The Do’s and Don’ts of Renting a Scooter in Bali

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On the few occasions I find myself at the hospital, the accident and emergency room always has at least a half-dozen bule (foreigners) that have clearly come off second best in a traffic incident on a scooter. Thinking of hiring a motorbike or scooter? You really need to read this.

1. Bali is a really bad training ground.

If you haven’t ridden a scooter or motorcycle before, Bali is a really bad training ground. Don’t do it. The carefree vibe might be conducive to wanting the freedom and excitement of learning to ride, but it is a very bad idea.

If you choose to disregard this sage advise, 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.

Learning to ride a scooter in Bali - Bali Holiday Secrets
Learning to ride in Bali is a really bad idea — unless you have plenty of room, the right training ground and an expert teacher. The correct attitude always helps.

2. Get an International Drivers Permit.

Understand with clarity that without an International Drivers Permit your travel insurance will be invalid. I cannot stress this point enough. IDP’s are so easy and inexpensive to obtain from your home country that not doing so is simply negligent — and that same philosophy applies to your travel insurance.

3. Always. Always. Wear a helmet.

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.

The Sanglah Hospital’s forensic medicine unit head Ida Bagus Putu Alit said that crash victims usually died from head trauma because they did not wear helmets. “Based on my experience, most traffic accident victims die from head trauma,” Alit said.

Ida Bagus Putu Alit — Sanglah Hospital

Make it clear you want a choice of helmets and choose one that fits ok and has a solid working clasp mechanism. There is a saying among bikers than a helmet undone is worse than no helmet at all because of the false sense of security. 

I’ve ridden motorcycles all my life (well, from 10 years old) and the number one cause of fatal accidents in Bali involving scooters are no helmet and, you guessed it…

4. Don’t drink and ride. Ever.

Needless to say, but alcohol lowers inhibitions and decreases perceived consequences and risk.

Mobile Laundry - Bali Holiday Secrets
This man is an expert scooter rider. You are not an expert rider. So please do not attempt to level up your scooter game while on holiday in Bali.

5. Accidents are always your fault.

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’s fault it is. A small scrape, perhaps offer to pay the other party for “damage” to their scooter — between 100k and 500k should fix the issue depending in the severity.

6. 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.

Original Condition Honda Scooter - Bali Holiday Secrets
Make sure you get a late-model, low kilometre scooter.

There is no excuse for renting old, end-of-life scooters in Bali as there are simply so many providers that getting a reasonably new one (less than 5 years old) with low kilometres (under 30,000) is easy and painless.

7. The going rates you should be paying.

The going rate for a good condition Honda Vario (the most common scooter with a 125cc engine) is between 50-70k per day. You’re here on a holiday so I won’t bother going through monthly rates, but hiring one for a week doesn’t warrant a discount.

Honda Vario - Bali Holiday Secrets

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 Scoopys without a problem.

You can ride a pillion with a combined weight over more than 150kgs on flat streets, but don’t expect to get up an incline with more than 100kgs onboard.

Honda Scoopy - Bali Holiday Secrets
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.

You can get a great condition Honda Scoopy for between IDR50 – 70k per day. Don’t pay more, and don’t rent anything too old.

If you are an experienced rider and can handle a little bigger bike, the 155cc Yamaha Nmax is an excellent bike to get around Bali. It’s a small motorbike as opposed to a step-thru scooter with a large frame, proper motorcycle wheels and tyres with enough power to carry a pillion easily. These are great for longer rides over 100kms. These can be hired in excellent condition from IDR100-150k per day.

A new bike recently introduced into Indonesia in the past two years is the Yamaha Aerox. With a very similar frame and suspension to the Nmax but with slightly more power from the 155cc engine and slightly better handling.

Yamaha Aerox - Bali Holiday Secrets
The Yamaha Aerox. With 23L of under-seat storage and a 39L top-box. Handles surprisingly well even with a pillion passenger.

While you won’t see many of them, but if you find one to rent I highly recommend it, and you should be paying no more than IDR150k per day. 

8. Renting a bike with insurance.

If you want the peace of mind of renting a motorbike with the option for insurance included and are willing to pay a bit more than on the streets (around IDR100k/day), then I recommend Bali Bike Rental.

If you have riding experience…

There is nothing quite like touring Bali on a motorbike or scooter. Without doubt, after all the disclaimers, there are few things I can recommend more than riding through the countryside and back-roads of Bali.

Motorbike Discovery Tour - Bali Holiday Secrets
Taking a motorbike tour of the backroads in Bali is an extraordinary adventure. You need three things — motorcycle experience, a license and local knowledge.

In an upcoming article, I’ll be writing about unique itineraries for touring the Balinese countryside on motorbikes. Until this is published, get in touch. At least once a month I either take friends or guests on tours or go exploring with a small crew looking for new and interesting experiences.

Safe riding.

The Do's and Don'ts of Renting a Scooter in Bali 1

  • Gatis says:

    Is it possible to hire motorbike guide? Similar like private driver – Local person on hes motorbike, who can navigate me on my rented bike to my points of interest?

    • Michael says:

      Hi Gatis,
      That’s a great request – I’m sure there must be, but I don’t know of any personally. I sometimes take the guests staying in my luxury villa on a motorcycle tour to waterfalls, Ubud and other attractions. I charge IDR 2 million (around AUD$200) for a day’s guiding. When were you travelling to Bali? Maybe I can put something together for you.

      Safe travels,

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