Like everything else in Bali, many scooter rental companies both small and large shut down during the Covid pandemic. Now that Bali has reopened for tourism again, scooter rental businesses are back in action and you won’t have an issue hiring one close to wherever you are staying or booking online and having your holiday wheels delivered to your hotel or villa. I highly recommend renting a scooter from an established hire company that provides insurance, sanitised helmets and high-quality well-maintained scooters.
1. Why rent a scooter in Bali?
Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. With the beaches, fantastic food, stunning beaches and everything from waterfalls in the mountains to sunsets over the ocean, Bali has a well-deserved reputation for being a holidaymaker’s dream destination.
Bu getting around can be a nightmare due to the horrendous traffic in the main tourist strips, anywhere around Denpasar and along the routes between popular hotspots like Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud.
First, even going from your hotel or villa may take twice as long in a car as on a scooter. Renting a scooter also means you can go anywhere, anytime and not be tied to trying to get a taxi or hiring a private car and driver. It’s also incredibly cost-effective compared to any other mode of transport. And while there is a rudimentary public transport system in parts of Denpasar, you can basically rule this out.
And then there is the fun factor. I am never happier than riding through ricefields or up around the mountains on a scooter experiencing parts of Bali that not many tourists make the effort to see.
2. Do I need to know how to ride a scooter?
If you haven’t ridden a scooter or motorcycle before, Bali is a really bad training ground. The carefree vibe might be conducive to wanting the freedom and excitement of learning to ride, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say this is a really bad idea.
Very bad. I’ve been riding motorcycles for most of my life, and I still found the local traffic conditions exceptionally challenging when I first arrived.
If you choose to disregard this sage advice, then for the love of the gods find a nice quiet place to practice for at least 4 hours before venturing onto the roads and making yourself a clear and present danger to yourself and others.
The biggest issue when learning to ride a scooter in Bali is that it seems, well, too easy. The problem is this can give you a false sense of confidence in your abilities, and there is nothing more dangerous than being on the road when your confidence far exceeds your abilities.
My best advice for mitigating this risk is to learn to ride a scooter before you get to Bali. Even borrowing a friend’s scooter and spending a couple of hours in an empty car park will make the world of difference from “learning as you go” after you arrive for your Bali holiday.
You’ll experience sensory overload on the roads in Bali — the sights, smells, noise, congested traffic and visual overload can all contribute to distracting you from the task at hand — and that is not causing an accident through a split-second of inattention.
3. What kind of scooters are available?
OK, so here are your choices.
Honda Scoopy 110cc
A Honda Scoopy is great for women and men who weigh less than 90kgs. With only a 110cc engine they are surprisingly easy to handle, robust beyond their looks and perfect for getting around Bali. I’ve taken scooter tours from Seminyak to Ubud and back with guests on Scoopy’s without a problem.
The Honda Scoopy is the workhorse of choice for Balinese for good reason. Easy to ride, reliable and with plenty of storage under the seat. It’s my choice when renting scooters for friends, family and guests for short trips close to home and is great for beginners.
You can ride with a pillion with a combined weight of less than 120kgs on flat streets, but don’t expect to get up an incline with more than that onboard.
I’ve seen 2 very large people riding a Scoopy many times, and it isn’t safe, let alone a good look. Considering the price difference is negligible, get something bigger, like a Honda Vario or Yamaha Nmax if you’re going to be regularly carrying a pillion.
When given the option always get a red Scoopy because as we all know, red bikes go faster than other bikes.
Honda Vario 125cc
The Honda Vario is by far the most common scooter for hire in Bali and around Indonesia. It’s a real workhorse, and you can pretty much go anywhere with one of these. The biggest problem you will have is forgetting the license plate and not being able to find it among the hundreds of others parked at the beaches, markets, clubs and cafes.
You can comfortably carry a pillion passenger on these bikes, especially on the flat which is the majority of where you will be. They are even good for a day trip to Ubud or further afield, but if you are planning on going further than 50kms round-trip then I would definitely recommend a Nmax 155cc.
As an example, a tour from Seminyak through Jatiluwih Rice Terraces and across to the attractions around Ubud and back to Seminyak is around 120 km. And trust me on this, that’s quite a long day on a 125cc scooter.
I’ve taken a lot of people on tours like this, and for beginners and experienced riders alike, it’s not about the bike, it’s all about seeing the sights, so a Vario will do just fine. You don’t need to go faster than 60 kph, although on a scooter this feels fast enough for most people.
Honda Varios are small, lightweight and can be ridden by pretty much anyone, with under-seat storage big enough for one helmet or some shopping.
There is now a new model Honda Vario available for hire from my rental partners that are 160cc, a vast improvement in performance over the 125cc, of which there are literally millions on the road.
Yamaha Nmax 155cc
The Yamaha Nmax is an excellent bike to get around Bali. It’s a small motorbike as opposed to a step-thru scooter with a larger frame, proper motorcycle wheels and tyres with enough power to carry a pillion easily.
These are great for both short trips to the supermarket around the corner and longer trips all over Bali, and while the difference between an Nmax and a new 160cc Honda Vario may seem negligible on paper, the Nmax is a far superior ride due to the larger frame, drivetrain and wheels.
New Model Honda Vario 160cc
The new models have a larger engine, improved performance (think slightly longer wheelbase) and marginally upgraded brakes.
Honda CRF 150
150cc dirt bike with manual gears for epic fun up on. the volcanic plateau.
150cc street bike for those who don’t want a step-thru.
4. Don’t rent old scooters
Don’t hire or accept clearly old end-of-life scooters. There are plenty of options to hire relatively new scooters for the same price and the chances of breaking down are lowered dramatically with the age of the bike.
There is no need to rent old, mechanically suspect scooters in Bali as there are simply so many reasonably new ones (less than 4 years old) with low kilometres (under 30,000) available.
5. Where can I rent a scooter in Bali?
OK, here’s the thing. You can’t walk 10 metres almost anywhere in Bali without bumping into streetside scooter rental operators. They are literally everywhere where there are tourists. Having said that, the maxim “you get what you pay for” applies particularly well when renting a scooter.
So while the streetside vendors will be your cheapest option, and often have excellent quality bikes for rent, there are a bunch of things they generally won’t be offering, like a first aid kit, sanitised helmets, free delivery and pickup from your hotel or villa, roadside assistance in case anything goes wrong, and perhaps most importantly optional insurance that covers theft.
I used to partner with a couple of the larger rental operators in Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud, but like all of the transport services I offer, if it’s not up to my standards then I don’t recommend them. The biggest issue I had with scooter rental partners was consistency.
That’s why I now partner with Bikago since Bali reopened for tourism. Yes, you pay a little more, but in my opinion, the prices are so ridiculously cheap anyway that the extra few bucks for all the extras mentioned above make the marginal expense completely worth it.
They also have some thoughtful extras, like the option to buy a SIM card and have it delivered along with your bike, surf racks and my favourite, a lockable top box so you can pack some clothes and go for an extended tour around Bali.
But the best thing about Bikago is you can book online and have your wheels delivered straight to your hotel or villa, and they will pick it up when your holiday is ending.
6. How much does a scooter cost to rent?
Ok, streetside operators will charge anything between AUD$5 – $10 per day for a Honda Scoopy or Vario depending on the condition, and AUD$10 – $15 per day for an Nmax. Beware the extra charges for things like insurance that may simply be a scam without providing an actual insurance underwriter, and you will most likely be getting a nearly empty gas tank.
Most will ask to take a copy of your passport, and while most are honest operators, some have been known to engage in a side hustle by selling your details to unsavoury characters who can do stuff (let’s not get into details here) with your identity details.
Renting a scooter from Bikago starts at AUD$11 per day for a new model Scoopy and AUD$23 per day for an Nmax based on a 1-week rental. Those prices drop to $9 and $14 respectively if you rent for a month.
That does include 1 or 2 helmets, a full tank of petrol and a mobile phone holder along with the previously mentioned roadside assistance but the comprehensive insurance is extra. For example, a 1-week Nmax rental with insurance comes to AUD$217.37 all up or $31 per day.
7. Do I need insurance to rent a scooter?
There’s a saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel”. It’s true. I’ve had friends and fellow travellers regale me with stories of thinking medical treatment is cheap, especially in a place like Bali, until they need medical care and then it becomes the holiday from hell.
I can tell you from first-hand, hard-earned experience that travelling without insurance is like playing Russian Roulette. You probably won’t need it, but if something goes wrong having it means being able to access the insurer’s global network of expert assistance and health providers 24 hours a day.
Any insurance is better than no insurance, but my preferred provider for travel insurance is Global Nomads. Check out my post on the best travel insurance for Bali.
As far as scooter rental insurance goes the only providers I know and trust are the previously mentioned Bikago. Their insurance includes a bunch of stuff, but most importantly theft, which is, unfortunately, an issue in Bali, especially after Covid destroyed the tourism-based economy, increasing the rate of petty crime and theft.
You’re going to have a real issue on your hands if you rented your bike from a small independent operator and it gets pinched. You most likely didn’t read the rental agreement they asked you to sign which says you are financially liable for the scooter if stolen or stacked.
8. Do I need an International Driver’s Permit to rent a scooter?
Understand with clarity that without an International Drivers Permit your travel insurance will likely be invalid. I cannot stress this point enough. IDPs are so easy and inexpensive to obtain from your home country that not doing so is simply asking for trouble (or a fine).
There are several advantages to having an International Driving Permit with you when renting a scooter in Bali. The first is you don’t invalidate your travel insurance (it’s worth repeating).
The 2nd is it will help you either get away with or at least minimise the cost of “traffic fines” when pulled over by the local police — and the chances of being pulled over are quite high — more on that topic later.
Here are some links for International Drivers Permits in select countries:
- Australia — you can apply for an IDP online. It costs AUD$42 plus postage and will take 3-8 business days to be processed and delivered in Australia.
- New Zealand — you can apply for an IDP online. It costs NZD$38 plus postage and will take up to 5 business days to be processed and delivered in New Zealand.
- United Kingdom — Must apply in person, cost £5.50.
- United States — Must apply in person or by mail, cost USD$20.
- South Africa — Apply in person.
- International — please note I haven’t tested this service.
9. Do I need to wear a helmet in Bali?
Yes. Absolutely 100% always wear a helmet.
Those carefree souls you see hooning around Bali without a helmet have increased their odds of a fatal accident by a massive order of magnitude.
I was talking with a doctor from a Balinese hospital, and he told me that 96% of the fatalities of tourists on motorcycles were because they weren’t wearing a helmet.
The odds are pretty clear — if you are not wearing a helmet and fall off, even at low speed, the odds of being a fatality increase dramatically. But if you are wearing a helmet the chances of death are dramatically lower. You will still get hurt, no doubt, but a helmet may be the only thing between your head and the pavement, and will likely save your life.
Most tourists to Bali are completely focused on renting the scooter and getting underway. They often don’t pay attention to the condition of the bike and even more often the helmet is just an afterthought.
Make it clear when you are renting a scooter that you want a choice of helmets and choose one that fits properly and has a solid working clasp mechanism.
A helmet that is too loose is never going to protect your head if it makes contact with an inanimate object (like the road). A helmet that fits too tight will cause a headache within 30 minutes of being worn, which is in itself a danger.
Take my recommendation and hire your bike from a reputable company that provides good quality, sanitised helmets with every scooter rental.
Pro-tip: always lock your helmet in the space under the seat, or with the strap around the peg inside the seat, because a good helmet is a prize that won’t last long if left unattended hanging on your handlebar mirror.
If you’re going to be. here for any length of time, you have another couple of options regarding helmets. The last time I took a group of friends on a week-long tour around Bali they bought relatively inexpensive helmets from home (NZ & AU) which only cost around AUD$60 and were ISO certified. Helmets in Bali are generally made from cheap fibreglass and are without any kind of safety rating or certification.
Or instead of using the one provided by the rental operator buy one while you are here. There are plenty of roadside shops selling helmets which will cost between AUD$60 – 100.
10. Don’t drink and ride
Needless to say, alcohol lowers inhibitions and decreases perceived consequences and risk assessment. Drinking and riding is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in Bali. It is far too easy to forget the consequences of drinking and riding are not limited to getting nicked by the cops. It’s a serious injury to yourself or others that you need to be most aware of.
Coming off a rented scooter in Bali is no joke. A trip to the hospital is the last thing you need to ruin an otherwise great holiday. But the potential for damage to someone else’s bike, car or property could have serious consequences.
By far the worst outcome is to hurt someone else, opening yourself to legal ramifications including fines, prosecution or arrest and incarceration.
Instead of having a few beers and riding back to your hotel or villa, get a Grab or Gojek instead. The incredibly low cost of these services means there is no excuse for drinking and riding.
11. What to do if I get into an accident?
If you happen to get into a scrape or accident, remember this — the foreigner is always at fault — no argument entered into. It may not be fair or logical but this is a fact of life that cannot be argued with.
If there is no personal injury then behave with modesty and humility and offer to pay regardless of who is actually at fault. For a small scrape, perhaps offer to pay the other party for “damage” to their scooter — between 100k and 500k should fix the issue depending on the severity.
If the accident has caused significant damage to someone else’s property, or god forbid you have caused injury to someone, expect the police to be involved. And believe me when I say this will not end well for you.
I’m not going to go into how to negotiate your way out of an accident of this severity with the police, except to say that the amount it will cost you will be directly proportional to the damage or injury you have caused and the level of humility you display. Please know that aggression will make any situation worse, not better.
12. What should I do if pulled over by the police?
If you carry your home country driver’s license along with an IDP it’s likely you’ll be sent on your way, assuming you’re wearing your helmet of course. I’ve been pulled over a bunch of times without issue.
The three most common reasons to be pulled over are not wearing a helmet, over-riding the white line at a stop sign or at one of the infrequent roadblocks on main roads where the police check for helmets, licenses or other obvious infractions.
Pro tip: when pulling up at traffic lights, don’t go past the white line. You will be pulled over and fined if a cop is present.
If you’ve been pulled over, deal with it with patience and humility. Escalating the situation through shouting or aggressive behaviour will not end well for you.
You’re a guest in this country and need to respect local laws, rules and customs. Be polite, and humble, try not to be judgemental about local laws and customs you no nothing about and pay any fines with humility and grace.
13. Where can I go on a scooter in Bali?
One of the reasons I personally recommend spending a fraction extra on a decent scooter with proper helmets and a lockable top box is because you can literally ride all around Bali in just a few days visiting as many attractions as you can handle.
I’ll be adding a section soon on itineraries for scooter tours around Bali, so leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on what I should include or any questions you may have.
14. Checklist for renting a scooter in Bali
If you are renting a scooter from a streetside vendor (most tourists do exactly this, and it’s perfectly fine to do so), at least run through the things you are and are not getting from this checklist and accept the maxim, you get what you pay for.
- Excellent condition
- Low k’s
- Good tyres
- Decent helmet with a working clasp
- Contact details for problems
- Insurance included
- Basic first aid kit