In Japan, if it can be customized, it will be. And invariably it’s not just one or two bored school kids doing it in the garden shed. Subcultures grow and spread around the pimped up versions and the Big Scooter phenomenon is no exception. Here’s a look at some of Tokyo’s brightest, shiniest, blingiest scooters, that make the Vespa and its fans look oh so dull. To check out the crazy enhancements that the bosozoku (literally 'violent running tribes') do to enhance their four-wheelers, check here.
In Japan there is a law that prevents people from customizing their bikes beyond the 400cc class, so bikers who feel the need to tailor their ride have limited options.
This Big Scooter 250cc bike class offers the most options when it comes to customization, which is why it's so popular.
While Bozoku bike gangs are famous in Japan for making trouble and lots of noise, these Big Scooter groups’ only agenda is to make their bikes look amazing and increase their performances by using lightweight parts.
They even have a Mixi group (the Japanese Facebook) as a means to arrange get-togethers where everyone swaps stories and ideas about new customizations.
A typical big scooter might set you back US$7,000 or so but a customized version can cost anywhere from US$14,000 to US$25,000, depending on the parts.
If you happen to spot one of these groups around Tokyo, don't be afraid to front up, say hello and ask some questions about their bikes. They’re all very proud of their work, love showing off their two-wheeled babies and are a very approachable group.