motorcycle touring

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motorcycle touring

Postby Joesox » 23 Sep 2003, 01:45

I decided to start a dedicated thread instead of poaching other peoples'!

As some of you know, I'm a very enthusiastic (the unkind would say obsessive) motorcycle tourer and get out on the bike in the hills and mountains most weekends. Despite my lack of experience, I also like talking about mechanical bits and bobs I really have no knowledge about.

Threads I have 'poached';
http://forumosa.com/3/viewtopic.php?t=1 ... c&start=60
http://forumosa.com/3/viewtopic.php?t=1 ... sc&start=0

I am unfeasibly happy to hear from anyone who has an interest in motorcycle touring here.
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Reply to Michael

Postby Joesox » 23 Sep 2003, 02:38

I'll kick things off by replying to Michael's reply to me on this thread;
http://forumosa.com/3/viewtopic.php?t=1 ... sc&start=0

Michael J Botti wrote:Checked out your site............looks like another fantastic ride, did you take the 199 up from Chaioloshui or did you head back on the 200 to Hengchun? If you didn't take the 199, you missed a truly amazing road. Just opened a couple of years ago, (former army base) and it's not too well known yet. If you ever get back down there.......................In the old days, we had to beg for permission, and it was up to the whims of the gate guard whether or not to let us through!

Because we were short of time, we took the no. 9 provincial highway. Thanks for the tip on the 199. Looks good on the map and I hope to try it sometime. The 9 itself was not bad; some nice sweeping curves.
Michael J Botti wrote:2-stroke philosophy is simple; Use good oils, stick to your powerband (You know a little about bikes I see) and rebuild often.
By rebuild you mean engine rebuild? How many times have you had that done? Did you have to run it in slowly for 1000km each time? I had to do that after I had the FZ's engine rebuilt and it was a killer. I was just going up to the hills after work most days trying to get those kms on the clock.
Michael J Botti wrote:But there's no way an FZ is going to outpower an RZX under any circumstance. It's a simple matter of torque vs displacement and the FZ doesn't have enough of either, allthough granted it's probably a less frantic ride (a bigger back sprocket can only do so much). The RZX's seat is a fair bit larger as well, and doesn't have that pelvis busting tank.
You're right about power. You probably have to change gear a bit more often to keep the speed up but your bike has much more power than mine. I have a gel saddle and use the aforementioned haemorrhoid cushion on long journeys. I have a top box fitted on to a welded framework at the back and the passenger can lean on that, but the back seat is still a bit narrow.

Michael J Botti wrote:I agree with you wholeheartedly that most of the RZR's and X's are breathing their last gasps, but that is not so much a reliability issue as it is a lack of knowledge on how to properly maintain a motorcycle. You have no idea how many foreigners I've seen over the years broken down in the middle of nowhere, simply because they've not taken care of their bikes.

My friend's scooter has bent front forks, bald tyres and worn-out brakes but he insists it's ok for getting around on. At least he rides it slowly though. You mentioned getting out of town and doing something- I have invited this friend out on numerous occasions but he always says its 'not his thing'. I think the only places he's been (in over a year) apart from the three big cities are Danshui and Kending.

Michael J Botti wrote:...be careful out there!
It amazes me that a lot of foreigners are quite happy to ride drunk, without a licence or valid insurance and with a 200NT helmet when they probably wouldn't dream of doing such a thing 'back home', where the roads are probably much safer. I know some US states don't have helmet laws but if you read accident statistics by far the most important thing to do is to wear a helmet; a full-face model is best.
Michael J Botti wrote:PS: The last round the Island trip I did by bike was so long ago the only thing you had to wear on your head was a bandana! How do you smoke with a helmet on? Maybe I have been here too long..................
Hmmmm... think you might have been. Wearing a helmet isn't as much fun as not wearing one, but it's a whole lot nicer than having your head caved in. No matter how well you ride, there still can be unexpected situations.
Michael J Botti wrote:Your highway 7 shot from Chiaoshi to Lishan is indeed a nice ride, up a beautiful valley and then steep switchbacks all the way past Wuling farm into Lishan
I'm looking forward to that. That valley looks really long.
Michael J Botti wrote:until they fix Jung-hen it's really out of the way from Yangmei (my abode) or Miaoli for that matter.

I live in Taichung. There's a bit on my site about Jung-hen (Zhonghen). I went up to the start of the off-limits section above Guguan the other day. There were quite a few construction vehicles so they're doing something. I heard a rumour in July from a local of that area that it was going to be reopened in September, but I haven't heard anything yet. I asked the woman who was minding the barrier, and she didn't know. It will be great when it finally is re-opened.
Michael J Botti wrote:Have you done the northern cross-island highway yet? It's not the highest but probably has the best camping possibilities of the three. The best part is that it hits your Chaoshi-Lishan road then you miss all that nastiness in the Yilan area. Conversely, you could ride up into Taipei, cross over to Fulong (surprisingly nice ride) down the coast to Chaoshi, up to Lishan, turn around and come over the Northern-cross island highway, and hit highway 3 home again.

That latter itinerary sounds very good. I hadn't thought of doing that. I assumed that we'd make the long trip round Hehuanshan-Wushe-Puli-Taichung, which is nice enough but I don't mind if I don't do it again for a while.

Quite a few people have recommended going into the hills north of Taipei such as the Yangming Shan area and Beitou. Is it worth doing that? I'd certainly like to visit Chiufen (Jiufen) as well.
Michael J Botti wrote:Chance to ride in the mountains again? Hmm, if the wife says ok and it's not a diving weekend....................hell yes! Keep in touch OK?
Sounds great. I hope at least you can join us when we're up north.
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Postby MJB » 24 Sep 2003, 22:21

Hope there are enough of us out there to keep this thread going.............

Yep, I meant rebuilding the engine, top end anyway. Two strokes tend not to last as long as 4-strokes simply because it's so busy in there. 1,000km for the break-in is pretty standard, running your engine up a mountain before your piston rings have seated is a definite no-no! The reason that so many rebuilds fail, especially here, is that they give you no details (other than go slow for 1,000km) on how to break in your motor. Over the last 13 years, I have rebuilt my engine at least ten times and changed 4 different heads.

The secret to a good break-in is simple. You want to slowly torque the engine where you can access it's powerband without stressing your new rings. Simple right? The easiest way to do this is to only let your engine go in it's powerband in 3rd gear and then only slowly. Then upshift into a high enough gear that the engine is doing almost nothing in order to let all of those minute peices of metal wash down to the bottom of the engine. This alternating stress, coast routine should be done for at least 300km before you take a passenger or head for the hills. In all honesty though, 80% of your ring-seating is done in the first 50km, the rest is for reliablilty........................it's even possible to underrev to the point where the rings will 'glaze' and fail to seal! The result will be a motor that is way underpowered and has no powerband to speak of. If you break it in hard, it will run like a bat out of hell for about 40% of it's normal life span and then keel over.

The sad fact is that the vast majority of arrivals to Taiwan have never ridden a motorcycle, hence the scooter preference. It seems a rite of passage here to have some sort of limb-deforming accident! The worst part is that they want to ride like the locals, who have had a lifetime of experience and that kooky Taiwanese 6th sense that lets them survive life-threatening situations. "That guy just turned out in front of me!" is a saying I hear alot when visiting someone in the emergency room.

I have no excuse for riding without a helmet in the old days, always wore one in the states. But there's something about having the wind fly through your hair..............................Damn!

Would have recommended Yangming Shan 15 years ago, but now it's so crowded on the weekends that you'd be too busy dodging cars to enjoy it. There are a few backroads up there though that still might be worth checking out.................................

Jung-hen opening again? That would be so cool, as the Puli-Huehuanshan route is really getting too built up to be enjoyable, by motorcycle or any other way for that matter. Was up there in June and was astounded by the post 9/21 development. What a mess! The ride down to Hualian fantastic as always though, too bad I was in my truck.

Jiufen is worth a visit. You can access it via the mountain road (Taipei-Fulong) I mentioned before. Almost needs to be done on a semi-shitty day to appreciate it's beauty though as it's one of those misty mountain-top kind of places. On the road up there, you have (on a clear day) an amazing view of the entire north-east coast, from Yeliu to Suao and also Kweishan Dao.

If you guys are heading up north by bike, by all means let me know...........I'll do my damndest to join up..............You'll be passing close by my place, I live on a mountain top myself. Stop in!

If you can tell me how to do the map thing (computer idiot, sorry) I can put some of these backroads to paper for your enjoyment.

Happy riding
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Breaking in engines, good road maps

Postby Joesox » 25 Sep 2003, 00:09

Michael J Botti wrote:The secret to a good break-in is simple...

Reading what you wrote, I think the way I broke it in was adequate though not ideal. Eric the mechanic put non-synthetic oil in as he said it would help the piston rings seat. He told me not to go over about 6-7000 rpm. Of course I had it at 7000 more often than 6! After almost 900km I pleaded with him to let me ride it normally. He said OK and replaced the oil with decent synthetic. Seems to be going fine now, at about 3000km.

Michael J Botti wrote:The sad fact is that the vast majority of arrivals to Taiwan have never ridden a motorcycle, hence the scooter preference.

Referring back to what I wrote in the other thread, I still think that scooters, particularly small, quick steering ones, are ideal for Taiwan's cities. I have a Dio 50 and, in town, it's so much less stressful than riding the FZ. It steers like lightning and the brakes, though both drums, stop such a light bike plenty quick enough. When you have 100 metres between some stoplights, the automatic gearbox is less fuss. I can put my helmet under the seat and because the scooter's only worth about 10,000, I wouldn't wouldn't be losing so much if it were stolen.

Of course geared, large-wheeled motorcycles are superior out of town.

Michael J Botti wrote:"That guy just turned out in front of me!" is a saying I hear alot when visiting someone in the emergency room.

Pulling out in front of people is the no.1 bad driving habit here. Learning to anticipate this is the no.1 defensive riding practice.

Michael J Botti wrote:Would have recommended Yangming Shan 15 years ago, but now it's so crowded on the weekends that you'd be too busy dodging cars to enjoy it. There are a few backroads up there though that still might be worth checking out.

No.2 (not actually the main 2, it's the 2 with one of those characters added; the one that looks like a square tennis racket) Provincial Highway, the one going right through Yangming Shan National Park, still seems like the only way through to the north coast if we want to avoid spending time on the less interesting north-west. Maybe we can time it so we go up in the week.

Michael J Botti wrote:If you guys are heading up north by bike, by all means let me know...........I'll do my damndest to join up..............You'll be passing close by my place, I live on a mountain top myself. Stop in!

I'm not sure when this trip will be but that sounds great. Do you live close to the no.2 highway? (I realise you'll probably want to answer this by private message rather than on a public message board).

Michael J Botti wrote:If you can tell me how to do the map thing (computer idiot, sorry) I can put some of these backroads to paper for your enjoyment.

I use a 1-volume road map of Taiwan, scale 1:90,000. For those who are interested the cover color is red. It's the most convenient one I've found for actually using on the road. For sheer detail, though, I'm thinking of buying the north Taiwan volume of a 2-volume set, at 1:50,000. If you like maps, this one is great; it also has larger scale maps in the back with excellent coloring; one group of these pages is for elevation and I think the other is for vegetation. The downside is the price; 2000NT for each volume!

Back to those backroads; I can see that that no.2something highway goes north almost to the edge of Taipei City, where it turns east and a branch road, the 101, goes north west. In between and to the north of these two roads are a spiderweb of little roads going to the coast. I realise you probably can't do much with this description but maybe somebody else can help out.

I haven't found a useable road map on the internet.
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Postby MJB » 26 Sep 2003, 22:02

Hello,

I live in Yangmei, which is about 20km south of the CKS Airport. If you are heading north by motorcycle, you will pass my house regardless whether you are on the 1 or 3 (Would highly recommend the 3).

As for all of the spider roads leading off the two heading over the mountains and to the coast, I can safely say I have done them all. I lived in Danshui many years ago and had access to all of these local Yangming Shan twisties. I can certainly point you in the right direction for this journey, and maybe join you if the timing is right.

Anyway, maybe we should continue this discussion via email, unless there are others out there planning motorcycle tours as well. Would love to hear from more of you out there hitting the mountain roads, especially those of you that have bitten the bullet and purchased real bikes.

Would also be very interested to hear from anyone who has taken the big-bike class.......................Anyone?
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Postby Bu Lai En » 27 Sep 2003, 11:25

The main roads of Yangming Shan are certainly crowded in the weekends, but there's dozens of others that don't have so much traffic.

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Ever dreamed about a [b]proper[/b] service for your bike?

Postby sandman » 27 Sep 2003, 14:01

Watch this space for info from our very own LazyMF, who, along with Jeremy the English bike repair/maintenance/rental guy, has big plans for their place that includes a banner on Forumosa, some kind of touring club, and all kinds of other interesting stuff.
Stop in, get your bike fixed up PROPERLY -- no really, they'll even look at things that aren't broken (!!!) -- have a coffee, buy a used book, and enjoy a plate of Jody's excellent swordfish with rosemary home fries.
Drive up Xinhai Rd past Tai-Da in the direction of the tunnel. Cross Jilung Rd. and turn left at the first set of lights. Jeremy's place is about two shops in on the right-hand side (he's not open in the mornings).
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Postby MJB » 27 Sep 2003, 17:38

Hold on:

I'm 42 years old and don't look anything like Burt (good or bad?) for some people the motorcycle bug bites harder that's all. I think the main reason that I still enjoy it so much is that I don't use it for daily transportation. I think riding a motorcycle here in the winter would really suck and turn many people off to longer road trips!

An English speaking mechanic that is competent and serves seafood? Shit, sign me up.........................And why isn't this guy on here giving advice? I can't even imagine how many frustrated people are out there getting their bikes/scooters serviced by incompetent fools. Maybe this guy could jump on with more than directions to his shop. Basic maintenence tips, troubleshooting for folks that don't live in Taipei, and maybe most important of all how to find a decent mechanic!

I'm really convinced that Taiwan is way underrated for adventure travelers. A motorcycle touring company in Taiwan could have some real potential..............Wish him the best of luck! 8-)
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Postby Joesox » 27 Sep 2003, 18:11

I've found winter trips to be fine. It's the dry season, which makes for better road conditions. Thermal underwear is cheap here if you feel the need.

I'll certainly be interested to look at Sandman's friend Jeremy's website when it's up. When I started going to the hills by motorcycle a year ago, it seemed like nobody else was doing the same thing. I gradually met some Taiwanese people who had done or were doing it as students, and now I'm starting to hear about a few foreigners as well. It's obvious that some people, such as Michael, must have been doing it for quite a while, but still when you say to many Taiwanese people that you went to such and such a place by motorcycle, they seem amazed or concerned.

For those of us in central Taiwan, I'll mention Eric again. He's done certified training and is a Yamaha specialist. Like Jeremy, he's good on regular maintenance and does a thorough, conscientious job. He's into getting bikes to perform as well as they can and to be reliable and long-lasting. He keeps up with innovations - he recently bought a machine for making nitrogen to put in tyres because it's better (makes them last longer, reduces chance of a blowout).
His English is not bad, but I recommend going to see him personally rather than talking about technical stuff on the phone. Directions for getting to his place here; http://mcttw.tripod.com/eric_lin.htm
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Postby MJB » 28 Sep 2003, 00:27

Josax,

Just out of curiosity, how long have you been here? Other than the last two years, Taiwan winters have been the most depressing thing I've ever seen. I mention this because the last two winters have been really mild and dry. This is not the norm. (will say Taichung winter weather is better than up north)

I was not talking so much about road trips per se, more like the average city commuter schlogging to work when it's 10C and raining. The first time my wife and I went to Hualian back in 89, it rained the whole way down. Yuck! Despite my imported rain gear we were soaked to the bone. Ended up putting the bike on a train and flying home. Every rain drenched km I kept saying to myself "why didn't I drive?" Maybe I am just a fair-weather riding wimp!

I can recommend a couple of competent mechanics in Taoyuan County but none of them speak English. But if you see this thread and are having a problem with your ride, I will be happy to help get it sorted out for you.

Double ten coming up..............................Maybe road trip time?

Still, to this day, when you tell a local you've been around the Island by motorcycle, the response is shock. However, last year about 20 Lau-wai's made the journey from Zhongli to Kending and back again, including one young woman on a 50cc scooter with a dog!

People are doing it, but not nearly as many as you'd think.................I have a friend here who has been in Taiwan slightly longer than myself. He has yet to go to Kending or Hualian for that matter! It's so sad.

Does your mechanic have seafood?
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