The Scooter Bible: The Ultimate History and Encyclopedia

by Eric Dregni

“Scooters have driven around the world. Broken land speed records. Sailed the high seas and crossed the English Channel fitted with pontoons and propeller. Danced the tarantella. Fought in bullfights. Been blessed by the Pope. Parachuted behind enemy lines. Fitted with bazookas. Packed with plastic explosives and used as terrorist bombs.”

And that’s not the half of it. “In the beginning, there was the Big Bang, the molten masses cooled and the galaxies formed, life emerged from the seas, humans developed . . .” 

Colorful words. In fact, the author likes them so well he repeats them a few pages later. It would help to know that Dregni is not merely an uncommonly creative wordsmith but actually teaches English and journalism at university, also Italian which plays into the scooter subject as well.

There’s another thing it would be helpful to know IF you’ve been following the scooter literature for a good long time and IF Dregni’s name rings a bell and IF those introductory words in particular sound familiar: you have read them before, in an earlier book of Dregni’s (left), Scooter Bible: From Cushman to Vespa, the Ultimate History and Buyer’s Guide from 2006 (ISBN 978-1884313523). That book was some 40 pages shorter, from which follows that the new book is a revised version. Unsurprisingly, the new material relates to electric scooters. The new book has a different title and ISBN because it was originally published by Whitehorse Press. Why not Motorbooks, the current publisher, you ask? It had a coauthor, Michael Dregni, who was at the time the VP and Publisher of Motorbooks/Quayside imprint Voyageur Press where he had already been Editorial Director for 11 years so someone probably figured that might be a conflict of interest. The earlier book’s Cushman reference right in the title (mind you, “C” is not the first letter in the scooter alphabet!) probably explains why the Foreword is still by Cushman president Bob Ammon but in the 2022 edition it looks rather out of place because except for the very last sentence it talks exclusively about Cushman.

If you’re the hasty sort, the kind that skips right over the Table of Contents you’ll be turning page after page wondering if the “Encyclopedia” part of the book title is a red herring. That’s because it does start until page 176, just past the halfway point. Which would mean that the preceding 8 chapters must be the “Ultimate History” part. Well, it’s certainly wide-ranging, and also very entertaining, not least in combination with the well-chosen, plentiful illustrations and lively design. If you use the Index as a reference point, you’d see that, for instance, Japanese entries don’t figure much in that first section that takes us from 1902 to the 2010s, but they and many other global entities—many makes and models you’ll never have heard of unless you are a collector—do make it into the Encyclopedia. And just to be clear, with the exception of a few historic motorized examples the book only concerns itself with ride/sit-on scooters as opposed to stand-ons (which also means it skips a very well populated segment of current electrics).

Who knew that scoots can do all this? Note the vertical color bar on the right page: at the bottom it tells you what time range you’re in.

A scooter is hardly a byword for prodigious power—and a sidecar can’t possibly help. That said, there’s a funny section titled “Land Speed Records on 10-Inch Wheels.” And let’s not forget that DIY “Jet-Propelled Bike You Saw in Popular Mechanics!”

Dregni is either very well read—and he certainly has connections to some of the stand-out names on the scooter scene in his home state of Minnesotaor is an honest-to-goodness practicing “putt-puttnik” because he can talk with equal ease about the quick-fix of pouring Coca-Cola onto a slipping clutch as he does about bullfighting on motorscooters. 

By any measure this is a LOT of book—considering the paltry asking price of $40 it is an irresistible proposition.

Notice the stars next to the names? Presumably a rating system but what quality is being rated, cf. rarity, collectability? (There is no legend.)
Also, just in case you have eagle eyes: the entries are in alpha order, with boldfaced main entries; if there are subs they are lightface. So, right page, column 2, top entry . . . “Junior” is a sub to “Adler” in col. 1, ergo it should be lightface, like “Macchi” being sub to “Aermacchi” at the bottom of the page. No biggie.

The Scooter Bible: The Ultimate History and Encyclopedia
by Eric Dregni
Motorbooks, 2022
320 pages, 500+ b/w & color illustrations, flexibound
List Price: $40 / £28
ISBN-13: 978-0760375563

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