Meet the Vespa gangs of Indonesia. They’re certainly not the kinds of scooter riders that immediately spring to mind when one imagines the clean, colorful lines of modern Vespas.
The country went through a financial crisis in 1997 and has struggled to recover. The prices of things like scooters has soared, meaning many cannot afford a new one; the manufacturer stopped importing them in 2001, at any rate. A culture of rebuilding, reuse and customization has sprung up around the shortage. If you can’t buy what you need new, you find it used and fix it yourself.
These are no ordinary custom scooters, though. They’re using parts that were never meant for scooters, like entire tree trunks, and whole, gnarly tree branches. Car tires and scrap metal are not unusual build pieces for these things. Welded metal strapping often holds tree branches in place. There are sidecar rigs with cars that look like they came off a roller coaster.
Even worn-out parts like old motorcycle chains are not left to waste; they’re welded into shapes that keep these amazing old scooters rolling. Loads of what looks like plumbing pipe is welded and heated and bent, used to create extended frames and ape-hanger style handlebars.
Most of these outfits are not street legal, not even on the famously-lax Indonesia roads. The Indonesian custom scooter enthusiast often travels at night, to avoid both traffic and law enforcement, since these contraptions can be confiscated if they’re caught on the road.
These riders often travel long distances on their modified scooters, staying at camps and homes of fellow enthusiasts along the way. The network of the scooter community is large, but underground. To find an “in” you must be invited, and that is the point. They keep their community tight-knit and trustworthy.
To see an amazing array of these scooters through some really spectacular photography, head on over to the National Geographic website, and read about them there. If necessity breeds invention, invention spawns creativity, and these builds are so far outside the box they can’t even see it from where they are.
Photo Credit Facebook