The following tips and advice on cycling Indonesia is based on my experiences of a 2550 kilometer cycling trip through Indonesia taking me across the islands on Java, Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa in november/december 2014.
Cycling around Jakarta.
Cycling around Jakarta is actually not as bad as you might think when you consider how big and chaotic the city is.
I arrived at the airport just before midnight and hit the road right away and cycled a few kilometers down the road where I found a decent little hotel for little money and the next morning I cycled the rest of the way in to the city without any problems.
The roads are very busy and congested in Jakarta so cycling there is for sure a challenge at times, but I have had it worse in other big cities around the world and at least they are quite used to two wheeled traffic there.
Worst thing was actually leaving the city by bicycle as most exit roads out of the city are toll roads where you are not allowed to cycle, but I found my way out in the end after some searching.
Cycling along the north coast of Java.
Cycling along the north coast of Java is not for beginners, but quite interesting and I enjoyed it big time.
The north coast of Java is very populated and it also has quite a bit of industry so we are not talking lonely roads there, but lot’s of company and curious locals.
I did not see a single other foreign tour cyclist when I was cycling along the north coast of Java.
The north coast of Java is quite flat so you can put a few kilometers behind you every day if you are in a hurry.
If you follow the north coast of Java then you will also hit some quite big cities like Semarang and Surabaya, but they are fairly ok to cycle through.
When I was cycling Bali I started from the west as I came with the ferry from Java and then continued towards east and from there went up north to catch the ferry over to Lombok.
The western part of Bali is fantastic for cycling with nice roads, little traffic and almost no tourists.
The landscape is really pretty and there are small local hotels here and there to stay at.
The area around Denpasar is pretty bad for cycling and Denpasar was probably the city that I found the least suitable for cycling in Indonesia.
But as soon as I left Denpasar and headed north the roads became really good for cycling, so I would highly recommend Bali for cycling as long as you try to steer clear of the Denpasar area.
Cycling Lombok is a real treat and i enjoyed cycling there big time.
I circumnavigated the island by bike and also cycled quite a bit in the central part of the island.
The roads there are of good quality and mostly not that congested.
People are friendly and welcoming towards tourists and many parts of Lombok are almost entirely without tourists.
Only warning I would give there is that accommodation can be a bit scarce when you are away from the main tourist towns and I had a couple of times where I needed to search quite a bit before finding a place to stay.
But apart from that the island is fantastic for traveling cyclists.
The northern part of Lombok has wonderful quiet country roads with little traffic and it was probably my favorite part of the island to cycle, but the entire island was good and even the capital Mataram was quite easy to cycle around and it had a nice selection of bicycle mechanics and bicycle shops.
When I was cycling Sumbawa I went from the ferry harbor of Poto Tano to Sumbawa Besar and back, as well as some cycling in the coastal areas north of Sumbawa Besar, so my cycling experiences are based on that route.
I found Sumbawa to be very suitable for cycling as long as you do some research about accommodation as it can be far between hotels there.
The island was fairly flat on most of the parts where I cycled, but other parts of the island are very steep as there are a couple of big volcanoes there.
Foreign cyclists are very rare there, so you are bound to get a lot of attention form locals there, but it was always positive and i was never harassed in any way on the island.
Cycling Indonesia in the rainy season.
I was cycling Indonesia in the rainy season and was not really sure what to expect, but it worked out fairly well as long as I was prepared to run for cover once or twice a day when the rain came down.
It mostly rains in late afternoon or early evening in Indonesia, so try to be in a place where you have a bit of cover that time of day.
But the roads are build for these heavy downpours and they usually dried up in a matter of minutes after the rain showers finished and I could usually continue the trip right away after the rain stopped without getting too soaked.
Cycling in the dry season is surely a little better, but you should not be scared away from cycling Indonesia just because you are there during rainy season.