Father’s Day Giveaway

A while back, I wrote a review of Sticky’s excellent book. “Scooterboys – The Lost Tribe”.
He sent me a copy to review – and it took me about 6 months to write it. Check it out here. One of the reasons was laziness – well, a mix of laziness and life throwing a few curve balls, as it does. The other was I’d lost the book. Well, misplaced it. And, as a tight scotsman, I loathed buying another one, just so I could reveiw it. But eventually, I did. With Covid19 leading to a bit of tidying up, the original has surfaced. So I have a spare, and you could get your hands on it.

All you’ve got to do is “like” this post below, and then share it on social media – Twitter or Facebook. and your in. I’ll pick a winner at random, and get it posted out to you, hopefully in time for fathers day. It’ll make a great gift for any dad who’s been into the scene – or perhaps a little gift to yourself (whether your a dad or not).

If you don’t win, and you haven’t got hold of a copy yet, you can get one on Amazon Here.

Scooterboys – The Lost Review!

Scooterboys – The Lost Tribe

by Martin ‘Sticky’ Round

Introduction

I’m going to start this review with a recommendation and an apology then get into the meat of the review. But you don’t need to know any more than “Just get your hands on a copy” Jump to the end of the review to find out where to buy – or –just check here.

Secondly, an apology to Sticky of the delay in writing this, and my Lambrettista blog readers for depriving you of this book – if you haven’t had it on your radar already.

A bit about the Author

So who’s Sticky why should you read his book? Well, for most of his life Martin “Sticky” Round has written about scooters. If you own a Lambretta you probably have his ultimate workshop manual – Stickies “Complete Spanner’s Manual: Lambretta Scooters (If you don’t, you should). You may also have read his “Frankensteins Scooters to Dracula’s Castle” – a great read – reviewed here.

As well as that Sticky contributed for many years to Scootering Magazine – pretty much in establishing the writing style and tone of voice. More recently Sticky’s written extensively on ScooterLab. But more importantly Sticky has not only written about the scene is also lived it – and this is why his words truly jumps off of the page of Scooterboys.

Who who are Scooterboys?

Often, when you tell people you ride a classic scooter, they’ll say something like “Oh, you’re a Mod!” or “Where’s your fishtail parka?” and, while the whole Mod thing has greatly influenced my life, it’s not how I describe or defined myself. I’ve never take it as an insult but never felt I quite measured up to the high sartorial standards of the whole Mod thing. I’ve tried, but I’m a naturally scruffy git who occasionally scrubs up well – and, to be honest I was always happier in a flight jacket, a pair of combat trousers over my Levi’s, DM’S or paratrooper boots. A clothing choice that’s much more practical when riding a classic scooter than a tonic suit!

Scooterboys took the snobbery of Mod and inverted it. Sticky takes time to set up the fact that while the great British public could easily identify Mods Punks, Goths and Skinheads (and many others) they are oddly blind when identifying the Scooterboy. As with the rest of this review, I can’t say better than Sticky himself when setting up this book…

“As a truly conscious lifestyle choice existed in small pockets around the country since the 1970s many unaware of each others existence. However the cult only blossomed into a massive national movement in the early ‘80s.

Countless acres of print and endless TV airtime has been givien to documenting all those other tribes yet to the man in the street and the red-top newspapers we were simply Mods.

To this day that ignorance persists. Tens of thousands of people all around the world who identified themselves as Scooterboys, Scootergirls or simply Scooterists have never had much formal recognition. Only cultural mislabelling by Muppets who can’t tell a MA1 flight jacket from a mohair suit

As such, Scooteboys remain the hidden tribe of Britain’s youth culture jungle. We are undiscovered and uncelebrated but pure as a result.

Perhaps it’s better that way.”

Sticky documents the rise of Scooterboy – from it’s root in (amongst other things Mod) and how it grew apart from it’s forebears – something that often happened to individuals over the space of a single Scooter Run. In Britain – for Scooterboys is unashamedly a British based book – most weekends between March and October there’s a Scooter Rally – with the month’s between hosting a bunch of ‘do’s, part pairs and Custom Shows. Being a Scooterboy (or Scootergirl) involved a) having a classic scooter – and b) attending as many of these events as your life / budget allowed.

Why Scooters?

One of the biggest issues are having when writing about this book is writing around Stickies words – I simply can’t put it better than he can – so I won’t i’ll quote him! (as sparingly as possible). Don’t worry there are plenty of other great words in this book! Sicky answers the Why Scooters question with the “Are you far are you fucking blind can’t you see is what so great about scooters?” and follows up with “in truth all appreciation of art is personal if you put someone in front of Michelangelo’s David Ferrari 488 Spider or the Rialto Bridge in Venice and all they do is shrug well there’s no hope – they are Philistine is stoning them to death is just waste of good gear!”

There is a concise history of both the marks that dominated the initial scooter boom and survived until today – the Vespa and Lambretta of course –and is well as the undisputed style of both marques is the fact that ‘back in the day’ you could pick up classic scooters incredibly cheaply – something that sadly isn’t true today.

Scooterboys goes on to document in words and some truly evocative imagery both the scooters, and how they were increasingly personalised and customised with accessories, paint and often hacksaws. To quote Sticky again “customisation wasn’t an option – it was essential if you wanted any sort of credibility. Standard scooters were for commuters”.

Customisation, of course, could run the gamut between the sublime and frankly ridiculous. iI’s all documented here with some wonderful pictures of Lambrettas and Vespas modified with different degrees of success but alter their owner’s requirements – taking inspiration from everywhere from music to culture.

The books also covers the trouble experienced by the lost tribe at the hands of the Old Billl, Non-scooterist and even between clubs or factions within the scene. At the time this was all part of the fun… and resulted in some great “war stories”.

So, sum up…

All this and much more is documented in this fantastic book. If you’re not much of a reader, Sticky’s fantastic turn of phrase may convert you – but if they don’t, it’s worth buying for the pictures alone. The book has been beautifully put together, and the design reflects the subject matter. My crappy pics don’t really do it justice. I also firmly believe it’s a culturally important book – documenting a ‘lost’ British subculture that hasn’t had much mainstream attention. Sociologists take note!

If you haven’t already will copy why not treat yourself – or someone who would appreciate it. There is still just about time to get one delivered before Christmas!

Get it on Amazon Here.

World Book Day –Scooterboys – The Lost Tribe

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Looking forward to this  – Scooterboys – the Lost Tribe. I’ve enjoyed Martin “Sticky” Round’s writing for years. After all, this is the guy who can make a workshop manual entertaining! Due for release on 28th May, it’s one worth pre-ordering. (If you’ve already ordered an advance signed copy via SLUK, then that will be shipped at the end of April).

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Here’s the blurb; “Scooterboys are the lost tribe of British youth culture. Unrecognised, uncelebrated and unwanted; misunderstood by a general public who mistook us for Mods. We weren’t Mods though. By the 1980s myself and tens of thousands of scooter riders collectively rejected that label. Instead, we took the roadmap of British youth disaffection and carved a new bypass. This route took us beyond the UK’s faded seaside resorts, allowing us to spread our creed across the continents. Tuned and customised Vespa and Lambretta scooters gave us freedom to roam; transport to live for the weekend. Shared experiences of riots, local hostility and police harassment built strong fraternal bonds that endure to this day. Despite decades of two-wheeled rebellion our threat level was never high enough to put us on the national security radar. This low profile has its benefits. We aren’t doomed to follow the same cycle as Mods. First feared, then pilloried, accepted and finally adopted as part of UK’s rich culture. As British as a vindaloo. The cult of Scooterboy has escaped death-by-public-acceptance, simply by remaining too underground. Too difficult to distinguish from what came before. And that’s just perfect. You’ll never see Scooterboys parodied in TV insurance adverts or low budget fly-on-the-wall. The poorly-rendered caricature is always some cliché Mod on a ‘Christmas Tree’ scooter. If you rode to rallies in the 80s and 90s then this book will mirror your experiences. If you’ve never had a scooter then it offers a rare glimpse of life inside the lost tribe of two-stroke terrorists.”

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Available at all good bookshops, no doubt a few bad ones, and on Amazon, here

I’ll be getting a copy, and post a full review when I’ve read it. For more recommendations, see my reading list.

Rare, TV200 (GT) Instruction Booklet…

Spotted on eBay, and something I’ve never seen before. A couple of different Lambretta concessionaires instruction booklets for that most desirable of Lambrettas, the TV200… also known as the GT.  £60 each… and not exactly in pristine condition, but a ‘nice to have’ if you’re lucky enough to own a GT!
Here's the first one…
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and here's the second…TV200InstructionBooklet1

Frankenstein Scooters to Dracula’s Castle – The Review

39375c67f1f0b9b391c7039ea18620cf1f540ff9On the strength of my post about the video publicising his book, Martin “Sticky” Round sent me a copy to review. Which was nice. This is a first for me, as it’s the first “freebie” I’ve got through the blog. To be fair to my loyal readers though, I’m determined to give this a fair review, and be as honest and forthright as I can… and not just do a “puff piece”.

This was a tricky review to write. I could sum the whole post up in four words… but that wouldn’t do justice to the book. And I could ramble on for ages pouring more and more praise onto it, because this is simply a great book, but I suspect that my review would come across as a little dull if I did.

And this book is anything but dull. As readers of his work in Scootering will know, Sticky has a fine command of the English language… and he’s had the opportunity to give it full flight in this book. I read a lot. I’ve often got two or three books on the go at once, and I devour everything from biographies to science fiction, and pretty much everything in between. Once in a while, I enjoy a book so much that I rave on about it to friends and family and pass it on, saying “you must read this!” (The last book I did that with was CJ Sansom’s Dominion, btw. Highly recommended). Frankenstein Scooters to Dracula’s Castle is up there. Right up there. I honestly haven’t enjoyed reading a book more this year.

Sticky tells his road trip tale in a highly entertaining fashion. The “scootery bits” aren’t so technical that a non-scooterist would be turned off, and just give an overview of what it’s like to own, ride and be part of the classic scooter scene without assuming any prior knowledge. A opening couple of chapters about building the scooters to take them on the journey could be as dull as ditchwater – but handled with Sticky’s light humorous tone (and the liberal use of the word “bollocks”) it’s like a very entertaining bloke down the pub sharing a great story with you.

In fact, the whole book is like that. Only they interesting bloke down the pub usually gets a bit boring after a couple of pints. Sticky’s book never wanes. While sharing his adventure of crossing Europe, from the Adriatic Coast to Turkey (and back), the entertainment factor never lets up. Sticky didn’t do the trip alone, he took his 11 year old son, Sam, and wife along. His wife, Tracy was riding perhaps the most Frankenstein of the Frankesnstein scooters, a Maicoletta with a 400cc Suzuki engine shoehorned into the old scooter bodywork. They met up with another name well known to the Lambretta scene, Dean Orton from the Rimini Lambretta Centre. Dean was riding the least modded bike… (and ultimately the most reliable of the scooters) a moderately upgraded Indian GP. And he brought his daughter, Kimberly along for the ride too.

Undertaking a challenging journey on highly modified vintage scooters is not a thing to do lightly. Let alone when you’ve got the wife and kids along. Sticky’s attitude is prepare well, and hope for the best. Things will generally work out and when they don’t, well, that’s character building. Seems to have worked for him. Still, with the author of the Lambretta repair and maintenance bible The Complete Spanner’s Manual: Lambretta Scooters and the owner of the RLC, an accomplished Lambretta mechanic in his own right, both veterans of many rallies and road trips… they were going to be alright if anything did go wrong with the scoots.

To get back to that bloke down the pub, that you initailly find the life and soul, and who you then discover is just someone who likes the sound of their own voice and has found a whole new audience in you… Well, you often find their worldview is a little blinkered too. They say travel broadens the mind, and to an extent I think that’s true, but I think you’ve got to be pretty broadminded to begin with. I found myself nodding along and agreeing with most of what Sticky said in the book… and, being Sticky he always has an interesting way of saying it. His “Dickhead Theory” I found particularly insigtful.

The trip, through Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey (and back via Greece and Albania) give Sticky ample opportunity to expound on everything from his theories on parenting to his attitudes to other cultures… with a handful of remincenses about previous scootering adventures, and a soupcon of local history along the way. His summing up of the Gallipoli campaign made interesting reading in light of all the recent celebrations surrounding the 70th anniverary of D-Day.

The book ends with Sticky being a bit down as the trip reaches it’s conclusion… and that’s how I felt as I reached the end of the book. I was enjoying reading it so much I just wanted more… Finally, there is some advice on how to plan your own adventure… and if you don’t feel inspired to at least start planning something, even if it never gets past the plannng stage, I suspect there’s something wrong with you.

Anyway… I’m not going to witter on and spoil the book for you. Suffice it to say it’s a damn good read. One that, in my humble opinion, deserves to break out from the scootering world into a general readership… You don’t have to be a scooter fan to enjoy a book this good. After all “Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (basically a roadtrip book with a bunch of noodly half baked philosphising thrown in) became a classic… and it’s a far less entertaining read.

If I had summed the whole review up in four words they would have been “Excellent read. Buy it”. Actually buy two, give one to a friend. It’s that good.

It’s out on Kindle now, at a unfeasibly reasonable £2.95, a price that almost makes it worthwhile buying a Kindle. The paperback is also available from Scooterproducts, Amazon, and eBay. The perfect last minute gift for Fathers Day!

Bonus points if you can find the other video featuring (a very young) Sticky on this site. If you do post your answer in the comments.

The Scooter Diaries

The Scooter Diaries

The Scooter Diaries

Great pic isn’t it?

It’s not the SLS (Special Lambretta Service)… It’s Ron Bowman, and his mate, about to set off on the journey of a lifetime.

In November of 1959, Ron Bowman quit his job as a newspaper reporter, sold his car and bought a 150cc Lambretta scooter. He intended to ride it from his hometown of Thorold, Ontario, Canada all the way to South America. As far as he knew, no one had ever made such a journey, but he was gong to try. Along the way, he proposed to his girlfriend of three weeks, and married her. This is the story of Ron and Tove Bowman and their epic adventure romance through Latin America on a motor scooter, during a time when such a journey was virtually unheard of. No crew. No support vehicles. Just two crazy Canadians in love on a Lambretta, discovering the world, discovering each other, and having the greatest adventure of their lives.

Their son, Gordon, recently found his dad’s manuscript and knew he wanted to share it with the world. He’s written a book and is planning to get it published through Kickstarter to crowd-fund it’s printing. He’s got a website with all the details, here and you can follow his progress on Facebook too. The Kickstarter page doesn’t appear to be up yet, but I’ll post a direct link to that too, when it is.

UPDATE:The Kickstarter page is now live, you can help make this book a reality HERE.

I’ve already added it to my Christmas reading list!