Well, the last 2 years were an adventure; establishing ScooterLab.UK with Iggy Grainger and Tracy Round as a force for good in worldwide scooter journalism and developing a ton of new scooter products for the SLUK Shop. Iggy Grainger continues to sail that ship because I've got other urgent projects on the go. Firstly the third edition of the Complete Spanners Manual for Lambretta Scooters. The last edition been sold out now for more than half a year and copies are changing hands on eBay for £60! After that, a couple more book projects; one commissioned and another that's been on hold for far too long...
So here we are, just over two weeks into the birth of our new project. Like any birth it started as a sexy proposition, developed into eye-opening realisation of the work involved, and finally emerged as something that everyone seems to love.
ScooterLab.UK, or SLUK for short is a new on-line webzine about scooters bought to you primarily by myself and Ian ‘Iggy’ Grainger, but with the support of many other scooterists. The website is completely free to view and supported by relevant adverts.
In its short existence SLUK has already produced the world’s first ever road test review of the forthcoming Scomadi TL 200. This review is a fantastic example of the new multi-media journalism that we feel is the future. It’s not two-dimensional on dead trees. It is bright, visual and includes video content to really tell the story in as many ways as possible. In the two-wheeled world, this type of article presentation is really breaking new ground.
We see user-generated content, interaction and particularly video as setting us apart from old-school print publishers. Our friends at Sena have been particularly supportive in this idea and have sponsored our monthly video competition with ten Sena Prism Bluetooth connectable helmet cameras to give-away. All viewers have to do is make a 90-second video with the intro card from our competition page, upload it to YouTube and send us the link.
Of course we are also making our own videos and some of those we’ve yet to release show that we aren’t taking this job 100% seriously. There’s still a strong vein of humour running through our work. After all, it’s what we do and who we are…
We think www.scooterlab.uk is the future of scooter journalism. Please visit, sign-up and give us your feedback. SLUK is only a baby at the moment but it’s growing really fast…
My friend Steve from Scooterdelic has just released this t-shirt design which will mean a great deal to some people and absolutely bugger all to everyone else, which is kind of the fun of the design. Do you get the reference?
The hand screen printed shirts sells for £15.99 from here.
Two further designs are due to follow soon, one of which provides another clue if you haven't twigged yet...
While I still love stills there isn't much apart from a one-to-one lesson to beat a clear instructional video. Here's a couple that I shot, produced and edited for Casa Lambretta in conjunction with Rimini Lambretta Centre. Of course a good manual is still vital and you can find one in my book section...
Sartorial Swiss-Army knife…
Here’s the problem. You ride to a rally, or work, by bike and it rains. Even if you own the smartest bike jacket in the world, it’s wet and smelly so you don’t want to wear it to the office or the pub.
On my 19-country Twin Town Courier tour to Ukraine by 1968 Lambretta I had an extreme version of the same problem. I needed a smart jacket for meeting mayors once I got off the scooter, but I didn’t have space to carry much stuff. Night-mayors!
Enter the Knox ‘mid-layer’ Winter Jacket: a sartorial Swiss-Army knife for scooterists. The softshell fabric has a soft fleece inner and contains a membrane to be fully windproof but still breathable.
In warm conditions it’s less bulky to pack away than a hoodie, but the material is amazingly crease-resistant so you can pull it out of a bag, sling it on and have something dapper to wear off the bike.
In cooler seasons the Wind Buddy can either be worn as a replacement for the liner of your motorcycle jacket or even as an additional layer when it’s colder than penguin goolies.
My only criticism of the jacket is that the cut under the arms is low enough that when worn under a bike jacket the sleeves tend to ride up your arms a little, but that wouldn’t stop me using it as a mid layer when it gets chilly. Alternatively, some people buy a larger size and use this as a top wind-proof layer over leathers.
Nicely made, comfy and technical. A top bit of kit.
The Winter Jacket – also known as the Core V15 (why have one name for a product when ten will do) – retails at £79.99, but you can find it for less then £60 if you hunt around online.
For more information see the Planet Knox web site.
Watch one of the scariest near misses in scooter racing as well as Vespa rider Paolo Birtele being launched into orbit at the end of the straight.
On-board footage from Luca Fuschini's Casa Lambretta sponsored SS225. Pitlane clips shot using Sena Prism camera and edited using Filmora. Music by Zinc.
Scooter racers have joined millions of concerned UK Volkswagen customers who want their diesel vehicles remapped as a matter of urgency in order to reduce performance to fully meet emissions regulations.
When asked if the loss of power was a worry, they all said that they'd happily make a performance sacrifice if it would allow daises to grow from the exhaust pipe.
This video is all about the highs of what we do; larking about on tuned classic scooters with our mates. Those moments riding on summer roads when a broad grin spreads across your face like an incoming tide.
After a recent rally in Holland with bassist Jez from band The Little Notes I was commissioned to knock up my first ever pop video. I say commission, Jez reckons he's going to give me a tenner, but I had to buy the track from Amazon for 99p to make the video. Not a great money-spinner then...
Sometimes it's about more than money. I've got lots of unused footage from scooter rallies and trips far and wide and The Little Notes have produced a wealth of powerful British Indie, so why not collaborate?
Keyboard-laced track After the Rainfall stood out from the album So High Down. It's been cut together with scooter clips from UK, Holland, Italy, Greece and Serbia. Nikolas Tonic provided additional camera-work for the clips of the Vespa GS150 and Simon's Russian Vyatka VP150 clone.
If you enjoy the video then put your hand in your pocket and buy the So High Down album - it's all original tracks. After all, Jez has to find £10.98 from somewhere that he owes me...
If you are a hipster it's probably way past the time you were allowed to like Banksy. Too popular and commercial now I'd guess.
Well bollocks to that. I like art and I like stuff that makes you think. Admittedly Banksy doesn't provide solutions, he only highlights problems, but for those still in the dark a little illumination can't hurt.
If you are thinking of going to Dismaland then don't watch the video. If you cant get to Weston-Night-Mare then enjoy...
Video knocked together in Windows Movie Maker. If you know of some better PC software for quick dirty video edits then please send me a message.
Sometimes you need a mission.
It’s all very well doing a massive tour and writing about it. At the end of the day, most travel stories are essentially ‘what I did on my holidays’ but to capture a reader you need to go little deeper.
Thankfully Stephen E. Holmes – a former punk and scooterboy who started riding on a Lambretta SX200 – and his former punk band oppo Pete Sandford had a mission. Pete had been inspired by The Motorcycle Diaries – the film about Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado’s trip to the top of South America.
Back in 1952 Che and Alberto set out to cross the continent to reach Venezuela on a 500cc Norton. Their bike broke down on the way so they hitched to complete the trip. Pete’s concept was to do the same trip, on the same capacity of vintage Norton, but this time to complete the journey by bike.
In the end both Stephen and Pete buy ancient, leaky Nortons for the journey and set out from Argentina to follow a route through pampas, mountains, deserts and rainforests which defeated the two revolutionaries even when their Norton was nearly new.
Stephen writes the tale from the perspective of the mechanical numpty of the duo, but ever the willing party-boy despite being 50 years young at the time. You can’t hold an old scooterboy down. Pete though is a savvy mechanic and performs enough bodges to get them through, not least of all holding his pre-unit gearbox in place with hammered-in wooden wedges.
Without spoiling the story, there are at least two occasions where they rode the fine line between carefree and reckless and between life and death.
Stephen’s writing has pace and is full of liberal use of similes to describe the intoxicating and varied sights, smells and sounds of Latin America. He is refreshingly honest about his fears and emotions without ‘bigging-up’ their problems. All this makes for a rollicking Boy’s Own adventure, at least for older boys who haven’t entirely grown up.
Well worth a read, recommended.
You can buy it here and visit Steve's FB page for the book here.