KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — If you pay attention, you can spot them in some quiet side street in the city or parked in a garage in some small town. Yes, that adorable scooter which seems to belong to another time is probably a Vespa, an Italian scooter first manufactured in 1946 by Piaggio & Co. S.p.A. After 66 years of existence, Vespa is still a favourite among young and old people. In fact, there are even Vespa World Days (http://www.vespaworlddays.com/#home) where proud owners of the scooter share their love for the bike throughout the world.
Eddy Ten of PJ One Motorcycle has been in the motorcycle business for the past 25 years. Approximately eight years ago, he decided to shift his focus to the restoration of Vespas, Lambrettas (another type of scooter) and various other type of hobbyist motorcycles.
“Everybody can repair motorcycles. There are plenty of shops that provide that service. But I can say that PJ One Motorcycle is a Vespa restoration and modification shop that also has a showroom. It is a niche market but the trend of vintage Vespas is coming back,” said the cheerful co-owner of PJ One Motorcycle.
If you think that Vespas are meant for grandpas, you should take a look at the impressive scooters in his showroom in Puchong. Various models from the 1960s to 1970s in different shades and conditions are made new by the skilful hands of PJ One Motorcycle workers. The demand for Vespas from PJ One Motorcycle is crazy and when Ten told me about his hardcore customers, I knew this was no mere passing fancy.
“I had this 18-year-old from Sabah who saw my Vespa services online. She immediately contacted me and told me she had RM10,000 in her bank account and wanted to spend it all on a Vespa. Over the phone, she thought I was an uncle because Vespa is a vintage scooter. This customer had not even gotten her bike license yet! And she custom-made a Vespa with PJ One Motorcycle and had it shipped to Sabah,” recalled Ten, with a hearty laugh.
Customers from all over Malaysia and other countries have contacted PJ One Motorcycle for custom-made Vespas, some sourced by Ten himself. Some are inherited from a grandfather or relative. One customer’s case remains very memorable to Ten.
“There was this guy from the United States and he wanted a Vespa in a special chocolate colour. I showed him many samples online but still, he wasn’t satisfied with the shades of brown. He didn’t mind paying my workers to paint a part of a Vespa to show him the colour he had in mind,” Ten said.
That particular customer went back and forth with PJ One Motorcycle to get the exact colour he wanted. He even flew to Malaysia a few times, just to check on the progress and to find the perfect Vespa colour.
“He said ‘Eddy, do you know what I mean by having a first love? This is my first bike. Money is not a problem’.”
Don’t let their cute looks fool you, some of the older models can be a little tricky when it comes to refuelling as their two-stroke engines require a special mixture of oil (two per cent of two-stroke oil and petrol). However, the newer models do no have this problem as they now come with four-stroke engines.
Apparently the Vespa is very easy to ride as most of them now come with an automatic gearbox where you just twist-and-go without worrying about shifting gears, and just like a bicycle the brakes are located on the handles.
Bari Hsiung, co-owner of PJ One Motorcycle has his fair share of interesting Vespa customers as well. Whenever he takes his modified Vespa out to town, people will stare at his beautiful scooter and ask about it.
“People always ask me where I got it from. It is sort of like a ‘hipster’ thing now. Back then, you’ve got two types of people: the Mods who would wear suits and ride Vespas and then the Rockers who would ride on cafe racers,” said Hsiung.
Never heard of a cafe racer? It is a term that refers to both the bike and the rider. According to Hsiung, this is a group of riders who sit at a cafe, put a coin in the jukebox and then race to the next cafe and back - before the song in the jukebox ends! PJ One Motorcycle also restores and modifies cafe racers and there are also plenty of Harley Davidson Low-Riders that customers bring in for refurbishment or restoration.
“We restore everything! Someone said to me that I have a museum,” joked Ten as he showed me a 100-year-old chair that he restored and also motorcycle helmets his workers airbrushed.
From precious golf clubs to weighing scales, they can restore anything for you. Ten even specially customised a tyre rack for a brand new Vespa. The latest Vespas do not have a visible tyre rack at the back but one particular customer requested one.
“Sometimes these men get a scolding from their wives because of the amount of time and money spent on the motorcycles. I had this customer who had a collection of motorcycles, ranging from Vespas to Lambrettas. He even collects bicycles and he does not have a place to put them in his condominium or his office!”
Ten does delivery and pick-up so sometimes he sends the motorcycle back to the customer’s place at night after the wife has gone out. That way the husband doesn’t get caught!
His wide customer base has him picking up Vespas from as far as Penang for restoration. There was once, he even had to fly to Indonesia to do quality control on about 20 Vespas. The customer was willing to pay the flight tickets, hotel and services that Ten provided.
The two of them insist that it is actually very easy to ride these scooters, as most of them come with an automated gearbox system, where you just twist-and-go without worrying about shifting gears, and just like a bicycle, the brakes are located on the handles.
A lot of PJ One Motorcycle’s customers find out about them via the Internet or word of mouth. So far, PJ One Motorcycles have had customers from more than 10 countries and shipping is not a problem. The good-natured Vespa expert doesn’t mind driving his pick-up to anywhere within Malaysia to give your old scooter a face-lift.
The prices he quotes are reasonable, he said, because he wants to deliver the best quality for Vespa lovers. He doesn’t believe in cutting corners. In fact, he will discuss with you and tell you straight up the cost of the restoration, parts and shipping.
And of course, Ten and Hsiung both have Vespas of their own... customised of course.
“Vespa owners have their own personal, unique sense of individuality. It is unisex and the best part is that you can have any colour or design you wish,” said Hsiung
There are plans for possibly a bigger showroom or even a cafe with a motorcycle or scooter theme.
PJ One Scooter Restorations & Customs x PJ One Motorcycle Sdn. Bhd.
The Brick & Motor Company x Spinoza Group Sdn. Bhd.
No. 1-1, Jalan Puteri 7/7, Bandar Puteri Puchong,
47100 Puchong, Selangor,
Telephone: +603 8063 1257
Fax: +603 8063 1258
Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays. Tues- Sun: 9am-7pm
Appointments can be made and arranged.
By Lydia Koh and Aiman Ridzuan
The Malaysian Insider
25 July 2012
Bari Hsiung and Eddy Ten, co-owners of PJ One Motorcycle with their own unique customised Vespas. — Pics by Choo Choy May