The intense competition among the counter-culture motor scooter clubs in Indonesia is to grab attention, go one better than the other guy. With a love for Vespa shared by “a million brothers,” the inspiration seems boundless.
“Rebel Riders” is a showcase of extreme creativity impossible to ignore. Many of the self-made models are pieced together from scrap. The scooter was produced by Danmotor Vespa Indonesia under license from the Italian mother company Piaggio from 1972 until shortly after the country went through a financial crisis in 1997, and imports dried up, too. In any case, some 85% of the country still rides around on a Vespa.
“Vespa” means “wasp” in Italian, and many of these Frankenstein vehicles appear as demons by design, as if they’ve been through hell. There are added wheels, sandwich tires (see if you spot the one with more than 60 of them!), a stretch coffin seat, soccer goal side-car, sawn-off shotgun version, a four-wheeler tow-truck lookalike, a tree trunk chassis, macabre décor of skulls, dolls heads and appendages, outlandish handlebars, and on and on.
“We’re looking for freedom,” says one voice in Marc Ressang’s cannily shot and edited short documentary.
“Our souls are indeed on the streets.”