Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another Review: Scooters - Red Eyes, White Walls & Blue Smoke

I first saw Scooters - Red Eyes, White Walls and Blue Smoke at my local scooter shop, Scoot Over. It sat on the table near the chairs for people to read as they were waiting for service to be done, sales person to be available, etc. It is filled with great pictures of great scooters and people doing great scooter stuff. When my wife asked me what she should put on my Christmas list, this was one of the first books that came to mind.

Scooters is written by Colin Shattuck. He has an easy going, easy to understand writing style and clearly, he knows about scooters and those who love them. This book covers the American scooter scene from its beginnings in 1915 to the present. I really enjoyed the first two sentences of the Foreword: "Let's get one thing straight from the get-go. If we have to explain the wonder and allure and coolness of motorscooters, you simply won't understand." by Michael and Eric Dregni

Scooters is only 136 pages long, with plenty of photos, but even so, it covers a lot of ground. The first chapter, The Evolution of a Revolution starts with the 1915 American Motoped through the Suzuki Burgman and even touches on fuel cell, electric and hybrid bikes. Naturally, most of the print talks about Piaggio/Vespa and Innocenti/Lambretta, however, British, German, Japanese and Chinese scooters get covered as well. Don't worry, the two biggest American scooter manufacturers (Cushman and Salisbury) get their share  as well. If you want a succinct history of motor scooters, Red Eyes.... is THE place to get it.
A beautiful Heinkel that I photographed at High Rollers in 2011

Chapter 2 is called Scooter Breeds. This chapter not only talks about "modern" vs "vintage" scooters but some of the other ways out bikes are categorized. There are commuters, sport, mid-sized and maxi-scooters on the one hand. Vintage bikes are broken down into unrestored originals, restorations, customs, radical customs, racers, choppers, rat bikes and mods. There is also a nice section titled "Step by Step: A Restoration Guide which gives a simplified look at the stages of scooter restoration.
A Radical Custom as seen at Friki Tiki 2010

Chapter 3: Can You See the Real Me discusses the different kinds of people who ride scooters. He talks about the stereotypes as well. Some of the scooterists portrayed are the Mod, the Racer, Scooter Girls, Scooter Boys, the Old Man, and New School. The second half of chapter 3 is called "Join the Club." it gives a list an small description of a small sampling of scooter clubs around the US, divided by region. While I found this section interesting, I'll probably catch some flak for this, but I also found it a bit disturbing. I find it a bit bothersome that so many clubs find their identity in alcohol, mayhem, hooliganism and other immature behavior. I suppose I'm just getting old.
Gratuitous promotion of my own club

Chapter 4: Runs, Rallies, Raids... Mayhem is the final chapter. Since I have helped organize a number of rallies in the Tucson area, this was the first chapter I read. I wanted to see what other were doing and see what I could integrate into our rallies. The first part of this chapter talks about European rallies. (The 1984 Isle of Wight Rally had 12,000 people in attendance!) Then is returns to the states with a quick description of the elements of a rally then moves to cover (as with the scooter clubs) a variety of rallies broken down by region. I was thrilled to see that our own Tucson/Nogales Fall Classic is included.
Camp Scoot 2010

High Rollers 2012

Tucson/Nogales Falls Classic 2009
For A Few CC's III 2013

Scooters - Red Eyes, White Walls & Blue Smoke is an excellent primer on scooters and scooter culture in America. If you are new to scooters and want to what you may have gotten yourself in to, I would start with this book. It is informative, quick, down and dirty. For those with ADD, it has lots and lots of great photos.

Ride On!


  1. Colin (who I've never had the pleasure of meeting) is also the owner of Sportique Scooters in Colorado. I'd no idea he'd written a book. This kind of knowledge says a lot about a shop owner.

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