Secondhand scooter buying tips [was: Don't make false economies...]

Not that I suppose anyone who needs to read this will, or if they do will actually take heed, but…

I heartily approve of the below-mentioned gentleman’s price range for buying a secondhand scooter.

[quote=“presidentgee”]His main criterion is a used 90-125cc scooter…He does not like to state the obvious. (The scooter must be in good condition and have papers)…He prefers to be discreet about pecuniary matters but will pay between $NT14-25k.[/quote](from this thread: )

It frustrates me when other foreigners I know think they can get anything decent over 50cc for under 10,000NT. If they do find such a bike, they will either have to make large or regular payments to get it up to scratch, or be content riding around on a thing that will break down often and probably be a safety hazard as well. My friend rides around on a 90 that he bought for 8000NT. Its most dangerous features are that it has bent forks and very weak front brakes. Of course it has a great many other major and minor problems as well. He’s hoping to sell it for 8000 again when he leaves TW! I let him know that I wouldn’t sell that thing to my worst enemy. He wasn’t too happy.

I am actually looking to buy 2 scooters right now!
How much would you people pay for a used 125cc.

  1. 10,000 Km or less
  2. 10,000 - 20,000
  3. 20,000 and up?

I am actually looking to be 2 scooters right now!
How much would you people pay for a used 125cc.

  1. 10,000 Km or less
  2. 10,000 - 20,000
  3. 20,000 and up?[/quote]
    To be honest, while I know how much is too little, I’m a bit hazier on the field of appropriate prices. My point was that it is unreasonable to expect to get anything decent above 50cc for less than 10,000NT, unless you’re buying it from a good friend (or unless you’re around Sandman when he’s feeling generous! :wink: )
    I would be more inclined, rather than fixing prices to go with specific mileages, to have a look at quite a few models and see what’s out there. Obviously a higher-mileage bike will be more likely to need an engine rebuild sooner, but there are a lot of variables beyond that according to how the bike has been treated and maintained and how reliable and well-designed that particular model was in the first place.

The best way, it seems, to start buying motor vehicles if one doesn’t know too much about it is to take a friend along who has more experience. (Of course if this is a foreigner friend who claims to know everything about motorcycles but him/herself rides a clapped-out piece of trash, then be wary!)

Are you in Taipei? We’ve heard nothing but good reports about Jeremy’s bike shop. His website is

and the details as given on that site are;
Phone: (02) 8732-1992 Mobile: 0926-283-300

No. 4, Lane 157, Xin Hai Rd. Sec. 3,Taipei, Taiwan

Open Monday to Saturday, 2pm to 10pm

I imagine that if you went to a reputable guy like this, you wouldn’t need to bring along a friend as he’d be all the friend you’d need as regards bikes.

Age means nothing. Condition is everything. I recently paid NT$18,000 for a 1993 150 Yamaha Fly-one in good nick (cosmetically shabby) and am happily riding it every day to work. Remember, the plastic bits don’t break down, the oily bits do.

I wouldn’t buy a used scooter with low mileage - just buy a new one. If you’re buying an older one, make sure you can tell whether it’s knackered or not. If you know fuck all about scooters, buy a really cheap one and bin it at the first sign of trouble. But ride it very slowly.

Interesting you say that, Hexuan. What’s your reasoning?
If I were in the UK, looking for a very reliable car and had the cash, I would go for something maybe 2 years old. One or two years knock a disproportionately large amount off the price (actually, even a month does!), while the car is still in pretty good condition.
I would have thought that you could apply the same kind of thinking to scooters in Taiwan, only of course you’d want to go younger rather than older because of the variety of riding and maintenance - ahem - ‘styles’ out there.

‘Riding it very slowly’ is the one safety-related thing about my above-mentioned friend and his 90cc scooter.

Anybody should be able to check whether brakes are totally knackered or forks are bent (for the latter, ride at maybe 20kmh in a straight line. Gradually relax your grip on the bars a little. If the steering wants to turn to one side or the other of its own accord, the forks are probably bent; something that must be fixed). Checking tyres is also straightforward; do they have visible tread left in the central part as well as the sides? (They should do.) Do they have minute cracks on the sidewalls? (They should not.)

These three things; adequate brakes, tyres and straight front forks are probably the most important things from a safety point of view. Happily, they can all be fixed relatively cheaply although you may have to leave the scooter at the mechanic’s for a day or two if the forks need straightened.

Unhappily, my friend refuses to pay even the few thousand NT it would take to get his bike 100% safer.

Sorry about consecutive posts; didn’t want to edit in case somebody was replying at the same time and things got messy.

Great point about the cosmetics. If you’re confident that the insides are good then its better to go for a shabby-looking bike for two reasons;
a) it will be cheaper; perhaps proportionately more so than in other countries where people aren’t so bothered about appearance
b) it will be much less likely to get stolen, see a) above

By the way, do you still have the FZ, Hexuan? Have you decided to do the same as me and keep it for the country rides?

I still have the FZ. Minus number plate, which is enjoying the hospitality of the boys in blue in Yong He. Something about not paying tax…

A scooter is the way to go for everyday commuting, but I used to find the FZ a bit safer on the wet winter roads.

In the UK, if you’re buying a recent second-hand car, you’ll get a service history that you could actually believe in. You can ring up the AA and for

I think both Hexuan and Joe Sax make some excellent points.

I especially agree with the part about how it is just fine (perhaps often preferrable) for the outside of the bike to look shabby, but close attention should be paid to those “oily parts” on the inside.

May I also add, without making too wide of a generalization, caution when buying a used bike from a “friend” or a friend of a friend or some guy you met at the pub. I had one flatmate who knowingly passed off a lemon of a Vespa to someone newly arrived to Taiwan. This flatmate knew full well of the many faults and problems with this bike and pawned the bike off for a profit: His rational–he needed the money for his trip to an ashram in India (I never understood how he could reconcile cheating someone else so he could afford to study at the feet of his guru–but that’s another story). I’ve also known of a few other people who have “passed on” bikes to others for more than they themselves originally paid.

Of course, I know that this could also happen at bike shop. I would just advise those who are thinking of buying a bike from someone leaving the island to exercise use extreme caution (and take the bike to a shop to have it looked over before buying one).

And to add to fee’s advice - make sure you get the blue card (the xingzhao) in your name before he leaves.

I see what you mean Hexuan. I guess the only sure way of getting a good low mileage scooter would be to buy it from a highly trusted source such as a good friend. But in that case, it could well be a bit cheaper anyway.

The price range you mentioned sounds very reasonable. I still say that anything under 12,000NT (maybe 10,000 for a 50cc model) will probably be a dog that will cause more trouble than it’s worth.