The Last of the Bastards: Scooter Decoration and Costuming

I’ve been offered a banana by a man in an ape suit, stood guard at our nation’s capital while carrying a small rubber chicken,

Faux fur on a summer rally? Now that’s madness.

and I’ve seen motorized monstrosities covered with silver duct tape and LED lights.  It’s a circus of (lack of) speed, a mad house of motors, a travesty of travel.

It’s the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally, and it’s the last one.

In our last blog post we went into the tragedy and glory that is the ending of the Mad Bastard Scooter rally – tragedy in that an event which has changed me as a scooterist and motorcyclist is going away – and glory in that we get one last hurrah, one last kick at the crazy can to send the MBSR out with a bang.

Part of what makes the MBSR unique among rallies is the fact that most of the riders ride machines decorated in a less than sane fashion and wear costumes to match.

Bovine fashion, MBSR style.

Over the years there has been viking riders, pirates, space captains (space oddities indeed) and just about every flavour of cartoon and animal under the sun.

Considering half the point of the MBSR is coming away with a series of (ridiculous, hilarious, bizarre) photos documenting your charity ride, that’s just to be expected.  But this year I suspect people will be stepping it up a notch.

Because it’s the last.  It’s the last chance to shine, last chance to go mad, last run of an event that for me has has been an adventure with elements of Burning Man, art cars, and a community I count as friends.

Even though at times when I’m talking to them I’m not entirely sure if they are replying to me or the voices in their head.  Might be voices as they don’t seem to recognize when I refuse to run around setting small fires.

So this year I need to step up my game.

Last MBSR our theme was “Red Shirts” complete with “Bones” and scooters decorated in true Starfleet style.  And yes, several team members were unfortunately horribly killed during the running of the rally.   But we’re pretty sure they’ll be back for the reboot, so it’s all ok.

Bones did not survie the rally. But then again, he didn’t survive before the rally started.

The rally before?  Steampunk, with a steam powered robot in a sidecar.  It had LED lights and was handmade over an entirely ridiculous amount of time.

Because MBSR that’s why.

So this year – has to be something special again.  We’ll be bringing our Burgman 400 and sidecar yet again this year (because we’re mad, but we’re not bad enough to do 50cc’s…. again.  I mean I had to practically have that moded surgically removed) and my brother will likely be coming out again on his Kymco People S200 scooter.

We need something that will be visually distinctive – colourful and bright.  Something that will stand out among the comic book heroes and villains and martians and madmen.

And we’re not going into details quite yet…. but something in the line of kids that meddle.

So what are some suggestions for your preparation I can make?

Decorating the machine:

First of all, it all depends on the scooter you are bringing.  If it’s a nice, pristine machine – obviously there are some things you should avoid.  Nobody wants to see troll dolls glued to a pristine Vespa.

Well actually I do now that you mention it, but nobody else.

A hand tooled leather seatcover, attached to the stock seat with shoelaces underneath. Because I get obsessive.

So things like seat covers which can be put over top of the seat without changing the stock seat.  Decorative items bolted to the luggage rack can substantially change the look, and if you attach something to the luggage rack (firmly and aware from the wheels) it can also be used as a place to attach other items.

Vinyl decals work well and generally are removable (you may want to test a small piece of the decal material somewhere inconspicuous to see how easily removable they are).

Extra battery powered LED lights can be had from the dollar store or Ebay and attached using Zip ties.

Costume design:

First rules of a costume – keep in mind you will be wearing it for a *very* long time.  It will be sweated in, it will be rained on, it will get caked in dust and dirt and grime and various other substances we won’t go into detail on.

It’ll get blown in the wind – and possibly blown apart by the wind.

My first MBSR the costume was far simpler – with just a hand painted jean jacket saying “Born to be Mild”

And capes?  Anything that can get caught in wheels or drivetrain is a bad idea for safety’s sake.  We might be bad, but we’re not suicidal.  Just masochistic.

This means your average bargain store Halloween costume is likely to end up leaving little shredded bits across the landscape.

Keep in mind also that in June the mornings can be *quite* cold.  Ever see a blue Scotsman?  I have the one year a rider wore a kilt on the MBSR and it was 5 degrees above zero in the morning.

A rainsuit is also a good idea – getting soaked can drain you *very* fast and make finishing the rally difficult, if not impossible.  Hypothermia can be easy to get in the morning, if it rains all day, or in the evening when it can cool off rapidly.  (Especially if part of the route is along water.)

Oh and I can’t mention this enough – do *NOT* wear costume boots for the first time on the rally!!!  Your blisters will have blisters on blisters.  You will get off the scooter because you have worn a hole in your posterior from the uncomfortable seat, and then realize your boots have worn your feed off somewhere a few miles back and promptly fall to the ground.

I bet all the stores around this scooter rider’s house were out of tinfoil for months.

Where someone will probably laugh at you, because Bastards.

Then they’ll probably help you, because Nice Bastards.  But still laughing, because Bastards.

Resources for putting together a costume:

Thanks to the wonders of geekdom and the internet (and I say that with true appreciation) there are many resources you can tap into for inspiration for your outfit.  I recommend looking at Cosplay sites, which quite often have handy guides on how to make an outfit for very little money.  Or great deals of money should you choose to go that route.

I can’t say how much I have spent some years.  Because math.  But even if I was capable of counting past single digits, I’d probably be somewhat embarrassed some years – because for me the process of making the outfit is part of the point and is a means of creative expression.

Some articles on creating a cosplay outfit:


I’ve said it before, and I’ll be saying it again as I come to grips with the reality – but this is the last MBSR.  There will be no more.

The weather may be chillier than you might think, so have something to go over your costume in the morning (and evening, it’s a long day.)

Which means this is your last chance to throw sanity to the winds, strap on an outfit that was rejected from your local superhero team and ride several hundred kilometers while chafing happens in a variety of anatomically unlikely places.

It’s your last chance to do an event that will be fondly remembered.  Your last chance to have a photo that under other circumstances would be used for blackmail purposes.

Go forth Bastards, go wonderfully mad.  Gather your scooters, gather your pageantry and gather your energy.  Until the day comes we ride once more, for the final time.

For madness, for Rob, and for all the things that the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally has given us.

We’ll see you on the start line.


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