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Inside Brooklyn's Moped Gang
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Inside Brooklyn's Moped Gang - July 28, 2010, 12:32 PM

Rebels Without a Hog: Inside Brooklyn’s Moped Gang | Raw File

Rebels Without a Hog: Inside Brooklyn’s Moped Gang






BROOKLYN — Cassette tapes, typewriters, vinyl records, NES consoles. The reclaiming of forgotten technology is every hipster’s siren song.
Mopeds are no different, and the vintage bikes are forming better meatspace communities than most iPhone apps.
Almost every major city in the U.S. boasts at least one moped gang, and the names straddle being badass and ironic: Creatures of the Loin (San Francisco), Puddle Cutters (Portland, Oregon), the Tom Cruisers (Tempe, Arizona), Latebirds (Los Angeles), Landsquids (Sacramento, California), Decepticons (Kalamazoo, Michican), Hells Satans (Richmond, Virginia) and more.
The Oprhans are Brooklyn’s fearsome two-stroke contigent (pictured above), and they’re obsessed with the abandoned pedal-start bikes.
Mopeds reached the height of their popularity in the late 1970s during the oil crisis. Now they litter backyards and clutter garages with their rusted frames and rotted tires. A growing subculture, to which the Orphans belong, is eager to breathe life back into these motorized gems and turn them loose in the streets.





In April, some Orphans opened the Orphanage in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It’s a full-service moped shop that carries parts and accessories, as well as engine and exhaust kits to power up a moped. Most of the shop’s business comes from fixing broken mopeds, since the bikes that roll through its doors often haven’t run in 30 years.
Read on as we meet some of the Orphans, have a run-in with the law and take a ride over the bridge into Manhattan, moped-style.




Bradley Carroll zips down Franklin Avenue on his moped.
Photos: Bryan Derballa/Wired.com






As much as it is a business, the unassuming Orphanage has also become a clubhouse for members. Regular riders stop by to tinker with their bikes. Members of out-of-town gangs use it as a hub to meet up with old friends.






When not fixing mopeds, the guys roll dice, watch YouTube videos and eat Mexican food from down the street. The newest addition is a TV and Wii console, which has resulted in Mortal Kombat tournaments.






A Puch Magnum sits around the corner from the Orphanage. The bike features the whole gamut of customizations including a larger cylinder, carbon fiber exhaust pipe and a fresh paint job. Although mopeds use far less gasoline, their two-stroke engines generate more pollution than the four-stroke engines used by cars and motorcycles.
Photos: Bryan Derballa/Wired.com




Ryan Due, a longtime rider from Chicago, owns the Orphanage. His first attempt at collecting mopeds failed because his live-in girlfriend at the time couldn’t understand why he’d need more than one moped. Since the break-up, Due’s collection has grown so much that the Orphanage and its storage space has become almost a necessity.




Due’s been working on computers for 11 years, mopeds for seven. By day, he’s an IT guy in Manhattan. He says the general fascination is the same with computers and mopeds. It’s all problem solving.





Due adjusts the cylinder on a customer’s bike. A standard moped can go about 35 mph, but with a larger cylinder a bike can take in more gas and run faster. Most of these modified mopeds top out in the high 40s, with some seriously souped-up bikes hitting the 60s.
Due’s particular philosophy seems to permeate the Brooklyn moped scene: “If it doesn’t run it’s because it’s too pretty.” His personal bikes are fast but not attractive — they feature exposed wiring, rusted shocks and dirty engines. In contrast, mopeds in some different scenes, like San Francisco, tend to be slick with custom paint jobs and carbon fiber exhaust pipes.
Photos: Bryan Derballa/Wired.com






They call him Handsome Dan. Dan DeBiasio is one of The Oprhanage’s mechanics. DeBiasio is a natural tinkerer and started apprenticing as a piano tuner when he was 19 — about the same time he got into mopeds. For him, tuning a piano and tuning up a moped come from the same curiosity, and now he makes a living doing both.






Handsome Dan pedal-starts a moped. Walk by the street in front of the Orphanage on an average day and you’ll find mechanics testing bikes, listening to engines run and checking brakes.
On top of being a good mechanic, DeBiasio is also a strong rider. After his first moped trip from his home state of Arizona to Kalamazoo for a rally, he was inducted into the Tom Cruisers, one of Arizona’s moped gangs.
Most recently, he rode with some Orphans from Brooklyn to Chicago for a rally. On longer trips Orphans all make sure to ride the same bike (a Puch Maxi) so repairs are easier on the road.
Photos: Bryan Derballa/Wired.com






Due and fellow Orphan, Nathan Isherwood (center), help newbie Ben Schechter (right) work on his bike. For many riders, owning a moped means working on a moped. At the Orphanage, the mechanics gladly show owners how to repair their vintage vehicles.
This particular model is a 1977 Puch Maxi. It’s one of the more popular mopeds on the street. Bradley Carroll, another Orphan, calls the Maxi “the most soul moped — looks good, easy to ride, easy to work on.”





Lauren Walsh repairs her JC Penny Swinger 2. Walsh lives in Chicago and drove her bike in the back of her car to spend time at the Orphanage. She knows Due from Chicago and has met other Orphans at rallies.
Walsh hasn’t had the best luck at rallies. At an event in San Francisco she broke one of her arms and then broke the other at a rally in Los Angeles. Despite the mishaps, she keeps riding and working on her bike. Bones heal but friends are forever.






Andrew Schrock (aka Hippy) and Brian McCrocklin (reflected) work on bikes in front of the Orphanage. They are from the Hells Satans in Richmond, Virginia and just came up to Brooklyn for the weekend to hang out, ride and work on mopeds.
Many moped gangs are on good terms with one another. They meet at rallies every summer and stay linked-in through the vast online forum Moped Army.
Photos: Bryan Derballa/Wired.com




Pat Lowery lays on the roof of the Orphanage while visiting Brooklyn for the weekend with Hells Satans. Lowery lives in Richmond and is a founding member of the gang. He grew up skateboarding and started riding mopeds to get from one skate spot to the next. Soon moped culture became just as important to him as skate culture — which both share a penchant for exploration.
“If we’re on a ride and see an access road into nowhere, we’re gonna go down it,” says Lowery.






Hells Satans return from a sunset ride around Greenpoint, Brooklyn on bikes borrowed from the Orphanage. Lowery is connected to many other gangs throughout the country, mostly through rallies, and so he feels comfortable in almost every major city in the country. The Hells Satans recently hosted their own
in Richmond.



Lowery indulges a passerby with information about mopeds. Older people are often confounded that they are still being ridden.
Like many riders, Lowery likes how his moped fits into his minimalistic lifestyle. Though he owns a car, he rarely drives it, opting instead to ride his moped 25 miles out of town to visit his parents once a week.
Photos: Bryan Derballa/Wired.com




During an unfortunate ride, Brian McCrocklin was arrested for riding a moped that was reported stolen.
Because the Hells Satans were visiting from Richmond, they didn’t bring their own bikes and Ryan Due let them borrow a few from the shop — one of which belonged to Due and was stolen last year. Due recovered the bike on his own and never resolved the matter with the police. McCrocklin spent the afternoon in jail while Due smoothed things out. McCrocklin was released with no fines.




Lowery and the other Hells Satans received $90 tickets for not having motorcycle licenses. The Hells Satans claim this is their last trip to Brooklyn.


A cop rides the “stolen” moped back to the police station.





Ryan Due gears up for a ride. With the shop open six days a week, working IT five days and tending to the incessant slew of visitors, Due has had little opportunity for leisure rides.


Once all the bikes are ready to roll, the gang heads out over the Williamsburg Bridge to begin their weekend group ride.




Andy Kenney, the newest Orphan, leads the pack up Avenue B in Manhattan’s East Village. Kenney says, “it’s so much fun riding that you forget about all the people on the sidewalk making fun of you and just enjoy it.”


The gang zips through midtown Manhattan dodging tourists at 30 mph. The tailpipes are inherently less noisy than motorcycles and the group can talk amongst themselves, mostly about how their mopeds are riding.


The mopeders ride on at their own speed (fast but not too fast) and on their own creations (solid but not too pretty). They’re unconcerned with acceptance, just enjoying the wind in their faces and the mild rumble beneath them.

As much as it is a business, the unassuming Orphanage has also become a clubhouse for members. Regular riders stop by to tinker with their bikes. Members of out-of-town gangs use it as a hub to meet up with old friends.


When not fixing mopeds, the guys roll dice, watch YouTube videos and eat Mexican food from down the street. The newest addition is a TV and Wii console, which has resulted in Mortal Kombat tournaments.


A Puch Magnum sits around the corner from the Orphanage. The bike features the whole gamut of customizations including a larger cylinder, carbon fiber exhaust pipe and a fresh paint job. Although mopeds use far less gasoline, their two-stroke engines generate more pollution than the four-stroke engines used by cars and motorcycles.
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July 28, 2010, 12:39 PM



Thats actually pretty cool. Hipsters suck but thats pretty dayum cool. I got my old Tomos in the shed, who wants to start a gang?
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July 28, 2010, 12:44 PM

You can start a b-more gang, and I'll start a DC one. Then we'll fight at sunset for turf.


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Thats actually pretty cool. Hipsters suck but thats pretty dayum cool. I got my old Tomos in the shed, who wants to start a gang?
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July 28, 2010, 12:48 PM

Sounds like a plan. 6:00, sundown, behind the abandoned mill. Knuckles and chains only.
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July 28, 2010, 12:52 PM

No hitting in the face

and no fucking up my hair


Everytime you cook up...a little boy gets crushed by a bridge. -JTG40cal



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July 28, 2010, 12:55 PM

The B-more Bamas vs. the DC Douches

It's on muthafucka!

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July 28, 2010, 12:59 PM

I used to ride one of those in India when I was at my uncles place .. pedal it when it runs out of gas


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July 28, 2010, 01:07 PM

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July 28, 2010, 01:09 PM

Did the dude with the long beard in the speedo have tattos that made his kneee look like it was bleeding???


What do you value more? Life or Image?

"I don't ride, I usually just sit around wearing a tshirt and my icon back protector and talk shit about anyone who does not have a liter bike. That's how you can pick me out of a crowd. I also wear a red tophat."
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July 28, 2010, 01:32 PM

dude i have been looking on CL for an old Tomos Moped like had back in the day. I want to start a moped gang.
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July 28, 2010, 01:38 PM

Yeah, I think they are pretty cool actually. I would ride one around DC.
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July 28, 2010, 01:44 PM

I would push a Derbi moped if we had a crew here that did that.

NYC is so cool.

And DC is so wack.

Why couldnt there be alot of Federal government backed jobs in NYC..

Last edited by Daekwan; July 28, 2010 at 01:51 PM..
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July 28, 2010, 01:54 PM

It was kind of growing on me... until I watched the video...
fucking lame imo
not everything with two wheels is cool


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July 28, 2010, 02:46 PM

here you go you gayholes.

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July 28, 2010, 02:49 PM

I like this one.

Puch Moped Runs Fast - $650 (Rockville)

Date: 2010-07-24, 3:44PM EDT
Reply to: sale-uvb8z-1861115905@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]

This is restored Puch Maxi. The motor has been rebuilt by a professional with new bearings, and gaskets. Any old or damaged hardware was replaced at that time. The carburetor is larger than stock, as is the intake, and exhaust. The three work together to give the bike stronger top end and some more speed. Its a blast to ride, and for the most part I ride locally. I have taken it on much longer rides down around DC and back and it does just fine. If you need the fenders and rack I can find them. Also if you have an old motorcycle I may be willing to trade. At the moment I have too many mopeds though.

  • Location: Rockville
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
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