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Bicycle Market in Indonesia

Updated on February 7, 2014

The Dutch were the ones who introduced cycling culture in Indonesia

Indonesia has a population of more than 237 million people. It is a huge potential market for bicycle manufacturers. The Dutch introduced bicycles to Indonesian people during the colonial period which ended in 1949. Between 1930s and 1960s, bicycles were the most important means of transportation in this country. When mass produced motorcycles and cars were introduced in 1970s, the percentage of the population riding bicycles gradually reduced significantly to (in my opinion) less than 0.0014 percent. For example, there are less than 100 cyclists who regularly bike to work in Manokwari city whose approximate population is around 70,000 people. This situation is not too different from other cities in Indonesia. Although the number of cyclists is very low, in recent years, it is rising again due to growing awareness among the Indonesian people about environmental issues and the rise of fuel prices. In several small towns especially in Java, the percentage of cyclists especially among school children is still high.

Cyclists were riding their mountain bikes near Hadi Mall in Manokwari city - the capital of West Papua province in Indonesia
Cyclists were riding their mountain bikes near Hadi Mall in Manokwari city - the capital of West Papua province in Indonesia

UN Climate Change Conference and Commitment from the Minister of Transportation to Support Cycling as the Culture of Indonesian People

Between 3-14 December 2007, Indonesia held UN Climate Change Conference in Denpasar city of Bali island to find solutions to CO2 emissions and global warming, deforestation of tropical rainforest and various other matters related to environment. This conference attracted the attention of the whole population of Indonesia.

During the event, Polygon cycle - one of the bicycle manufacturers in Indonesia, was appointed as the official bike. Cycling was also encouraged by members of bike to work communities across the Indonesian archipelago as recommended lifestyle for city dwellers.

With serious commitment from the government to reduce CO2 emissions of this country, the Indonesian minister for transportation stated his strong commitment in supporting cycling to be reintroduced as culture in this country again. On 31 January 2010, the Indonesia's minister of transportation participated in a cycling event to socialize cycling safety. Around 300 members of Bike to Work community (official website: http://b2w-indonesia.or.id) in Jakarta - the capital city of Indonesia participated in this event.

Pro-cycling policy in urban planning strategy

The strong commitment in re-introducing cycling, which was once a legacy left by the Dutch, to Indonesian population can also be seen from a number of government's new regulations about urban planning strategy. Bicycle lanes will be provided into Indonesia streets and roads. For instance, the newest draft Rencana Tata Ruang Wilayah (RTRW) of Jakarta city included with cycling and pedestrian lanes will be completed in February 2011. Although the draft will take sometime to become regulation, it clearly shows how local government of the capital city of Indonesia see bicycles as an integral part of transportation system. I believe that other cities in this country will follow Jakarta as well.

Proportional attention from Indonesian TV stations to cycling activities

As a regular cyclist, I regularly watch some Indonesian television stations to find out whether they give enough attention to promoting cycling culture. I am quite happy to see that tv commercials from some Indonesian companies have included bicycles in the promotion of their drinking products - Buavita ads (trademark for a wide range of fruit juice products) in TV One is one of them. Some Indonesian TV stations often give attention to cyclists who ride old bicycles which we, in Indonesia, usually call "Sepeda Onthel". Sepeda means bicycle. Onthel bicycles are classic bikes produced by the Dutch. Many of them are still being used by "onthel lovers" in this country who have established a vast network and a website called sepedaonthel.com.

The demand for mountain bike is also growing

I personally don't know whether the Dutch bike manufacturers aware of this recent development. The demand for classic Dutch bicycles such as the antique Gazelle bikes is still growing steadly in Indonesia. Mountain bike or all terrain bike is also increasingly popular among young professionals who see mountain biking as a healthy recreational activities in this country.

Indonesia is a huge potential market for bike manufacturers from around the world

Although the percentage of Indonesian people who ride bicycle is very low (i.e. lower than 0.001 percent), it is now growing. Given the strong commitment from the government to reduce CO2 emissions and supports from Indonesian minister of transportation in re-introducing cycling as the culture of Indonesian people, in the coming years Indonesian will need millions of bicycles to meet the demand for more environmentally means of transport. It is now up to the bike manufacturers especially the ones in the Netherlands to see this trend as market opportunity for them. If they are not aware of it, then bike manufacturers from China, Taiwan, Japan and perhaps from local companies themselves will aggressively enter this huge potential market.

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