Planning a Bicycle Tour in Bali

Having cut out our climbing in Chaing Mai due to the political situation in Bangkok we suddenly had an extra two weeks in Indonesia. We arrived in Bali on the 14th of April and had until May 1st to get to our WWOOF farm near Ubud. What better way to assuage the disappointment of not getting to climb than to take a little bike tour? All we needed was, well, everything. Back in Cambodia we had caved and bought a lovely set of panniers from a local non-profit. This purchase was a large part of the inspiration for taking the tour in the first place. Lugging around a set of panniers is a little silly when you don’t even have a bike, not to mention a pair of socks, so we jumped at the opportunity to put them to good use. We arrived in Bali at 9 pm with no real plans given the last minute itinerary change. If there’s one thing I have learned while traveling it is that late arrivals and tired eyes can bring high prices. If I’ve learned anything else it’s that the best place to arrive late at night without getting ripped off is the backpacker neighborhood full of nearly naked drunk foreigners and techno dance clubs. Ugh. Kuta it was and boy did it deliver. Our room was a stones throw away from a club where the thumping bass music was going until 4am. We must be getting old. Having avoided Khao San Road altogether I was feeling good on my outlook of humanity and my place as a tourist in the developing world. Kuta was exactly what we expected and we spent as little time there as possible. The first day we went into Denpasar, tha capital of Bali, in search of bikes. The Google led me to two bike shops, Rodalink at 152 Jalan Teuku Umar and Planet Bike at 148 Jalan Gunung Agung. We decided to take public transport into town and go on foot rather than renting a scooter. We had grand notions of riding our new bikes back to Kuta and didn’t want the complications of having to deal with returning a scooter and getting two bikes back. This was a pretty bad decision as we ended up spending just as much money on the bus (bemo) and probably walked at least 6 miles total. Phew. A few words of advice on finding a bike in Indonesia: the word “bike” means motor scooter and bicycles are commonly referred to as “push bikes.” Also, if you are looking for a used push bike the magic word is “second” as in second-hand.

We eventually found five bike shops in Denpasar. Two of the shops were local shops stocking primarily Polygons and Wims (Indonesian made bikes of decent quality) and a few Dahon folding bikes. They have some accessories but don’t expect anything performance oriented. The low end Polygons start at around $120 as do the Wims. Rodalink and Planet Bike have the same stock as these other shops but also carry higher end Polygons, several Western brands and some more accessories. Rodalink has a good selection of saddles, some clothing and I even spotted a pannier! A little further up the road from Rodalink is a Specialized shop carrying complete bikes (even made to order), components, accessories and apparel. While we would have loved to fork it over for a new Specialized and a pair of shorts this was out of our price range. Still great to know it’s there! For reference I have included a Google map with the approximate location of all the shops we found.

 


View Bike shops in Denpasar, Bali in a larger map
All in all, our trip to Denpasar was bust but we gathered a lot of information about what is available on Bali. None of the shops sold second push bikes and all laughed at our intentions to sell the new bike in a few months. If you are only looking for accessories or components Denpasar is the place to go, but we decided we’d be better off making an offer on a rental bike. After returning to Kuta we looked around for rentals but saw very few. Eager to get out of that hole we booked a bus to Ubud for the following day and decided to try our luck there. Funny side note: we still haven’t actually seen Kuta beach. Ubud is a picturesque destination lined with upscale restaurants and art galleries. The overall atmosphere reminded me of a mix between an Indian hill station and Carmel, CA. We got dropped off by the bus and started walking up the road under menacing clouds. It began to sprinkle a few minutes later and we found a warung (restaurant) to duck into for an iced coffee just moments before the sky opened up. It poured for over an hour. We got a hold of some friends who were staying in Ubud and got directions to their place. When the rain let up Kyle found us some “transport” and we hopped in some dude’s car. There are no taxis in Ubud so if you need transport you will likely find a local with a car who will take you where you need to go—and charge you of course. More making small talk than anything else I asked our driver if he knew of any bike shops in town and told him we were looking for a second push bike. He said that there was only one bike shop in Ubud and that they sold seconds. Slowing to give us directions he pointed out the turn in the road that would take us to the shop. The next morning we went to the shop and met the friendly and helpful Madé and told him what we wanted. He didn’t have any second bikes but right off the bat he offered to sell us bikes and buy them back at 60% of the cost. I am pretty sure he has done this before. He gave us two Yokota Speed Boys for 850,000Rp ($95) each. Boy was that ever easy. We bought two helmets at 90,000Rp ($10) each and I upgraded my seat for a still-too-soft saddle with a cut out for another 125,000 ($14). He told us he would buy the helmets and saddle back at 50%. On top of this he outfitted us free of charge. He put rear racks, water bottles and cages on the bikes and gave us an allen wrench multi tool, a wrench for everything else, tire levers, two tubes, a mini pump and two cable locks. We were ready to go. Said and done the bike purchase cost us $225 total and with buyback we should only be out $90. The bikes are certainly not any sort of quality but they are 21-speed comfort bikes and have Shimano gears and derailleurs of dubious quality. We are in this for the adventure anyway. Madé gave us an itemized receipt that even says the buyback rate. I am confident he will keep his word. In case you are in need of a bike in Ubud the map below shows the location of Madé’s shop.
View Ubud bike shop in a larger map WithBikes All geared up we were finally ready to start our tour. I know that it will be an adventure in more ways than one. Hopefully the bikes hold up and we come away from the experience proving that expensive gear and fancy energy bars are unnecessary for touring success. Chamois-less capri pants and flip-flops it is! I am sure that Bali’s dense population will also serve us well as we will never be more than a stone’s throw away from a snack shop or potential bike mechanic. Onward and upward, below you can find links to our daily touring diary, maps, and an elevation profile. You can download a GPX file of our trip here (right click – save as). Day 1: Ubud to Pura Pasar Agung via Sideman Road Day 2: Pura Pasar Agung to Amed Day 3: Amed to Yeh Sanih Day 4: Air Sanih to Lovina Day 5: Lovina to Bedugul (by bemo) => Bedugul to Ubud via Majapahit Road

9 Responses to “Planning a Bicycle Tour in Bali”

  1. Constant said:

    Dear Briana and Kyle,

    We have planned to do a tour by bike on Bali and Lombok in a few weeks and read your post with many interest. The bike shop in Denpassar, Rodalink, was something we planned to go to, but the shop you mentioned in Ubud sounds very interresting also. Do you know if they have a large stock of low end bikes? An other thing is, do you have an advice how to carry luggage on a bike? I see a double bag on one of the bikes,is that for sale at that bike shop in Ubud also?

    Have a nice trip and enjoy Bali, we have been there twice now and love it.

    Cheers,

    Constant
    Holland


    May 16th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

  2. Briana said:

    Hi Constant,

    The shop in Ubud is great for low-end bikes and was the only place we were able to find where the owner was willing to buy back our bikes at the end of the tour. We actually just sold our two bikes back a few days ago…the blog is a bit behind our reality. He kept his promise giving us the price we had agreed upon. Rodalink’s cheapest bike was about 1.2 million Rupiah and they would not agree to buyback.

    The best way to carry luggage on the bike is with panniers built just for that. The bags we used we had picked up in Cambodia last month. Unfortunately the shop in Ubud doesn’t have panniers. I think Rodalink did, but they are probably quite expensive. Depending on what you are packing you could easily buy some rope and tie a small backpack to the rear rack of your bike. How you carry your gear depends in part on how comfortable you want to be and if you will need easy access to your stuff while you are riding. Do keep in mind that if you can keep your luggage waterproof you will be better off. We got rained on more days than not on our tour. If you are still in Holland you can go into any bike shop and buy panniers but they will easy cost as much as your whole bike in Bali.

    Best of luck with the tour! Details of our adventure will be published over the next few weeks, but if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask!

    -Briana


    May 16th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

  3. Rhona & Alan said:

    Hello Briana and Kyle,
    Thank-you for your website we really found it interesting and informative. We’re a pair of oldies? in our sixties and each time we’ve been to Bali,about 20 times, we usually hire our push-bikes in Sanur. When we first started doing this some of the bikes were like riding a brumby (wild horse) but over the years with the icrease in popularity of cycling the quality has vastly improved. When we were last in Bali Sept 10, we hired a couple of bikes which we really enjoyed riding and forgot the name of them on our return home. Thanks to your website and info we now know they were Polygon bikes and next time we’re in Bali we will most probably buy a couple and send them back home.
    We wish you both many happy and safe adventures, and thanks once again.

    Cheers Rhona and Alan. Queensland Australia


    October 11th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

  4. Mark said:

    Hello from Canada

    Thanks for you interesting read.

    We will be in Bali in March, and while there are hoping to purchase some cycling shirts.

    Just wondered after all the wandering you did in Denpasar if you found any shops selling decent cycling shirts?

    Thanks


    November 18th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

  5. Briana said:

    Hi Mark,

    Rodalink and the Specialized shop both have jerseys if I remember correctly but they were standard brand-name or big team jerseys. Unfortunately I didn’t see anything from local cycling clubs if that’s what you’re looking for.

    Hope that helps,
    Briana


    November 18th, 2010 at 10:52 pm

  6. Sam in Beijing said:

    Yo guys, mad respect for your epic bike adventures. I’ve been reading your blog with great interest (hooked by your advice on CS about having “hangry” snacks ready for your partner – usually me) and this particular article caught my attention as I lived on Bali for a year in 2008-09. Only got a small taste of the cycling life there, but one day I shall return – this time with my rad mountain biking momma!


    April 25th, 2011 at 2:12 am

  7. Suzy said:

    Hi, Thanks for an interesting and useful report. I cycled in Bali and Lombok last June and am planning to do it again this year. I bought a cheap bike in Mattaram in Lombok which was really a schoolgirl’s bike and not suitable for mountains but I really enjoyed myself. I tied my backpack to the packrack with rope and cycled from Mataram down to the south of Lombok and left the bike at the port while I went to Gili Air for a week, then cycled back up to Mataram and to the ferry station, ferried to Bali then rode from East to West to get the ferry to Java, eventually giving the bike away in Yogyakarta before leaving Indonesia. The main road East to West in Bali was pretty busy with traffic and often not much shoulder. I hoped I could follow the beach around but that was not possible. Local people helped with repairs any time I asked. It was a wonderful way to meet people. I had moto shop experiences like you. People were extremely nice to me and impressed that I was cycling so far on my own. A better bike would have been preferable, so this time I’ll try to get one in Denpasar.


    May 14th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

  8. Beach said:

    I?ve learn some excellent stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you set to create the sort of excellent informative website.


    September 30th, 2011 at 7:21 am

  9. Guillaume said:

    Hi, thanks for the web site. I just went to that shop and bough a middle end ”POLYGON” for 1.2 M. It’s used but a very little. The owner has aggred to buy it back for 60 % if it’s good shape.

    There is at least 4-5 mecanics working with him (the shop is quite buisy) and even tough the bike was in perfect shape, they serviced it for 45 minutes just to make sure.

    Thanks again, I saved so much time by knowing exactly were to go and how the owner operates for the buy back. (I had to spend 3 days in Chiang Mai to do the same process).

    PS : The shop seems to be growing, he had 20 used byke for sales and at least 4-5 good enought to do the same kind of tour Briana and Kyle did.
    (I thinks we might be a litle before the hight season tought…)

    regards,
    Guillaume


    April 20th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

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