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10 Rules for Scooter Rental in Bali

If you’re thinking of renting a scooter in Bali then you need to read this. While the carefree photos of beautiful people riding along the beach with the wind in their hair is a romantic notion, the reality can be a little different. Coming off a rented scooter in Bali is a common occurrence for tourists and knowing how to avoid accidents, as well as what to do in case you have one, is critical before grabbing the keys and riding off into the sunset.

On the few occasions that I find myself at the hospital, the accident and emergency room always have at least a half-dozen bule (foreigners) that have clearly come off second best in a traffic accident on a scooter. So here are my 9 Rules for Renting a Scooter in Bali.

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. 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.

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.

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 friends scooter and spending a couple of hours in an empty carpark will make the world of difference from “learning as you go” after you arrive for your Bali holiday.

You’re going to 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.

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.

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.

If you carry your home country drivers license along with an IDP there is very little the local police can charge you with, although they may think of an interesting interpretation of the traffic laws just for your benefit.

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.

3. Travel Insurance is a Must-Have.

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, when they strike medical issues.

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 is Global Nomads. Check out my post on the best travel insurance for Bali.

4. 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.

I was talking with a doctor from a Balinese hospital, and he told me that 96% of fatalities of tourists on motorcycles were not 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 the only thing between your head and the pavement, and will likely save your life.

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 when you are renting a scooter in Bali that you want a choice of helmets and choose one that fits properly 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. 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.

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.

Seriously, the helmet is more important than the bike.

Because the quality of helmets is so low in Bali, mostly being cheap, battered fibreglass models, my friends and family either buy a cheap helmet from their home country (around AUD$30 from Australia or New Zealand for example) or buy a new but cheap one from the ubiquitous roadside stalls that sell them. This is a great idea because you will focus on the buying the helmet, checking for fit and clasp mechanism, before you get to the scooter rental shop and all reason flies out the window because you’re excited to rent a scooter and get going.

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 sitting like a flag on the handlebar mirror.

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…

5. Don’t drink and ride. Ever.

Needless to say, but alcohol lowers inhibitions and decreases perceived consequences and risk. Drinking and riding is, how shall I put this diplomatically, a common occurrence in Bali. It is far too easy to forget the consequences of drinking and riding (and hey, I’m not professing to be a saint) are not limited to getting nicked by the cops.

It’s serious injury to yourself or others that you need to be most aware of.

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.

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 financial consequences.

By far the worst outcome is to hurt someone else, opening yourself to legal ramifications including fines, prosecution or at worst, arrest and incarceration.

And hey, we’ve all had a few beers and ridden back home or to the hotel in Bali at some point, but for the incredibly low cost of getting a Grab scooter or car to take you home is so low there really is no excuse for creating an accident when you’re intoxicated.

6. 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 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.

7. 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 4 years old) with low kilometres (under 30,000) is relatively easy and painless.

8. How much to rent a scooter in Bali?

Honda Vario 125cc

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.

The Honda Vario is by far the most common scooter for hire in Bali and around Indonesia. It’s a real work-horse, 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 100kms round-trip then I would definitely recommend an Nmax 155cc or bigger.

As an example, a tour from Seminyak through Jatiluwih Rice Terraces and across to the attractions around Ubud and back to Seminyak is around 120kms. 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.

How much to pay for renting a Honda Vario:
Per Day: Rp 50,000 – 70,000 (USD$3.55 – $5.00)
Per Week: Rp 200,000 – 250,000 (USD$14.00 – $18.00)
Per Month: Rp 600,000 – 700,000 (USD$42 – $50.00)

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.

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 for short trips close to home.

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

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.

How much to pay for renting a Honda Scoopy:
Per Day: Rp 50,000 – 70,000 (USD$3.55 – $5.00)
Per Week: Rp 200,000 – 250,000 (USD$14.00 – $18.00)
Per Month: Rp 600,000 – 700,000 (USD$42 – $50.00)

Yamaha Nmax 155cc

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 larger 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.

How much to pay for renting a Yamaha Nmax:
Per Day: Rp 100,000 – 150,000 (USD$7.00 – $10.00)
Per Week: Rp 400,000 – 500,000 (USD$28.00 – $35.00)
Per Month: Rp 1,500,000 – 2,000,000 (USD$105.00 – $140.00)

Yamaha Aerox 155cc

A new bike recently introduced into Indonesia in the past three 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
Note that this is my customised bike with a rear-mounted storage container and beefed up breaks and suspension. The stock models are a comfortable ride for the pillion.

The Aerox is in its 4th year of production, so there are more of them around for renting than in previous years. I own a few scooters and this is my daily bike of choice, both for getting around locally and for longer trips with some gear and a pillion passenger.

Expect to pay between 100-150k per day, and for my money, the extra few dollars to step up from a Honda Vario is well worth it.

How much to pay for renting a Yamaha Aerox:
Per Day: Rp 100,000 – 150,000 (USD$7.00 – $10.00)
Per Week: Rp 400,000 – 500,000 (USD$28.00 – $35.00)
Per Month: Rp 1,500,000 – 2,000,000 (USD$105.00 – $140.00)

9. 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, there are several large full-service scooter rental outlets that charge more, but include everything from a full tank of gas, helmets, roadside assistance and insurance.

One of the bigger operators is Bikago. They are more than double the price of renting locally but come with all the inclusions mentioned above, particularly insurance.

How much to pay for renting a Honda Scoopy or Vario from Bikago:
Per Day: Rp 140,000 (USD$10.00)
Per Week: Rp 850,000 (USD$60.00)
Per Month: Rp 2,400,000 (USD$170.00)

10. Checklist for renting a scooter in Bali

  • Condition
  • Low k’s
  • Good tyres
  • Helmet
  • Contact details for problems
  • Insurance included

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.

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 bring friends or guests on tours or go exploring with a small crew looking for new and interesting experiences.

Safe riding.

5 Comments

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  1. Hello! you just have a great article! Thanks! I want to add about bike rental in Bali:

    If you rent a motorcycle, check that the tires are not worn out. Tire wear indicators will help you; in addition, if there are some strange attritions, cracks, it is better you refuse to rent such bike or try to ask for tires change. Usually renters do not refuse. Remember that bad tires reduce the braking efficiency in two times, and badly worn tires may burst at the most inopportune moment.
    It is better to take a motorbike with Combi-brake – a braking system with two wheels when you press one brake.
    Carefully check the brakes, headlights, turn signals.

    Balinese and Indonesians do not obey traffic rules, they follow “the code”. “The code” is a set of general courtesy rules that were adopted in the family, in the village and not formulated in writing. So it is useless and even dangerous to rely on international traffic rules when you travel to Bali until you begin to delve into “the code”.
    But there are fines for breaking the rules) – about fines in Bali: here is a very detailed article on this topic – https://balimotion.pro/en/blog/fines-in-bali-what-are-fined-and-how-to-avoid – for some fines imprisonment

  2. Rent a motorbike idea bali was a great experience for us. The key is to rent a good motorbike because a lot of rental company offer creepy and unsafe bikes. We had a very good experience with bmaxrental.com , Very safe bike in my opinion.

  3. Hi!
    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?

    • 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,
      Michael

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