Mile High Mayhem

The History of the Scooter and the Denver Scooter Club

By Vernon Appleton | Photos By Scoot.net

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Mega C, “Recently, when we showed up to a bar on Blake - 80 Scooter enthusiasts - we emptied 2 kegs of PBR, 1 keg of Coors Light, and cleaned out all of the Pizza in the kitchen! The management said they hadn’t expected that even though I had contacted them before hand and gave them fair warning.” He commends Three Kings - because they are able to keep up with the demands of the scooter crowd. He also recognizes that they complain because “we stop at 1am.” He goes on to explain that the scooter crowd must stop drinking early because they plan on going to multiple after-hours parties!

The Who’s; Quadrophenia introduced Mega C to the scooter sub culture. It explained the 2nd Mod revival in the 80’s, and how it died in the late 90’s. It also touched on how the culture revamped in the early 2000’s but slowed down again after 2005 when the costs of purchasing and maintaining a scooter increased significantly. Recently, the local scooter culture is not as active as it once was. Attendance at scooter rallies has fallen from over 200, to around 80.

People used to be able to find scooters in dusty barns and buried behind boxes in storage sheds, or in forgotten corners of garages. These were seen as treasures. Before there was an EBay, people interested in scooters had to find the vehicles and parts that they wanted or needed through word of mouth. There was a lot of trading back and forth between people in the scooter culture. The customer base for scooters at the time was mostly younger “punk kids” who enjoyed the freedom of having a vehicle that was relatively inexpensive to buy and maintain.

Specialty stores began to open up across America, catering to this emerging market. Sportique Scooters in Denver, Scooter Works in Chicago, and Scooters Originali in Los Angeles were a few of the big players at the time. Before EBay took off, a person could find a good scooter for around $400 – and at that price people had money left over to spend on paint jobs and upgrades. When EBay took off, it priced everyone out. People started selling their scooters and parts for higher prices because the market competition had expanded and the target customer base was no longer just the local “punk kids.” You can pick up a newer Japanese scooter for pretty cheap, but it’s difficult to find an Italian original 1960’s model. The parts are also difficult to find for the 60’s models and they take a lot of work to restore. Those who own them have proven a kind of loyalty and dedication to the scooter culture. Most restored scooters look different from when they were factory produced – reflecting the owner’s personality in the personal touches they are given. Modern scooters, or Tupperware rides, are recently produced and mostly look alike. The owners don’t usually rebuild or fix them by themselves, but rather go to a shop for the work. This new fad turns off a lot of the old school scooter crowd who got used to fixing and refurbishing their own rides through their blood sweat and tears. “It used to be that you would have to learn to change a carburetor, a cable, etc., but now people just go to specialty repair shops because they neither have the time nor the patience to do it themselves.”

“I first decided to buy a moped because I was tired of riding the bus all the time,” explains Mega C. “At the time, a girl that I was seeing was also seeing a ‘scooter kid,’ so by proxy, I learned a few things about scooters. I bought my first scooter for $400, but it didn’t run. My second cost me $1000, and was a beautifully restored 1963 Sears All State VNB in baby blue.” This scooter met a tragic end when Mega C was going to see a friend in Montana. “My scooter was in the back of my truck when I rolled it.” After making his way back to Denver from Billings, Montana, he revisited his first ($400) scooter and got it up and running.

From there, he began going to scooter rallies around the country. From mid-America (Lawrence, KS) to the southern West Coast (San Diego, CA) Mega C made an appearance at every rally he heard about! He was hooked, “You show up in town, go to a party, show off your scooter, go to another party, and then another!”

Despite the reputation of the scooter party culture, Mega C is sure to enforce a responsible driving habit amongst his fellow scooter crowd. “We don’t endorse or condone drinking and driving. We try to police ourselves because of previous incidents and accidents. We are professional alcoholics that behave professionally!”

For Mega C in the early days of the Denver scooter culture, driving a scooter was more than just inexpensive transportation around town. It afforded him a convenient way to travel to almost anywhere, he didn’t have to worry about parking, and speeding tickets were unlikely. “I liked being on 2 wheels because I used to mountain bike. I couldn’t get in trouble for going too fast!” In 1998 most of the police force didn’t know what the hell a scooter was, let alone the laws involving them, so he could get away with things that the Police began to take notice of in more modern times.