I love my bike – Pros and Cons of exploring Indonesia by motorbike

Weekend trip to Tanjung Lesung, West Java 

I still remember the excitement I was feeling whenever my dad took me for a ride around the hills in Italy on his old Vespa. I was still a little girl, probably around  5 or 6 years old. Maybe that was when my love for bikes started.  

Forward 20 years and I find myself backpacking around Southeast Asia. I have never driven a bike on my own so luckily, I could jump on the back of my friend’s bike whenever we managed to rent one. This was also my first time to go on a proper motorbike tour, riding around the mountains in Vietnam on the back of a Harley. What a dream!

My first motorbike tour in Vietnam. 

A few months later I was traveling solo on a small island in Bali. There I met two guys who invited me to join them exploring the island on scooters. I still had zero experience riding a scooter on my own, so I was a bit hesitant at first, but they promised me that they’d teach me. Their teaching however consistent of them telling me “This is the gas, this is the break, and now let’s go”. Off they went and I follow in the back, trying my best to keep up. It took me a little while to get the hang of it but by the end of the day, I was hooked.  

The day I got hooked. My first time ever riding a bike on my own in Nusa Lembongan.

One of the first things I bought when moving to Indonesia was my bike. I often take it on weekend trips and did a few longer tours. Also, whenever I am backpacking, I usually end up renting a bike sooner or later to get to see more of the different places. They give me a feeling of freedom and independence and are perfect for exploring new places.

Long story short: I love riding bikes.

Are you thinking of renting or buying a bike to explore Indonesia or other countries? Here are a few things you should consider before deciding if it’s the right thing for you.  



1. Freedom

It gives me independence and allows me to go wherever I want on my own. I can stop anytime and anywhere I like.

Reo, Flores

2. Flexibility

It brings me to places which are difficult to reach using public transport and at times even using car.

Riding inside the huge sandy crater at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.

3. It brings me closer to locals.

Motorbikes are the most used mode of transportation in Indonesia. When traveling, it makes me feel like I am in the middle of it all, rather than hiding behind a car window. I also had some great encounters and conversations while taking break or waiting somewhere with locals for the rain to pass


4. Skipping traffic

It allows me to zigzag through traffic which is a huge advantage in Indonesian cities


5. Saving money

It is much cheaper to rent a scooter than a car, especially when traveling solo. Bikes are cheaper to rent in touristy places where they are readily available. The price increases in less visited areas where there is less competition. Decent bikes can be rented for around 70.000 a day and discounts are usually offered the longer you rent the bike. 

Tea plantations around Bogor, Java

6. Readily available

Bike rentals can be found all over Indonesia. Hotel staff might be able to help you rent a bike from a “friend” if you find yourself in a place without an official rental place.


1. Less protection in a traffic accident

Make sure to always wear a high-quality helmet and stay away from alcohol when driving.

Safe helmet versus funny helmet.
Well, at times you got to take whatever helmet you can get... 

2. It exposes you to the elements. 

Let's be honest. Driving for hours through the rain is exhausting and not much fun. I had some moments when I asked myself why I am doing this to myself, soaked to my underwear and feeling freezing cold. However, once the sun is back out again, the bliss is back and I forget all about those negative thoughts. 

Tip: Get a high-quality raincoat and always bring an extra layer of warm clothes with you. You might not expect it, but even in Indonesia, it can get very cold up in the hills.

Sumba from east to west

3. Long distances

This depends on which parts of Indonesia you plan to explore and how much time you have. Smaller islands such as Bali, Lombok, Belitung, and Sumba are perfect to explore by bike while others might be much more challenging and require driving very long distances between places.

Pulau Bangka

Danau Biru Tetli, Pulau Bangka 

4. Less space for luggage

This one needs no explanation.

Tip: Travel more minimalistic and make sure all of your things fit in 1 bag. This bag should ideally be small enough to fit between the seat and handlebar. Put your heavy objects in the box beneath the seat.

Lake Toba, Sumatra

Can you think of more pros and cons to add? Would love to hear from you in the comments.




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