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I believe it is possible to ride a motorbike from west to east of Indonesia in the following order: Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa & Flores.

Obviously, this epic journey would involve weeks (months probably) of travel & buying a decent motorbike, at least a Honda Win 110cc (popular in Vietnam) or something like a CBR 150 (popular in Thailand).

This route would involve taking a few ferries where motorbikes, cars & trucks are allowed anyway. See this question for related info on ferries in Indonesia Go from Lombok to Labuan Bajo by bus & ferry, how to?

My experience in traveling through Indonesia tells me this route would be just fine but I may be wrong. Has anyone already attempted this or anything similar?

  • Comment only: Not if you want to have a high probability of living to a ripe old age :-) :-(. The stories od deaths of locals on small motorcycles, especially in holiday periods are sobering. BUT you probably know that already :-). | I idly toyed with the more mundane Jakarta-Bali journey (with ferry). Highly doable but highly dangerous too. A man in Yogyakarta who rented out motorcycles said he would not consider renting anyone one for that journey :-) (quite apart frtom getting it back). – Russell McMahon Oct 22 '15 at 1:38
  • @RussellMcMahon thx but yes I already know the risks involved. One would only consider doing this if: having previous experience motorbiking in southeast Asia, if not doing it alone (i.e. You have an accident or breakdown, the other biker can help you out), & if having a decent motorbike. Btw, one would buy the motorbike, not rent it. – Adrien Be Oct 22 '15 at 2:19
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    I found this article, a solo trip from Duri (in Riau, Sumatra) to Bima (in Sumbawa). He needed 2 months to complete the trip (to Bima and back). Itineraries included. – springrolls Oct 22 '15 at 8:20
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As I see this question is not getting any answer yet and as I have traveled several months in Indonesia, I will attempt an answer.

Starting from Sumatra

It's possible to cross the whole island by motorbike, as one can read on many forums & guidebooks, public buses & tourist buses do travel from city to city in the island. And there is not one point "where the road ends" (unless it reaches the sea!). Sumatra is huge however (and has a lot to offer), so plan several weeks to cross Sumatra unless you rush through. Roads can be a bit bumpy, nothing unusual for southeast Asia though.

One might want to use Medan as a starting point in Sumatra. The main reason being that it is already a "base" for many locals & foreigners traveling through the huge island.

Buying a motorbike:

  • Medan has a significant size, hence will probably have several motorbike shops where you can buy the motorbike of your dream for this epic adventure.

  • Otherwise if you want to bring your motorbike from Malaysia or Singapore, it is possible. See how some ferries go from Singapore to Sumatra

Going first to north: probably going through Ketambe & then to Banda Aceh, note that the Aceh province applies the Sharia law.

Then one would come back to Medan (as I think there is no other road to go back south).

Finally, head south (stopping by Lake Toba, Pulau Banyak & more), until Bakahueni. From Bakahueni, take the ferry to Java.

Java

As for Sumatra, it's possible to cross the whole of Java by motorbike, as one can read on many forums & guidebooks, public buses & tourist buses do travel from city to city in the island. Java is also huge (one may argue it has more than Sumatra to offer), so plan several weeks to cross Java unless you rush through. Roads can be a bit bumpy, nothing unusual for southeast Asia though. In my opinion, Java is more developed than Sumatra, so roads "should" be better.

You can take the ferry from Banyuwangi (Ketapang) to Bali. I've done this, it's super quick & there are many ferries.

Bali

The easy part. Bali's road are a blessing after the rough roads of Sumatra & Java. Bali has some very touristy parts (like the ugly-crowded-overpriced Kuta), but it also has very rural areas that you probably want to explore. Being in southern Bali might be a good connection back to civilization though, & some areas are less touristy.

Take the ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok (Lembar). I've done this too, it takes around 4h & it's around 40'000 IDR per person.

Lombok

Lombok as great roads for some reason. You can litterally cross the island in less than 2h. But you might want to take your time by going south and relax, or north to try to do the horrible 3 days Rejani trek (you walk for 13h on the 2nd day).

Sumbawa

Sumbawa is huge & mostly under-developed, think "Sumatra style". Many vehicles cross the whole of Sumbawa from west to east in about 14h (non-stop), roads are pretty good from my experience of crossing west to east. But I suspect that going out of that road could lead to many surprises, it'd be a great adventure though.

Take the ferry from Sape (Sumbawa) to Labuan Bajo (Flores).

Flores

Flores is huge & mostly under-developed (yes, again!), think "Sumatra style". So plan plenty of time, several weeks, if you want to explore it without rushing. There is already a question regarding riding a motorbike through Flores.

Further reading

One might want to then carry on & go to Timore or Sulawesi. Which sounds reasonable :)

Some ferries do leave from Flores (Labuan Bajo) for Sulawesi every 2 weeks, enquire at the official desk in the port to know further (or call some diving schools in Labuan Bajo, they might be able to help).

  • A small note: Java is not that big. Without rushing through, I traveled with a stupid 12hp motorcycle accross all Java from west to east in just 4 days and half stopping by to see the major temples and driving on the mountains and in the fields where there are no roads. It's a bit over 1200 chilometers, so it's just a few hundreds kms a day. – motoDrizzt Sep 12 '16 at 7:14
  • Going from west to east is 1150km (source goo.gl/maps/j548AeVESik). That's a lot to me considering this is if not doing any detour. You can definitely rush through it in 3 or 4 days. But if one wants to experience more, one will need much more time. For instance, you may want to stop in Yogyakarta for a couple of days, visit the Borobudur & Pranbanan (1 day), climb Merapi (1 day), go to Mount Bromo & Kawa Ijen (2 or 3 days), and so on. – Adrien Be Sep 15 '16 at 7:34
  • It's 1150 km if you do it without love, if you want to do it properly is a bit more, but still just a walk in a park -5 hours driving each day, more or less-. About the rest: in those 4 days I visited Jakarta (just a bit, I must admit), the fields between Jakarta and Cirebon, Dieng Plateau, Borobodur, Yogya, Prambanan, Sura, Mt. Lawu, Lumajang and a bit of other places along the road. I missed the Bromo, sadly :-\ – motoDrizzt Sep 15 '16 at 7:52
  • 1250 chilometers. Just go to the last page :-)flickr.com/photos/14313152@N04/albums/72157660773885555 – motoDrizzt Sep 15 '16 at 8:03

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