South East Sumatra.
- Islands visited: 7
- Other people’s bikes ridden: 12
- Other people’s bikes crashed: 0
I jumped onto a ferry from Java to Sumatra. It would be my last Indonesian ferry to my last Island and after the craziness of Java I was looking forward to some long stretches of less crowded areas. As I was riding off the ferry I ignored the usual hawkers trying to sell me things. It was dark as I pulled out past one rather aggressive seller who just about jumped in front of the bike. Giving credit where its due, the dude knew how to push a sale.
After this encounter I rode a bit further. It was dark but I was meant to be riding another 150kms to a small town where my good friend Teddy was staying currently. I usually try to avoid riding at night because my light drains the battery and takes away from the strength of the spark. Also my light sucks - it’s basically as bright as the zippo in my pocket. However, the wiring that the Royal Enfield Indonesian guys had completed gave the light a new strength so I took off, but not before the guy who had jumped in front of the bike at the port pulled up next to me on a bike. It was then I picked up on his biker vest.
“Jon! I found you, you are late”
Yeah the story of my trip so far I thought.
My new escort rode me to his house where I loaded up on coffee and hit the road to find Teddy still another 2 hours away.
Finally after some confusion I met up with Teddy who was putting me up at his parents’ house. It was a lovely house that doubled as a school and Batik factory. I know I have said this before but the kindness and generosity of Teddy caused him to become one of my closest friends in Indonesia. I felt a familiar pang of sadness that this would be one of the last times that I would get to hang out with him. Before we would part ways though, there would of course be a big send off - beers at a local garage that was famous for producing something only made in Lampung - Custom bobbers that use a 700cc V-twin Mazda engine.
To explain why these bikes exist is a fair description of how things work in Indonesia. When you have such a huge workforce of skilled fabricators, but a currency that makes foreign purchase tough - you learn to just make do.
These bikes are reflective of that. They loved the big V-twin engines found in the American bikes but to get them in Sumatra was tough. So instead they pull the car engine from a small 1970’s Mazda, fabricate a connector to an old motorcycle gear box, weld together a frame, attach a car rear tyre and weld on a front end. Bam! A rather reliable custom bobber which sets you back a fraction of the cost.
After the usual issues of trying to kick start someone else bike, it fired off(ignition was connecting two wires together). I sat down on the bike and due to the loose tolerances jumped the bike into gear. The bike lurched from under me so I was sprawled out, legs dragging behind before it stalled. Through some miracle I kept the bike upright, with much laughter from everyone.
A few angry kicks later and the bike was running. Teddy jumped on his friend’s bobber and we both took off.
"Sweet-Jesus!" I thought as bike shot off. Rigid, unbalanced and a front end that had no place on anything with a motor, let alone something as strong as this, the bike was beyond violent. Shaking in all of the wrong directions and with a stupidly large pull, the rigid tire would bounce around on the smallest bumps sending a jolt up my back before spinning and re-gaining traction. I gripped the ape bars hard and opened the throttle trying to catch Teddy as he made the next turn. The turn was coming up fast. Turn, how *do* I turn this thing? This stupid, stupid motorcycle. I jammed on the rear brake (the bike has no front brake of course) and the bike started to skid. I pushed the bike hard right, with the ape hangers I felt like a rag doll as the bike half skidded and tried to turn. I held on through some miracle. Due to my earlier blasphemous curse, I assume it was a Hindu god looking after me. I pulled back into the workshop with Teddy and I stalled it of course. Everyone laughed and someone passed a beer. I lifted the shaking bottle for a sip, unsure if the wobbling beer was from nerves or from the vibrations still running through my body. I have ridden many, many bikes and to this day that has been the bike that I felt wanted to kill me the most.
You can see my route on motortourer here.