Pros and Cons of a Big Bike in the 'wan

[quote=“RJ45”]Hi Guys, I just found this community last week, I was relocated to stay in Taipei almost a year and still have long way to go, I’m a big bike’s lover, but I really have no idea how could foreigner own the red-plate motorbike here , I had ever inquiry to my colleges I got so various answer from them that I think that not exactly as I expect, so google brought me here :smiley:

I have A.R.C and Tax record, actually just paid to Tax office today :blush:

hook into question , what is major expense and how much if I really want to own bigbike such as BMW F800GS, Fuel Tax , annual license , insurance fee. as I heard it’s pretty much if compare to what I have in my country.

Thank You.

This sounds quite ridiculous, but the last thing you want to do is buy a “big bike” here. I don’t care if you are an experienced rider back in the States, Canada, or if you are a regular rider at the Isle of Man. The roads here are corrupt. If you are new here, you are guaranteed an accident especially if you are riding a “big bike.” I suggest you settle into TW a bit first and get a scooter. Try to learn the local traffic a bit, then a get a small cc motorcycle. I know that sounds silly, but you are not back in the “Western World.” Riding a “big bike” motorcycle really takes some experience and expertise in Taiwan. Yes anyone can lean how to use one, but can anyone actually ride one and understand its power and potential on the Taiwanese roads?. “Big bikes” are still very new to TW and I would say that at least 90% of the riders don’t even know how to ride them yet. Mechanics are hard to come by too. Get yourself a smaller bike and move your way up. I mean this in the nicest way!! Good luck!

Good, common sense advice.

The thing about ‘irate villagers’ refers to people in the mountains who get fed up with the packs of sportbikes that rip through their one-horse towns. They are used to a slower pace of life and don’t appreciate the extra danger faced by the kids playing in the only street they have, or the elderly trying to cross it. It’s happened a few times now that they’ve taken matters into their own hands and oiled some choice bends in the roads near village. In one incident a bunch of bikes went down in a morning on the 21. I don’t think anyone was badly hurt but IIRC over a million NT$ of damage was done to the bikes involved. It isn’t right to do this, but if the teams would just slow down to pass through the villages, none of this would happen.

I disagree, owning and using a big bike in Taiwan is perfectly reasonable. I use mine for commuting with a big luggage box and I can use all the expressways that are forbidden for white plate bikes.

The purchase price of bikes here is more expensive than most of Europe or the US but in the long run you save big on insurance. No comments about how the insurance is crap please, that’s your choice to go with the bare minimum and I happen to have very comprehensive insurance for a very reasonably price.

Road surfaces are better than the US, not as good as some European countries that hate cars, maybe about the same as the UK.

I would not do mountain riding in any country, that’s how a lot of people have died on bikes. In the US and Australia you have wild animals and in Taiwan you have gravel trucks but the hazards are the same.

City riding is fine - visibility, braking etc. on a larger bike is excellent. You are not supposed to park in scooter boxes any more which is fine by me - while everyone else is trying to wedge their ride between 100 other bikes I just saunter up to a car box.

I don’t know if the OP has ridden before, if not then he should follow the advice to start small and work up (which he would have to do anyway to be legal). Otherwise you will not die in a giant explosion as soon as you sit on a red or yellow plate bike in Taiwan.

I respect your POV, llary, but disagree with you on two points:

  1. yes, one can use a big bike for commuting in a city… but my riding profile is different; I ride a big bike because of, and in, the mountains; in Taipei I ride a bicycle or scooter, depending on distance. A bagged folding bike on MRT, any station, any time, is very convenient, and often faster than a scooter (or a big bike) to a distant location.

  2. road quality in the States depends on whether the road is federal, state, county, or city maintained … a generalization along the lines of 'road surfaces in the ‘wan are better than those in the States’ is incorrect, especially given the collapsed tunnels, landslides, washouts, etc., that go unrepaired for years in the 'wan. That type of long term (permanent for the SCIH?) neglect doesn’t happen in the States. I would restate the summary as “some cities in the 'wan have better maintained roads than some cities in the States, but overall roads in the States are superior to 'wan roads, and mountain roads in the States are incomparably superior to those in the 'wan”. :slight_smile: Try the Dragon on the NC/TN border, or the Northern Cascades Highway in WA, as exemplars of mountain roads.

Mountain roads in the 'wan present a different set of challenges than those in the US and EU. I don’t ride in the 'wan for high speed sweepers or road surfaces.

Pros of a red-plated moto:

  1. Use of expressways
  2. Probable (under study): use of National Highways
  3. Power and torque (hmmm, good :lick: :lick: ) for … overtaking buses and trucks in the mountains.
  4. Moto-touring without crawling up mountain roads (related to item 3)
  5. Can make left turns where scooters must turn right then go straight

Cons of a red-plated moto:
A) Expense of initial purchase
B) One year wait for big bike endorsement on driving permit
C) Lower mpg
D) Must park in car stalls, not in scooter stalls
E) Higher annual fee for license plate
F) Higher risk of theft
G) Higher cost for tupperware
H) Must not filter through lanes in stopped traffic

I’m sure I will get shit for this, but really IMO there are not many if any pros for anyone to purchase a “big bike” right now in Taiwan. I think maybe in the future when the prices come down, when people can actually ride them on the freeways, and when the streets become safer and the cops actually start giving people traffic citations is when it would be more practical. As of now, the majority of the Taiwanese that own “big bikes” have money to blow, or just like the attention. Not many people even know how to ride them properly here.

As a long time big-bike rider (and having honed those skills on a track and as a courier) I would only ever ride a scooter in Taiwan, or a bicycle. Any big bike in taiwan (city or mountains, and there’s precious little else) is a fast ticket to lots of trouble.

I would not recommend getting one to anyone.

Congrats folks, you have finally merged into Taiwan Logic.

It’s dangerous to ride a big bike with strong brakes, reliable handling and good visibility but it’s much safer to ride a scooter? :doh: Or even better a bicycle, with just slightly better road presence than a cockroach. :doh:

While we’re talking about safety, don’t forget that red plate bikes are allowed (required) to ride in car lanes and don’t have to use the scooter boxes.

I have seen people buying certain brands of white plate bikes for $70-90k and up then ending up disappointed with them. My bike was not outrageously expensive and I get a huge amount of pleasure and utility out of it. I would even go so far as saying that my life would be a lot more empty without it.


Hauling touring gear through the 'wan mountains on a 150cc farmer’s bike is not pleasant. Hauling the same gear on a Tenere on the same roads is a religious experience. Speaking from my personal Big Trailie altar.

errrr… maybe you were thinking of profane motos, like Blackbirds, 'busas, gixxers… yeah, those have no place in the 'wan. :wink: :wink: :wink:

If you’re competent on big trailies, IMO the 'wan is one of the best places in Asia to have one, and with mountain road surfaces, long travel suspension is a plus (the most common big bike I see more than an hour’s ride from Taipei is a beemer R 1200 GS). Runner up places are the Japanese Alps and Hokkaido, and Jeju-do in KR, but Japan lacks the “adventure” element, even in the mountains. IMO, Japan is generally better on a velo than a moto.

Pros of riding big bikes in Taiwan;

  • excellent scenery
  • generally good road surfaces
  • proximity of destinations

Cons of riding big bikes in Taiwan;

  • dangerous road users
  • traffic can be heavy (depending on destination and season)
  • not allowed on Freeways
  • cops generally don’t know the laws regarding red-plate bikes. Can be a problem in case of an incident.

and [url]Drunk driving ex-con almost kills Forumosan in car smash

I put in lots of miles between my first bike purchase inTaiwan (Yamaha R6, no plates) in 2001 and my R1200GS (destroyed in 2006), and I loved every minute of it. I’d be back on a bike if I was still single and without a kid…

Like any other place in the world, it can be as safe as you make it and it can also go very wrong despite your efforts. It’s not a luck thing either. It comes down to circumstances and coincidence, which are can’t really be determined in advance. Get a good machine for what you want to do, wear proper gear, be smart and you’ll have a good time…

thanks for the belittling comment, there, llary.

big bike riders relying on gobs of power seem to me to have the worst road sense of all users, apart maybe from Ama and her scooter overloaded with cabbages.

one of the main benefits of a scooter vs a big bike in Taiwan is that you CANNOT go fast. All you right wrist tossers who think that power delivery will save you every time are just big accidents waiting to happen, especially when mixing it up with most of the riders I have seen in Taiwan.

Taiwan is not a good country for big bikes. Try Italy, Australia, even Japan or the US. Do not get one for Taiwan, but rather a 150 two stroke or a CB400 or something. Owning a Hayabusa and so on in Taiwan is just dangerous posing, and you probably deserve the repair bills and the condolence money you’ll ultimately end up having to fork out.


Do you have a scooter now? Maybe you should take it up Yang Ming Shan one night, or to Ping Xi on a nice weekend, you’ll see other riders on big bikes you can talk to ( mostly locals ), and you’ll get of sense of what you can do with one in North Taiwan.


Do you have a scooter now? [/quote]
Yeah, I’ve been riding my new 18-year-old scooter for about a month now. Apart from its superior comfort, so much nicer to ride in the rain, decent luggage-carrying ability, faster away from the lights, ease of parking, quietness, a bike blows it away every time! :laughing:

Nice to see the villagers teaching those idiots a lesson, hope it happens more often.

Its not right to do that though as someone could be killed. I dont think the villagers mean to kill.

i went thru one of em oil patches, but lucky in my car and i did a 360. I cant imagine what thats like on a moto.

Maybe a big cruiser like a HOG is the answer for Taiwan. I would say sports bikes …nyet… hogs…OINK !!

Its not right to do that though as someone could be killed. I dont think the villagers mean to kill.

I don’t think the tiny-penised halfwits who blast through those tiny sidewalk-less villages on their day off actually “mean” to endanger the inhabitants, either. :wink:

Exactly my sentiments, you endanger other peoples lives on your weekend ‘leisure’ trips with your THIRTY buddies (including mine when they drive towards me on those mountain road), well you deserve it back.

Except for the innocents who get caught in the crossfire.

How would they get caught? They’d be driving slowly enough to avoid oil patches. If they aren’t, then they deserve what they get. I never drive so fast that I can’t avoid oil, wet leaves, frail wee grannies, etc.

I would hope you’re right sandman, but it is a gamble.