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Bicycle is a means of transportation besides car, motorcycle, train, plane, and so on. Begin to be introduces in the Dutch colonization era, it grew more popular day by day, since people realized bikes were more effective and efficient than the previous modes of transportation they used to use like horses, cows, or carriages. However along with the technological transition, it is now the machinery transportation that are preferred by public commonly. People do not go from place to place using bikes anymore since it is considered faster and more reliable riding personal cars or motorcycles. (see also: Table Manners in Indonesia)

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These days bikes are still used nevertheless, but merely for a certain group of people. Despite being side-eyed by public as a means of transportation, there are many old bike clubs and communities from various regions in Indonesia, spread from Sabang to Merauke. There are hundreds of communities exist, and those even the number of those who have been observed and registered, not to mention many who are not registered or do not join the organization under the name of of KOSTI or Komunitas Sepeda Tua Indonesia, a community for old and antique bike lovers in the country. (see also: What to Wear in Indonesia)

History and Development

Bicycles began to be popular in Indonesia in the era of the Dutch colonization when the Dutchmen brought bicycles made in Europe as a means of transportation during the time. Initially, bikes were only limited to the Dutchmen and the nobles. Commoners were not able to use the transportation since it was considered prestigious. (see also: Indonesian Floating Market)

In the 1960s, along with the development of transportation technology, the bike’s position as popular vehicle was slowly replaced by motorcycles and cars. The bicycles made in the 1930s until the 1950s soon became an old item that were easy to be abandoned, even though there were also people who started collecting bikes in this era. Those bikes being collected were English-made old bicycles such as Humber Cross (1901), Raleigh (1939), Phillips (1956), and Hercules (1922). (see also: History of Chinese in Indonesia)

Types of Bicycles

While the Dutch-made bicycle is Batavus (1920), Gazelle (1925), Valuas (1940), Master (1950), and several others. Ancient Dutch bikes are often also dubbed as onthel or onta (camel) bikes. Even now in the 21st century, there is still a collection of artificial early 20th century bicycles such as Veeno brand that is sought by bicycle lovers. (see also: Wildfire in Indonesia)

Bicycles in Indonesia

In addition to onthel, we are also familiar with the title of “jengki”bike. The term “jengki” was derived from the word “Yankee”, which is a term intended for Americans. This term emerged when Americans in the 1960s invades the Indochina. At that time Americans and their products brought new changes of the attributes of physical, behavior, thought, and look in Asia. President Soekarno even forbade the entry of all products made in the west. (see also: Daily Phrases in Indonesia)

As a result, Dutch and Western European bicycles were no longer able to enter Indonesia so that the bicycle market were dominated by Chinese-made bicycles with new forms and proportions such as Butterfly, Phoenix, and several others. Those bikes were and are much lighter and smaller in the size so it is more easily controlled by the people of Indonesia. (see also: Traditional Dances of Indonesia)

Meanwhile, at that time, everything new was given the nickname “jengki”, like shoes, pants, bicycles, even the house was called jengki. Initially the term jengki was synonymous with novelty. Later, it was said that the Betawi people named “jengki bicycle” from Betawi language “jingke” which means on tiptoe, because the high saddle position required the rider to tiptoe while going up.

Bike Racing in Indonesia

Bike racing is not actually a new thing when Cycling in Indonesia. Before World War II there had been several Indonesian professional cyclists financed by several companies such as Mansonia, Triumph, Hima, and others. This activity was first established in Semarang but it stopped during the Japanese colonization. It began to be conducted again after the country gained its independence. At the 2nd National Sports Week of 1951, cycling became an official sport of competition. Several cities then formed a bike racing association, and finally established the association of cyclists called ISSI on May 20, 1956 in Semarang. (see also: Scouting in Indonesia)

Modern Bicycles’s Expansion

Starting in the 1980s, the popularity of bicycles in Indonesia began to be dominated by modern bicycles such as mountain bikes, urban bikes (commuting bike), and also later folding bikes. Of the many types of modern bikes, mountain bikes are the most popular in Indonesia. The bike that was first introduced in 1977 by Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher and his team was much favored by urban communities in Indonesia. In addition BMX bikes are also getting sought after by young Indonesians. This is because BMX bikes can be used to perform extreme attractions that challenge adrenaline. (see also: Festivals in Indonesia)

Since the first, the bike had become a very famous public transportation. Since the discovery of a bicycle (with chain and serrations) for the first time by an Englishman named J.K. Starley in 1885, the bicycle became a mandatory means of transportation. Because in addition to easy and practical, the bike did not require fuel. Since then there have been many new bike-making styles. This then triggered the establishment of bicycle racing competition. However, at that time, bicycle racing competition only exist in England, Netherlands, France, and other European industrial countries which incidentally is the original state-going bicycle. (See also: Buddhism in Indonesia)

Trend of Bicycles

Expansion of European countries to various parts of the world, including Indonesia, spread the trend of bicycles around the world. Bicycles then became very popular in all countries. It was only in the early 19th century (the Dutch colonial period before the second world war), bikes began to be owned by ordinary people because of the exports of large-scale bikes from the UK and the Netherlands. This then spurred the emergence of bicycle communities and cycling competitions among indigenous people. Bike racing then become a trend among the people of Indonesia. (see also: Traditional Markets in Indonesia)

At that time, Semarang and Bandung became the center of bicycle trends in Indonesia. Two Dutch architects named Ooiman and Van Leuwen even made a special place for cycling in Semarang. The development of cycling in Indonesia progressed after many foreign companies wanted to finance cycling events. Even then it was common for cyclists to be financed by companies like Tropical, Triumph, Hima, Mansonia, and other expatriate companies. (see also: Indonesian Heritage)

Although during the Japanese colonialism in the country, activities related to the bike were stopped, it gained back its popularity post-independence. It was even more popular since a bike club was established in Bandung, named Super Jet which later changed its name to Sangkuriang. This then inspired many other areas to establish bike clubs, including Solo, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Medan, and Jakarta. (see also: Diversity in Indonesia)

The development of cycling is even more brilliant after Bandung succeeded in making the international cycling event, namely Tour de Java 1 in 1958. This event was the first cycling race event in Asia. The race took the routes Bandung-Surabaya-Bandung with a total distance of nearly 2000 km and was divided into 18 stages. Since then, cycling in Indonesia has become more popular.

Bike Race Tour in Indonesia

Indonesia has repeatedly held bicycle races since then, ranging from being held independently by the bike lovers community to the events scheduled by the governments to support tourism. Here are some popular Indonesia’s bike races which are not only known by the locals, but are also very popular internationally:

1. Tour de Singkarak

Tour de Singkarak is an official Cycling in Indonesia’s championship of the International Cyclical Union (International Cycliste International) which is held annually in West Sumatra. The name of the Tour de Singkarak racing event that was first held in 2009 was taken from the largest lake in West Sumatra.

Tourist attractions such as Jam Gadang (Bukit Tinggi) and Kelok 44 (Agam) have been made the tracks of the racers. Bike racers from various parts of the world compete and take the path along the 1100 kilometers divided in nine stages and through 17 districts, including Harau Valley, Maninjau Lake, Kelok 44,  Diatas and Dibawah Lakes. (see also: Largest Cities in Indonesia)

In three times of the Tour de Singkarak event, Padang city has always been the starting point of the race with the finish point at the dock of Singkarak lake. However, at Tour de Singkarak 2012, the starting point of the race moved to the city Sawahlunto. While the finish point was moved to the city of Padang as the capital of West Sumatra. (see also: Largest Mosque in Indonesia)

2. Tour de Flores

With a total mileage of 743 kilometers divided into five stages, the racers are invited to know the various beauty of the coastal area in the eastern province of Indonesia.

This annual event was inspired by other similar events, such as Tour de France, Tour de Singkarak, and Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen. Tour de Flores I held 19 – 24 May 2016 covering distance of 661.5 km, divided into 5 stages, which originated from Larantuka in East Flores, to Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai. (see also: Volcanoes in Indonesia)

While Tour de Flores II which will be held from 6 to 16 May 2017 divided into 6 stages starting from Larantuka, passing Maumere, Ende, Bajawa, Borong, Ruteng and ending in Labuan Bajo.

3. International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen

International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen is an official cycling championship of the International Cyclical Union (Cycliste International) which is held annually in Banyuwangi.

As the name implies, Ijen which is a mountain that has a beautiful crater and the phenomenon of blue fire at night become a part of the track lane. Therefore, not only taking street routes around the city, the drivers are also challenged to conquer the extreme climb on the track to Mount Ijen, East Java. Moreover, this kind of uniqueness can only be found here in Banyuwangi, Indonesia.

See also: Religion in Indonesia – Fasting in Indonesia

4. Tour de Siak

cycling in indonesiaSiak with its royal palace is an icon of Riau tourism. This famous event “Tour de Siak” takes place in various areas through Siak district. The routes include its tourism sites such as Istana Siak, Danau Zamrud, Jembatan Siak, and others. The cycling event Tour de Siak is believed to adopt a famous race in France, the Tour de France. Has been held since 2013, this event became one of the anticipated events of cyclists from neighboring countries.

Moreover, this tour turned out to be sporting event which capable to make Siak district become one of Malay tourism district. Its able to spur the growth of tourism sector in Riau. With the momentum, it makes Riau known widely. Not only at the national level, but also internasional stage. (see also: Endangered Animals in Indonesia)

In addition, with this event, it can provide more value for regional promotion and investment, the development of infrastructure, and also economy growth of Riau province.


Indonesia’s Popular Bikes

Onthel bikes or sometimes are called camel bikes, kebo (buffalo) bikes, or pit pancal are standard bikes with 28 inch tires. In the past, commonly the bikes were used urban communities until the 1970s. (see also: Indonesian Wedding Culture)

The onthel bike refers to a Dutch design bike characterized by upright sitting positions and has a very strong reputation and high quality. Due to its style and size, it is difficult for a woman to be able to ride this kind of bike.Various kinds of onthel bike brands used to circulate in the Indonesian market. (see also: Native Plants of Indonesia)

In the premium segment there were brands Gazelle (Netherlands) and Simplex (Netherlands). While the segment under it was filled by several famous brands such as, Raleigh, Humber, Fongers, Batavus, Phillips, and Foster. (see also: Indonesian Islamic Art Museum)

In the 1970s the existence of onthel bikes began to be shifted by “jengki bike” that is more compatible for Indonesians in term of size and style. The design is even friendlier that it can be used by for male or female riders. Phoenix brand from China was fairly popular back then. (see also: Indonesian Beliefs and Values)

At that time, onthel bikes were slowly being used more by rural communities than in cities. Later, jengki began to be displaced by MTB bikes in 1980s until now. After the 1970s and above until now in the 2000s, people have started using motorcycles. However, due its uniqueness and scarcity, the onthel bikes have turned into an antique and unique, and highly wanted by the collectors. The previously discharged onthel bikes are now hunted back. (see also: Indonesian Etiquette)

In countries such as India, Pakistan, China, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and some other countries, this model bike is still widely used by the people, either urban or rural ones. Even an Indian bicycle manufacturer named “Hero Cycles” still produces ontel bikes up to now and is sold in the Indian market and is used by the public there for the utility of transportation, trade, agriculture, etc. In the Netherlands ontel bike models are made more modern and equipped with lights. In China, this model bike is still commonly used as in India.

In Indonesia, these “ontel” model bikes are now more commonly used for commercial purposes and are still slightly used in villages primarily for agricultural purposes. In the area of Jakarta called Kota Tua, ontel bikes are used as sort of cabs and as rides for tourists there. (see also: Traditional Music of Indonesia)


Bike Paths

Bicycle paths are dedicated to traffic for bicycle users and non-petrol vehicles that require human power. Especially Cycling in Indonesia. its separated from motor vehicle traffic to improve bicycle users’ traffic safety. This public facility is necessary to provide safety of bicycle users and can increase the speed of traffic for bicycle users. Some cities of Indonesia have already had bike lanes.

Although not as good as in the advanced countries like Japan, South Korea, and European countries, the manufacture of special bicycle lanes has actually started pioneered in several major cities in Indonesia such as Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Jakarta and Bandung.

See also: Indonesian Street Food – Why is Indonesia Important

In Yogyakarta, some roads are equipped with special bicycle paths. Marked with yellow dotted markings, these paths are allocated for those who ride bicycles. Same as this, in the city of Surabaya there is also a special bicycle path, such as on Jl. Raya Darmo. Special bike paths also already exist in some streets in the city of Bandung, as well as on the road to Taman Maluku, Bandung. Last but not least, Jakarta is also one of those cities that has given such a respect for bike users. As the capital of the country and a barometer for other cities, it is fitting for Jakarta to also have bicycle paths. (see also: Indonesian Greetings)

However, until now cycling facilities have not yet been perfect in Indonesia. In urban areas there are often other public transports that stop and thus block the bike lanes so bike drivers are forced to use sidewalks or public roads that are of course dangerous. There are many times motorcycle riders using bike paths that should not be allowed. Some of them even park the motorcycles on the bike path. (see also: Unique Facts About Indonesia)

It is due to the people’s irresponsibility and also the lack of awareness of the people. However it should not be an obstacle to develop the construction of the infrastructure, since it is their rights to have same comfort and safety while driving. Furthermore with the increased comfort and security, it will further increase the interest of the people to begin to use bikes. In addition, the use of bicycles should be encouraged because it is energy efficient and does not emit significant air pollution. (see also: Customs of Indonesia)

In fact, many people have already realized that this bike has many benefits. Bicycles can save expenses for motor fuel consumption, reduce traffic congestion levels, and certainly contribute to the reduction of air pollution. Unfortunately, people mostly use bikes merely for sports or just a hobby in collecting them. Although people’s reluctant may change if government were to provide cycling facilities on the road. More people may use bicycles as their daily mode of transportation, and that will be far friendlier for the environments.

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