Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts on Moped Culture

...In the land of big houses with big yards and big cars, the thought that a two-stroke peddle start engine fastened to a glorified bicycle as a means of serious transportation was something best left to Europeans. My first thought of a moped enthusiast (before I rode one myself), was a slender man with a pencil thin mustache, a tight-fitting white and black striped shirt and a red beret. But through the grace of 1970s creative advertising and the economic implications of the time, mopeds, which easily boast up to 100 miles to the gallon, sparked the imagination of mainstream America. Gliding through traffic, avoiding vehicle registration and insurance and the convenience of side walk parking, made mopeds ideal for many commuting relatively short distances. In large cities and in rural towns, the mid to late 1970s saw the true arrival of a pass time that had been steadily progressing since the 1950s.
The success of the craze was short lived however, and by the early 1980s Americans were finding new ways of identifying themselves (like making tons of money in the stock market and blowing white powder up their nose). The trend of mainstream moped recognition had been reduced to a fad that by 1983 was very much out of style. The 1980s ushered in an era of in which America regained a defined sense of self, and with it came drastically different habits in consumerism. But it was this fall from grace that has largely affected those individuals who today are responsible for resurrecting moped interest. Mopeds of the 1970s were so fully integrated into the basic fabric of the time that a culture derived specifically from the vehicle was almost non-existent. Today, the underground moped movement, powered largely through advances in technology (i.e. the Internet), has blossomed into what can easily be described as a “scene.” The scene or sub-culture is defined by jargon, fashion, and shared pop-culture references. Like all sub-cultures, modern mopeders embrace the general ethos of the dominant society, but actively differentiate themselves by rebelling from popular norms...

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