This featurette is written by one of our avid reader Amit Sakhrani who has earlier shared his story on his passion why he got a Karizma. You can read it here. That was way back in 2008 when he was in India. Now, he has moved out of the country to settle in Indonesia. But as we all know – you can not take biking out of a biker.
Amit writes back to us to share his reignited passion and he provides a nice little glimpse of the Indonesian bike market and the overall culture. You can also share interesting snippets or get featured on BikeAdvice.
Motorcycling Passion Keeps Me Riding Even Outside My Own Country By Amit Sakhrani
Like everyone who reads Bikeadvice regularly, motorcycles have been an important part of my life from my early days. After spending my formulative years on motorcycles ranging from my Dad’s Yezdi Classic 250 to my bikes which included a Kinetic Honda, a Hero Honda Splendor, a Kawasaki Bajaj 125 to a Hero Honda Karizma.
Long distance touring is my favorite form of riding and the Karizma was one of the best Indian bikes to go touring for many a year hence I have some great memories on that bike in different parts of India. Anyway, a few years back, I had to leave motorcycling to follow my career which took me to Indonesia.
As for most of us, a new job normally means increased focus, work hours etc during which our passions take a bit of a back seat. Club the fact that you are in a new country, don’t speak the language and you obviously cannot ride without an Indonesian licence and the length of time you end up staying off a bike gets stretched substantially.
To give you a good understanding of Indonesia, it is very similar to India in a lot of ways – similar roads, similar bikes, similar traffic sense or shall I say lack of it! A silver lining is that Indonesian people are genuinely nice people, like us Indians. All this in a way made me feel at home and gave me the confidence to be able to ride long distances alone despite not knowing the roads or the language.
Please remember even a small fender bender in a country which is not your own (you don’t know the language etc) can lead to harrowing experiences. I did not want to star in the next episode of ‘Jailed Abroad‘.
Indonesian Bike Market
Anyway, after a long fast forward, I got a riding licence, had managed to convince my wife and I was finally ready to buy a motorcycle. Now came the big decision which motorcycle shall I buy?
My first thought – GO BIG. I thought I deserved a big bike and Indonesia like India has its people spoilt for choices. But better sense prevailed. With all big bikes being imported into Indonesia, the taxation etc is killing, hence the insane pricing, high maintenance. And given that I don’t know how long I would be there (poor resale value) meant it would not be a smart decision.
So may be a small capacity bike? maybe 150 cc? Like India the options in this segment are a million and at great value for money price points. But I had moved on from these small bikes as they do not provide the excitement, long range capability I was looking for.
Anyway, after a lot of thought, I had zeroed in on 250 cc motorcycle segment. For those who may ask, why a 250cc and not more?
A simple answer – TAXATION! Taxes on motorcycles above 250cc in Indonesia are substantially higher. For example, a KTM 250 Duke in Indonesia is around 2.5 lakhs Indian Rupees, but its elder sibling 390 Duke costs 5 lakhs INR!
My Shortlisted Motorcycles
Further research and I was down to five choices…
- Honda CBR 250RR
- Kawasaki Ninja 250
- Kawasaki Versys 250
- Yamaha R25 and
- Yamaha MT25
Note: KTM’s were not considered due to a very limited service network and it is almost impossible to find parts outside the couple of service centers it has in the country capital.
I quickly discarded the Kawasakis as well as they are not manufactured in Indonesia and the import duties from Thailand meant that the bikes were approximately 25% to 30% more expensive than the Honda and the Yamahas that are manufactured in Indonesia. We, in Indian, have similar issues with imported bikes which come as CKD units.
I finally choose the Yamaha MT25. I will post an in-depth review on this streetfighter and why I choose it over the other options in a follow up post.
It has now been a couple of years riding this bike and I absolutely love it. Quick specifications – it is a two cylinder 250cc with 35.5 horsepower, 6 speed with just the right riding stance for city and long distance highway touring. The MT (Master of Torque) tag ensures the torque levels are amazing irrespective of the gear and the RPM you are in.
The bike can rev really high and redlines at 15000 RPM. The quarter liter MT has more power than you can use anywhere in Indonesia along with a claimed top speed of 170 kmph. I have hit 150 kmph and had to let go the throttle as I was running out of road. The fabulous two-cylinder engine ensures you do all of this, all day without the bike ever feeling out of breath and with very minimum vibrations. All in all, it’s an absolute gem of an engine mated with a great chassis, suspension etc making it a great overall package.
After 10,000 kms almost all of which have been on highways (my city riding is mainly the ride getting to the highways and then getting back home) I can safely say that the Yamaha ticks all the boxes for a good city and highway touring motorcycle.
Yamaha India, if you are listening, please please please bring the MT25 or MT03 to India. If priced right, it will sell in thousands.
Motorcycle riding in a country outside of your own and doing majority of that alone can be daunting. However it brings with it a whole lot of memorable experiences. The fact that motorcycles are not allowed on toll roads in Indonesia means that most riding is done on single lane highways with potholes, stray animals, jaywalkers, forcing you to be 100% concentrated at all times. Tech such as Satnav’s, Google Maps etc are so very essential.
Yet I have had many occasions when I had to ask for directions to get off the beaten path and then back on it. Experiencing great Indonesian food which is as diverse as in India, changing from one area to another and local beverages particularly the coffee (kopi in Bahasa) are always a treat and provide you an opportunity to meet and interact with fellow bikers who always have fabulous stories to share. The human connect makes every little experience even more special and guess what, it has also helped me improve my Bahasa.
All said and done the passion for motorcycling can be felt in every part of the world. For me once the biking gear is worn, you get your balaclava and helmet on, the fun starts and you can put everything else away. It’s now just you, your bike and the roads, different terrains awaiting to be explored. Every ride is therapeutic in a way, helping you recharge for everything else the world has in store for us over the days ahead, till the next time we ride again.
To sign off all I shall say is, enjoy every ride irrespective of where you are going and keep your passion of motorcycling strong.
Ride Safe, Ride Long and Enjoy the Ride.
Born to ride…. Amit Sakhrani