Club Fo­cus: Vespa Club Moscow

RUS­SIA Stung by a wasp, the great bear awak­ens…

Scootering - - Contents -

Dur­ing his trip to Rus­sia, Rik went to meet up with the thriv­ing Vespa Club of Moscow to check out their take on the scooter scene and Vespa own­er­ship.

Scooter­ing in Moscow

Dur­ing my trip to Rus­sia, I went to meet up with the Vespa Club of Moscow. Scoot­ers weren’t re­ally pop­u­lar in the Soviet era and it’s only now they are de­vel­op­ing a scooter­ing ‘cul­ture’. Still, con­sid­er­ing their scooter scene is in its rel­a­tive in­fancy, this club is thriv­ing!

The head of the club (No.1) is Alexan­der Si­dorov; he es­tab­lished it in 2004 hav­ing tried to kick start the scene in Moscow by buy­ing 10 vin­tage Ves­pas to sell on in the city. Alexan­der’s pedi­gree be­gan back in 1999 when he bought his first Vespa PX80 for $600 (£450). Yes, PX80 – that’s not a typo – they were avail­able in Hol­land too, as far as I’m aware. Alexan­der bought it off a bloke who had brought it in to Rus­sia and de­cided he didn’t want it be­cause it wasn’t an au­to­matic. Con­se­quently Alexan­der bought it with­out the full doc­u­men­ta­tion, which is a very hairy thing to do in Rus­sia, trust me on that one. He’d bor­rowed the money to buy it and for four years he was the only soul in Moscow to be tod­dling about on a PX. After four years he de­cided that be­ing the only one scooter-boy in Moscow wasn’t the best idea and that he’d start a club.

So he bor­rowed some more money, vis­ited Ger­many and bought 10 scoot­ers. All told it cost him $20,000 to bring all 10 back, with all the cus­toms and what have you. He only man­aged to sell five ini­tially, and it took him years to pay back the other $10,000 – sales got bet­ter when the club started rid­ing out and more in­ter­est in scooter­ing was shown, which all helped. Then a few scooter deal­ers set up in Rus­sia… Ital­ian, Vespa, some Ja­panese and the like, though Alexan­der isn’t too keen at all on the lat­ter.

VCM of­fi­cial start

Alexan­der counts 2005 as the of­fi­cial start of the Vespa Club of Moscow. It be­gan with the 10 scoot­ers and them all meet­ing up and hav­ing ride outs. In 13 years it has grown and now there are around 100 mem­bers of the club. At one time it was over 100, but then some dropped out, some with bikes, some with fam­ily com­mit­ments, the usual story we are all too fa­mil­iar with. The cur­rent and re­ally ac­tive mem­bers are about 30 strong, these can be re­lied upon to turn up to nearly ev­ery meet­ing, show or event.

The ma­jor­ity of the club are ‘mod­ern’ Vespa, but there are some clas­sics, ET3, PX and even the odd Lamby knock­ing about. Alexan­der told me a story that un­der­lined the scarcity of orig­i­nally reg­is­tered Lam­bret­tas. A friend found a Lam­bretta in Moscow and it turned out

that this one had been the first Lam­bretta in the Soviet Union; it was for an ex­hi­bi­tion in the 1950s… I think it was an LD. It was still in ex­hi­bi­tion con­di­tion. He bought it for $2000 (£1500) and it was al­most per­fect. The guy who sold it told us about the pos­si­bil­ity of three or four more Lam­bret­tas – doc­u­mented on the ex­hi­bi­tion pa­pers, so we’re try­ing to track them down through the phone num­bers on the old pa­pers. Alexan­der ex­plained about his club: “We don’t de­scribe ral­lies as ral­lies, we call them runs – the main one be­ing Vic­tory Day (May 9, cel­e­brat­ing the vic­tory over the Nazi regime). We do a few in the sum­mer, but that varies from year to year and just who is left to or­gan­ise it. The sea­son is four months tops, the weather in Rus­sia is great in the sum­mer, but very brief… ev­ery year the most ac­tive mem­bers of the club go to Vespa World Ral­lies on their scoot­ers.

“I got into the scoot­ers through the mu­sic of Bri­tish sub­cul­tures, the Mods, skins and psy­chobilly bands, Mod re­vival bands and Rus­sian bands that do Mod nights in Moscow now. Some of the mem­bers are into the scoot­ers and that’s it, oth­ers like the whole scene and its her­itage. It’s mainly Vespa in our club, there’s about three Lam­bret­tas, some LMLs and some Chetaks, all types of scooter are wel­come… within rea­son. Near Moscow there is a mu­seum for old Rus­sian scoot­ers, Tula, Elec­tron, Vy­atka.”

Im­pres­sive

What im­presses me most about the Rus­sian clubs is their com­mit­ment and the dis­tances that they are will­ing to do. Imag­ine this: we think that schlep­ping down to the Isle of Wight is a grind at times, but it’s dou­ble that dis­tance just be­tween the two ma­jor cities of St Peters­burg and Moscow.

Then there’s Moscow it­self: Greater Lon­don (all the ar­eas) is 606 square miles, Moscow… 1758 square miles. Blimey. One lad trav­els in on his Vespa 40km each way ev­ery week to be in his ‘lo­cal’ club. The scene it­self is gen­er­ally younger in Moscow, which is no bad thing and they have a great blend of ardent ‘tra­di­tion­al­ists’ who are heav­ily into the Mod thing. Moscow it­self has a vi­brant Mod scene, headed up by a guy nick­named ‘Mobkid’, nat­u­rally there are skins, ’Bil­lies and the gen­eral mix we get over here, and like over here, they are ob­sessed with their scoots. I’m go­ing back again to re­port more in-depth into the scene of the club and of the ‘retro scoot­ers club’ that ex­ists there too. I shall re­port, Bond-like, back to ‘M’ (or should that be ‘D’ for Dan?).

Yours with an in­cred­i­bly de­cent vodka Mar­tini, Agent R.

Words & Pho­to­graphs: Rik, Lana, and the Vespa Club of Moscow

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