge.

If weather permits.

I know it’s a little late to ask but you never know how the weather will be.

I would like to meet in Sanxia near the Enchu Gong hospital close to SanIng the freeway exit at around 9:30 AM.

Please let me know tonight befor 11:30 PM.


Great idea, Bottleneck. Let us know how it goes. I’m down in Taichung and taking it easy this weekend so can’t join you, unfortunately.

Tonygo, re. your question; substantial modifications are illegal and it’s very important to preserve the status of this website by not sharing illegal information. However, as your profile says you live in Banqiao it is possible that one of the Taipei residents here may send you a Private Message.
BTW, I’ve found the same with gravel trucks - they can be very courteous.

Sandman; I hope we can go for a nice fogeys’ jaunt one of these days! By the way, had you ever considered getting a bigger back sprocket on your Dragfire? That would give more grunt in the midrange with a bit of a top speed sacrifice. That’s how my FZ’s set up and it’s good for the little twisty back roads around here. Sometimes I take the bike up concrete or even dirt tracks, and I can use that ultra-low first gear for getting up things.

Well, jus let me know here or in a pm.

Basically, I would meet in the morning in Sanxia because that’s probably the best for all. Not everybody lives in Taipei.

Around Sanxia there are a few nice trips to make.

The bike for Taiwan is the latest Bonnie. I’ve seen one in a showroom and it is the embodiment of elegance, nostalgia, and restrained performance. Around $450k, and at 790cc, hard to tax. Stop, Look, and Listen.

WTF is “restrained performance” ?! Time for bed.

Hmmmm… that Bonneville looks lovely on the website ( ). If you got one in Taiwan, you would be very special and those in the know would consider you some kind of a god.

I believe that modern Triumphs have a lot of Japanese parts and a new-fangled thing called ‘quality control’. This was not the case in the old days. Riding and maintaining old Triumphs must be right up there with trainspotting as quintessentially eccentric British pursuits.

I think my brother bought a Triumph 250, made in about 1970, because it looked great and the price was OK. After it had spent six months in pieces on his bedroom floor, then he’d taken it round a lot of continental Europe for two months only to have a load of things break again, he must have been reconsidering his decision.

It seems that one aspect of Triumph quality control; that to do with their riding apparel, may still need some work. I recently bought a Triumph Raptor mesh jacket. The basic design is great; The mesh fabric is Cordura; a very abrasion-resistant fabric. It has CE-approved armour in the elbows and shoulders. The mesh makes it plenty cool enough for everything except stoplights, when in the middle of summer I think it will be a bit hot. Still, ‘a bit hot’ has to be better than ‘a bit smashed up’. A guy in a sister school recently spent two days in hospital and a few days off work with a broken shoulder from a riding accident. If he had been wearing a jacket like mine, this probably would not have happened.

Anyway, this OEM product is pretty good, except that the press studs/poppers at the high wrist and biceps which tighten the sleeve to hold the armour well in place, keep coming undone. I’ve been looking all over for an email address to let Triumph know about this, but I can’t find one.

2300 CCs is what I really need. Come the revolution, this will be the new Maobike.