27 August 2019

Royal Enfield Classic 500

About the motorcycle I enjoyed riding in Indonesia for 3 years

Royal Enfield Classic 500

It has been over two years since I have written in my blog. Such a shame actually, since I have had some very nice adventures and stories to share! Well, today I am going to give it a another go!

Today I want to talk about riding in Jakarta, and my motorcycle. Where should I start? The traffic, obviously, is quite an interesting topic. If you have lived in Jakarta or whether you may have heard it of friends or online, it is true that the traffic flow is not the greatest! A lot of people when they talk about Jakarta, they talk about the traffic jams. Now if you check online traffic numbers, it is said that the amount of congestion in cities like Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, London, and New York is a lot worse. So I am not going to make any statements that Jakarta traffic is the worst, but it may be safe to say it is horrible enough. Luckily I have seen the flow of traffic improving in the last few years.

Jakarta has launched earlier this year their new subway system, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). It is still brand new and it goes through the middle of one of the biggest roads and areas in town, such as Thamrin, Sudirman, and Blok M. And it seems that it already has started to pay off.

On the last decade the city administration has been working to improve the bus system as well, in particular the TransJakarta bus system. The buses have airconditioning, in most major roads they have their own dedicated lanes so they can drive through the jams without any issues. And people are using them a lot!

There are still some buses around like Kopaja or Metromini, these are in size something between a mini-van and a bus. But these are quite dirty, usually don’t have doors, and a lot of think black smoke comes from the exhausts; something you do not wish to be behind of one of them especially if you are on a motorcycle, haha.

Also these Angkot mini-vans you still see them quite often, the tend to stop in the middle of a lane, or road, or on zebra crosses, while waiting for people to board them. These type of public transportation adds to the traffic congestion proble, but still for a lot of people they are convenient enough if you have to go somewhere up ahead (maybe a few kilometers).

Sidewalks are still quite scarse, but in some areas they are starting to make more of them, or make them wider, which is a good development!

Now I want to talk about my bike. Currently I ride a 2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500, which is a motorcycle imported from India. It has a a 500cc single cylinder engine with Electronic Fuel Injection. It has a vintage classic look, which is something that I really love about it. I give it the nickname “Beatrix” because it is a “Royal” Enfield, I am Dutch, and my plate number starts with a B. For the people who do not get the reference.

Shaking

The bike itself tends to vibrate a lot at certain RPMs, which can cause the vision in your mirrors to become very blurry sometimes. The trick is to find the right balance in your RPMs sometimes you need it very low, sometimes a bit higher then normal, as long as you are not in the range which will make it hard to use your mirrors. The vibration is caused due to the fact you are sitting on a 0.5L engine with a single cylinder.

Classic and basic

The bike is so basic in functionality, it does not have an RPM indicator and it also has no fuel gauge. You will see the fuel indicator turn on when you are running out, and then you should have at least 2.5 litres left which should last you at least another 50km. The simplicity of the motorcycle is something that I like as well, you switch gears based on your feeling not on what any display.

The Classic 500 also comes with a kickstarter, which is really fun to do sometimes. It can be quite exhausting if you are not used to it yet, especially in a warm tropic climate expect to sweat a little bit if you do not succeed with the first 5 kicks, haha. I have had two times that my electric starter was not able to get the bike going, mainly due to the “wet” battery that comes from the factory was running low after a year or so. The kickstarter really saved my ass at those time you are stuck in a complete Jakartan traffic jam and there is no way to push your bike anywhere.

What I really love is that you can easily remove the back seat of the bike, and turn it into a single seater. This makes the bike even more cool!

Extras

The last two years I have not removed the back seat anymore, mainly because I have attached two side boxes on the bike which is attached on the same parts where the back seat is attached to the bike. The side boxes are called DragonFly and I bought the overseas from the Blue Garage in India (https://bluegarage.in/Automobile-Store/dragonfly-side-box-for-royal-enfield-classic-(desert-strom)(pair)?PId=340). They come with integrated lights which you can connect to you bike in two ways; either on the regular light switch so it turns on together with your head and back light, or on the brakes so they light up when you brake. I choose for the former one. It was easy enough to install the boxes and for the wiring I had asked a nearby garage to help out a bit.

Additionally, I had also bought the Octagon Stainless Stell Engine Guard from the Royal Enfield Dealer in Jakarta (https://goo.gl/maps/4zzq1K8dcCM3iM4n6). That together with the DragonFly boxes made my bike look a lot bigger than before.

Some people in Indonesia even install speakers, sirens, and flashing lights like the police has here. You can buy these things even from the ACE Hardware, and generally it seems almost nobody cares if you use these things. That also brings me to the point of other extras done the vehicles in this country. I was amazed how often I see cars with fast flashing blue brake lights, while there standard back lights were replaced with orange flashing lights. When you drive behind such a vehicle it feels like you are in a club, it is very funny to see.

Back again to my bike, so I almost reached that 15,000km mark in the last 2 years that I have been riding and I had noticed that the bike handling is quite different from when it cam fresh from the factory. The response time is a bit slower, the steering wheel is less stiff, the sound almost did not change. Even on my wedding day, my wife and I also had a little ride in our wedding suit and dress. Even a week later I have rented a second Classic 500 and went on a little trip with my wife and my brother, who came to Indonesia for our wedding.

Now I am planning to move back to the Netherlands with my wife, we want to start a family. The plan is that we will arrive here in September 2019 that means I will also sell my beloved motorcycle as I do not plan to ship it to the Netherlands as well. Perhaps I will get myself another Royal Enfield there, but it is also likely I will buy a different motorcycle. We shall see!

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