Words: Stu Smith | Photographs: Gary Chapman & Keith Wriglesworth
The Vikings weren’t known for their kind nature or endearing approach to life. However, Melvin Garside enjoyed the eponymous Sky TV show so much that it formed the foundation for his Viking-themed custom scooter.
Melvin got into scooters through his daughter, Samantha. “I saw how much of a good time they were having. I’d heard the stories about the rallies, and the night dos, and it sounded like great fun and too much of a good time for me to miss out on!” he explained.
That was it. The seed was sown and without wasting any time, Melvin purchased his first scooter, a Vespa PX 125 (with a 177 Pinasco kit), and started riding with Samantha and her boyfriend, Terry Brady.
In 2017, as Melvin started to get the miles under his belt, he went on the Dutch Lions Rally with the Halifax Elite S.C. The ride was one to remember.
“On the way over a problem developed where I couldn’t get my scooter out of the gears and I was having to jump it through the gears. After a lot of effort I eventually got there, and after not having the best of journeys over, as you can imagine, I was ready for a pint!”
A chance not to be missed
Having settled in, and after sampling the local beer, Melvin bumped into one of his old pals, Bob Wood. “Bob’s meticulous about his scooters, and his attention to detail and accuracy is something else.
He was chatting in the bar with several other scooterists, when I overheard the topic of the conversation, which was about the possibility of him selling his scooter.
“In somewhat of a mild state of inebriation, my ears pricked up when I heard Bob mention the asking price for his scooter to the guy he was talking to. At this point I knew I had to make a move.” said Melvin.
“As we all know, you can buy somebody else’s problems when you buy a scooter. Knowing this was Bob’s scooter and how well he looked after things, I just had to get in on it.”
When the fella Bob had been talking with left to have a think about the offer, Melvin seized the opportunity, and went straight over to Bob and told him he’d have the scooter. “We agreed a price and shook hands. Then, two minutes later the chap came back and said, ‘I’ll have it’.
Bob, being a man of his word, apologised and told the fella he’d sold it to me. I sobered up the next day, and then all I had to do was contact the wife to organise the payment,” said Melvin.
The scooter was originally painted orange and pale blue, and Melvin wasn’t keen. “It’s that thing where people see you on a new scooter and tend to think, ‘Oh, that’s Melvin on Bob’s scooter.’
Melvin knew the engine set-up was spot on, so the mechanical side of things was pretty much sorted, or so he thought.
“I was riding back from Cleethorpes when the exhaust blew up. I managed to make it to Doncaster and call the missus, who organised recovery. However, it did give me a chance to pull Bob’s leg by telling him that he’d sold me a dodgy exhaust. He was mortified about the whole scenario.”
Having developed the idea of a custom scooter, Melvin started trying to think of ideas, which he could use to create the theme.
“I’d visited custom shows throughout the season. I looked at all the scooters I’d seen and thought, ‘I like this one, I like that one.’. In fact, I liked them all! They were all good!” This wasn’t making Melvin’s choice any easier, becausew he was looking for something completely different.
He had already spoken to Gatch and John Fellows, who were both up for doing the paintwork, but there was just one thing missing: the theme. However, after giving it a lot of thought, Melvin realised that he’d enjoyed watching the TV show ‘Vikings’ so much that it would make the perfect theme for the scooter.
The answer had been right under his nose all the time! Melvin approached Gatch with the suggestion of the Viking theme. Gatch explained that he was also interested in the subject, and they started to develop the theme through the bodywork of the scooter.
Organising the body
Having removed the incumbent spare wheel carrier, it was clear that Melvin needed a set of new legshields, as they weren’t in great shape.
The sidepanels on the scooter were fibreglass, which Melvin wanted to keep. They were sent over to John Fellows who filled them and got them down to a smooth finish, which would make the perfect surface for the artwork. With the paint preparations complete, all the bodywork then went over to Gatch.
The front mudguard of the scooter stares the onlooker in the eye with the gruesome image of a ‘Blood Eagle’ Viking execution.
“It was a form of Viking execution. If the victim didn’t scream they were accepted by the Viking Gods into Valhalla, the Viking heaven, where you could drink, fight and have as many women as you wanted!” said Melvin.
An image of axe-wielding Rollo is on the nearside of the legshields, and Oosterred – son of Ootered –is on the offside. The legshield toolbox and frame toolbox present images, which Gatch completed from his own interpretations of the theme.
The nearside sidepanel has an image of Ragner and Flokkii with a Viking longboat sailing over rough seas. On the offside sidepanel, moving from left to right, is another one of Gatch’s interpretations, which flows into images of Aslaugh, Ragner, Lagertha and ‘The Oracle’.
The twisted chrome kick-start and rear carrier support Celtic knot designs, which run throughout the artwork.
Blood Eagle’s theme is menacing and in some areas even gruesome, but it’s balanced with an element of fantasy, and it’s that which draws you into the detail.
Melvin intends to show the scooter this season. I guarantee it will capture your attention and make you want to take a closer look.
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