Wednesday, 23 December 2015

How to ride a motorbike across Indonesia

I recently rode a motorcycle from Denpasar on the island of Bali, to Jakarta on the island of Java. The bike clocked 2000km and the journey took me 13 days. Planning a trip across Indonesia is incredibly exciting, but also quite frustrating. I'll attempt to deconstruct the process and make it as easy for those that choose to ride across Indonesia. Let's see how this goes.

First, GET INSURED - If you're going to be riding for many hours each day, wearing very little gear, on roads that are in horrendous condition, the probability of injury is rather high. I booked my travel insurance with World Nomads. I thought it was very affordable. I read through the terms and conditions and discovered that to be completely covered I would also need an international driver's license. I was able to pick one up from an insurance company in Australia. It cost me $30 and only took 5 minutes. 

Next, GET A BIKE - This was pretty frustrating at first. You really only have three options:
  1. One location rental - There are hundreds of companies in each city that will rent you a scooter if you are willing to drop it off at the same location. Most hostels in Bali will rent you a scooter for $5 per day. 
  2. Long distance rental - This is the option that I chose. It allowed me to pickup the bike in one location and drop it off somewhere distant beyond the horizon. To my knowledge, there's only one company that offers such a service in Indonesia. I picked my bike up from Indo Campers on the island of Bali and had an absolute ball riding a Suzuki Thunder (125cc) through the jungles of Java until I hit Jakarta 13 days later. Their customer service was excellent, and I found that the bike was comfortable, reasonably reliable, and allowed me to charge my phone while I was on the road. Make sure to check them out!
  3. Buy a bike outright - I'm sure you could buy a nice enough bike for a few hundred dollars and sell it when you reach your destination, but keep in mind that you will need to set aside 2 or 3 days in the first city to find and purchase a bike, and 5 or 6 days in your final destination to sell it. 
Awesome, PLAN YOUR RIDE - Some may just like to chase the setting sun and head west, but I had a few things I wanted to see. I wrote them down as a long list, and then plotted them on Google Maps. My ride was just a giant 13 day long game of connect the dots. It was great.

GRAB SOME GEAR - Things you need:
  • Helmet - Your rental company should give you a helmet when you rent the bike but if you choose to buy a bike outright you'll have to purchase your own helmet. 
  • Other Safety Gear - Bring what you want, but keep in mind how hot it will be. 
  • Sarong - You can buy these all over the country. I used mine to cover my legs when I was wearing shorts to avoid sunburn. But you can use it for all sorts of things.
  • Compass - This may seem silly but strapping a compass to the handlebars of your bike can be incredibly useful. If you know that you need to head north for the day you can just use the compass to navigate the streets and highways until the city becomes visible. 
  • A smartphone with 3G, GPS, and Google Maps. It's like a compass but way better. You can buy a SIM card with 4GB of Data for $6 in any major city. 
  • Wet Weather Gear - It rains all the time in Indonesia. A rain jacket and backpack cover can be really useful. 
  • A backpack full of whatever else you need - figure it out.

HIT THE ROAD - Be prepared to break down and deal with flat tires. Enjoy the beaches, the jungles, and the volcanoes. Embrace the local food, and try to be open minded. The Indonesians I met were incredibly generous and willing to help. Good luck to you and have the safest of travels.

You can watch my short film 'Java on two wheels' by clicking here.

You can find and like my Facebook page by clicking here.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Rasal! I'm glad you enjoy them. Safe travels

  2. Some days ago i was searching how to ride motorbike. Now i find your post. Your post helped me a lot. Now i am quite aware of all rules of bike riding.Now i can drive motor bike.

    1. I'm glad I could help out Bradly! Get excited and be safe :) take care

  3. The in-your-face, calfskin strapped biker pack basically governs the world, roosted on top of their choppers, riding into the nightfall. It is each living biker's blessing from heaven.MX Graphics

  4. Hi Pete! I'll be doing a very similar route, thank you for this really helpful post. The link to Indo Campers doesn't work anymore and I can't seem to find them anywhere online. Do you have an idea on how to find them? Do you remember their address? Would love to rent a motorbike and drop it off elsewhere, as you did. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for talking riding motorbike across Indonesia. It is really interesting post for motorcycle lover. I also share a resource for your checking about motorcycle helmet speakers https://bestmotorcyclelife.com/best-motorcycle-helmet-speakers/