Every Taiwanese dreams of biking around Taiwan at least once. Some dream, some do and every hour one can see yet another group of cyclists on their way. The whole trip is around 650 miles on flat terrain and can be accomplished in 8 to 10 days. This trip will create everlasting memories. All it takes is determination and a certain level of physical fitness.
The article in front of you is a do-it-yourself guide on biking around Taiwan. It assumes no previous bike travel experience and starts with the basics of renting, buying and shipping a bike with an emphasis on the latter. It provides a check-list of what to bring on a multi-day bike trip. Wherever ones turns, there are traditional Chinese characters and Mandarin speaking people and so this guide prepares you for Taiwan with an extensive section full of survival tips. The second half of this guide proposes a fairly common route starting and ending in Taipei and concludes with a short tour diary.
Do not fear, Taiwanese are very open to foreigners and help you getting around. Read this guide to the end and you will know what I mean. But first off, let’s get started with the logistics of getting you a bike in Taipei and in no time you will be ready for your next adventure.
Renting vs Buying vs Shipping a Bike
Renting a Bike: Bike rentals are quite cheap in Taiwan. Giant is a Taiwanese bike manufacturer with stores all over the country. Many of these bike stores rent out bikes. The addresses of the ones in Taipei are:
- 1F., No. 278, Section 3, Nanjing East Road, Taipei City. Phone: 02-87710-4045.
- 1F., No. 309, Dunhua North Road, Taipei City. Phone: 02-2716-0421.
Giant bike stores rent out “life-style” and “sports” bikes. They come with odometer, lights, panniers, bike pump, lock, helmet, water bottle, tools, but no spare tire or levelers. Models and prices as of early 2016:
- The life-style bike “Giant Great Journey” is NT$ 300 per day. That comes to NT$ 2700 (US$ 84) for 9 days.
- The sports bike “Giant Fastroad SLR” is NT$ 800 for the first day and NT$ 400 for each following day. That comes to NT$ 4000 (US$ 125) for 9 days.
It might be a good idea to call one of these bike stores upfront (every Giant bike store I went to, including the one on Dunhua North Road, had at least one English speaking employee). What may work as well is going to a Giant bike store on the day of arrival, discuss the necessary logistics and spend the following days recovering from jet-lag.
Buying a Bike: An alternative may be buying a bike in Taiwan. This should work reasonably well if you are not too tall as most bike stores don’t carry XL sized bikes. Bikes are cheap in Taiwan and it might be worth buying a bike and ship it back home. Compare Giant’s US website with its TW pendant. The Giant Escape 3 (2016), for instance, is in the US US$ 390.41 (US$ 359+tax) and in Taiwan NT$ 7800 (US$ 243.75).
Shipping a Bike: Biking with your own bike creates a bondage with it and you may have gotten a professional bike fitting. For these reasons, I shipped my bike. I have one high-end bike (Trek Domane 4.7 – carbon fiber/ultegra) and one low end bike (Fuji Sportif 2.5 – aluminum/tourney). Being afraid of shipping my expensive bike, I chose to ship my cheaper bike, the Fuji. To do so, I moved all the goodies from the high-end bike, such as bright lights, SPD pedals and two bottle holders, to the Fuji. The next three sections elaborate this option.
To read the whole article go to: http://students.engr.scu.edu/~sschaeck/travel/bikingaroundtaiwan.html