Tech by VICE

Joyriding Through the Jungle With the Punks Who Mod Vespa Scooters Into ‘Mad Max’-ian Beasts

It's like Thunderdome in the Balinese jungle.

by S. Gamboa
Mar 28 2017, 3:00pm

This story was originally published on VICE Indonesia.

The iconic Italian Vespa holds a special place in the hearts of Indonesian motorists. But few take their obsessions to the level of the country's Vespa gembel, or Vespa drifters. For the punks, Rastafarians, and metalheads gathered at the small village of Desa Tukadaya, in eastern Bali, the original stock Vespa is a jumping-off point for wild creativity.

Their Piaggio Vespas are Frankenstein monster machines—shining testaments to kampung ingenuity and do-it-yourself customization. They travel the country, hanging out at Vespa gatherings and taking piecemeal work to modify their Vespas to beyond the point of recognition, turning the machines into a skull-adorned low-rider with 20 wheels and a wooden platform for a seat, for example.

The cheapest-used Vespas can cost as little as Rp 700,000 ($52 USD), and spare parts are readily available. It means that anyone with a creative mind and basic DIY know-how can turn a rusty 1970s scooter into something truly unique. As long as your creation has a stock, horizontally mounted 98cc two-stroke Piaggio motor you can be part of the Vespa community. Frames are built from steel and bamboo, stock scooters are chopped to the barest of vehicles, and the entire thing is adorned with animal bones, garbage, and cannibalized motor scooter parts.

VICE Indonesia's S. Gamboa and photographer Orly Even tagged along on a meet-up in the jungles of eastern Bali.

Tagged:
Tech
Motherboard
DIY
Mods
Punks
mad max
scooters
Vespa
Bali