L.I.F.E / March 2019

Ride the Mountain

It was really not a good idea to embark on a trip from Jakarta to Central Java on a motorcycle in the middle of February. The rain was unrelenting. But this new adventure bike from Royal Enfield made a striking impression and boosted our mood to ride – even in heavy rain. Accompanied by a cousin who rode a Yamaha MT-25, we took to the road on our way to Dieng in Central Java. On the Karawang Outer Ring Road, heavy rain and strong winds hit us, but the white-colored bike remained stable on the open road. The rear monoshock suspension – the first in the entire Royal Enfield series, makes the Himalayan more stable when cornering and on bumpy roads. The torque meanwhile, is more than enough on Indonesian streets, but do not expect excessive power like with a Japanese sports motorcycle.

This bike will take you to 120 kilometers per hour and it will hold you there comfortably, but it does not like to go much faster than that. The Himalayan is certainly capable of touring, but do not plan on doing a lot of passing on the highways. It is indeed designed to provide the convenience of long-distance touring, while still capable of negotiating some mild off-road terrain, but not to do so at speed.

The bike attracted lots of attention, with its clean-sheet design that tries to retain the classic look, and in appearance it is a real, honest-to-goodness adventure bike with less plastic and, in my opinion, more character than its bigger, more expensive competitors. It has the low-end torque to get up and go at traffic lights and despite only having one cylinder, it never feels too slow in the city or even on the Pantura – Java’s famous north coast highway. It is also light enough to whip around in traffic with ease and quick lane changes are a breeze. So we never had a problem riding this bike among trucks and the other vehicles and bikes on the Pantura Highway.

Its ride height is friendly enough for the average Indonesian man to do a little hop when saddling up. The riding position is very neutral, making it comfortable, both on and off the asphalt. The dual front fenders, small windshield, upswept exhaust pipe, skid plates and cool “Himalayan” badging all over make for a unique, decidedly adventurous look. Moreover, the dual-purpose design is confirmed by the size of the 21-inch ring on the front and 18-inch at the rear, wrapped in Pirelli’s dual-purpose MT-60 tires.

Touring, Culinary Adventure and Tourism

Arriving in Cirebon in the morning, we stopped for breakfast at Mang Dul’s Nasi Jamblang on Jalan Cipto Mangunkusumo. The main characteristic of nasi jamblang is rice wrapped in teak leaves, along with jamblang, a typical Cirebonese sauce, and a large variety of side dishes. Gorged, the desire to twist the throttle and head for Central Java seemed unstoppable. The road was relatively smooth and the weather much friendlier.

About 50 kilometers from the Pekalongan, the coastal district has an area that is ​​more than 1,160 meters above sea level. The sun was about to set when the Himalayan’s wheels touched the soil of Petungkriyono, an amazing subdistrict of Pekalongan. The leaves were still wet in the forest managed by Perum Perhutani, while monkeys jumping between the tree branches welcomed us.

In just one location, there are many tourist attractions, such as the Bajing and Lawe waterfalls, a camping ground, river tubing and canoeing along the river, edged by fantastic cliffs, in Black Canyon, one of the natural attractions near the village. Even more unique is the coffee, which should be the No. 1 commodity of Petungkriyono. Kopi Petung is made from natural or wild coffee plants that grow among protected forest trees, so it is very different from the beans harvested from commercial coffee plantations. There are various types of arabica and robusta, so you are spoilt for choice. Prices are also quite low compared with the city – only Rp 10,000 to Rp 15,000 (about a dollar or less) per glass.

Durian is also available when in season, and prices again, more affordable than in the city. The most expensive fruit, one about the size of an adult’s head, will set you back Rp 80,000. The meat is thick and very sweet. So, do not hesitate to bring your motorbike to Petungkriyono. Pitch a tent or stay at a homestay, it’s all up to you. The next day trip with the Himalayan continued to the land of the gods – the Dieng Plateau.

To the Plateau

Towards Dieng, we enjoyed the winding ups and downs through natural reserves south of Pekalongan, riding towards fog and drizzling rain. The Himalayan’s handling felt easy, even for a beginner. The 411 cubic centimeter four-stroke, air-cooled, fuel injection engine produces 18 kilowatts at 6,500 rpm and 36 Nm of torque at 4,250 rpm. Yes, those numbers are low, but not bad for a sub-500 cc one-lunger.

The clutch is light and acceleration is smooth. And supported by a cradle frame, the bike is quite reliable to climb and to go down steep and rocky roads.

On the suspension, the Himalayan has a front fork with 220 millimeters of travel, which is more than enough to cross light off-road tracks. Its single-shock at the rear can absorb impact well. One small drawback is that the rear suspension is set to be very soft, so it does not provide maximum support when going over the whoops – small bumps on an off-road track – or when cornering quickly. And with a weight of 191 kilograms, do not treat this machine like other dirt bikes. I mean it!

Starving when we arrived in Dieng, we went straight to Selera Raja Restaurant, an eatery that looked warm with its yellow-lit interior. The thermostat showed 16˚ Celsius in the afternoon, so even though it was cold, it did not bother us – at least not yet. We ordered two bowls of mie ongklok and a plate of tempe kemul, accompanied by hot purwaceng. These three menu items, typical culinary delights of Dieng, made up dinner. Bon appetite!

We then decided to set up our tents near the Arjuna Temple. Towards midnight, when temperatures dropped dramatically to 11˚ Celsius, we started to fret, suffering from the cold. It was a struggle to get through the night, but the next day, the sun shone brightly. Breakfast was a little different: typical Dieng nasi megono, which is slightly different from Pekalongan’s nasi megono. The rice is cooked with extra spices and served mixed with additional vegetables, salted anchovies and grated coconut. The side dish is again tempe kemul and sunny-side up eggs.

As it was a long weekend, many visitors came to the temple located at an altitude of 2,093 meters above sea level. Visitors were mainly students, and luckily there was a guide to tell us about the history of the temple, which was discovered submerged in a lake by an English soldier in 1814. It is estimated to have been built around the seventh century, during the Mataram Kingdom. After walking around inside the vast temple complex, we packed up to return to Jakarta, and to enjoy another trip on the Himalayan. Vroooomm!