Taiwan Preps for 'Heavy' Bikes

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Taiwan's motorcycle industry is about to change: Beginning Nov. 1. motorcycles displacing more than 550cc will be allowed on highways throughout Taiwan.

New white-on-red plates, identified by two letters followed by two numbers, will be required for all motorcycles with engines larger than 550cc. An online auction for 115 of the newly introduced license plates totaled NT$1,075,000 ($32,911). The inaugural plate "AA-01" fetched NT$511,000 ($15,644).

A total of 337 bidders took part in the three-month auction that ended Oct. 15. New plates not included in the auction — those containing numbers assigned at random — are to be issued free of charge.

Taiwanese government estimates suggest the island's 22 million inhabitants own and operate about 11 million motorized two-wheelers. The law prohibiting heavy motorcycles from Taiwan?s highway system has been responsible for keeping consumers there on scooters and motorcycles typically sized between 50cc and 150cc. Rarely seen, heavy motorcycles — such as cruisers and sport bikes — operate mostly on congested surface streets.