Scooters are an integral part of Indonesian life; the method of transport for many as they negotiate the chaotic city streets or wind their way down country roads from village to village. But scooters are not just a necessity; they’re also a passion, and some enthusiasts have taken their obsession with the iconic Italian Vespa by Piaggio to a whole different level. Known as Vespa Gembel, or Vespa drifters, these scooterists have created custom-built rides, Frankenstein bikes that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mad Max film.
The extreme designs of the bikes reflect the distinctive style of the Vespa Gembel riders – an extension of the individual’s love for freedom of expression. The lifestyle attracts metalheads, punks and other outliers of society. Some make their living as mechanics customising these wild bikes for fellow members.
The Vespas come in all shapes and sizes. Some have huge handlebars while others have more than 20 tyres attached to cheap DIY steel frames. Many are decorated with random items ranging from buffalo skulls to bamboo and garbage. If it looks good, then anything goes for these outsiders, who have regular meet-ups across Java.
This photo essay was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Silkwinds magazine