Bali's longest n spectacular ATV trail experience with Bali Surya Adventures!

When our invitation to Bali, Indonesia involved an ATV ride, I wasn’t expecting anything great. Having already tried ATV rides multiple times,  for a moment I wondered if one would go all the way to Bali for ATV experience- wouldn’t they prefer to spend time on something else unique to Bali. But after our 90 minute experience, my idea of ATV ride has changed. If in Bali and if you're an adventure seeker, I would strongly recommend trying this, because it is seriously different from various cheaper ATV rides available elsewhere. (Bali Surya ATV claim to have longest and most spectacular ATV track in Bali)
I’ve done several ATV rides before (Read: DirtMania BLR, Polaris Sarjapur and Polaris ECR Chennai experiences), most almost all of them for a very small duration in tracks that are hardly challenging. This recent ride with Surya Adventures Ubud was totally different.

We were given gum boots to change into and a helmet. No jacket or knee guard. There was a quick brief before the start. We are to leave in a convoy, with Surya’s staff in the front and on the rear. The ride lasted for about 80-90 minutes. Our convoy consisted of 5 ATVs with 2 people on each of them, plus one ATV each used by the pilot and sweep. Travel blogger Swati Jain rode pillion with me. Swati Jain is a well recognized solo travel blogger and blogs at Buoyant Feet. Most of the photos n videos were shot by her. Manjulika Pramod and Dipanshu Goyal rode in another while Johan rode with Mr Palaniswamy of The Hindu.

Water wading in a mud pond:
We rode a lot in a pond filled with mud water. It felt like the pond is man made, with a solid concrete floor. (traction was never a problem, which is not always possible in real ponds). Did some high speed maneuvering such that water would splash till the handlebar. ATV engine stalled couple of times- managed to start by pulling the starting cable, but eventually swapped with another ATV. I asked we can have another ride in the pond on our return, I was told NOT Possible. So have as much fun as possible here.
 
Plantation Ride:
Most of the ride was in between fields and plantations, partially paved roads, partially unpaved. Because of recent rains, there was good amount of water at various parts of the track, adding to the fun.
Steep slopes:
We had two steep downward slopes. Had to be extra careful on these, as older ATVs seemed to be having less braking power. The ones we drove had disc brakes for the rear and drum for the front. Despite pressing the brakes fully, ATV would still slowly slide down the slope, rolling momentum proving to be greater than braking power. I was asked to keep pumping the brakes, but that didn't help much. But it was manageable- added to the adventure. (this could be unique to one I rode and is fixable- can't generalize for all quadbikes. Use your discretion)

Above: Dipanshu Goyal and Manjulika navigating a slush
Below: A group selfie while we waited for convoy to move

There were couple of places were we lost traction (too slippery surface), had to reverse, try again and eventually managed to cross. Throughout the ride, the quad-bikes felt very capable. Didn't have a moment where I felt I was short of power or control (except that braking bit). The obstacles were only moderate, not extreme.

On the way back we stopped for a moment at a local shop- to use rest rooms and to buy refreshments if anyone wanted. Then back to starting point.

I totally enjoyed this ATV ride experience with Surya Bali Adventures because of following reasons:
  1. The duration was long enough (80-90 minutes compared to 15-20 mins in most centres)
  2. Fairly challenging and realistic tracks (compared to a short artificial track which is hardly challenging/realistic)
  3. Great company of friends (fellow bloggers)
  4. Good quality vehicle- not a cheap Chinese machine that begins to hurt the thumb or not powerful enough to handle tough terrains
My suggestions to Surya Bali adventure: 
  • Add some obstacle courses (wooden logs, see saw, banking etc)
  • Offer knee-pads/jackets on demand
  • Keep a first aid box handy in pilot and sweep vehicles.
  • A natural pond will be more challenging than man made one.
  • Provide locker with working keys
Points to note about the Bali Surya Adventure ATV ride:
Be aware of following scenarios possible with a quadbike adventure, more specific to Bali Surya Adventure.

Do we need license to ride ATVs?
No. ATVs are not street legal in most countries, so they are not supposed to be driven on public roads. ATV usage is usually done inside private properties, so no license is needed.

Are ATVs easy to ride for someone who's not used to riding or driving?
Since the ATVs have 4 wheels, balancing is not an issue. Most ATVs are automatic, so no clutch and gear business (Except Forward, Neutral and Reverse, which is no big deal). So it is very easy to ride, just turn the handle to change direction, press throttle to accelerate and brake to stop. Even if you've not ridden it before you can do it, if interested (else sit behind as pillion). Few minutes of practice and you'll be ready to go

Bike Quality: 
There were a few very new bikes (black ones, like the one in above pics) but majority were a bit old (most of the red ones). It is a bit of luck which one you will get- if you go early you might get to pick the best ones. Quality of ATVs were comparatively good. Not as bad as some Chinese models I had experienced. The accelerator lever used to pain the thumb in some Chinese models just after a lap or two, but the ones at Bali Surya Adventure were good. My thumb was pretty comfortable even after 90 mins of ride. These were not Polaris make (one of the most popular brands) but KYMCO MXU is good enough. (KYMCO is a Taiwan based company)





Duration: 
Promoted as 2 hours. Actual ride was about 80-90 mins. Rest is getting ready, briefing etc.

Locker:
Surya Bali adventure do have locker facilities but many lockers didn't have working locks. Better to carry minimum stuff or leave behind valuables. A belt pouch or sling bag will enable you to carry some essentials with you during the ride- like small camera, water bottle etc

What to dress?
You'll be given gum boots and helmet, but your cloths with definitely will get soiled. Carry a set of cloth to change into after the adventure.

Safety Gear:
Helmet and gum boots are given. No knee-pad/vest/jacket, which would have been nice.

Possibility of topple over: 
The ATVs are fairly stable for the adventure they're intended to. However if you abuse them and violate laws of physics, (like riding too fast/turning too swift on an uneven surface etc) there is a risk that quad-bike will topple over. Fall from the quad bike won't be fatal. Ride carefully as the Pilot is doing and you'll be fine. No one in our convoy had any issue, but there're many reviews on tripadvisor of customers complaining about stalling and topple.

Quadbike stalling:
Some of the quadbikes were old and would stall occasionally. They do have a maintenance shed where vehicles are checked and fixed everyday, but there is still a risk of old vehicles occasionally stalling during the ride. All Quad Bikes have self start but self start may not work at times, so we've to pull a wire and start it. Staff will assist you in such cases. Not a risk, but will cause a few minutes delay. They do have a few new ones. If possible go early morning closer to opening hours so that you will get best of the bikes available.
Surya Bali adventure ATV Pricing: 
The pricing is not publicly announced. It is not listed on their website, our guide didn't reveal it to us when we asked. But some other websites like this one which sell Bali Surya adventures have listed the price as below
  • Single : USD 50
  • Double (Tandem- 2 people on same bike): USD 95
  • Family: 185 (2 bikes, max 2 adults and 2 kids)
Unless the second person is not keen on riding or you'd need a pillion to shoot lots of photos/videos, I would recommend taking 2 Single rides than one tandem. Pillion seat is not the most comfortable to sit plus both get to enjoy the drive for a marginal 5 USD more.

Should we pre-book Bali Surya Adventure or just walkin?
Pre-booking is highly recommended for groups- you won't know how many people would have booked on a particular day-no point wasting half a day reaching there and getting disappointed. If you're one or two person and not 100% sure about booking in advance, I feel walk-in is fine- finding one ATV shouldn't be a problem. They don't have an online booking form- they have only a request form on which you can submit your details and wait for a communication from them. Alternatively you can book via few other agencies which accept bookings online for Bali Surya Adventure.

Optional Extras:
Photos on a CD: 200000 IDR (INR 1200/ USD 20 approx)- CD quality was not good, from the copy we bought, I could only copy 20 out of 48 photos- rest were corrupted. I have mailed the explaining the issue and have asked rest of photos be shared via email or dropbox. Best is to ask them to copy the photos to a USB drive..

Update: They have emailed remaining photos (that were corrupt)

Food & Drinks are available for purchase.

Surya Bali Adventure also conduct white water rafting. We didn't try that.
Key Information:
Watch my 6 minute video below [Watch on Youtube] that summaries our adventure. Thanks to Malindo Air and Indonesia Tourism for this opportunity to experience one of the best ATV rides. Thanks to Swati Jain for giving great company and shooting some of the photos and videos.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers Other Adventures I have tried: Skydive in Mysuru * Macau tower walk * Hot Air Balloon ride in Pune * Offroad dirt biking in Kolar, Karnataka10 Adventure activities to try around Bengaluru  * Paramotoring in ECR Chennai Treetop adventure walk in Australia

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