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 is 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.
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.
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 — don’t wear a helmet and falling off, even at low speed, could be fatal. 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 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…
5. Don’t drink and ride. Ever.
Needless to say, but alcohol lowers inhibitions and decreases perceived consequences and risk.
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.
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.
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.
8. How much to rent a scooter in Bali?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.