There has been an astonishing growth in the number of motorcycles on Indonesia's roads this century. In mid-2008, according to Ditlantas Polri (Traffic Police) estimates, there were some 40 million. By 2012, the number had soared to 78 million. This astonishing growth is due to a number of factors, not least the appalling state of public transport.
Within the major conurbations, incomes have slowly risen and with the rise of middle-class aspirations for family independence, a family vehicle comes pretty high on the list of essentials. An 80-cc motorbike -- familiar Honda and Suzuki models or Chinese clones -- is remarkably cheap. Even a locally produced Honda costing US$1,500 can be acquired for a down payment of Rp 500,000 ($50), with monthly payments spread over four years.
An increase in purchasing power may be good for the economy, but the resulting traffic jams are certainly not. An average of two motorcyclists are killed in Jakarta every day, and the reasons are obvious: the roads are in an appalling condition and motorists, of all vehicles, but especially motorcyclists, lack road discipline and courtesy. "Hell's Cherubs" in particular, have little road sense, not least because they are generally the first generation to own private motorized transport.
As this site is called Living In Indonesia, rather than Dying In Indonesia, we do not recommend that you try this mode of conveyance except in less populous parts of the country, and then we would recommend a larger bike than the souped-up mopeds; a 180-cc Honda Tiger may be the most suitable. Better yet, would be an off-road trail bike if you can find one.
If you do succumb to the temptations of the open road, the wisest investment you can make is an imported crash helmet. Get a full-face helmet if you value your teeth. Do not rely on a helmet bought from a curbside vendor as it would probably crack if you dropped it on a shag carpet.