Worked last Saturday (shame on me). About 4pm I hopped on the Yamaha Scorpio and decided to head out for a bit of a ride. Sidebar: The Scorpio is a cheap cheap cheap 225cc commuter bike with standard suspension and cast 18" wheels. In most western media and forums it is disparaged as a cheap (but not good) first bike or a cheap (but not good) commuter for those who don't want to ride scooters. So headed north from Balikpapan. Reality no.1; until you get out of town, the traffic is horrendous and unless you are on a small bike / scooter the overtaking opportunities are limited. About 40 mins out of Balikpapan, the traffic disappears and the towns become further apart. The roads don't get any better, people still walk out in front of you, locals on scooters and bikes (invariably without helmets) still just pull out. Between Kijangs (the local Toyota people-mover driven with abandon and without common sense) attacking from the rear and overladen lorries struggling up hill at 20km/hr (20 km/jam in local parlance) then a ride even on "good" roads in exciting. As the sun fell lower, and the shadows got longer, the logic to turn around increased, but the urge to do so decreased. I passed the point of my geographical knowledge (without a map hahaha) and continued on. Across small and large rivers with fishing boats galore. Through small towns where people stared (because of my sexy Scorpio, or the crisp crackle of the exhaust, or because of the big white guy with both beneath him, i could not tell). Sidebar: I ditched the massive standard exhaust system with the 15mm exhaust exit for effectively an open sports pipe exhaust 40mm dia. Oh, the pipe and fitting, Rp 350,000 or USD 37. Actually too loud for my sensitive ears, but apparently loud pipes save lives Actually, total defensive riding in Indonesia will minimise risk, but not save lives. Loud pipes just draws attention to the big white guy So I travelled too far north. I got lost. I entered a small town (not located on google maps) and slowly weaved my way through a Saturday night market blocking the entire road with inqisitive stares all round, (nb: i was on the main road to the Capital of the province ). Reality No. 2 Out of town, I was constantly dodging potholes. Not those small pathetic excuses for potholes in Australia. I am talking 3 - 6ft dia and 18 in - 2 ft deep. Real drop in and "lose your smile" potholes. Sidebar: I am still awaiting my gear from home so I am riding in denim jeans, short sleeve polo shirt and $14 open face helmet. Yes yes yes, I know As I got closer to Samarinda (unbeknownst to me, I was lost) I was dodging a beautiful electrical storm. Coming into Samarinda (from bumf*ck nowhere) the road was a series of prelaid concrete pavement (typically 2 - 5 km in length with 300 - 600mm earthen ramps up to the block of concrete sticking out of nowhere - i really wish I took my camera for this) in between dirt / mud roads. Reality No.3 - Alerts to road works are not world class. I ended up travelling 500m down the wrong side of a dual lane highway. Dodging the 2nd semi alerted me to my stupidity. Coming into Samarinda, I dodged the tropical rainstorm but the roads did not. There were kilometres and kilometres of mud, and we had to dodge bogged semi-trailers (lorries) and cars and pick-ups that were not coping at all. My Rossi boots are screwed with mud and my jeans were likewise caked. Reality No.4, shabby roads in the tropics = mud mud mud... By the time I got to a hotel in Samarinda it was 9:15pm. As I walked into the cheapest, big, hotel I could find the smirk was classic. "Sorry sir, we are out of standard rooms; only Rp 1,350,000 suites available" ($135). This is a hotel I am pretty sure I will pay $45 next week on business. hahaha. nope. Reality no.5, walking up to a hotel for a room is horrendous. An expat doing it in SE Asia is just asking to be gouged. If I could have found an internet cafe, I would have booked something... So I decide to head for the 110km ride back to Balikpapan. Winding road. slow trucks in front. Maniacal cars behind. Fortunately the road was in better condition than I anticipated. Total time from Samarinda City Centre to Balikpapan City Centre was just shy of 3 hours (12:17am back to home). Reality No. 6, that's 3 hours for 110km And you need that power for what? But here is my point to shying away from big bikes. 1. I hit 90km/hr once, but most of the time i was riding between 50 and 70 km/h. even my 80km/hr cruising speed wasn't comfortable and I dropped back. 2. Roads, other road users, pot holes and the mud, mean that you won't average much higher, even with the daring of Evil Kniieval. 3. The Scorpio (read side bar for disparaging remarks) on shabby broken road is comparable (hmmm) in utility to my DR650 back home. Given an appropriate speed the ground clearance is sufficient and the stability is awesome. On road tyres, the work through the mud was superior to comparable experience on my DR650 or BMW GS650. 4. Everywhere I went there was some helmet-less local on a scooter or underbone whipping my arse. Speed on Indonesian roads is (in decreasing order) a function of; 1. Disregard for self preservation, 2. lightness of bike, 3. skill of rider, 4. power of bike. 5. Large fuel tanks not required, if you can buy the fuel in glass bottles from homes along the way (I think a GS needs premium, so bad luck GS riders) then you are OK. Some of the best conversations happen when buying fuel from roadside bottles Conclusion 1. I am about to get punished, i am ready. No one disparages the bigger is better mantra (anything under 100 HP is a ladies bike)! 2. I own an F800GS at home (Sydney) and have owned a stream of dual sports (DR650 is favourite). Here in Kalimantan, I would buy a KLX250, but the Scorpio is a reasonable alternative (more below). My DR6650 would be OK. The F800GS a PITA. R1200GS a lot of weight to pick up... 3. The Scorpio is as stable off road and in mud as the DR650. 18" wheels are not to be underestimated (and neither is weight - this is easier to ride on dirt than my 220kg 17" wheel Bandit - who'd have thought ) 4. Given the road conditions, the mud, the fuel supply, the pot holes and the traffic, anyone on an R1200GS or KTM Adventure 990 (or any dual sport > 650) would have a miserable time by comparison. If fact, I believe that in the conditions here in East Kalimantan, a 650 would be overkill (not good at a cruising speed is about 70km/hr). Anything bigger, PITA. 5. Why not a KLX250? Well, KLX150's are cheap (but not great for hauling 105kg riders). KLX250's are $7,700 and have a 4 month waiting list. I figured I could buy a scorpio, trash the thing, have a good time and still go everywhere I wanted to go I intend to do more trips and actually take some pics, as soon as my gear arrives and I can extract my a**hole boss from my a**hole ("you should be doing 6.5 days plus" hahahahahaha) and do some rides I want. In my final defence I have read some overland stories from guys on Honda 110 step thru's. I was cynical. But now, being here in Borneo, I know that the sensible SE Asian overland option is to buy the smallest local bike you can buy, fill it with fuel out of glass bottles beside the road and get the local workshops to fix. Importing a bike is hard work. Riding a big bike is harder work. I actually laugh when I see an expat on a harley, or a z1000 or a BMW. It is truly is style over substance and not the least bit satisfying as a rider given the road conditions and other road users. I am changed. Less is more. My ultimate overland ride involves local bikes that can be repaired by local mechanics, tyres from local workshops and replaced with simlarly cheap local bikes.