Why Do These People Riding Classic Bicycle in Weird Costumes?

Every weekend, we can see a peculiar group spotted on the car-free zone in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. The group members dress up in Indonesian outfits from the 50s and riding classic bicycle. They looked like brought back from the past by a time machine.

One might ask: Why did they do this? For what purpose they do something that many may find ridiculous?

Fahmi Saimima
Fahmi Saimima

Fahmi Saimima, the Secretary General of the Indonesia Old Bike Community (KOSTI), gave this explanation: “Our mission is just one, to remind people that bicycling is easy and cheap. You don’t have to buy expensive modern bicycle, you can use whatever kind you have, including classic bicycle,” said the friendly-looking man who works as an IT staff in one of the biggest financial institution in Indonesia.

Fahmi, along with other members of the old bicycle community, gather routinely every week on Sudirman Street, one of the main streets in Jakarta that is declared as car-free zone during the weekend. They also gather every national holiday celebrations, such as Indonesia’s Independence Day.

“We uses costumes not only in celebration of national holidays, but also when we gather every week. The reason why we do this is because it is appropriate with the classic bicycle that we use. It would be weird if we wear shirt or sporting attire when we ride classic bicycle. Moreover, the uniqueness of wearing the classic attire becomes our community strength," said Fahmi.

Classic bicycle community not only thrives in the capital city. Various regions in Indonesia, such as Bali, Pontianak, Palangkaraya and Palembang, have their own branch of old bicycle community. Sometimes, members from Jakarta join community activity in the branch region, or vice versa , members from other regions visits the capital.

Members of the community usually use classic bicycle – called ‘onthel’ in Indonesia – that are handed down from their parents or grandparents. This is also the case for Fahmi, who uses England-made classic Raleigh brand bicycle that was used by his grandfather in Tegal. Other than that 'onthel', Fahmi also has a classic Burgers brand and a Phillips brand bicycle in his collection which he bought from other member of KOSTI.

That is one of the benefits of the community, to get easier access to classic bicycle and bicycle parts. People in the community can also exchange particular information about old bicycle that is not likely to be found outside the community.

Currently, Fahmi is preparing a book on the history of bicycle usage in Indonesia, using information which he acquired from the community. He also wants to spread valuable lesson that he learn from bicycling. "There is a very deep philosophical value which I get from riding a bicycle. Life is like cycling, we must keep a balance when walking the path of our live or we will fall down," he said.

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Comments 3 comments

andycool profile image

andycool 5 years ago from the U.S.

Very interesting hub... actually people tend to forget that bicycling is also an effective exercise, I mean a full body workout like swimming. Thanks for sharing this my friend, voted up! - Andy


rai2722 profile image

rai2722 5 years ago Author

Yep, a very enjoyable exercise. Thanks for the vote up, Andy!


Steve LePoidevin profile image

Steve LePoidevin 5 years ago from Thailand

Good article. I think I saw more bicycles and scooters in Indonesia than we have in China!

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