Japan’s Custom Motor Scooters: Colorful Noise or Art Form?
Posted on July 30, 2010
Japan is a nation just as obsessed with subcultures as any other, bursting with creative inquiry and the need for personal and artistic expression. Hence, the Big Scooter phenomenon, transforming the concept of customization and pushing the glittery envelope beyond expected borders and further than ever before.
The bosozuku bike gangs (literally “violent running tribes”) have a reputation for reckless speeding and creating noisy havoc along Tokyo’s highways, although in recent years they transferred their colorful noise to Okinawa. The original gangs were known as Lightning Tribes (kaminari-zoku) and are associated more with the 1950s when the Japanese auto industry was a burgeoning empire.
Today these Japanese Big Scooter groups are pussycats; involved only in their scooters and how they can make them look better and increase their speed and endurance by using lightweight parts.
They are an obsessed lot and into social networking. They even have their own Mixi group (the Japanese Facebook)which they utilize to arrange meetings where they can swap stories about ideas for new customizations.
The most popular scooters are by far the 250cc models. Low out-of-pocket costs and edgy designs as well as the fact that most weigh less than 400 pounds, give them a lightweight advantage over other motorbike classes.
Ease and control are two primary concerns for the novice motorcyclist and 250ccs offer this “forgiveness” with their smooth shifting, gearboxes and upright seating positions. It should also be mentioned that bikes over 250cc must undergo a biannual inspection in Japan.
To give you an idea of cost, a typical big scooter might run about US $3,000 to US $5,000, but a customized baby can run anywhere from US $14,000 to US $25,000.
If you should be traveling in Tokyo and come across any lone riders, do not be afraid to approach them for they relish questions about their bikes; it is the stuff they live for.
Their bikes are their “babies” and they love to talk about them and show them off.
All one can appropriately say is: VROOM!
What do YOU think about this?