Bali is more than just a weekend getaway to relax. There are plenty of adventure sports and activities that take place on the island and contribute to a large share of tourists, such as, river rafting, hiking and even surfing. In the past two years, mountain biking has also gained widespread popularity among tourists.
Bali has a lot to offer when it comes to mountain biking. With numerous unique trails to explore, it is a haven for all mountain bikers, even if you’re just a beginner. In fact, the magnetism of this sport is evident in the sheer number of tour operators that conduct numerous biking tours all throughout the year. While ‘The Chillhouse’ and the ‘Bali Bike Park’ are the two major tour operators, Infinity Mountain Biking, Bali TrailBlazers, Bali Baik Bike, Bali Adventure Tours and Bali Eco tours are a few of a number of other operators that cover the numerous biking trails on the island.
These tours are conducted on various trails of ranging difficulties, in small groups. One can either be a part of such tours or if you want to be a little more adventurous, you can go solo, exploring the trail at your own pace. Bali has a diverse landscape and therefore, each trail has its own kind of beauty and also its own difficulties.
Owing to this varied landscape, the central and eastern regions of the island have a high concentration of cycling hotspots. You’ll find rainforests, piles of black lava rocks, paddy fields, coloured sands and beaches. It isn’t necessary to follow the pre-made biking trail. Since, the same roads connect various parts of the island, there is almost always a road that leads to a hidden temple, or a small village, just waiting to be explored! So, you can mix-it-up a bit and make your own trail. However, ensure that you know the track and for this, you can either keep offline maps on your smartphone or you can simply borrow a guide or a map from your tour operator.
Various trails throughout the island
1. Bali Bike Park
The Bali Bike Park, is a huge property 1300 m up in the mountains, having around 10 trails of varying difficulty levels, from beginner to intermediate to advanced, on the property. A 5-6 inch trail bike is considered to be the best for these trails and these bikes are available for hire at a charge of about IDR 450 per day, at the Bike Park itself.
2. The Crater Rim Trail and The Ocean View Enduro
Even though both of these trails start from the same spot at an elevation of about 1700 m above the sea level, they descend into two completely different routes. The Crater Rim Trail lies on the outer rim of Mt. Batur, an active volcano located on the island and covers a distance of about 30 km. The trail passes through a diverse landscape giving spectacular and unforgettable views of the Crater Rim, the volcano, the beaches and the green rice terraces that you find as you ride.
Riders are typically shuttled up to the start point that takes about two hours from Seminyak, Kuta or Canggu and about an hour-and-a-half from the Ubud area and the ride finally ends near the northern part of Bali’s ocean, offering a mix of single and double track roads and even dirt roads running through small villages. It takes about four-six hours to cover the trail depending upon the fitness level and skill of the rider.
The Ocean View Trail follows a higher ridgeline only to descend 1400 m through forested land, remote villages and countless farms. This trail also ends up at a beach where you can relax and unwind after a taxing ride downhill.
Both these trails can best be enjoyed using an Enduro bike, which is available at the Bali Bike Park, Infinity Mountain Biking, Bali TrailBlazers and a few other tour operators.
3. The Black Volcanic Rock Circuit, Mt. Batur
Covered with lava rocks, this is another famous trail in the Mt. Batur that gives the rider a challenging terrain to work with. It’s a unique landscape, a haven for mountain bikers, with its rebellious terrain and edgy twists and turns. The piles of black volcanic rubble give an effect of the entire area being covered with a sheet of black, with little to no green, visible amongst the black. Numerous tour operators, such as Infinity Mountain Biking, Bali Mountain Biking, Bali Bike Park and Bali Rides organize tours to this region.
Tours also go to Mt Batur summit and are perfect for downhill riders, who, typically haul their bikes to the summit for sunrise and then ride down the steep volcanic trails once all the hikers leave gone. For both these areas, one should ideally be a competent gravity rider to fully enjoy the thrilling landscape that Mt Batur has to offer.
4. Asia Pacific Downhill Challenge Track
This track had been specifically built for downhill racing and is a popular trail amongst the gravity focused riders. It requires great skill and a suitable bike due to the tricky turns and nearly all of the track being downhill. Bali Bike Park offers a great tour of this track.
Apart from these, there are numerous other scenic trails, such as the mountain roads around Lake Tambilgam or the descent from Kintamani to the shore or the track from Karangasem to Amed. One can also explore the paddy fields around Jatiluwih.
Things to know
The best time to go?
Bali is a tropical country so the average temperatures range from 23-32 degree celsius every day. Therefore, there is no particular time that is considered to be the best time for mountain biking. The rainfall is highest from December to March and the lowest from June to August, so it really depends on the rider and what they would enjoy.
How to reach Bali and accommodation?
Direct flights to Denpasar airport are available from numerous countries and if not, connecting flights would be available. From the airport, you can take a ferry from Java or Lombok, to arrive at Bali.
Accommodation is widely available throughout the island and while one can get a decent hotel even without booking, it is highly recommended to book an accommodation before-hand. ‘The Chillhouse’ in Canggu is an incredibly famous place amongst the tourists, while in smaller towns, one can easily spot signs such as ‘Hotel’ or ‘Guesthouse’ that are usually put up at the main roads of every town.
What to pack?
Since both accommodation and eateries (popularly known as ‘Warung’) are frequent, you only need to bring the essentials with you; your clothing, toiletries and some cycling gear. If you’re an enthusiast or a professional, you can always bring your own bike and if not, nearly all the tour operators provide bikes for hire (cost varies from each operator).
As for what you can take with you on the trail, you should ideally keep it minimal, with only a few water bottles, a guide or a map, a tool kit and a patch kit.
Expected fitness levels?
Mountain biking is a sport that requires endurance, core strength and balance. These requirements increase tremendously when it comes to downhill biking and the riders must also possess aerobic and anaerobic fitness and a high degree of mental control. The rider should have the required fitness level and skill to ride the trail chosen or else, they expose themselves to the risk of serious injuries.
Apart from this, they should also be well aware of the technicalities of their bike and techniques to tackle diverse terrains. A mountain bike typically requires more frequent maintenance than a normal commuter bike.
Bali is an upcoming hotspot for mountain biking. the island has something to offer to every rider who sets foot on this paradise land. So, if you're someone who's looking for adventure while in nature's lap, Bali is the right place for you!