Motorbikes in Indonesia!

One reader shares the crazy world on two wheels across the Pacific.

Motorcycles and Scooters in tunnel in Indonesia
During a traffic jam in Jakarta, looking back through the tunnel was astounding. There appeared to be hundreds rolling our way - one large, moving mass of "man and machine."Photo by Shayne Russell

My wife and I recently returned from a 15-day trip to Indonesia. I've made the trip several times with a foundation I help manage, and have always been fascinated with the culture of motorcycles over there. Some interesting observations of the Indonesian world of two wheels:

The largest displacement engine I found in Indonesia was 250cc. It's an interesting contrast to the US, where, aside from scooters, a 250 is about the smallest you'll find.

The rider almost always wears a helmet, yet often passengers do not. Even multiple family members, including small children, will be helmetless, while the "wrist" will wear one.

We spent a few days in Japan prior to continuing on to Jakarta, in and around Tokyo, and out to the countryside surrounding Mt. Fuji. I was startled to find very few motorcycles, including scooters, in Japan, in the city or country. Ironic that the nation with four of the top producing brands in the world ( Honda , Yamaha , Suzuki , Kawasaki ), and so few of their own citizens actually ride.

Scooter traffic Indonesia
The traffic was stopped in front of our hotel, but that did not prevent the riders from throttling on through and around, in a constant stream.Photo by Rob Brooks
Scooter in Indonesia
A child going home from school with a parent, outside the city of Kupang, Timor. Amazing how often I saw multiple riders with no helmets or other protective gear for the passengers.Photo by Rob Brooks
Family on Scooter in Indonesia
Often the only means of transportation for entire families, children are squeezed onto seats between parents and older siblings, often up to 4-5 on a bike and helmetless, as evidenced here.Photo by Rob Brooks
Trike taxi Indonesia
These three-wheeled motortrikes are common throughout the city as delivery vehicles on the surface streets.Photo by Rob Brooks
Scooters and motorcycles in traffic in Indonesia
Small-bore motorcycles and scooters clog the already packed streets of downtown Jakarta, Indonesia by the thousands, flowing through traffic by lane-splitting, curb-jumping, and red-light running.Photo by Rob Brooks
Scooters in Indonesia
Even out in the city of Kupang, near the far eastern end of the Indonesian island chain on Timor, scooters and small motorcycles are a way of life. Traffic is not as bad as in the capital, so streets are easier to navigate with two wheels or four. I would feel more comfortable riding out here!Photo by Rob Brooks
Scooters in Indonesia
Taken from a transit bus we were on, the riders on these diminutive mounts were fearless in traffic.Photo by Shayne Russell
Scooters and motorcycles orphanage Indonesia
Several small motorbikes parked outside an orphanage on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra, in the city of Pekanbaru. They teach the boys how to repair them, so they can have a means of earning a living upon graduating out at 18.Photo by Rob Brooks
motorcycle scooter repair shop orphanage Indonesia
The shop behind the orphanage, where the kids practice their skills at motorcycle repair and maintenance.Photo by Rob Brooks
Motorcycle in Indonesia
A friend in a suburb of Jakarta had a small single-thumper like this, and let me ride it around some back streets for a bit. I don't possess an international driver's license, so I didn't ride long or far. Fun little bike, and perfect traffic tool.Photo by Rob Brooks
McDonals delivery scooters
McDonalds delivers in many parts of the city, via scooters like these.Photo by Rob Brooks