We’re gonna have a nice lil’ discussion regarding the scooters that are found in Taiwan!
For those of you that are familiar with racist jokes with regards to Asian methods of transportation, then of course you would’ve heard of the scooter. By scooter, I don’t mean the small flimsy metal “Razor” ones you can get at your local Target, but rather an actual motorbike.
The more “artisan” version, if you can really consider it so, is the Vespa. These little scooters can be found all over the world. Undoubtedly, they’re the joke of the motorcycling world, but if it gets you from A to B, I hardly think there’s anything to complain about.
Now back to Taiwan: the country is literally littered with these scooters. In fact, I’m sure there’s twice fold the amount of scooters registered than there are automobiles. The scooters can come cheap from anywhere such as ~ USD $600 upwards. You don’t have to go to a dedicated dealer to purchase these bikes, and actually, the Carrefour around the block probably sells it too. However, you do need to have an actual license. Since these bikes are usually between 50 to 250 CC, there’s no need for a full motorcycle license, usually the smaller-class alternatives will do.
So what’s so special about these bikes? Well, aside from the fact that they’re EVERYWHERE, it is actually kind of a cultural phenomenon. While the rest of the world pokes fun at the scooter for being a “legitimate” transportation device, Taiwanese people actually treat them as real motorcycles. In fact, the ads for these bikes are so over-the-top you would think it’s an advertisement fit for Ducati or MV Agusta.
In addition, these bikes are actually quite useful. Since Taiwan is small, you would only need something small that’s capable of carrying you a short distance. Furthermore, some streets are either extremely crowded or narrow, so maybe only a scooter is the option. Of course, just like the racist joke, scooters are considered by some as a “family vehicle”. Literally, you can see mommy, daddy, and junior on the scooter. To some extremes, I have even witnessed myself a scooter carrying 5 people. I can only speculate that they’re only travelling a short distance as I doubt the scooter can handle the weight, plus I’m sure the cops will pull them over.
Alternatively, we don’t see many sport bikes in Taiwan. By sport bikes, I mean the crotch rockets that are like the CBRs, Ninjas, and etc. Sports bikes, not-so-surprisingly, is considered the much more dangerous alternative. However, I would’ve guessed that a country that’s so dependent on scooter (motorcycles) to be more open to sport bikes. Still, as a result, sport bike owners are still classified as either “thrill seekers”, people with a death wish, or celebrities who don’t know how to spend their money.
If you have the chance to rent one, give yourself a try! I know you might think you look ridiculous, especially it looks like you’re taking a dump while holding handlebars, but the efficiency will make you change your mind!