Who has not dreamt of La Dolce Vita, a fresh summer night and sitting astride a Vespa in Roma? The little wasp (Vespa in Italian) has rapidly become the icon of freedom since the Second World War. But not only in Europe. In Indonesia, the Vespa has also had large success and today this is the biggest community of Vespa in the world after Italy, with more than 60 000 of them.
The Vespa arrived in Indonesia in 1950 and the motors were made in Pulau Gadung, east Jakarta. The first ones to drive the legendary scooter were the missionaries, but this easy and efficient way of transportation rapidly became extremely popular. In 2001, the factory had shut its door and then PT Piaggio Indonesia was created in 2011. Despite an absence of 10 years, Indonesians are faithful to the brand and the demand keeps rising, especially for the old series. This interest for the old series is unifying and the sense of belonging to the Vespa community is extremely strong with fraternity and recognition between members. Interest in the new series is also growing as Indonesian’s appreciate the combination of the traditional and unique design with modern technology.
The Mod May Day event evokes this passion. On the first Sunday in May the Vespa fraternity has been reunited in Jakarta for the past 11 years. In 2018 there were more than 5000 Vespa scooters and more than 9000 festival goers which rode from Monas park in Central Jakarta to Ancol. This year’s theme was All or Nothing and was aimed at uniting the growing community of Mods and scooter enthusiasts.
In total there are more than 500,000 Vespa fans in Indonesia who take part in different social media groups and Vespa events around the country. Many take their love to the extreme and spend time and money customising their vehicles to resemble something out of a Mad Max film or a monster bike. One three day festival in Kediri allows these enthusiasts to show off their bikes each year, ranging from the traditionally restored vintage Vespa to the tank-style scooter fitted with fake machine guns, extra-large tyres or theatrical stuffed toy themed hoods. In order to participate in the competition every customised vehicle must maintain the Vespa engine and most contestants prefer to retain the iconic Vespa vintage look – the curved front of the scooter.
All other additions are up to the owners and what their budget allows. While many can only afford scrap metal or reused materials they find at junkyards, some others manage to splash out. The festival, now in its third year, is one of several held across the country and the Vespa fans draw glances and smiles from locals because of the designs of their flamboyant Vespa’s.
To reach the festival many enthusiasts drive at night to avoid traffic police as the vehicles are often unlicensed and mechanical problems can arise, with some of the more dilapidated machines often breaking down. Mostly however, the rallies are about gathering like-minded Vespa-lovers together who have an extreme dedication to DIY modifications and having fun.
(Image: Indonesiavespadays.com & Vice)