I'm a local scooterist who is interested in all things scooter-related: attending regional scooter rallies (meeting like-minded scooterists across the country), wrenching on my own bikes, having a look at those ancient scooters you've got stored in your barn, and especially riding with other scooter/motorcycle riders. I hope you'll find this column useful and that it promotes unity within our local scooter scene—even if it is unity over being laughed at by passersby as we drive down the street!
By now I'm sure you've noticed that the number of scooters on the road has greatly increased in the last few years. Whether people are drawn to scooters for fuel economy, because they want to quickly buzz around town, or because they're drawn to that great vintage styling, many people have begun to appreciate these funny little, step-through motorbikes.
What you may not know is that there's a huge, but relatively underground, community of scooter clubs that throw rallies, some of which draw people from all over the globe. A scooter club can be considered an extended family; sometimes we'd rather spend time with them than with our real families! As long as the members like you (and you can pass whatever grueling initiation ritual they've come up with), you're in the club. Scooter clubs aren't much different than other motorcycle or car clubs, with the possible exception of being pretty heavily dedicated to attending all the regional rallies.
With that in mind, here is a brief (not exhaustive) list of the clubs/events happening around our region:
With several shops selling modern scooters (and at least one selling vintage scooters), there is an ever-growing number of scooterists here in Knoxville and it seems that Java in the Old City is a common gathering spot (or at least I would like it to be). Sunday mornings, if it's remotely warm outside, I sometimes head that way to go riding with the vintage motorcycle guys who meet up there, always hoping to see a few scooterists. On Tuesdays, the Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Club bike night is held at the Time Warp Tea Room and while geared more towards motorcycles, there is often a vintage scooter or two to be found. It's not exactly what I would call a young crowd, but those guys are pretty knowledgeable about vintage motorcycles and you can often engage a couple of them in conversations about a scooter they own or used to own. In addition, a few scooter rides have been sponsored by Alcoa Good Times in an effort to get people out riding together. Knoxville seems on the verge of developing into a vibrant scooter scene, given a bit of organization.
The Hill City United Scooter Club is a great bunch of people, who have regular meetings and somewhat regular rides (a lot more often in the summer, obviously). The club is focused primarily on people who own metal-bodied, hand shifting scooters, so it's geared more towards vintage scooterists. They throw the Hill On Wheels Scooter Rally each summer, with this year's rally being pushed back into October. I haven't been to this rally yet but have heard that it's always a crazy good time and I'll definitely be there this year. Chattanooga has a scooter shop, Scenic City Scooters, which offers both new and vintage bikes sales/repair. If you need repairs done on anything from a new Buddy scooter to an ancient series 1 Lambretta, Stan Obal is your guy! In addition to Hill City United SC, Chattanooga is also home to the Fossils SC. FSC is primarily aimed at scooter riders over 50, no matter what type of bike you own.
Nashville, like many cities, is home to numerous scooterists, most of whom have no affiliation to any club. But Scoot-Nashville is a run by a few people trying to get group rides and discussions started up in the Music City area.
Atlanta, on the other hand, is busting at the seams with scooter clubs. There are the Imperials, the Terminals, Fist City, and Monkey Knife Fight SCs, as well as some others. Some of the Atlanta clubs have regular rides and information on them can typically be found on the Scootlanta forum. If you're in Atlanta and looking for a ride, chances are you'll find a group heading out on every Sunday afternoon. Atlanta is also the home of the founder of the StellaSpeed forum, who is tossing around the idea of a StellaSpeed rally this summer. The biggest Atlanta scooter rally each year is called Deliverance. This year will be the eighth rally for this bunch and while it's typically held in September, no dates have been set as of yet. It's been turned into a camping rally and has taken on the nickname "Laziest Rally Ever" because they don't provide you with any food (except one meal on Saturday night), don't give you any typical rally swag, and there's no raffle. But, on the other hand, the rally is free, the rides are amazing, and it's still a pretty good time.
Melanie DiClaudio is a mad scientist working at UT, who has been actively involved in the regional scooter scene for about two years but has had a love of scootering since first spotting a Vespa at age 16.