Vespa apocalyptica

Self-made road warriors

Often seen as the epitome of European cool, the iconic scooter has received a post-apocalyptic makeover by ragtag gangs of Indonesian rebel riders

Muhammad Fadli
July 12, 2017
Self-made road warriors
Iponk (centre), a rider from South Sumatra, pictured with his son (right) and a travel companion (left). The trio travelled for hundreds of kilometres to attend a Vespa event in Lampung.

Arguably the globe’s most iconic scooter brand, Vespa is often seen as the epitome of European cool, all gleaming chrome and retro stylings. But for a sizeable number of Indonesians, they represent something notably less polished.

The archipelagic nation is home to hordes of Vespa enthusiasts bound by a love for what can only be described as extreme DIY modification.

Looking like they’ve just rolled off a Mad Max movie set, the eccentric pistonheads are mostly in their early twenties and use whatever materials they can get their hands on to transform their Vespas into rugged sculptures. These works of art are then proudly showcased at festivals across the country.

Some scooters have more than 20 tyres attached to them. Others are adorned with buffalo skeletons, electrical poles, bamboo and fake Gatling guns. Some enthusiasts go even further, rebuilding their Vespas from trees, or refashioning them into striking four-wheeled contraptions.

The pastime has wide appeal: more than 7,000 Vespa enthusiasts from across the country came together to celebrate the 20th Platinum Anniversary of Bali’s 450-strong Dewata Scooter Club in October 2015, and the club’s Facebook page boasts more than 9,000 members.

For this motley and rebellious crew, made up largely of metalheads, punks and Rastafarians, creativity has no limits. The original Vespa is simply a starting point.

Bolot, from Banten, with his pink-hued Vespa
A buffalo skull accessory
Also from Banten is Neo, who’s famous around the archipelago for his custom made ‘tree Vespa’ and has a huge following on Instagram

A tired rider catches a nap
Two riders in East Jakarta
Bajaj, a university student from Pamulang, a satellite city outside of Jakarta
A bespoke scooter adorned with water bottles, traffic cones, tyres and other scraps from the roadside
The front end of the ‘tree Vespa’
Two enthusiasts with their ‘tank Vespa’
Three Sumatran riders aboard their trusty steeds

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