First of all, I stopped by at the “Scooter Bottega”, the workshop and restoration smithy run by Robbie Rhodes in Brooklyn. Robbie has two mechanics and their shop has gained a good reputation among the local scene as one of the most recognized scooter workshops on the East Coast. Each June, the famous block party is hosted right outside his shop which is attended by several hundreds of Vespa and Lambretta aficionados. SIP Scootershop has supported the event this year, you will find a report soon in our Classic Scene-Blog at www.sip-scootershop.com. Robbie has various extraordinary scooters on display in his small showroom, amongst them a GS3 and an Italian Faro Basso. If you are planning a trip to New York, make sure to visit the Bottega. More information at http://www.scooterbottega.com. Another shop that is a household name in the scene is Scooters Originali, located in Orange / New Jersey. Unfortunately, I was running out of time so I couldn’t visit Gene Merideth’s shop myself, but the place has been in existence for more than 20 years and you can hear nothing but praise about it: http://www.scootersoriginali.com.
Generally, motorscooters have become a striking part of the cityscape of New York. The police (NYPD) are riding their scooters through the city and you can see parked Modern Vespas virtually at each corner in Manhattan, mostly GTS, GTV and S models. There is even the odd Stella (LML) as well as some old Lambrettas and Vespas popping into the picture. So New York lives up to its reputation as being the most European of all American cities also in this respect. Sales and maintenance for these modern Vespas are carried out by some representations throughout the city such as Vespa Soho, Vespa Brooklyn, Vespa Queens etc. Another highlight of the NY scooter scene can be found in the picturesque Greenwich Village, this being Grahame Fowler’s shop in 10th street. Next to British style clothing and accessories, some of them designed by the shop owner himself, Grahame is the owner of a remarkable Lambretta collection: http://www.grahamefowler.com.
Taking a look into the New York Scooter Club Forum comes highly recommended for all visitors of New York. The local scene discusses and exchanges valuable information in this forum and the members are very helpful towards visitors. As an example, I came into contact with Mike and Mario through the forum. Both of them organized an old Rally 200 for me and went along on a memorable rideout through Queens to Roosevelt Island with a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline. Thanks a lot again for all the hospitality and the warm welcome. Mario brought the Rally and another Allstate on a more than two hours ride to New York by car with a trailer – simply awesome!
Almost forgot to mention that even on a “standard” sightseeing trip through New York you will come across a Vespa as the Museum of Modern Art has a GS3 on display.
All pictures can be found at our flickr account:
Interview mit Mike Lam vom New York Scooter Forum:
What was your first scooter, when have you bought it?
ML: 2006, a Vespa GTS 250
How did you become interested in vintage Vespas?
ML: I started going on rides with a local club whose members had vintage Vespas & Lambrettas. I became interested after seeing many of them break down on rides! The mechanics and repairs aspect got me hooked, not to mention the beautiful designs that you don't see in modern styles.
Describe the feelings you have when you ride on one of your scooters?
ML: As cliche as it sounds, it really makes me feel free. Riding helps clear my mind and puts me in a good mood. I like to say, a bad day of riding is still better than a good day at work!
How many people would you guess is the NY scooter scene?
ML: In the NY scooter scene, approximately 30-40 active people I see on a regular basis. At the NY Scooter Club's Annual Block Party, you'll see upwards of 100 scooterists, some you see this one time a year, but there are probably 1000's of scooter riders in NYC. Most are commuters and may not be active in the 'scene'.
Do you meet up regularily?
ML: The NYSC and other local clubs have a weekly evening meet ups. Some for happy hour and others for rides to local scenic destinations or dining.
Do you attend to scooter rallies or meetings?
ML: I was very active in a local club for a time and met many wonderful people, many of whom I still hang out with or attend scooter rallies with. I try to attend as many rallies along the East Coast USA as I can every year.