Any reason to get thirty thousand of my new best friends together is a great reason to jump on a plane and fly a couple of thousand K’s.
KustomFest has been running for the past 6 years and always held in Yogyakarta. Today it is arguably Indonesia’s largest custom bike, car, bicycle and die-cast toy vehicle shown in the entire archipelago. Not sure why the last is important, but so you know, there were three whole tables dedicated to Die Cast pimped out painted vehicles.
Hundreds of bikes from far-flung corners of Indonesia descend on Yogya for the two-day festival which is always a great idea to pack up our dog and pony show and jump on their coattails. We set up a mighty fine-looking booth and portrayed our wares. People knew us, knew about us or came with their mates.
What always astounds me is not the big American and English customs, of which there are plenty, it’s what they do to the little local 200 cc’s that pique the interest. Mini versions of the choppers. Built by people who are cash poor but rich in patience and time. Meticulous in detail.
We met friends from last year and made a tonne of new ones. People stopped by chewing the fat for five or more before moving on. We grew tired of our little bit of turf, spelled each other to allow us to traipse the aisles looking for cool new stuff, talking to other brands and basically soaking up the ambiance of it all. This wasn’t our first rodeo, we were here last year.
The Yogyakarta Expo halls are set right in the middle of everything, between the airport and the town centre. Yogya is like most large Indonesian cities, from the street the portico is a mess of urban sprawl that seems to be sewn together with the cacophony of electricity and communication cables anchored to posts. Never upgraded only added to. On Saturday I wanted to see it’s soft gooey centre and pieced the façade by wandered up a side street away from the halls. I’d only gone a few hundred metres down the single lane bitumen before built up broke away to reveal a rich creamy heart of rural. Kids on bikes and backstreet workshops. Rice fields sandwiched between tall walls of single buildings.
Afternoon gave way to evening and the crowd swelled as people finished work and headed down for a distraction. As we drifted towards night a chance invitation from Arfn one of the partners at Bkyrd Kustoms in Bali saw me at closing time astride a Royal Enfield 500 and part of an élite hitting the ring road for a tour of the town. People ride at night here. We passed many a little posse of riders, obviously there for the KustomFest, who were doing the same.
We were about nine riders deep, most from Eiger Adventure, spread over four Himalayan’s, a few 500’s and a 350. The night, cool and inviting, after a day that was like warm soup aggravated by bad airconditioning and hoards of people. We rode until the date clicked over and we found an all-night eatery. We exchanged quips about marketing to an Indonesia audience, the idea of doing more than we presently can and the CC's of the bikes. We dined on fried rice and salty fish. Washed down with warm tea or orange juice. A little after one we paid the bill and pointed our rides home.
Sunday was a repeat of Saturday. However, the number of punters were a little lighter and slowed by a late night compounded by little sleep, well, the day, it dragged on. The high point of the day was early evening when The Hydrant, Bali’s premier rock-a-billy band, once again came to Yogya to entertain. So much energy in a four-piece, magnified when they dragged a friend from the audience
KustomFest comes around but one time in the year. That’s in itself a pity.
Images and Text by Ano Mac