I’ve known Steve Bone since the 80s, having met him and his Big Cock clubmates at one of the Jailbirds dos at Greatham in deepest Hampshire. They were great dos, bringing together various clubs from a wide area and I met so many people there that I’m still in touch with today. The A5s, Junction 13, my own Midhurst Detours and many more would gather in a tiny village hall, with Rich and Kev on the decks to entertain the packed dancefloor of sweaty scooter people.
Steve hails from Staines, where there was a vibrant scooter scene in the 80s, and having travelled the length and breadth of the country on national rallies he’s still got the bug over 30 years later.
Steve has owned many fab scooters over the years, from a Nick Jolly-built Juicy Fruit Special, to an Armando’s. These days he loves an old Lambretta as well as being an early adopter of the auto scene which divides opinion still, for many.
I’m so tempted to make a joke about the ‘Staines Massive’ and his old club, Big Cock SC, but I’m far too mature to do such a thing…
Let’s get on with the stories that Steve has to tell about his early years in scootering.
Steve Bone – my first rally
How did you first get into scooters?
It all started at school around 1979-80, along with the music I was listening to at the time, like The Jam and Stiff little Fingers. I was introduced at 14 to a friend called Roy and very soon I was dressing like a mod and visiting Carnaby Street. I always remember going up there on public transport and getting nervous as you entered its backstreets, with skinheads spitting on you as you went upstairs! I had seen scooter magazines and pictures of bikes and was desperate to get one. In our little group I was the oldest, so one of the first to get a scooter. I managed to buy an LI Series 3 for £10 off a chef at a local hotel. Did it go? Of course not! So what do you do as kids if it doesn’t work? Strip it down into loads of bits and find out why… It then snowballed from there and hasn’t stopped, and since the age of 15 I have always owned a scooter.
What was your first scooter rally?
Clacton mod run, 1984
What did you ride?
It was a PX125 in metallic green! At that time we used to all meet at the Dolphin pub in Kingston on a Wednesday night, so something was organised and we all rode together there in a group of about 65 scooters.
It felt amazing riding in a large group, Quadraphenia styleee! Or in hindsight we went for safety in numbers, with many people on 50cc scooters so it took ages. I can’t remember how long but it seemed to take hours just to drive the 70 miles!
What job were you doing at the time?
I was working for a electronics company soldering components on surface mount boards. I earned £38 a week, and with petrol being so cheap I didn’t need a lot for a weekend away.
Where did you stay when you were there?
Loaded up with sleeping bags and tents, we all headed off to a corner of the field along with a few of our friends. I think we left the site once to hit the penny arcades in between drinking nasty lager and cider! There was a moment one night when there was a large shout of “the casuals are here !!!” and everyone got up to run to the entrance. I think it was just a Ford Escort and a Capri going up and down passing the site with their large blonde wedge haircuts shouting “mod wankers” out of the window.
Were you in a club at the time?
We were trying to think of a name at that time and we were thinking of being called the “Middlesex Blades” due to the badge for Middlesex. I think we changed that and a few years later as scooter boys we became Big Cock SC, named after the King Kurt album.
Do you have any memories of the rally itself?
It was so long ago I can’t recall to much of note but I always remember Mark Fowler couldn’t ride with us due to work, so when he clocked off he rode there at night on his own with his new PK50 .
He eventually turned up on the site and when he found us he was a bit shaken and shocked. He climbed off his scooter and explained that as he was riding along the A12 there was a group of people on a bridge, and as he passed underneath they had thrown bricks and rocks at him! He swerved to avoid the downfall, but although they missed him a large brick hit his scooter and left a nice large dent in the top of the bodywork above his side panel door. Luckily he had the maximum 30 mph to get out of trouble!
Was the journey home eventful?
I can’t recall it now, but think we just left in a group with a few lads in a Ford Capri for protection!
Do you remember what your favourite rally anthem of that period was?
After two mod runs I went on my first national to the Isle of Wight in 1984. That’s where it all changed for so many, and from then on it was all about being a scooterboy and we all ended up getting into psychobilly music. I still love Stiff Little Fingers and go and see them every year. I see them on every tour at different places around the UK.
Here are SLF looking very young on Top Of The Pops in 1980!
What was your favourite custom scooter of that era?
I always remember seeing Little Rascal after it being on the IOW 84 Paddy Smith patch and thought it was great, the first proper cutdown Vespa, with its leg shields and petrol tank and obligatory pike nuts!
Then I saw an Armando’s and had my heart set on one of them. A few years later I had one built and owned one myself!
The Armando’s was then rebuilt by Nick Jolly and his team and turned into Juicy Fruit. This and many more 80s scooters can be seen here in a journey down memory lane!
Do you still have a scooter now?
Since the age of 15 I have always owned a scooter and never not had one to ride. I have also had motorbikes and am a big lover of all things on two wheels. At the minute I have the GTS for work and use it now and then for the odd rally. I have a Series 2 which I love riding and has been on many adventures, including a few Euro Lammy runs.
In the garage now waiting a bit of a restoration is a early 1952 Model D Lambretta.
What do scooters mean to you now?
They are such an important part of my life and I still get a buzz when I am out riding, and more so over the last 20 years doing more and more Euro adventures. I have met some great people all over the world with a scooter connection and have shared many a story and a few beers. I still have friends now who I knew as a teenager, when we formed friendships all because of scooters.
I am one of the founders of the Darkside which caused many issues back in the day with the acceptance of autos on the scene. Now, of course, the trusty GTS and Scomadis have meant more people are riding autos than ever. At the time it divided opinion, and still does within the scene, with some. It has also spawned a Darkside music room offering alternative music at major rallies. I am part of the London Lambretta Club and also started the GTS Owners Club.
In 2012 after looking for a new adventure I decided to take two weeks off work and go for a long adventure on my own. I ended up riding to Brighton pier, turning right, and rode around the coast of the UK on my GTS, finishing at Euro Vespa in London some 3500 miles later. It was great just riding on my own, unsure of what I would discover or where I was staying a truly memorable journey.
Thank you so much to Steve for sharing these brilliant stories and photos! How brilliant is it to ride around our amazing coastline without a plan!
To get the lowdown on the 2019 rallies, check out my guide here to everything that’s in the calendar so far.
With Christmas fast approaching, here are some ideas for the scooter lover in your life!
Shop for scooter goodies!
If you’d like to read more from my First Rally series, here are the other scooterists I’ve featured :
- Dave Lloyd, top scooter DJ and restorer
- Dizzy Holmes, from Detour Records and the National Bulldog Rescue
- Norrie Kerr, Vespa legend
- Sticky, scooter author, mechanic and adventurer
- Sean Robinson, chief Garagista
- Jo Jackson, psychobilly queen and original Alcoholic Rat
- Lee Richards, owner of Meat Is Murder and the unfortunate guy who is married to me!
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