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Scooter books for the holidays

December 11, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts, we’ve had an eventful couple weeks, both good and bad, and we’ll catch up soon, but in the meantime, here’s a post from last year about great scooter book gifts. I’ll write a new post about books that came out this year, but this should give you a headstart on your Christmas shopping:

Back in the ’90s there was only a handful of decentscooter-related books out there, but these days there are tons of ’em. Most are pretty decent, but my big complaint is that they’re all way too general, and try to cover too much, plus a lot of the “current model” and rally/scene info changes so much, it’s out of date before the book goes to press. The best of the general-interest scooter-culture-related books, even though it suffers from being too broad and a bit out of date, is Colin Shattuck’s great book, Scooters: Red Eyes, Whitewalls, and Blue Smoke. On the other hand, The Scooter Book was already out of date when it was published a couple years ago, contained a few comical errors, and is way too general.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Scooters was written by Bryce and Bev of Scooter World magazine, I haven’t checked it out yet but I’ve heard good things.

Some good books about the history of scooters and related subcultures are The Scooter Bible, Lambretta: An Illustrated History, Lambretta: The Definitive History, Mod: A Very British Phenomenon, and the Motorscooters Illustrated Buyer’s Guide.

If you’re looking for a book for someone who loves scooters but doesn’t care about history or maintenance, there are some great books about personal experiences. Peter Moore’s Vroom with a View is fantastic, but I like I See by My Outfit even better, it’s a recently-republished Peter Beagle story about a cross-country trip on Heinkel Tourists in the 60s, it’s very Kerouac-y.

Another option is Veloce Publishing’s many books, which are mostly photo-oriented, though some also delve into history and personal experience. I’ve reviewed their A-Z of Popular Scooters and Microcars and Lambretta LI series Scooters here on 2sb.

And then there’s always the magazines, a subscription to Scoot! is always great, and a year membership in the Vespa Club of America gets you four issues (though it’s not exactly quarterly, ha) of American Scooterist. I’m the art director, so I’m biased, but it’s a great magazine. Another great new-ish ‘zine that deserves more attention is The Oregon Scooter Club’s Kickstart. It’s not quite as cool as 2strokebuzz in the old days, but it’s as close as you’ll find today.

Last year, there were a ton of scooter-girl calendars coming out around now, if you’re into that, check all the girl-club sites.

There are also some cool Mileage/maintenance tracker books to carry in your scooter, or you might prefer Field Notes memo books from our sister site Scootmoto.

If you’ve taken a year’s worth of great photos at rallies and events, or you have a series of glamor shots of a favorite scooter, you can design and order your own book(s) with Shutterfly or iPhoto or whatever photo service you prefer.

The Haynes manuals are essential, if one’s made for your scooter. If not there’s there’s a general book for most modern scooters and some other general-interest scooter books.

One of my favorite tech-oriented books is Motorcycle Electrics without Pain, It’s the pits design-wise, and it’s Harley-centric, but it really helped me make sense of old Vespa wiring, I wish someone would write a similar book targeted towards vintage scooters. It wouldn’t top the bestsellers’ list, but it’d be essential for a niche market.

Scooterhelp.com has a good summary of the various scooter-tuning books available.

One somewhat disappointing “tech” book is How to Restore and Maintain Your Vespa Motorscooter. It contains lots of great tips and it’s worth a read, but it just tries to cover way too much in too little space. A newer version is out now, but I’m not sure if/how the content was changed.

A lot of these books (and more) are available at Scooterworks USA. They also have reproductions of vintage Vespa parts books and service manuals. If you’re the Lammy type, West Coast Lambretta Works has all the parts and service manuals for vintage Lambrettas.

One of my favorite novels is Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes. It’s only marginally scooter-related, but it’s a great novel that’s sort of been forgotten, probably because of the loveable-but-weird musical film from the eighties. Here’s a review I wrote for Coudal.com’s Field-Tested Books.

If you’re looking for other great scooter gifts, the absolute final word is Scooter Swag. I don’t hype their site nearly enough. They don’t sell anything, but they catch just about everything scooter-related that comes along and blog about it, so it’s great for shopping ideas.

Comments

5 Responses to “Scooter books for the holidays”

  1. maclooNo Gravatar on December 15th, 2007 11:04pm

    Your link for “I Can See by My Outfit” is wrong — goes to the old out-of-print edition. Here is the new link:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1933572078/

    I just put it in my cart. Thanks!

  2. illnoiseNo Gravatar on December 15th, 2007 11:24pm

    Two more things I can’t believe I forgot:

    I forgot a whole category of books, the “ride safe” book. These are probably the best gift you could give to any rider. My favorites are David L. Hough’s Proficient Motorcycling and More Proficient Motorcycling, at least the first is essential reading, and the second one sure can’t hurt. Other books in this vein that I haven’t checked out yet, but highly recommended by others include The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Guide to Motorcycling Excellence and Hough’s newest, Street Strategies.

    Another “genre” I forgot is the many books about the history of Vespa published by Piaggio. These are probably the glossiest and most expensive books out there, and any Vespa fan should own one, but they seem to be publishing a new version every couple years and most contain the same photos and information, mostly a corporate history of Piaggio glossed over annually by the Piaggio PR department. Good stuff, but like I said, only one is necessary. I’d love to see an outsider-written history of the rise of the Vespa with more first-person accounts and interviews and details, and the history of the many failures of Piaggio in the U.S. would be great summer beach reading for me, but again, people like me are a pretty limited audience.

    Piaggio’s Vespa Technica series, released for their 50th anniversary, are a great reference resource and feature detailed pictures and specifications of every model produced, but the 5-part series costs $100 per volume. If you’ve got that much money to throw around on books, you could probably just refer to the concours restorations of every Vespa model already on display in your heated garage.

  3. illnoiseNo Gravatar on December 15th, 2007 11:35pm

    Thanks, macloo, I made the change.

    The new cover is lame! the old cover was an illustration of two heinkels taken from the original paperback cover from the sixties. This new one pictures some blurry stock art motorcycle (not even a scooter, let alone the *right* scooter) and some sort of renaissance-looking map with a teardrop camper, obviously the designer didn’t read the book or do any research at all, or there was some sort of testing that says blurry photos and renaissance maps sell books. They need a submarine and an astrolabe, and a swastika or a sickle and hammer on there, and maybe a shirtless Fabio, just to make it look a little more generic.

    The spot illustrations on the chapter intro pages were terrific, they better have kept those in place!

  4. illnoiseNo Gravatar on December 15th, 2007 11:47pm

    Ah, I forgot COMIC BOOKS! here are a few to get you started.

  5. DibberNo Gravatar on December 19th, 2008 10:12pm

    “Spotted In France” by Gregory Edmont is an enjoyable read. It’s about the authors ride from Northern France to Southern France on his old Vespa and his dog that sits on the floorboard of the scoot. It is so cool how dogs are respected in France and entertaining by all that happens from this long ride.

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