May 8, 2013
In 2003, writing about the CycleWorld motorcycle show, I wrote:
The Ruckus has “personal injury lawsuit” written all over it. (…) What can I say? it was hands-down the most ridiculous, ugly, pointless vehicle on display in the entire arena. And Grace, Vina and I all loved it. It’s basically a 2-wheeled ATV. You can’t look at it without thinking about ways to hurt yourself riding it. It simply inspires jackassery. It’s just begging to be covered in chicken wire and papier mache, or to be ridden “Bad-Route-style” through the woods while tripping, wearing nothing but cutoff shorts and a gorilla mask. Love it. It’s the future of scootering.
Here we are, ten years later, and my prophecy is fulfilled: Are You F*#kin Nuts? Chicago 2013. Actually it was fulfilled last year, when 40 riders attended the mostly-Ruckus-centered event, but as an expert globetrotting scooter journalist who posts once every two months these days if you’re lucky (you’re not), it passed right under my sad-old-man Cushman-polishing radar. We’ve been seeing more and more hot-rodded Ruckii at our own rallies in the past few years, and as far as I’m concerned, everyone’s welcome at most of our rallies, so we’re glad to have ‘em, and more power to ‘em, but obviously it’s not my demographic, I can’t even pretend to understand it, and I’m sure they’ve had their own blogs and tumblrs and sext aggregators and whatever it is that hipper, younger, carefree scooterists do these days to justify their existence. So as 2strokebuzz enters its wane of old age (seriously you guys, I need to pull the plug on this thing and put it out of its misery) cheers to the next generation, you’re just as stupid as we were and if you’re luckier than us, you’ll stay that way.
December 16, 2012
Jeffraham Prestonian posted a rebuttal and alternate challenge (in the NOHO thread since we’d blocked the CWC thread from anything but entries). Jeff’s a good dude, and he makes some good points, so I thought we should link it up in a fresh post (open to comments!) and take the chance to spiel a little…
First off, as you’ve surely noticed, 2SB has slowed down and is going through some changes. I started it as a zine in 1995, and it’s been online (mostly) since 2000. I’m pretty much ready to retire, and since Matt (with support from our pal Peter from Piston Ported) took the initiative to run the CWC this year, I told him he could do it however he wanted.
But I support his decision to restrict the Cold Weather Challenge to vintage(-ish) bikes, and here’s why:
Over the years, I’ve gone way out of my way to write about modern scooters and try to make new scooterists and modern scooterists feel like part of 2strokebuzz. I tried to look outside the ska/mod/skin thing, and show how diverse scootering was, even then.
In 1995, the main means of communication among scooterists was photocopied flyers and phone calls, followed distantly by Usenet (already with a rift between alt.scooter, and alt.scooter/classic, I haunted the former.) There were only a handful of worthwhile scooter shops nationwide. The only ‘modern’ scooters available were from Honda and Yamaha, and both were selling crusty models introduced in the mid-80s (the same models that contributed to Vespa’s demise in the U.S.). A big city would have a club or two, but if you didn’t live in L.A. or Chicago, it was hard to find anyone to ride with. There was a rally SOMEWHERE in North America any given weekend, but it may be a 14-hour drive to meet the same small group of regulars that would show up at all of them. Most of us were young, unmarried, childless, and underemployed.
In the late 90s when Vespa came back, and a few other marques showed up in the U.S., the rift grew, and I didn’t like it, and I spoke out about it. I felt like all scooterists needed to band together and be supportive to grow the ‘scene’ or ‘hobby’ or whatever it was and any scooter on the road was a good scooter.
Today, there are still a lot of reasons for scooterists to band together, and they do, and I like that. But things are easier now, just about any decent-sized city has a shop, and a couple clubs, and a weekly ride, and a couple rallies every year. Thanks to the internet, you can find infinite people with your same interests, either in your town, or around the world.
At the same time, after years of writing about modern scooters and trying to keep track of some truly shitty importers and too many importers that were nice enough but just didn’t know what the fuck they were doing, and dealing with legal threats and shady people and sifting through Google News looking for stories to repost, I’ve realized that even though I ride a modern scooter (far more than I ride vintage scooters these days), and I’m very satisfied with it, I just don’t get the same throb inside as I do when I see an old Vespa. It’s still fun to ride, and it’s fun to hang out with modern scooterists and go to big rallies where everyone’s welcome, but it’s also good to realize that there’s a lot of events going on, and more people with scooters than I’ll ever meet, so it’s great to have the option to spend a weekend with people I’ve known for 17 years, riding the unreliable bikes that got me interested in this whole mess. If I go to a car show, even a car show where anyone’s welcome, it’s gonna be the vintage cars that are gonna make me drool, and I’m gonna walk right past the ’95 Thunderbirds and Low Riders and custom vans and NASCAR replicas and customized modern Minis. No dis, it’s just not my thing, and I’m too old and WAY too busy to feel obligated to pay attention to stuff that doesn’t interest me much.
So hey, Jeff, I’m not offended at all that you’re offended, and I’m glad you’re picking up the event for the modernistas. Between the mild winter and the slow death of the commitment to 2strokebuzz, we only have one entry to date, so maybe yours’ll be more successful, and I’m cool with that. But to Matt (and me, too), there’s something special about dragging an unreliable, decades-old decomposing scooter (or a shiny restoration that you should really be more careful with) out of the garage in the dead of winter and sticking it to Mother Nature. Doing the same thing on a modern bike, even a warrantied, factory-fresh bike with electronic ignition, is still quite an accomplishment, and it’s absolutely cool to celebrate that, too. The Stella ‘loophole’ isn’t perfect, but it makes the line simpler to draw, and our sponsor probably asked to include Stellas simply because he supplies parts and accessories for Stellas.
So no hard feelings, it’s all good, the more people on scooters the better, the more scooter blogs and shops and clubs and rallies and winter challenges the better, I hope it all keeps growing so we can celebrate our differences as much as we celebrate our similarities, with the option to do both as the mood strikes.
May 21, 2012
If no one’s going to give Phil Waters a reality show, we’re going to have to settle for this.
February 18, 2012
17 years ago, when 2strokebuzz was a ‘zine and the Internet was new, I ran across Norman, who publishes the great biker zine, Motorcycho. He’d send regular (far more regular than 2sb) packets with his new zine, always with a stack of stickers and postcards and other ephemera, and it always made my week to get a new issue. The other day, Norman came across 2sb on Facebook and dropped us a note, and I’m thrilled to tell you he’s still at it. Not only does he blog pretty regularly, he’s also still getting a new issue of the magazine out once in a while. He’s also got some patches, shirts, and records available, I have a couple of the old 7″ers and they’re great. Now please excus me while I catch up on several years of blog posts…
Interesting note: Norman hails from Port Roberts, Washington, which is a Wikipedia page worth checking out.
June 2, 2011
Choosing the (few) rallies I can attend these days tends to be a matter of finding a free weekend, and checking what’s going on. Sadly I missed Cincinnati and Niagara this year, and I know I can’t go to PVSC or Amerivespa, so when the opportunity to go to Hostile Takeover presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Rarely would I be so excited about visiting Des Moines, IA, but when I think of the fun I’ve had in rural Ontario and Ohio, Moline, IL, and even Vegas (I’m not a fan), I knew Des Moines had a lot of potential.
May 19, 2011
Inspired by a newbie thread about patches on Modern Buddy, I finally tracked down the source of a particularly awesome JPEG I came across a few weeks ago. Turns out the JPEG was just the tip of the iceberg of Ace’s Jacket Cosplay Breakdown. Anyone stuck home watching Dr. Who on PBS in the late 80s, I bet you’re with me on this one. I wanted a scooter in 1986, but I wanted a Honda, thanks to Adam Ant and Lou Reed. I didn’t know anything about scooter culture back then, but man, did I want a bomber jacket with a bunch of random patches.
May 11, 2011
I visited Paris in 2006, and wrote about my experiences and shared some photos. I was lucky enough to go back last month (April, 2011) and it seemed that things have changed enough to make a new story and photo gallery worthwhile.
April 25, 2011
Just as we left for Paris, Dawson from Hell’s Fairies came back from Barcelona and told us about a great scooter t-shirts shop there, I´m Scooterist. Then a couple days later, Moto&Go in Madrid emailed to offer their rental services. If you do ever rent a scooter in Madrid, look out for Real’s bus, it’s a menace. Coming soon: Barça will crush Real in the Champions’ League, and I’ll eventually post a bazillion scooter photos from Paris.
June 3, 2010
A couple 2SB fans noticed a GS150 Airbox auction on eBay from seller in Sacramento, CA named “2strokebuzz”. I’ve got nothing against this guy, and he has good feedback and he’s been using the name on eBay since 2001. He doesn’t seem to be pretending to be related to the site or anything, but I emailed him anyway, asking politely if he’d consider changing his name, or adding a disclaimer that he’s not related to us.
He claims he’s “spent the last 20 years riding and restoring scooters,” and is “active in the vintage club scene.” So it’s possible it’s just a coincidence, though it seems weird we’d never heard of each other until now, in the smallish world of vintage scootering. Anyway, I’m not gonna hassle the guy, it’s not that big a deal, neither of us uses eBay much anyway, but I just figured since he didn’t seem interested in clearing things up, it was up to me to make it publicly clear that he’s not me, and vice versa.
June 1, 2010
If you’re looking for an Amerivespa wrapup, you’re in the wrong place, buddy. I’m still sobering up from Niagara two weeks ago. So it’s about time for a review and some photos, eh?
May 17, 2010
I rush-processed my passport and conned Ron into driving 20 hours for this? I better see some of you jerks there. I’ll be in my tent with my duty-free Molson Canadian limited-edition Don Cherry oilcans and my box of Tim Horton’s apple fritters, trying to pick up the Blackhawks on my phone.
May 10, 2010
This weekend I stopped by my favorite local bicycle shop and it got me thinking. So let me spew some Andy Rooney nonsense on you:
- Schwinn (bicycle) dealers have had it hard since Schwinn’s
1990s2001-era (see comments) decision to sell inferior bikes under the Schwinn name in big-box stores. You can argue all day that even top-end Schwinns are made in Asia now, and/or nothing compared to their former glory, but the general issue is that there is a marked difference between what’s sold at Schwinn dealerships, and what’s sold at Wal-Mart. Schwinn corporate maybe has a lot to answer for, but their dealers always seem totally right-on to me. They love the brand, they love cycling, and they know their stuff. Incidentally, that’s everything a good scooter shop should be.
- So, it says a lot (and it’s probably a good thing) that very few Schwinn bicycle dealers sell Schwinn scooters. Maybe the scooters weren’t even offered to the bicycle dealerships, but it seems more likely that a Schwinn bicycle dealer is uniquely positioned to realize that Schwinn will slap their name on anything, AND that even in hard times, it’s best not to sell something you can’t support 100%. The two products have little in common, it’d be like a car dealership deciding to offer steam-powered tractors. They’re both vehicles, but the parts supply, technology, customers, and expertise do not overlap. At all.
- Schwinn’s making some tentative steps into e-bikes. They’re playing it pretty conservative, but that’s probably smart. It’s interesting that some bicycle dealers have jumped on the e-bike (UM, E-Go, etc) bandwagon, and others avoid them like the plague. I’m really curious how that market develops.
- Bicycles are, like scooters, a great example of “You get what you pay for.” Sure, certain brand names will artificially jack up a price, but when it comes down to nuts and bolts, you can see the differences in quality. Scooters or bicycles, the cheapest asian models are assembled and sold by unskilled retailers without any support or personal contact. They’re made of components that are often second-quality, and sometimes dangerous. They feature outdated technology, or superficial imitations of current technology.
- Short term savings matter little when you can’t source a replacement part or constant niggling problems keep it off the road. A good bike or scooter costs more, but comes with long-term support, a personal relationship, and quality. Parts and accessories will be available for years. Vina bought a 40-year-old Austrian three-speed at a garage sale for $10. I have a 15-year-old Schwinn cruiser, our local bike shop can get us any replacement part we need. But every time we’re in there, someone wheels in a three-month-old Wal-Mart bike with a cracked weld or some goofy mechanism that can’t be repaired or replaced. Sound like any scooter shops you’ve been in lately?
- The cries of elitism come into play in both markets, too. But looking at the bicycle world is a good way to distance yourself and see that in an underegulated market (oh, the laws are there, but not the enforcement!) you end up with bottom-of-the-barrel deathtraps competing with top-end luxury models, and you start to understand why insiders are frustrated with all the junk out there. Cheap bikes rob sales from knowledgeable dealers, threaten consumer safety, and turn potential fans away from the hobby before they even get started.
- On the other end of the spectrum, spend any time in a respectable bike shop, and you’ll see folks strut in with a credit card and buy a $4000 racing bike because “I was thinking about trying a triathalon” This, too, happens in scooter shops, and usually ends with Mr. “I don’t need a helmet, I’ve been riding dirt bikes since I was a kid” dropping his new Vespa 300 before he makes it out of the parking lot. And in both markets, there’s always the “audiophile-quality” “better” parts available for upgrades. Again, common sense prevails, but few people have it. I like to think that when you buy a well-designed product, the engineers that designed it knew what they were doing, and if you find yourself needing to upgrade, you shoulda bought a better one in the first place.
- Last note: You always see people asking “What’s a good scooter can I get for $500.” For $500 you’re just getting into the juicy part of the bicycle market. Who would want to be on the road on a motor vehicle that costs less than a bicycle? A lot of top-quality custom bicycles cost more than scooters! And you could use the exercise!
May 4, 2010
A handful of you may remember that 2strokebuzz started life as a ‘zine. It would probably help if I kept the old issues linked up. There.*
I’ve been thinking for a while, with the advent of print-on-demand sites like MagCloud and Hulu that it’d be so much easier to print/distribute a zine these days. I focused most of my magazine energy into American Scooterist for the last several years, but that required months of work per issue and as great as it is, it doesn’t have that 2SB vibe. I’d thought about ‘2SB Greatest Hits’ compilations, or compiling the old issues, but I’d rather try something new, and something fast and collaborative and less open-ended.
Today I heard about the 48 Hour Magazine Project, and that’s inspired me to try something similar. I’ll look into it and figure out some details, but if you’re interested in helping out, drop us an email or comment!
*Someday hopefully someone will find a USB SyQuest drive so I can finish issue 4… and send Nikki a copy of the great long-lost cover photo.
January 14, 2010
With the recent spate of scooter babies out there (Cheers Archer, Calvin, Lillian and a Bastianelli and a Spurck to be named later) and a multitude of alleged “new Lambrettas” on the market, let’s bring back the Lambretta baby-stroller sidecar. Awesome. I don’t check Scooterswag nearly enough. Be sure your child is facing backwards, you know, in case the airbag goes off.
November 6, 2009
Heather Parker came over last night to shoot some photos of Pudge. She’s so good.
Actual scooter content is resuming soon, promise! If you didn’t notice the ad on the site, we’re kicking off the Cold Weather Challenge next Saturday (11/14) with a ride and Berryoke party at the Kat Klub, be there!