Top 10 Custom Scooters That Break The Moped Stereotype!
How About An Odyssey Through The Under Appreciated Realm Of Custom Moped Machinery?
Updated August 25, 2018
While there’s no shortage of custom motorcycles out there, what about custom scooters? Whenever we think of the word “motorcycle” we always think of sporty crotch rockets from Japan or effortlessly cool American cruisers, but in reality, the bulk of the world’s two wheeled machines are nothing of the sort. They’ve got two wheels, they’ve got handlebars, but the vast majority of them don’t have a clutch. In many parts of the world, the humble scooter roams supreme. And by “scooter” we mean it in the dictionary definition of the word: “a light two-wheeled open motor vehicle on which the driver sits over an enclosed engine with legs together and feet resting on a floorboard.”
Scooters and mopeds rule supreme all over the world: they’re ideal for navigating busy city traffic, for tearing around narrow European roads, and they’re so easy to ride that they’re the perfect family vehicle that can be ridden by kids and grandmas alike. Honda have produced more than 100 million models of its Super Cub model alone, so the scooter market really is a massive one. And with so many scooters out there, and if it’s got two wheels and an engine, then you’d better believe that there’s an insane subculture surrounding custom scooters and all things moped.
It might not be as glamorous or as well publicized as the regular motorcycle custom scene, but it’s just as big, if not bigger. In fact, you can lose entire days trawling through custom scooter pages from places like Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, where innovative bike builders manage to do a lot with a little. The same can be said from Western enthusiasts who have managed to turn little mopeds into out and out race demons. With all that in mind, we’re going to look at our top 10 favorite custom scooters that we’ve seen in recent years. So here they are!
Our Top 10 Custom Scooters!
#10: The ShredPed 1.0
Technically, this is more custom moped than custom scooter because this little pocket rocket once started life as a 1978 Motobecane 40T model. As you can see, it’s more or a motorized bicycle than modern scooter, but that’s the way things were back in France where the Mobylette used to rule supreme. That was then, but this is now, and the Motobecane 40T model is a regular donor for custom scooter enthusiasts. This particular offering has been treated with some top notch performance parts including a bigger Motobecane AV10 70cc Polini engine, with a custom pipe thrown on for good measure. On top of that, it has also been chopped, lowered, given some clip-ons, and treated with a race inspired paint job. It might not be the fastest bike on the road but if you’re looking for a head turning scooter that comes dripping in motorcycling history, then the ShredPed 1.0 is the custom scooter for you. Well-built, nicely engineered, stylishly designed – we dig it.
#09: The Monster RCX by Tomahawk Mopeds
Following the theme of using French classics for donors, this custom scooter goes by the name of the Monster RCX and it has been built on top of an old Peugeot 103 model. The original Peugeot was classically French and came from the factory with an upright riding position, a typically 80s aesthetic, and of course: pedals. This custom from Tomahawk Mopeds takes the original idea of the Peugeot and turns it on its head. This is a track day racer. The original engine was ported and fitted with a new 50cc cylinder, updated with a Bidalot crank, a PLV analog CDI, an electric water pump from Bosch, a Ipra radiator, a Dellorto 21mm carb and a new exhaust system from Gianelli. If that wasn’t enough, this custom scooter also boasts pneumatic rear shocks, a hydraulic fork, disc brakes and even more. This is a bike built for racing. While it happens to look incredibly cool at the same time, let’s not forget that this was designed and built for unprecedented lap times and hard riding. Who wants a go?
#08: The Piaggio Ciao Racer by OMT Garage
This strange looking custom scooter started life as a 1982 Piaggio Ciao PX, or Ciao for short. Built as nostalgic homage to many an Italian motorcyclist’s first vehicle, this stunning creation from OMT Garage is nothing short of amazing. Built with racing in mind, the original chassis was lengthened and lowered for better stability, and treated with aerodynamic bodywork that gives the Ciao a proper retro look. The little two-stroke motor was enlarged to 75cc from 49cc, and treated with electric ignition, a lighter flywheel, a new 19mm carb and a custom made exhaust pipe. To keep the bike as light as possible, modern comforts were kept to the minimum: the front brake is a thing of the past, the traditional seat has been replaced with a stark cork unit, and weirdly, the throttle is controlled by a lever rather than a twist grip. Add some slick tires, and you’ve got one of the strangest custom scooters out there. It’s an unusual bike, but absolutely brilliant in its own weird way.
#07: The “Eyes” Honda C70 by Minority Customs
There’s no scooter more iconic than the Honda C70. This particular custom scooter is a 1980 model that has been lovingly customized by Indonesia’s Minority Custom Motorcycles based in Surabaya. What makes this custom so special is that it discards the friendly and almost cutesy image usually associated with the Honda Cub and turns it into something fierce and mean. After ditching the rear shocks in favor of a hard tail setup and the addition of a (relatively) massive 130 rear tire, the Cub started to change from a practical little city bike into an aggressive looking bobber, so the team at Minority Customs just ran with it, adding a cool Springer front end, reversed Honda Monkey bars, and some street-savvy “The Eyes” graphics. Yamaha DT wheels were brought in to keep it looking retro, and a suicide shifter was introduced for added insanity. Add a big carb and a big exhaust and you’ve got yourself one of the coolest custom scooters on the road. Did you ever think a little Honda could look so mean?
#06. Matt Turner’s ’77 Honda Hobbit
This franken-bike is one of the most unusual but impressive custom scooters that we’ve seen over the last five years. Built by Matt Turner, this crazy Honda is essentially a Honda Hobbit with a modified fame, with a bag of mismatching parts grafted here and there to form something that extraordinarily works. The idea behind this build was to cross a much-loved Honda classic like the Hobbit (PA50) with something like a top-tank Puch Magnum, and update the odd creation into something contemporary. And Matt managed to do it. Featuring Honda MB5 forks, a chromoly sub-frame, a Sachs Prima gas tank, a modified Honda PA50II engine, a cylinder and head from a Peugeot Speedfight 70cc, assorted bits and bobs including a Volkswagen water pump and even more, somehow Matt managed to assemble his bag of bolts into something that looks like it could have rolled out of the Honda factory. It’s weird and wonderful, but no doubt a blast to ride. There’s something quite alluring about hitting unnecessary speeds on such thin tires….
#05: The Vespcrambler by Rio 58 Works
If you like your Piaggio Vespa complete with swooping curves and voluptuous bodywork then look away now – because this insane custom scooter from Rio 58 Works should be borderline heresy. Dubbed by the internet as the “Vespcrambler” this crazy custom breaks with tradition by doing away with the iconic Vespa bodywork that’s usually the most desirable part of the Italian motorcycle. Instead, the classic two-stroke motor has been transplanted into a more conventional motorcycle frame that features an unorthodox front swingarm arrangement, a frame mounted gas tank, dirt bike handlebars, and a set of seriously knobbly off-road tires. In summary, we have the world’s first Vespa Scrambler. It looks incredible, but whether it performs well off-road remains to be seen. Vespa’s are more commonly found zipping around the cobbled streets of Italy’s cities, but we’d be willing to take this for a spin in the dirt…for the sake of science of course. So there’s you have it: the Vespcrambler – one of the most exciting custom scooters we’ve ever seen.
#04: The Bonneville Salt Racer by Vintage Addiction Crew
What do you get if you cross a 49cc Derby moped, a KTM 80 dirt bike, and a Beta Trueba enduro? Well, you get this very cool lookin’ salt racer from Spain’s Vintage Addiction Crew. Inspired by the Bonneville speed machines, this crazy mash up is something else altogether. If you happen to have three bikes awaiting restoration in your garage, you could always go in the same direction as the Vintage Addiction Crew and roll all three bikes into one – the results may surprise you. Here we have a 49cc Derby engine sitting in a heavily customized Derby frame, wearing KTM 80 forks at the front, with a Beta Trueba wheel at the front and a Rieju Supermotard wheel at the rear, steered by Yamaha TZR handlebars, all held together with custom handmade bits and pieces…it’s lot to take in, but it somehow works. It’s straight and to the point, and it looks like it could smash a land speed record or two.
#03: The Redman ’59 by AFS Taiwan
There’s nothing quite like a stretched and lowered custom scooter, but this one comes with a nice and sexy retro edge that sets it apart from the rest. Built by AFS Taiwan, this rather splendid little mover started life as an SYM 90. If you’re not familiar with SYM, they’re a Taiwanese brand that build all kinds of bikes from little scooters to cool runarounds like the SYM Wolf motorcycle, so give the a look. For this build though, Tainan City’s AFS Taiwan decided to take a conventional 90cc machine and turn it into a fierce looking vintage drag racer, without compromising too much of the bike’s original charm. The Redman ’59 is mostly built using AFS’s own in-house fabricated parts, such as the forks, handlebars, the front wheel, fenders, and fuel tank – with very little being borrowed from other bikes or bought from aftermarket specialists, and that’s what makes this build pretty special. Our personal favorite part of this build is the awesome frame extension and the cool paint job from Taiwan’s Magical Brush Painting Studio – it really captures the essence of the build and takes this custom scooter to the next level.
#02: “The Guardian” by Cris Cofitis
When you’re an already established motorcycle builder who’s competed at the AMD Championship custom bike build-off at Sturgis, you’re expected to deliver the goods when you pull the covers off one of your projects, and boy did Cris Cofitis deliver when he unveiled his incredible Piaggio Vespa custom. Most of the custom scooters listed above have been tinkered with to provide better performance for their riders. This one, however, is purely aesthetic. It’s not going to win any time trials, but if sculptural fabrication is your thing, then this should win first place. It’s called “The Guardian” and it may very well be one of the most impressive scooters ever built. Taking inspiration directly from the realms of diesel-punk and science-fiction, this amazing Vespa looks like it would be more at home riding through the streets of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis rather than on real life roads. It’s very art-deco, but despite its excess it’s not quite over the top. In fact, in its own way it’s almost understated and subtle, and could easily have snowballed into a tacky gears and levers parody of what it was supposed to be – but it toes the line perfectly. It’s a show bike, for sure, and the show it puts on is one that we could happily watch again and again.
#01: The Electric Cub by Joe Fischer and Ryan Mischkulnig
The custom scene is currently dominated by café racers, scramblers and bobbers, but when the kings of custom couture Deus Ex Machina held their bike build-off competition in 2015, the judges picked an unlikely winner. It wasn’t a Honda CB750 café racer. Neither was it a Yamaha Virago bobber. It wasn’t even a Triumph scrambler either. It was this little Honda Cub C90. But what made this build different from other custom scooters was the fact that it had done away with its conventional little engine, and was powered by a completely electric drivetrain. If Cris Cofitis’ Vespa was a little too over the top for you, then this minimalist and understated Honda Cub should get your attention. Using a small 5.2 kW electric motor from an MX H-52 Hurricane and a 1.5 kWh LiFePO4 battery, the Honda Cub was more or less finished. It was as simple as that – save for a few subtle aesthetic touches such as the removal of anything unnecessary like the fenders, airbox, and engine mounts, the addition of some copper tubing to catch the eyes and a set of striking blacked out wheels, and a stunning teal paint job to tie it all together. It’s simple, but that’s what makes it one of the best custom scooters out there.
Bonus: The Engine Swapped Vespa
If the idea of an electric motorcycle coming in first place is too abhorrent for you, then we’ll throw in a bonus entry to make things right. Rather than settle on one particular custom, we’ve decided to cast a wider net instead. Basically, our alternative number one is a Vespa with an insane engine swap. It could be like this Repsol Honda inspired Vespa seen above, which boasts a quite frankly insane Honda CBR600RR engine instead of its standard little two-stroker…Or it could be this similarly engine swapped Yamaha FZR600 powered Vespa in the video below. We’ve seen all kinds of engine swaps that make for interesting custom scooters, and somewhere out there on the internet there’s a Hayabusa powered Vespa doing the works. But we prefer our custom scooters to be on the more reasonable side of insane, so a 600cc supersport engine is about as crazy as we’re willing to go!