The iconic Italian Vespa by Piaggio holds a special place in the hearts of Indonesian motorists. The earliest version that can be seen on the street dates back to the 1960s, when the Indonesian peacekeeping mission in Africa returned to the country and was awarded Vespa bikes by the government. In many cities across the archipelago Vespa communities thrive. Although most of them adore classic Vespas, some take their obsessions to the next level by transforming the originals into versions never imagined by Piaggio.
As if emerging from Mad Max movies, these scooterists wander around the country riding custom-built Vespas, which look too weird not only to outsiders, but also to people within the Indonesian Vespa community itself. People call these scooters “Vespa sampah” (“garbage Vespa”) or “Vespa gembel” (“Vespa drifter”), but the owners of these Frankenstein bikes call them “Vespa extreme”.
Some of these Vespas have more than twenty tires attached to cheap DIY steel frames. Some are adorned with a buffalo skeleton, bamboo, garbage, or anything the owners could scrape along the road. It seems that the builders’ wild creativity has no limit and the classic Vespas are merely a starting point. Its uniqueness, which represents freedom of expression, attracts metalheads, punks, and rastafarians as its die-hard fans.