I first traveled to Bali, Indonesia in November 2018. Before this, I lived in Australia for two years and decided to break up the long flight on my way back “home” to England. I’d heard many good things about Bali in the past so I booked a flight and decided to just see what happens.
Whilst I was in a taxi from the airport, I unexpectedly saw a few custom bike garages along the way and asked the driver if they liked bikes here. He enthusiastically replied “motorbike? Ooooh, Bali loves moto!” – from this point, I knew it was going to be a good trip.
Over the coming days, I saw this for myself. I live in a place called ‘Canggu’ in the south of the island, which is one of the hotspots for tourists and working travelers, so of course, this is where all of the action is concentrated. I’d easily see around 10-15 custom-built japstyle/cafe racer-styled bikes blasting around the streets each day, which you’d never get back home. I then decided I needed to get amongst the scene and that’s when I reached out to Dirk, the owner of ‘Malamadre Motorcycles’.
MM is a custom bike fabricator in the center of Canggu. I had seen them on Instagram and Facebook in the past but seeing the bikes in the showroom, in person, was a whole different story. We got talking and Dirk gave me an insight into what he does.
He’s 41 years old, from Bilbao. He quit his job as an engineer in Spain and decided to come to Bali and pursue his passion for building custom motorcycles. Opening Malamadre, in 2015, Dirk quickly became very well known and his brand has been growing ever since. MM has built and customized over 70 bikes and has sent bikes around the globe, including New York, Amsterdam, Australia, Singapore, Ireland, and several other countries. The MM bikes are mostly 250cc Yamaha, Honda or Suzuki builds as this is all you need for the roads of Bali. They have done some other bikes, up to 1100cc though.
I fell in love with the place and asked if I could cover some of their social media content during my month here. During this month, I rode around the whole of Bali and saw just how big the bike culture is here.
It’s like never-ending networking! Once you start to know better local people and brands, you find yourself to be exposed to new exciting opportunities. After having now lived in Bali for 3 months, I’ve become quite well known amongst the motorcycle community and am often invited to ride with various other stores as well. I did work with Treasure Garage, Studio Motor, and a couple of others. Together with Studio Motor, we did an adventurous campaign in the mountains because they are not only custom motorcycle workshops but also do tours of Indonesia. What can I say, I had an unforgettable experience and met some awesome photographers and local riders!
Bali is an absolute Paradise; they call it the “island of the gods” and it is full of breathtaking scenery, incredible roads, beautiful weather, and of course, the best way to see all of this is from the back of a motorcycle. Of course, like most countries in SE Asia, the moped/scooter is the favored form of transport because it’s cheap, it’s simple and it gets the job done. However, there is also a huge community of motorcyclists here who have a passion for bigger bikes.
So much so, that Bali hosted the largest “gentleman’s ride” of 2018, WORLDWIDE.
I’ve ridden bikes all over the island and no matter where I go, I am only ever greeted with smiles, waves, and thumbs up from people when they hear and see me coming – even from the remotest villages high up in the mountains where they may not speak a word of English. Everybody here just absolutely loves motorcycles, especially when they’re unique and play a nice song from the exhaust.
When riding around the quieter roads in the countryside, you can often spot 4-5 group rides on all kinds of bikes, ranging from old, rickety Vespas to brand new, adventure bikes doing trips through the whole of Indonesia, and then, of course, the countless bobbers, jumpstyle, cafe racers and scramblers who are constantly out for a ride.
Traveling in Bali by bike is a true blast!
A story by Bali Photographer
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