Motorcycling in Taiwan - From square one

Hi all, I will start of with introductions, seeing how this is my first post. I am a Chinese language student in Taiwan. I’ve been here for a year and a bit, and probably plan to stay on for at least another one. Public transport is great in Taipei, but after a year I miss the old freedoms. Thanks to the excellent resources on this board, I know how to get a scooter license, and the pains of large-bore sport bikes in Taiwan.

So here is the problem.
I am a student who has never rode a scooter or motorcycle in his life. I am also not rich, or teaching English. I do have 5 years experience of riding old manual Hondas in the icy streets of Montreal, and a very open mind when it comes to learning.

I would like to learn how to ride a motorcycle (the manual transmission type, no scooters), and get properly licensed, in whatever order is needed. I do not really care what type of bike I ride, as long as it has some vestiges of reliability, is student-cheap, fits a 6’2 (188cm) tall male in reasonable comfort, and it would be really nice if a passenger could ride pillion in the future.

As far as I can tell, there is no clear information for real green newbies when it comes to learning Bikes here, from scratch, so any input is welcome. Even if you can just confirm that the standard 50cc-250cc scooter liscence is good for bikes, and a link to road saftey, I can try to teach myself (Or be horribly injured in the process). Either way, those green hills of Xindian have tempted me too long!

Many thanks!

Go talk to Alan Kao (manager) at Haveallmotor.com in Xindian. It’s the Suzuki/Kawasaki shop on the main drag. (02)2914-9589
He has great deals on used bikes, and can probably set you up with an instructor.
His English is near native, but he’s never been out of the 'wan.

I’m also 6’2", and all-day comfort on a moto at that height is hard to find. If you can find a used Versys or Weestrom, you’ll have the right ergos.

Thanks for the tip, nice to know Xindian has some resources available! The bike comfort is a bit worrying though, I’ve heard tall riders get the short end of the stick a lot. Either way, as long as I can ride for an hour or so and not have to stop due to pain, I think it could do as a student learners bike :slight_smile:

[quote=“maunaloa”]
I’m also 6’2", and all-day comfort on a moto at that height is hard to find. If you can find a used Versys or Weestrom, you’ll have the right ergos.[/quote]

What, so you’d be comfortable sitting on your “used Versys or Weestrom” all day making vroom wroom noises?

He wouldn’t have any money left to run it, and he’d need an “instant” big bike licence. As I understand it this guy is a POTENTIAL LEARNER and POOR STUDENT, as in learning how to ride a motorcycle (and Chinese), NOT as in learning how to ride a big-bore sportsbike (and crash).

I’m 6’2" and a born-again beginner. The Yamaha RZX/R fits me nicely but, IMHO is NOT recommendable for a learner. However, the Yamaha SR 150 I’m told has a very similar frame and seems a solid, unpretentious machine. I test rode one and it seemed nice, but I havn’t ridden one a long way.

It is (or was, I don’t know if it’ll be available now FI is mandatory) one of the cheapest motorcycles to buy new, probably because it lacks any sportsbike “pose value”, and is slow.

That said, I didn’t find the 125cc Wolf Legend (which is small) particularly ill-fitting on a short test ride. I was told I looked pretty silly, but then I often am, so that’s fair warning to other road users.

If long range comfort is an issue, you may find people suggesting a cruiser like the Zing, which people are often getting rid of cheap. I’d suggest that’d be a bad choice. I rode one about halfway down Taiwan (Taichung to Tainan) and it was very stable but I THINK the low rider configuration compromises the suspension, which does my back in after a while. They are also heavy and lack manouverability.

The standard “heavy” licence covers scooters and motorcycles up to 250cc.

Alan’s English is probably enough to get by, but not nearly sufficient to negotiate a motorbike purchase with! Plus, his used bikes are mostly heavy bikes and he’d have very little interest in bothering with a used small bike.
This bloke is a student with little riding expedrience and no money, and you’re suggesting a 650cc bike?
That sun must be HOT over there in Hawaii, M. You should buy a shady hat! :wink:

As for the OP, I’d agree with Edith and try to find a Yamaha SR150. Not particularly stylish or flash, but it’ll get you there with confidence and plenty of grunt for a beginner rider, without putting too big a dent in your wallet.

I’ve made a “How to” on how to ride a manual motorcycle. This is the first video: youtube.com/watch?v=CdySkge4aKM

Part 2 is the video response below it. There are 3 parts.

I forgot about the limited budget when I started thinking about ergos. For a 6’2" rider, the ergos on the CPI 250 SM would be hard to beat for NT 100K new, 80K to 90K used. A beater SR150 would be cheaper, and slower, and boring. Very boring.

The OP is not a beginner… 5 years in Montreal on a Honda, including winters, he’s got enough chops to do Aberdeen to Pitlochry the back way in February. :slight_smile:

When it comes to bikes in Taiwan, there are the two schools - big bikes [heavy] and the smaller bikes with about 125 cc’s or 150 cc’s. It seems the big bikers will always smurk and laugh at the smaller bikes - describing it as ‘not real bikes’. I have both, and the big bike is only rusting.

If I understand the original post correctly, the search is on for how to learn to ride, and budget is a concern, therefore I will focus on the smaller bikes. I too learned only in Taiwan how to ride, after feeling a scooter is not for me. I had no lessons, no instructor and no friend to ask. But I bought a bike and started to ride [at 3 AM…] After all, it is not rocket science. My ‘beginner bike’ was an old kymco zing or something. dirt cheap, kinda cool looking and easy to learn. if you dump it, no big deal. It is also good for short trips as well as some longer rides [ I have circled the island on one].

The Kymco hipster is by far the most comfortable bike I have ever had. Huge seat, pegs far forward and a back rest. Perfect for a large or tall frame and ideal for longer trips.

Thanks for the tips, it seems like the bikes come down to the Yamaha SR150, CPI250, or this local hipster.

To clear up a few things, I have never ridden a motorcycle, only driven cars.

My other question is licensing and such. Are small bikes (<250cc) covered by the same licence as scooters? If so, I’ll just go ahead and get the liscencce, watch Mordeths videos, and ride into trees at 3am. At least the streets in Xindian are quiet.

Oh, and if there is anyone in the Xindian/greater Taipei area who would be willing to meet up give me a few very basic pointers, I would be much oblidged. I can pay with beers and ji pai :slight_smile:

As for the licenses, you are right, the tier 1 license is for scooters and motorcycles up to 250cc’s. To go for the license I will suggest you use a scooter for the actual test - just much easier to handle. Sorry, but I don’t live in Taipei, otherwise I would have taken you up on your offer! Good luck and wear a good helmet. And don’t worry, I think you would probably ride better than the average local kamikaze!

I miss my old SR150. Nice sturdy bike which could nip around the city quite effectively and also took me down south and back over the central mountains. I knew a couple of quite tall guys who rode them, too. They’re 20-something thousand secondhand; 45 or so new I think.

The CPI 250 would be fun though. I wish I was a student in Maunaloa-land. Forget Morrison’s 13p beans on 20p white toast; it’d be cannellini on foccacia for me.

I guess you can’t ride from Aberdeen to Pitlochry the back way in February. Snadman’s gonna embargo my single malt for that blunder.

For Joesax and other motocyclisto gourmets… visit Oahu during the third week of January for the opening of the Legislature. Unbelievable spreads of food… free food. Between gourmand and gourmet in quality. Of course, you’ve got have a plausible reason to be at the Leg, such as the Hawaii/Taiwan Mototouristo Initiative. I’ll start that thread on flob later this year so it will be official. We’ll get a Joint Resolution promoting renting of big heavy motos to waigos/haoles for insular circumnavigation.

Waigoren = haole = foreigner. Same same, yeah?

[quote=“Tianrui”]Thanks for the tips, it seems like the bikes come down to the Yamaha SR150, CPI250, or this local hipster.

To clear up a few things, I have never ridden a motorcycle, only driven cars.

My other question is licensing and such. Are small bikes (<250cc) covered by the same licence as scooters? If so, I’ll just go ahead and get the liscencce, watch Mordeths videos, and ride into trees at 3am. At least the streets in Xindian are quiet.

Oh, and if there is anyone in the Xindian/greater Taipei area who would be willing to meet up give me a few very basic pointers, I would be much oblidged. I can pay with beers and ji pai :slight_smile:[/quote]

I take it you are not yet a “real biker”, so you have a chance to make a rational decision.

Once you become a “real biker” (and I hope for your sake you never do) you’ll have to choose a bike the same way teenagers choose trainers, based on peer pressure and fashion.

You asked about reliability. With the exception of the 2-strokes (which you should probably avoid), possibly the Venox (which is rare, probably outside your budget, and a 250cc cruiser), and perhaps the CPI, I think all motorcycle designs available on the Taiwan market are basically reliable, though of course there are still individual duds. I dont think there are any Italian or British machines available for beginners or within your likely budget, which could save you some grief.

The jury is still out on the CPI, though its acquiring a (possibly undeserved) bad rep. This is one reason to hold off on buying one, plus there arent any old cheap ones yet, and you don’t need a 250 yet. No you don’t.

The Hypster is just a slightly flashier Kymco Zing, i.e. a “low rider” cruiser. There are some rational reasons to buy a cruiser. It’ll fit you, there are quite a lot available, and they can be quite cheap. Semi-rational (market) reasons are that some teenage girls think they are “cool”, and you might be able to find a punter to sell to who does too.

You could easily enjoy a cruiser, BUT you should recognise, before its too late, that they are stupid. They copy the style of a Harley-Davidson, which is itself stupid, but its stupid in an American way, with a MUCH bigger engine, and its stupid in America, where its just about OK.

In a Taiwanese city they are not OK. They are difficult to park, and unmanouvarable in traffic. On the open road (if you can find one) they are heavy and underpowered. The low rider configuration reduces the ground clearance and the suspension travel, both of which are good things to have.

If its cheap you may think it doesn’t matter much if you dump it, BUT if you dump it on your leg you may change your mind (and your leg) permanently. They are FUCKING HEAVY. If you get one, fit crashbars (which will make it even harder to park). Thats probably a good idea on any bike.

A cruiser is stupid for many reasons. A SR150 is (relatively) sensible for many reasons (though its still a motorcycle).

If you are a “real biker” STUPID = GOOD, SENSIBLE = BAD.

Don’t be a “real biker”.

Yup. I had a Yamaha Dragfire for 10 years and loved it – basically the same power unit as the SR150 but in a heavy cruiser stylee. Heavy, hard to park, terribly underpowered, but comfy and flash-looking.

There’s also Hartford, a local brand. They’re cheap and sturdy. They have standard road bikes and also a dirt bike-type thing suitable for taller riders. I know two massive fellows, one of whom has a road bike and the other who is REALLY massive – like 230 pounds or more – who commutes into the mountains past Xindian every day on a Hartford dirt bike.

Some words of advice:

  1. If you’ve never ridden a motoche before this is probably the worst place in the world to begin.
  2. But if you’re a brave soul, keep the following advice ALWAYS in the back of your mind as you navigate these treacherous streets.
  3. Go to a place where you can safely test out your motoche – how it handles, turns, brakes.
  4. Think of Taiwanese drivers like this: This is ALSO everybody’s FIRST TIME on the road. That’s right, they’ve never seen a road before in their life. This is the FIRST TIME they have ever driven a motoche, too, so you have lots of company, although unfortunately for you they all happen to be idiots.
  5. Know that they will make turns without signaling; they will not look anywhere but forward when entering traffic; they may be scratching their nuts or suddenly pull over to answer phones, change lanes haphazardly, swerve to avoid potholes and bumps, of which there are countless; and buses never see you! Don’t get smooshed between two of them!!
  6. Expect people to drive like they’re all drunk off their asses; anticipate they WILL make that one move that will MOST DEFINITELY f* you up; for this reason, keep a safe distance from all other drivers whenever possible.
  7. Invest in a GOOD helmet. not those decorative cap thingies.
  8. I’m a fan of honking at people who drive like dumbshits; yelling ‘baitzhe’ (idiot) maybe snaps some sense into them, and lets off a little steam.
  9. Never fall asleep; if you do, it’s all over for you, my friend.

I forgot one piece of advice:
Make a vow to yourself: I WILL NEVER GET INTO AN ACCIDENT.

Also, beware of driving behind guys who are riding their motoche SPREAD-EAGLED. That’s how you can spot these baitzhe a mile away and brace yourself. They’re usually in flip-flops and, more often than not, high as all hell on betelnut.

NOTA BENE: The only thing more dangerous than a Taiwanese on a motoche is a Taiwanese COUPLE on a motoche. The driver has a scantily clad chick wrapped around him, perhaps for the first time in his life… REPEAT: If you value your life, AVOID COUPLES ON MOTOCHES at all cost, they have no knowledge whatsoever of their surroundings. Weekends are particularly bad because couples flock to the roads at this time. Treat them like powder kegs on wheels.

Yeh, Hartford VR (dirtbikish thing) would probably be a very good choice, but they are rare, because they are too tall for the locals and fairly pricy (I think they used to be about 80k?) new. Competition from the CPI might bring the price down a bit, in fact I guess if the CPI is successful it might kill the model completely, since so few are sold.

There’s a similar Kymco Stryker, even rarer, and allegedly not as good quality.

If you’ve never ridden a bike before, bite the shit sandwich and get a scooter. They are excellent to learn on and you won’t look like a big girl in this country because scooters are cool.
I wouldn’t have touched one before I came here just because of fashion.
Two blokes at my work have a two year old Yamaha Cygnus X 125 scooter and a brand new Hartford 150s motorcycle respectively. The scooter pisses on the Hartford everywhere - acceleration, braking, top speed, roll-on acceleration. The Hartford is probably more stable at speed but in my opinion a scooter makes more sense than a really small bike. My 250 is only marginally faster than a pimped 125 scooter to be honest and they kill me in heavy traffic (maybe more to do with balls/stupidity but the fact remains).

Get a scooter!