Culture Shock: Bike EXIF Visits Kustomfest

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
If you thought all the good bike shows only happened in Europe or the States, think again. Self-respecting custom motorcycle aficionados owe it to themselves to add Indonesia’s Kustomfest to their itinerary.

With over 250 million people spread across thousands of islands, Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world. The roads are bursting at the seams with scooters—an affordable form of transport in a country where traffic regulations are thought of as mere suggestions.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
But Indonesia is also chock full of creative bike builders and craftsmen, working with metal, leather and paint. And you’ll find them at Kustomfest: an annual, two-day event held in the culturally rich city of Yogyakarta.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
Already in its fourth year, this edition of Kustomfest saw roughly 150 bikes and 35 cars pack out the Jogja Expo Center. Surrounding them was a bevy of artisans: from leather workers to pinstripers, painters and tattoo artists. Vendors, live music, stunt shows, a BMX park, food stalls and an outdoor flea market all wrestled for the attention of the scores of visitors passing through the doors.

Bike EXIF was invited to attend, along with guests that included Tank Moto, Fuel Magazine, Mooneyes Inc., Cherry’s Company and Powerplant Choppers. And what we saw left us with a newfound respect for the far Eastern custom scene.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
We arrived a couple of days early, and managed to squeeze in some post-flight rest and sightseeing, before heading down to the venue the day before the doors opened for scrutineering. That’s right: every bike in the show had to start, go, stop, have working lights and be able to complete a simple figure-of-eight course. It was the perfect setting to digest each bike before the chaos set in.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
Indonesian builders are the quintessential craftsmen. Most work on tiny budgets with limited to access to parts, cultivating a culture of resourcefulness. Each bike is a smorgasbord of artistry—whether it’s handmade and engraved parts, detailed leatherwork or exquisite paint, gold-leaf and pinstriping work. (We even heard tales of builders melting down shop-floor scraps to cast their own parts.)

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
Small bikes are popular too, as we quickly realized when we were tasked with judging the ‘Nitrohead Free For All’ (sub-250cc) category. Our top pick went to Robot Motorwork, who’d built a crisp little Honda CB200T bobber (above). Unassuming from a distance, closer inspection revealed a deep brown finish with intricate gold touches, interesting details, and a level of care and quality rarely seen.

In second place was PuspaKediri Custom, with a Zongshen-based boardtracker loaded with hand-beaten metal (below). Rounding out the top three were Sambra96arage and their quirky Suzuki bobber-café.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
The Bike EXIF ‘Best in Show’ trophy—a retro MX helmet supplied by Elders Company and painted by local artists Ryan Ady Putra and Eki Firmansyah—went to AMS Garage’s Honda café racer (below). It was one of the first bikes we saw as we rolled in, and instantly grabbed us. AMS managed to tick every box without overdoing it: stunning paint, leather touches, hand-turned brass bits and top-shelf exhaust welds, all wrapped together with perfect lines and a solid stance.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
The fest peaked with Sunday’s awards ceremony and lucky draw. The prize: a dirt-worthy BMW R65, built by event organiser Lulut “LT” Wahyudi’s shop, Retro Classic Cycles. The lucky winner was visibly shaking with excitement as he fired it up on the outdoor stage, surrounded by a cloud of confetti and a cheering audience. Festivities continued into the night as the vehicles left the venue one by one, and we got carted off to a 1AM after-party.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
Throughout the trip, LT and his friendly and well-organized crew made sure we were well taken care of. Their hospitality extended beyond just the fest—and LT even arranged a visit to a private collection of over 400 vintage bikes and bicycles.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.
Parting is always sweet sorrow, and on the way to the airport we’d already vowed to return. Indonesia has so much more to offer than we initially realized, and Kustomfest certainly hasn’t seen the last of us.

Kustomfest | Facebook | Instagram | With thanks to LT and the Kustomfest team, and to Elders Company.

The Kustomfest show in Indonesia.