Day 392 Pangandaran – Yogyakarta (Indonesia) / motorbike GS Dakar RTW overland adventure traveller

  • Left – 11.15am
  • 2nd May 2015
  • Miles rode – 172 (275km)

Up early at 6.30 and ready to cover some miles today.

The battery was flat! Doh.

I don’t believe in ‘divine intervention’ but as I walked out of the homestay there were two of the most muscular body builders I’ve seen in a year! Push start please? These two Indonesian Goliaths made the job look easy but as the road was wet we couldn’t get the bike to grip as I released the clutch, even with me jumping hard as I released. They tried and tried but it wouldn’t start!

Dilemma – do I order a new battery and stay here for however many days or get it charged. A guy from the homestay took me to a local garage where I left the battery on charge for a couple of hours.

Now, about that dilemma. I couldn’t find the right size or type of battery anywhere so I called BMW Bali who have one but said it would take 4 days to deliver as they can’t air freight it as its a battery, so by road a long time…

Just as I pulled away at 11.15 Tono pulled up on his Vespa, he had heard that I had a problem and came to help, what a great guy.

Would the battery keep its charge and where would I end up, on the side of the road? After about an hour the engine lost power at low and high revs , I pulled over but kept the engine running as I wanted to keep the charge and noticed that there were sparks coming from the top of one of the spark plugs to the engine case! I was so pissed off I couldn’t care what further damage was done so I rode on. The problem persisted for another hour and then returned to full power? Yes, carrying on was a stupid thing to do as further damage was likely but I really didn’t care. I did care of course, the last thing I want is a knackered motorbike and expensive repair bills but I had always envisaged there would be at least one occasion on this trip when something drastic would occur and the resulting cost would be high.

Bali was 500 miles (800km) away and there was a BMW dealer there. I don’t use BMW dealers, in fact all servicing and breakdowns have been carried out by local mechanics and my enthusiasm. The bike needs a professional not only for a good service and repairs but it needs an overhaul. I was going to wait until Australia before I spent the money but it’s long overdue so whether I ride there or push it there my Dakar will get to Bali!

I arrived in Yogyakarta in the dark and all the hotels were full except a really rubbish one so it topped off a bad day. Will the Dakar start in the morning? If it does how long before it breaks down? 

10 Responses

  1. Easy Dan! Be patient and get it fixed…theres got to be someone who can solve this in Yogyakarta mate…

  2. Mate Jogja is a nice town with some interesting sights, maybe take a day or two there? By the sounds of it, it might just be your spark plug lead worn out and the insulation not working, should be cheap and easy to replace to see if that’s the issue (can be a generic part).

  3. Thanks Dave, I’ve made it to Bali, here I stop for a week or two and get the bike all sorted, Dan

  4. Arrived Bali – and now for returning to ‘the laziest man in the world’.

  5. Hi Dan, Just read about your battery probs on the bike… Young Lisa Morris (2wheel nomad) is having the same trouble this week in Costa Rica… Bloody batteries were the bane of our Pan-American trip as the battery seems to cook, sat on top of the engine and then all that body work off every time + carrying distilled water just in case… We fitted ‘Motobatt’ sealed batteries two years ago and that has all stopped. Absolutely brilliant! Also they have double terminals (there are terminal on all four corners) so if you have lots of gadgets / accessories wired in you have two points for each. They really made life easier! Check out – they are what is known as AGM (I think it stands for absorbent glass material). As well as being maintenance free they have a little more oomph to start the bike . Not that expensive either! About £50 and no more top ups! They are made in China from what I recall so you may be able to pick one up, if not where you are then in Oz… Good luck buddy!

  6. Norman, thanks for your comments. I left England with a sealed battery and had to buy cheap batteries in both India and Nepal. I’ve now arrived in Bali where for the first time in Indonesia I can buy a sealed / gel battery. I’m confidant the following months / miles will be battery trouble free.

  7. Hi Dan,
    John Herriman is with us tonight on a 2 week tour from Tees-side, on his KTM 690 Duke!!! I have showed him your blog which, being a biker, he is very interested in, & will check out in detail when he finds his glasses!
    Hope your charging issues are resolved.
    Best Regards, Taf & family. ps, where are you now?

  8. Hi Dan, What are the chances? Having read and commented on your post in May 2015, we just arrived in Java from Sumatra and I was re-reading your blogs for some tips on the way ahead when I came across the battery saga. Unbelievably Maggie’s battery has just packed in on her F650. It happened when we left Bukittinggi in Sumatra and pulled over for a water break. She went to restart the bike and it went pop… A vague smell of sulphur and the Motobatt had died. Purely by chance we had stopped in a gas station and there was a battery repair place across the street. He unsealed the battery to find it had completely dried out. He reactivated it with some acid, put it on charge and got us going again but the battery was now shagged. It was holding some charge but barely enough to turn over the bike! Next few days we limped to Padang – Sungai Penuh – Bengkulu – Krui & finally Bandar Lampung all the while unable to source a replacement. We got the bike started and kept her running all day – no coffee or lunch halts – only stopping once a day for fuel. Then in Bandar Lampung a kid at the hotel called Dally took me on a scooter ride and we found an Indonesian made battery to fit! Bike is running sweet now and we have reached Bogor (should be called Bugger for the traffic!) over in Java! Thanks again for the great blogs and be assured they are continuing to help some poor sod on the road 🙂

  9. What a coincidence! As you say, what are the chances? I’m so jealous that your ‘on the road’. Have an amazing time, if you can get to Lembata and visit ‘The Whale Hunters if Lamalera’… it was a highlight of my trip. If it’s monsoon season getting across the one mud road through the jungle could be a fun challenge. Dan