Still here, barely…

Today I accidentally clicked on a folder of bookmarks containing my “daily feed” of scooter blogs, boards, and groups from about twelve years ago, when 2strokebuzz was going strong. Faced with 60 open tabs, I thought it’d be fun to tally how many of those sites were still live. The results:

Half (mostly blogs, including some “official” Vespa blogs) are long gone. A few (mostly European shops and industry sites and groups like Modern Buddy and Modern Vespa) are still going strong. A bunch are frozen in time in the late 2010s (like the beloved, or changed topics (usually “my new baby” or “my new motorcycle”) and fizzled out anyway. Only three are like this one… still around, with an occasional update.

What’s it mean? Well, nothing much. I guess the biggest bummer is that blogging is dead. It was fun while it lasted, but it got too commercial and competitive and probably most people (like me) got tired of spending our time doing research and writing content that would immediately be reposted without attribution on fifty other blogs that actually made money.

Did all these people lose interest in scooters? Did they all transition to social media? Is there anything like 2strokebuzz out there today? Many of you tell me you miss 2SB, and I miss it too, but no one reads blogs anymore. Trying to re-establish a foothold in the clickbait/hype/repost/shitty meme world of social media is not something I’m interested in. If you know of any sites or feeds that regularly publish curated, researched, useful, and (dare I dream) low-key scooter information, I’d love to know about them. Maybe I’ll start a new bookmark folder.

And hey, keep in touch! I still see a lot of you, but I haven’t heard from some of you in years. I’m still riding, and I occasionally post ride recaps and other content at VCOA Chicago.

2sb Quarantine Jukebox

I need a “winter project” to keep me sane through the long Chicago winters. Last year, it was my first Lambretta after 25 years of Vespas. This year, in January, I resolved to finally get our 1962 Seeburg LPC-1 jukebox running again. A month or so ago, with a lot of help and a level of obsession approaching my scooter projects, it came back to life, and we’ve really been enjoying blasting our scratchy old 7″s through the house at the press of two buttons.

On the last day of school before the COVID-19 quarantine here in Chicago, my son Calvin brought home an origami piano that his friend Kingston taught him to make, and I thought “That shape looks familiar!” During our first weekend of quarantine, I made a prototype, then a fancy papercraft model of our jukebox based on Kingston’s piano, and here’s a PDF file so you can print it and assemble it yourself! Hopefully this project entertains you for a brief period while you’re housebound.

If you’d like some background music while you assemble it, check out our Jukebox Playlist on Spotify:

Someday we really hope you can come by and see the real thing in person, it’s a beauty. If you enjoyed building this, maybe you’ll want to check out the 2strokebuzz Action Toy we made way back in 2001!

State of the Buzz Address

Hey, 2SB readers! Bryan here…

As you know, 2strokeBuzz has been pretty dead for a while now, I got kinda disillusioned with scootering a few years ago and even with the addition of Matt and Brooke, we’ve only been posting sporadically. Ironically, in the meantime (with a lot of help from friends and mechanics) I’ve got two running vintage bikes and I’ve been riding more than ever. Turns out, for all I’ve spoken up on behalf of modern scooters and modern scooterists, I’ve realized over time that my true love is vintage scooters, and I miss talking about and riding vintage scooters just as much as I don’t miss arguing with clueless importers and feeling compelled to write about uninspiring new scooters.

So the point is, 2strokeBuzz is not dead, but we are taking it easy in our old age. The first issue of the ‘zine came out nearly TWENTY years ago, so you can be sure we’re going to celebrate that milestone in January 2016. In the meantime, I’m thinking about what we are, and where we want to be. This blog is maybe no longer the right format, not everyone’s on Facebook, I still don’t really ‘get’ Twitter, but I want to keep making 2SB happen. The focus will definitely be reverting to vintage scooters and silly fun, minus the pressure of keeping up with modern scooter/breaking industry news kinda stuff that was bringing me down. If you have suggestions or would like to contribute something, please let me know.

Your reward for reading so far into this blather? We’re going to PVSC next weekend and we’re going to have our first new print issue for sale there (only $2!). It’s going to be super-lame by the standards of the old days, but it’s our first step in getting things going again. If you’re coming to PVSC, track us down! We’re only printing 40 copies, it’ll include a special bonus item, and it’ll ONLY be available at the PVSC rally, so if nothing else, you can sell it on eBay and maybe make your two bucks back.

I’m setting aside 9 of the 40 copies to give away online to the first three commenters on this post here on the site (remember your login? me neither!), on our Facebook page, and on Twitter (if I remember to check Twitter). Remember to comment on this post, not just anywhere. If you win and you’re at PVSC I’ll give it to you there, otherwise I’ll track you down and mail it. Thanks for supporting 2strokebuzz for ALL. THESE. YEARS.

Well, It’s Happened

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.

The Old Weather Challenge?

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.


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.

Hostile Takeover II

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.
Continue reading “Hostile Takeover II”

Ace’s Bomber Jacket

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.

I’m Scooterist, Moto&Go, and the Copa del Rey

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.

We’re not “2strokebuzz” on eBay

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.

Schwinn, the Bicycle

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 1990s 2001-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!