Often seen as the epitome of European cool, the iconic scooter has received a post-apocalyptic makeover by ragtag gangs of rebel riders
Photography and words by Muhammad Fadli
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.