Hiring a motorbike in Bali, 10 must read tips
Riding a motorbike is probably one of the easiest ways to get around the island. It’s cheap, relatively safe and a great way to avoid traffic jams.
For most people, the first thing they do is rent a scooter and if they are into surfing, they will get one with board racks attached. For Indonesian holiday makers they are probably used to riding a bike so they will be more accustomed to the local road rules and the chaos of riding a scooter in Bali.
Imagine being able to bypass all those nasty traffic jams. However, there are a few golden rules you should follow before getting on your motorbike and exploring the island of Bali.
What You Need To Know When Hiring a Motorbike in Bali
1. Get an international drivers license
You are going to need an international drivers license or if you don’t have one of these, you will need to get a Balinese driving license, which you can get in Denpasar. For Indonesians coming to Bali you'll be fine as you already have your own license. Forget about riding around the island without on. Read this quick article to get the real scoop on whats going on with a drivers license in Bali: http://indonesia.embassy.gov.au/jakt/DrivingLicen.html
Eventually, you will get stopped by the police. This will end up in a costly fine and a trip to the local police station. Be prepared to pay these guys if they ask for a payment. It saves a lot of hassle and wasted time. Offer them 100 000 Rp and that should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, this is the way it works here and it’s best to acknowledge this and move on. Never argue with the police and think that you’ll be able to talk your way out of it because you won’t. Pay them and move on! Also, if you have an accident without an international drivers license you will mot be able to collect insurance.
‘ Bali Villa Escapes tip: you can get an International drivers license online and it’s very fast. They will post it to you within 10 days.
2) You have to wear a helmet.
Again, if the police see you ( especially if you are a foreigner), you will get a fine. Plus think of the danger aspect. It is quite common to see tourists driving around in their swimwear completely unprotected. Unfortunately, it is these same people we also see fully bandaged up, walking around in crutches. Wear a helmet it’s a MUST! A good idea if you ride a motorbike back home and you intend to rent a bike for a long period of time, is to bring your own helmet. Generally a lot safer and a lot cleaner.
‘ Bali Villa Escapes Tip: make sure the helmet strap works and get a decent helmet. Some of the bike rental places will give you substandard ones so be careful.
3) You can find a motorbike to rent easily.
There are places all over Bali that offer this service. Start with your hotel, and if they can’t help you I’m sure the concierge will be able to walk you across the street to a mates place to get your bike. Make sure you test the brakes, look at the tyres, as these bikes have been punished by many tourists. If it looks dodgy, moves on to the next bike rental place; 5 metres down the road. I will make a bet with you that you can get a bike to rent within 15 minutes of looking. This is especially true in the main tourist areas such as Seminyak, Kuta or Legian.
4) Watch out for the traffic
Be 100% alert as driving in Bali is completely different from driving here in Australia. Basically, the rules are a lot more relaxed and I find that the larger vehicles tend to rule the road – keep well clear of these trucks and other bigger cars – especially those water trucks as they drive like absolute lunatics! Again, if your an Indonesian resident you are probably used to the craziness of the Indonesian roads and driver. But, still take extreme care!
5. Don’t drink and drive
Driving after you have had a few drinks seems to be quite a common place in Bali. But, again if you are silly enough to do this, you are more than likely going to end up in an accident. They do not have drink driving rules in Bali and the police won’t care how much you have drunk but for your safety just don’t risk it. Taxis & Go Jek are plentiful and cheap enough so go that option.
6) Make sure your horn is working
Make sure the horn is working on your bike. You will need it as everyone honks, beeps and hoots in this place. Overtaking requires that you sound your horn.
7) Don’t get ripped off when renting the scooter
Rental prices for motorbikes can vary – generally, around Rp 50 000 – Rp 100 000 per day should cover the bike hire and insurance. That’s between AUD $5 – $10 for a standard Vario 125cc or a Scoopy 125 cc.
Petrol is additional and is quite cheap. You will need to find a petrol station called ‘Pertamina’ or there are actually street vendors that sell petrol at a premium price. It’s best to avoid these vendors as the petrol contents can be questionable. Having said that in most cases it’s fine.
‘ Bali Villa Escapes tip: It’s OK to bargain when renting a scooter. Try to get the price down by 10-20%. If your renting for an extended period they should be agreeable to this.
8) Avoid driving at night
Try to avoid driving too much at night as in some areas there are no street lights and the roads can have some big potholes. If it’s doing the rainy season and your driving at night take extreme care. Also, if you are driving at night in popular tourist areas like Seminyak, Legian, Kuta and Canggu, people do get on their scooters after a few drinks so take care when you are near bars and clubs. The Batu Bolong & Pantai Berawa area in Canggu is notorious for this as people leave Old Man’s beach bar or Finns after a few sunset Bintangs and head home.
9) Avoid hitting any stray dogs wondering on the street
Stray dogs are everywhere in Bali and they love to chase after motorbikes and bark. Avoid these dogs and don’t hit them just because they are chasing after you. Drive on as fast as you can and get away from them.
10) Get surfboard racks on the bike
If you have a surfboard, ask for surf bike racks on the side of the bike. This is a great way to check out all the main surf breaks around Bali. You will see lots of surfers getting around this way.
Extra point added: 20/1/20: try not to rent those bikes that have super loud mufflers. There are a number of bike rental companies that offer these types of trail bikes or custom bikes that make an absolutely terrible sound. This is really common in areas like Canggu, Legian and Seminyak where young impressionable kids want to rent the loudest bike possible. It’s deafening and just adds to the noise pollution. No one likes them ( especially the locals ) and you just look like a complete idiot. Avoid these loud bikes and Bali will be a quieter and much better place for everyone!
Extra point added 24/2/21: its OK to fill up you’re scooter at local vendors selling petrol. They are everywhere and usually outside local shops or Warungs. It will cost a bit extra than filling up at a petrol station such as Pertamina but it’s much easier as they are all over the island. Plus your helping locals earn a few extra Rupiah.
If you renting a villa through us at Bali Villa Escapes and want a motorbike waiting for you at the villa when you arrive, we can easily arrange this for you. Please speak to your reservation manager who will be more than happy to get this organised for you so when you arrive it has a full tank of petrol ready for you to start exploring the area around the villa.
Even better some villas have their own scooters available for guests to use, so ask about that as well. If you need a surfboard rack on the scooter let us know as well in advance.