- Workshops/Garages Slept in: 3
- Burnouts done on other peoples bikes: 1
- Custom racks built: 1
Through Instagram I had been contacted by Royal Enfield Indonesia. They said they would be able to help with a service. My bike wasn't charging correctly and while the bike was running, I had no headlights, tail/brake lights and no horn. The lighting wasn't such an issue as I try to avoid riding at night but the lack of a horn was risky in Indonesia. Horns are used like an echolocation communication method in most of Asia. Without a horn was I was basically flying blind - risky. It was possible, but like riding a motorcycle late at night drunk and fast - just because you can pull it off safely once doesn't mean the experience can or should be repeated.
Anyway, I met Andy (one of the RE Indonesia guys) at the RE shop which was a double storey warehouse. Now I feel I need to explain some of the cultural differences with RE in Australia and my first experience of them in an official capacity overseas. Enfields are seen in Australia as a very niche motorcycle. How do I describe them? They are seen as a bike that has a questionable build quality and the price point to match. It's the cheapest non-Chinese 500cc available and is mostly ridden in Sydney by three defined groups. The largest group would be adult men who want to throw back to the rock and roll 60’s bike styling without having to actually work on a bike from the 60’s. The second would be younger guys who also want to throw back to the 60s styling and the final group are Indian ex-pats of any age who bring their worship of the mighty Bullet to Australia. That is of course a huge generalisation but it’s my experience. People who don’t ride Enfields tend to view them as aging technology with poor performance appealing to ageing men chasing their youth and hipsters (sounds like most of my awesome friends from home). They tend to be sold in shops with scooters and Moto Guzzis. To see them with an entire showroom floor was a strange experience.
Enfield had a full time mechanic on staff to handle the regular servicing of the bikes. To this day I am unable to pronounce his name but I was happy to just use his nickname - Houndini. He didn't have much English and my Bahasa still hadn’t progressed much beyond being able to order a drink and politely decline a hooker but once again bike mechanics tend to use a universal language. I would point to my issue, mime, swear and he would repeat the process back at me until we came to a mutual understanding.
Up until that point I still didn't have a rear rack on the bike and my gear was haphazardly tied to the back of the bike, and this had broken the sub-frame. Every pothole or sleeping policeman (speed bumps as they are called back home) and I would be feeling madly behind me to see if my bag was still attached.
As usual I talked with the RE guys about my trip, the adventures and what had been going on. The guys wanted to put me up in their houses but given I had been sleeping on the floors of garages, club houses and the side of the road I just plain did not feel comfortable in these houses. These feelings were personified when I was picked up by Andy in a brand new AMG Merc coupe, full leather interior, flashing lights and beeping sensors. I sat in this racing seat and when I buckled up, it automatically adjusted to the right tension and seat height based on my weight. At that point I was incredibly aware that I had not washed my underwear in 5 days.
At his house Andy threw me the keys to his Buell lightning and asked me to do a burn out... Now It has been a long time since I was able to smoke some rubber on a high powered bike (the enfield would never partake in such hoonish behaviour) and with his AMG and other toys very close I was concerned. Of course my "The answer is always yes" attitude won out and I soon had the back wheel spinning.
I felt strange explaining how I didn't feel comfortable with this generosity. Given most of the Enfield guys had ridden Leh and done similar hard trips they evidently understood what I was going through. I felt grubby all over and not very comfortable accepting the offer of hospitality. Clean sheets and carpet. What was this madness?
They were happy to put me up in the Enfield showroom. I rolled out my sleeping mat and sleeping bag on a mezzanine level overlooking the rows and rows of new EnfIelds. I slept well and when I woke up in the morning was able to do some more shooting for the next Stories of Bike video. People have told me that Jakarta is a difficult city to navigate and really explore, but I didn't find this to be the case all.
I hung out with the Enfield guys and their sons and was introduced to some of the nightlife. While some of them were non-drinkers they still indulged my habit and took me a number of bars or restaurants that served food and booze.
After a week in Jakarta getting my bike worked on, it was time for me to head out and face the largest island of Indonesia - Sumatra. I had made some great friends in Jakarta and was still blown away by the continued generosity and genuine kindness of the people I had met. Mr Houdini had fixed my charging issue and even had a custom rack welded up for the back of the bike. It was large and sturdy, perfect for what I needed. My bike was never a show pony, more like an erratic mule. They put the bike into the best condition they could for the rest of my ride and waved me off.
Sunday in Jakarta is riding day, and also the day when the traffic is the least crazy. The Enfield guys took me around town to introduce me to a number of people - Enfields are still very new in Indonesia so to have someone riding around the world on this bike was a great marketing tool for these guys. I was more than happy to chat bikes with the Triumph guys, the BMW guys, the Harley guys and the custom cafe and scooter guys - photos, chat, coffee, ride repeat.
On one of the last stops we were to go for a ride out to the last cafe. One of the bikes was an amazing Harley kitted with Rolandsands gear and police lights. I grabbed a few photos. We jumped in formation and started riding around town. The Harley biker wanted me upfront but kept very close to my right. I wanted to get some shots of riding so I was doing my usual questionably safe tactics to get the best footage, standing on the pegs, hands off the bars and using my right thigh to control my throttle. As said not the safest way to ride but not a bad way to ensure you get total coverage of everything you need (note to self - buy a go pro selfie pole). Jakarta is a pretty heavily policed city, with cops on most corners of major intersections. I noticed my mate on the Harley would wave at most of these guys and they would in turn wave back at him. What a cheeky bastard, playing a copper and even giving them a sneaky wave. I would find out later that my police bike riding friend, the one who I was performing questionable motorcycle activities next to, was a very, very high ranking Jakarta police officer. I really need to get that selfie pole.
At the last stop, as I said farewell to my Enfield friends, they refused to take any money for the work they had done on the bike. It was amazing to think that in this heavily populated city, there was a group of guys so passionate about Enfields they decided to sell them exclusively. I know these bikes sometimes get a bad wrap but there is undoubtedly something about them that generates passion - much more so than any other bike group.