Mods and rockers are two of the most recognizable subcultures within the UK. The two emerged around the mid-1960s and continued their influence well into the early 1970s.
Though the two were both heavily influential amongst young people of the time, they very rarely saw eye to eye, and many conflicts erupted between the two, leading culture at large to brand both groups as dangerous and violent.
The rockers were inspired by the rock and roll scene that had become immensely popular in the 1950s, especially within the United States.
Rockers wore pompadour hairstyles, leather jackets, and listened to rock and roll musicians like Bo Diddley.
Mods, on the other hand, tended to wear suits and more clean outfits and tended to listen to blues or ska music, perhaps best popularized by bands such as The Who.
However, though the two subcultures definitely had a range of distinct features to differentiate them, the two subcultures are most easily identified by their two-wheeled vehicles of choice.
But what bikes did mods and rockers actually ride? Let’s take a closer look to find out once and for all!
What Bikes Did Mods And Rockers Ride?
The most important distinction to make right away is that Mods enjoyed rolling about the streets on scooters, while rockers preferred to take to trusty motorcycles.
Though scooters and motorbikes initially look very similar, they are actually rather different.
Scooters have flat seating areas and footboards for the rider to sit comfortably and to place their feet flat upon the bottom surface of the scooter.
The engine is also placed directly under the seat. This gives a scooter a very unique shape that helps to make it much easier to identify.
A motorbike, on the other hand, most commonly has its engine included as part of the larger frame, often right in front of the seating section.
Motorcycles can take numerous forms, but the kind that was commonly used by rockers tended to be slightly smaller than traditional motorbikes that could be found in the United States, which allowed the riders to sit in a reclined position.
What Kinds Of Scooters Did Mods Ride?
The most common scooters that mods chose to ride were either Vespas or Lambrettas. These two brands are perhaps the two most recognizable within the world of scooters.
Scooters such as Vespas and Lambrettas were generally chosen by mods thanks to their clean looks, and the curved shapes that can be found throughout them.
Scooters had something of a more elegant and clean-cut appearance to motorcycles, and this made them particularly attractive to mods.
The Lambretta SX 150 was a particularly popular model of scooter amongst mods, thanks to its sharp and flashy design which featured plenty of smooth curves, but also a few angled points towards the rear, which helped to give them a slightly edgy look.
Mods commonly decorated their scooters with plenty of extra accessories, such as England flags that would trail in the wind as the scooter sped along.
The most iconic change that mods chose to make to their scooters, however, was the excessive number of mirrors.
Some mods have been known to add as many as 30 mirrors to their scooters, which creates a truly vibrant look that was always guaranteed to draw attention.
Fog lights were also commonly added to scooters, which helped to give them a slightly imposing look, as the powerful light given off by fog lights was able to pierce through even the harshest darknesses.
What Kinds Of Motorbikes Did Rockers Ride?
Rockers, unlike mods, were not so focused on adorning their rides with plenty of vibrant accessories or focusing solely on aesthetics.
Instead, rockers were focused on speed and power.
The most popular motorbikes amongst rockers tended to come from British factories.
These included motorbikes such as the Norton, which had a truly minimalist look, with a very slender frame, and very little casing around the inner working of the bike, such as the engine.
The AJS 7R was also a popular choice amongst rockers. This motorbike was well known for the incredible speeds it could reach, and the powerful engine it sported.
When it took to the roads its engine let out a very iconic roar that made the bike easily one of the most sought-after vehicles amongst rockers.
The focus for rockers was on maintaining their vehicles for years at a time, to perform at their absolute best, and to make a spectacle of their speed and proficiency.
This often included replacing certain parts such as the engines to achieve greater power while on the road.
Rockers also tended to choose bikes that were much larger than those that mods preferred.
As rockers wanted to be seen as being capable of reaching great speeds, they needed a vehicle that was significantly bigger than what mods typically rode.
Such bikes would have larger engines, and thus would appear and sound much more powerful.
To Wrap Up
As you can see, though mods and rockers certainly share some very distinct similarities, they actually ride very different kinds of two-wheeled vehicles.
Mods preferred their vehicles to be sleek and flashy, to complement their clean-cut appearances and ways of dressing.
Rockers, on the other hand, preferred to ride larger motorbikes that were focused less on aesthetics, and more on delivering sheer speed and power.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Bands Did The Mods Listen To?
Many mods tended to gravitate to more sophisticated jazz and blues music. They enjoyed musicians such as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
What Bands Did The Rockers Listen To?
Rockers tended to favor music from the 1950s’ rock and roll scene, particularly music from America. This included very famous acts such as Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent.
The styles of these musicians also helped to contribute to the style of clothing that rockers tended to favor, including leather jackets and pompadours.
What Does Mods Stand For?
The word ‘Mods’ actually originates from the word ‘Modernist’. This word was used to describe jazz and blues music and was also used to describe its fans.