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.