Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New and Used on Yenping North Road

Her body language was not welcoming

Yenping North Road has long been an area of the city where both new and used scooters are sold. For several blocks, the sides of the road are lined with scooters for sale . Behind them are the dealers’ shops where the haggling takes place. Sales people sit on scooters scanning people passing by, waiting to spot potential customers. Personally, they didn't seem too friendly, but then I probably made them nervous with the camera.

The biggest place on the block. It does a lot of business online.
The PGO scooters on the left are manufactured in Taiwan under an agreement with Italy's Piaggio.
The Honda "Mate" (An Aussie friend of mine had one of these in purple)
The Kiwi & Three Little Pigs version
The new scooters available are generally the most popular models, and the second-hand rides have been thoroughly cleaned up and polished. The neighborhood is somewhat infamous for the (ahem) quality of the used scooters sold there.  (A restaurant blogger was sued in 2012 for maligning the reputation of a restaurant in a review she wrote. Concerned that a similar outcome might befall Taipei Scooter Style if unkind words were written about a particular scooter shop, let’s leave generalizations aside.)

Personally, I can say that I bought a used ATAC 135, a two-stroke crotch rocket, there in 1990 and the engine froze within two weeks of purchase.  After replacing the piston, valves, and cylinder, the bike was back on the road, but was then stolen from in front of the apartment where I was living in the Donghu District of Taipei. I can’t say if the thief found the quality of the rebuild to be adequate.  That was not the first time that thieves targeted that cycle. Before the engine blew up, one of the rear shocks was stolen and had to be replaced. The ATAC was not a cheap bike to repair, so stolen parts were in high demand.

The bike that called to my 25-year-old self
This is pretty much what my ATAC looked like. Honda is still building the 135cc model.This one is a 2008 version being sold in Malaysia as the Raider. I had never ridden a two-stroke before buying mine, and the power was a little frightening. You really had to hold on tight to the handlegrips when twisting the throttle; the bike would leap ahead, You can see the shock has an oil reservoir that is offset from the piston and coil spring.

Serious modification to this KTR 150: blaze orange paint, new rear-end, monoshock, and wicked chrome exhaust. Check out a stock model (minus its gas tank in the picture below).
On streets just a few blocks away from Yenping, one sees shops where used scooters are rebuilt before being sold at the dealers. The bikes are stripped down to their frames, washed with solvent, repainted and then body parts and other equipment from wrecked bikes are installed.
The stripped scooter in the foreground has a green license plate because it is a 50cc model.

Water cooling and a shiny horn
That chop-top look comes from riding up under the bumper of a car that has stopped suddenly.
The sidewalks near these Frankenstein shops are lined with wrecked bikes, and these are cannibalized for parts. The scooter on the end, nearest the pillar, is one of the big boys, a Dink 250. You can see how the front end has collapsed in an accident. Bikes with this type of damage are often seen on the roadside, presumably after an ambulance has taken away the rider (and possibly passengers).

The same day that the rest of these photos were taken, I witnessed the aftermath of car-scooter collision on Zhongshan N. Road just below the Grand Hotel. It's an extremely busy intersection, since the road is main thoroughfare leading to Shilin and Tienmu. The rider didn't seem too badly injured, but he sat on the sidewalk waiting for an ambulance while the car's driver stood nearby, looking nervous. The scooter riders are waiting to turn left across the intersection.

At the same location, I spotted this scooter that had obviously been left at the site after an accident. The nose had the same type of damage that was seen on the Dink above. Who knows? Perhaps this scooter will have been repaired in a few weeks and lined up along Yenping N. Road with other "gently" used scooters.