Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Transformer Scooter

I'm too old to have given much thought to the Transformers, but when I saw a scooter painted to resemble a Transformer and driven by a young guy wearing a transformer t-shirt, I thought only of sharing with Taipei-Scooter-Style. Having never accosted a scooter driver while riding in traffic (I have approached people who were stopped already), I figured that perhaps it was time to do just that. So I began following him, hoping that we would both stop at a traffic light before he got away, or I lost my curiosity. Fortunately, at the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Heping Road, I got my chance.

[In Chinese: Excuse me, I like your scooter. Would you let me take a photograph of it? I've got a blog about Taiwan Scooters, and I'd like to put a photograph of your scooter on it.]

He didn't know what to make of me at first, but he didn't speed away or curse me. Instead, he asked his friend, sitting on the scooter just in front of mine, what he thought. The answer was a shrug. So Transformer Boy agreed.

[Pull over to the side of road up ahead, okay?] He nodded, and as the light turned green, I half expected him to ride off and give me the finger. But no, he and his mate pulled to the side just past the intersection.

I got the idea for accosting people driving interesting vehicles from one of those American reality shows, Counting Cars. As the Count demonstrated numerous times, people are proud of their customized cars/cycles, and many seem happy to talk with people who express an interest them. It is critical not to scare them off, though, so the initial approach has to be handled delicately.

As I found out, the same method works for scooter drivers in Taipei. I don't know how often I'll employ it, but now that I know it works, I expect I'll try it again.

As you can see, the mods on this bike are mainly a fancy red and white paint job, LED accent lights, and red anodized hardware.

As old as I am, the paint job actually reminded me more of Racer X, from the Speed Racer cartoon I used to watch. I believe Racer X was Speed's long-lost older brother, but my memory of a cartoon from 45 years ago might be a little rusty.
This view of the rear of the scooter shows some of the mods that have been made to this scooter. As you can see, the transformer logo appears several times, as do the Monster claw marks. The red flames/wings(?) on the license plate bolts are a common tweak that is definitely part of Taipei Scooter Style. The same goes the rear fender extender. I don't expect they have much practical use, but sticking them on the fenders is sort of like putting a spoiler or wing on an otherwise stock automobile: they don't add speed, but they make a fashion statement. You cant' see much of the muffler, but it's aftermarket, as is the red bolt holding it in place. Just below the license plate, it says Jet Power Club, which might be something for me to look into. Perhaps it's a club of guys who mod their scooters. We'll see. Oh, and notice the words in Japanese above the shock absorber on the left. Japanese language makes everything cooler. Just think of all the awesome tattoos of Japanese writing that people get when inebriated. Some trends  play in the East and the West.

Anyway, I took a few photos of Transformer scooter, and then noticed the Transformer Boy's friend standing near his scooter and hoping that I would ask to take a few shots of his ride as well. I obliged.
I think he was actually driving the same model of scooter (Sanyang Jet 150), but with a much toned-down custom paint job. It was all one color, sort of a gun-metal blue, and quite nicely done. It was understated but cool.  You can see that he has customized his seat as well. In fact, both he and Transformer Boy had similar seats, although the color of the claw marks (a logo of Monster Energy drinks) on their seats and rear mud guards matched the respective paint schemes of the two bikes.. You never really see anyone drinking those power beverages in Taipei, but the logo is recognized as cool, and it appears on many scooters driven by fellows like these.

After I snapped a few pictures of this guy's ride, he asked me [Do you want me to turn on the lights?] How foolish of me. I hadn't realized that he also had the LED accent lights. It was daylight, and his blue lights didn't exactly make a strong impression in the sun, but when he turned them on, I saw the difference they made (not much).
If you ride around Taipei in the evening, you'll often see guys on scooters with these red and blue accent lights. In fact, I think these kids purposely get accent lights in different colors so that when they ride around together, the can each attract attention. What a drag to have the same color lights as the guy riding next to you (even if your bikes are nearly identical in every way).

From this adventure, I've learned that guys with flashy scooters do want to be noticed (who would have thought?), and they may not mind having their photo taken. One of these days, I'll get some business cards made up with the name and address of this website so that people I harass on their scooters can see what I've done to increase their fame.


I came across this advertisement on YouTube and found that the red and white paint scheme is in fact  standard on Symco's Jet Power EVO. The scooter is obviously designed to appeal to young males since the ad uses punchy music, computer graphics, and attractive young women in short pants.

And here's a video of guys racing these scooters around a parking lot race course in the rain. It looks like Kaohsiung, but I could be mistaken.