Scoopy. I’d never come across a machine called “Scoopy”, let alone ridden one. Honda, Kawasaki, even Jawa – I’d heard of those but “Scoopy”? Nah. It turns out that this is a popular brand of scooter here in Bali and we’ve hired one for the rest of the week. And, yes, we’ve both had a go, without becoming asphalt paste!
So, without further ado, here’s our guide to riding a scooter in Bali:
- Wear a motherf*cking helmet
Without trying to sound like your dad (or even your grandad), wearing a helmet is a lifesaver, even if you’re tempted not to by the hot weather. Pro-tip: try to get a decent one from whomever you rent the scooter from and not one with a cracked visor that refuses to stay up (see the pic).
You’ll see kids riding around without helmets and it’ll make you feel like a US Republican dinosaur running for office in Shoreditch, but tell your ego to shut the f*ck up if it still wants to be around to control you. Make sure that it fits snugly and there’s enough wiggle room.
- Drive on the left – the correct side
Our US readers will point out, wrongly, that driving on the left is “wrong” or even “evil”. Nope, it’s the side of the British Empire and has since prevailed out here in Asia. Don’t do what some of the locals do and drive on whatever side of the road suits them at any given time.
- The horn is your friend
In the West, we use our horns to express the deep dissatisfaction we have with life when stuck in traffic or whenever we feel like picking a fight with the Neanderthal in the BMW 3 Series in front of us.
In Bali, the horn is used to let people – who don’t use the horn themselves, mind you – know that you’re about to come careening around the next tree-lined corner or that you’re about to overtake their slow-ass chicken coup on wheels.
A short toot is the order of the day as opposed to a resting your wrist on the horn until all of your problems disappear.
- Practice manoeuvring at slow speeds
When we got Scoopy, we knew she’d be good for a 0-40 mph in 25 seconds down the nearest straight (she’s a beast), but controlling her at walking speed made us look like octopi riding snails – legs akimbo (not very elegant).
Practice getting to “know” the weight of your bike at walking speed – especially u-turns and setting off. The alternative is to know that you’re being laughed at by everyone in the cafe opposite (even their dog).
- Overtake on the right…or on the left (but, preferably on the right)
The locals don’t really know when and where they want to overtake. It’s a spur-of-the-moment decision that seems to arise from deep down inside and they pull off overtaking manoeuvres with the skill and precision that would make LHC scientists jealous.
What does that mean for us newbies? The answer is OVERTAKE ON THE RIGHT if it is safe to do so, thus also ensuring that any 4-wheel scum turning right has a good chance of seeing you coming before you become human flavoured jam.
- Gun the accelerator when going up a steep incline
This is pretty much a no-brainer but I mention it here because it’s important to know the weight of the bag of flesh riding pillion. Yep, I didn’t realise how much weight I had put on here until Marine had to Octopi-walk the scooter up a steep incline, whilst gunning the accelerator.
Do you have any tips or tricks for riding a scooter in Bali (or anywhere, for that matter). Drop us a comment if so!