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Bali seen from a bike is far more engaging than one seen from a speeding car. There will not be one village where the children don't stop what they are doing to wave and cheer you on. With 1 week in Bali and a good guide you may be able to circumnavigate the island's full distance of 410km (255 miles). Stick to the back roads as much as you can. Avoid the main road north up the west coast, the main artery for tired lorry drivers going in and out of Java.

A full-day tour with a reputable company will cost anything from about Rp350,000 and will generally include bike, lunch, and a local English-speaking guide. Multiday tours either circumvent the island completely or pass through the mainly uncluttered roads less traveled of the mountainous center and flats of the east.

Look into the fully guided tours presented by Thailand-based Spice Roads (www.spiceroads.com), specialists in off-road adventures and touring remote villages. Not for the fainthearted, these 10-day trips will teach you as much about the island as they will about yourself. And at just over US$1,500, including your bike, guide, and accommodation, they are an exhilarating and inexpensive way to see the island.

U.S.-based Pedaler's Pub & Grille (www.pedalerspubandgrille.com) does a 7-day tour called the "Bali Paradise Ride" which takes you from Ubud, down to Candidasa, and up round the east coast on fairly empty roads and back via Kintamani for US$1,595 including your guide, accommodation, meals, and van support en route.

Wayan, the energetic and enthusiastic owner of Balibike.com (tel. 0361/978052) does a great day trip from Kintamani back down to Ubud on "only his known secret roads." He will collect you from as far afield as Kuta and take you to Kintamani for breakfast with a view over Lake Batur. You then head mainly downhill back to Ubud for the most delicious lunch, home cooked by his wife, before he returns you to your hotel. Groups reach up to 20 but with a couple of guides, with one at the back to encourage stragglers. The cost is Rp400,000 from Kuta and Rp350,000 from Ubud which includes your bike, helmet, breakfast, lunch, and transfers.

Bali-based Archipelago Adventures (tel. 0361/844-4624; www.archipelago-adventure.com) will do 1-day trips on the back roads. They charge US$65 per person if there are only two of you, but less if there are larger groups.

Lombok has a similar terrain to Bali but there are far fewer accommodation options and once you leave the established tourist west coast, you may well have to rely on your own canvas, or homestays. However, while there are extra hardships and a whole heap of extra planning required, the rewards can be greater. The roads are a lot less clustered and you will encounter little traffic once north of Senggigi. If you are planning on cycling on Lombok, a guide will be a good idea. One word of warning: The coastal areas are not as flat as they are in Bali.

With a little bit of initiative, some research, and armed with a detailed map, you can head out on your own and explore. You will find basic accommodations along your route without having to book in advance and there are plenty of places to buy water. You will however miss out on some of the history and local knowledge that a local guide usually provides. Look to do no more than 80km (50 miles) in a day.

A reliable company in Lombok is Lombok Biking Tours (tel. 0370/692164), on the main street in Senggigi next to Bumbu Café. Tours are designed for the fit and unfit alike. They will do a 2-hour guided tour for Rp100,000 per person.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.