“Hey, scooters are serious business,” my dad says straight-faced as I snap photos of him and his collection of two-wheeled machines. An audible chuckle leaves my mouth; I know he is joking, but not entirely. On the one hand, his untucked “Red Green Show” t-shirt peers through his unzipped jacket—an ode to the goofy-but-handy, down-to-earth persona he embodies, where a good laugh is always only one dad joke away. On the other hand, an array of five scooters and motorcycles sits behind him, recently returned from a family scooter adventure to Canada. He jokes, but those of us who are closest to him know how serious he is about this hobby and the joy and connection it has brought to his life.
Steven Clegg - Scooter Mogul
Written by Spencer Clegg
My father—Steven Clegg—was born in 1958 to parents Grant and Zan. The third of ten children, my dad was raised on a farm situated on the high plains of rural Southeast Idaho. With a family of 12 living on a mechanic’s income, life was difficult but simple. True to the ultra-conservative, ultra-traditional values that form the backbone of farming America, my dad and his siblings were taught that nothing is more important than God, your family, and an honest day’s work full of old-fashioned physical labor.
Life on the farm meant being tough, making do with what you’ve got and being industrious without significant resources. That meant my dad learned at a young age how to be handy, mostly out of necessity. Fixing fence, moving pipe, handling livestock, driving semis, repairing equipment and machinery (or ‘chinery as he calls it); nothing was off limits, even for a boy wielding a single-digit age.
Dad’s interest in motorcycles goes back to those days on the farm. In that environment you don’t get your chores done unless you have a bike of some sort. Bikes get you everywhere: out to the fields, up the mountain, and over to the local market. But motorcycles weren’t just functional; they were fun. No one felt that more than my grandpa, Grant. He would drag home anything he could find that had two wheels and every time he did, my grandma would say, “Oh Grant, what have you done?” Over the 18 years my dad spent growing up on the farm, he learned from his father to love those machines; but for many years through his adult life, that passion remained dormant.
When I was young, Dad was always present. As well as I can remember, he never had any hobbies that distracted him from being a father; his family was his hobby. If he missed a game, recital, graduation, or any other major (or minor) event, I certainly don’t remember it. While other dads were away hunting, fishing, or golfing, he was with us. Whatever money would have been spent on expensive activities for himself was saved for making memories together as family. And the thing is, it never felt like he was giving up something he loved to be there for us—he just genuinely wanted to be there.
As my siblings and I grew up and moved away, he began to look for other ways to use his free time. In the mid-2010s, with retirement on the horizon and most of the kids out of the house, he started spending more time in his “shop” which was essentially whatever free space was available in the garage.
Our two-story red brick rambler sits against the mountains in suburban Fruit Heights, Utah, known as the “City of Good Neighbors.” True to the moniker, my parents have helped anchor the community where they raised their six children over the course of a quarter century. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone within three blocks of our home who hasn’t been befriended by my parents.
With fewer cars around the house (and likely to the chagrin of my loving mother), the two-car garage on the northeast side of the house slowly started to morph. A small work bench with a few drawers was soon joined by a flow wall with more storage, workspace, and tool organizers. Plain white walls were covered with steel diamond plate, and the garage floor was sealed with an epoxy super-coat. Dad bought a second-hand industrial-grade space heater, fixed up the parts himself, and installed it on the ceiling to be able to keep working through the Utah winters. It didn’t take long for that shop to find its first project – a Suzuki GS500 Streetfighter.
Almost every bike or scooter that my dad has worked on has been for someone else. That first bike, the Suzuki Streetfighter, was a project that he worked on with my younger brother. It allowed them to spend time together when my brother was in his formative years, still trying to figure out who he was. They found the bike on the local classified ads, and the only way they could convince my mother to let them buy the bike was under the premise that they were “just going to fix it up and sell it.” A few years later, he did the same thing on a similar bike with my youngest brother. In retrospect, sometimes I wonder if it was more about the people than it was the bike.
His latest project was fixing up my 1985 Honda Elite 250. I had pretty much given up on it. Half the time it wouldn’t start, and when it did it would belch like it was on its last breath. For months, every time I would see my dad he would say, “Hey lemme come grab your scooter, I need a winter project!” Of course, once he got a hold of it, it only took him a few short weeks to revive it and have it humming.
Countless other two-wheeled vehicles have moved through the shop—some nice, some less-so—but there is never any shortage of braap. Perhaps the climax of excitement for the man cave came last summer when Dad decided to spearhead an adventure ride to British Columbia from Utah.
For years my dad has dreamt up wild trips—from paramotoring up the Al-Can Highway to riding motorcycles across Australia—but until recently, those mostly remained dreams. In summer 2020, Dad finally turned dreams into reality.
The plan was simple: a brigade of scooters and motorcycles would make its way slowly from Fruit Heights, Utah to the border of Canada, taking the backroads the entire way. While Canada was closed to Americans for the time being, he figured there was enough beautiful country on the way to have a stunning ride through the backcountry of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
His vision caught on quickly with the family: all four of my younger siblings signed up and started preparing immediately. Several of them purchased bikes and brought them to Dad’s shop for last-minute repairs and tune-ups. All-in-all, my dad rounded up a group of six people to make the trek with him. Finally, on the 10th of August and with relief truck in tow, the brigade set off.
Over the next five days, they would pass through West Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, and White Fish en route to Canada. The lineup included a pair of Yamaha Rivas, a Honda Magna V45, a Honda Nighthawk 250, a 2014 Honda Enduro, and a 1998 Yamaha Trail Way 200. Dad led the way with the oldest cycle of the bunch–a cherry-red Yamaha Riva with the fairings duct-taped together and a BMW emblem hastily fashioned under the headlight. As you can imagine, the average speed hovered around 50 miles per hour as they meandered north over old country roads and lightly trafficked highways through scenery that can only be described as spectacular. With the welcome onslaught of mountains, valleys, sunshine-turned-misty rain, pine trees, wildlife, beautiful sunsets and sweeping landscapes, the journey was the destination.
On day five, the brigade made its way into White Fish, Montana. In Everest-esque fashion, they set up camp and readied themselves to make the final 65-mile push to Canada in a day trip the next morning. Without fanfare or really much of a climax, the team pulled up to the Canadian border at 2:08 pm on August 15, 2020. After a few selfies, a little bit of celebration, and some scolding from a border patrol agent for trespassing a few feet past the “Welcome to Canada” sign, Dad and crew fired up their bikes and pointed front tires south.
As is standard for my dad, he offered to take on the role of one-man cleanup crew. Back in base camp, everyone loaded their bikes and scooters into the relief trailer and then headed home in a rental car while my dad drove the truck and trailer back to Utah by himself. This wasn’t much of a surprise; everyone close to Dad knows he would bend over backward make life easier for others.
In 2015 my Grandpa Grant passed away of old age. For my dad, the fact that it was expected didn’t take away the sting. He has never said this out loud, but I suspect that his interest in scooters and motorcycles has become a way to connect with his late father as much as it is a pure hobby. I have caught him several times out in his shop staring at a scooter – clean hands and tools put away. When I ask him what he is doing he’ll just respond, “Oh don’t mind me. Just asking my dad how he would fix this.”
Now that all their children are grown and gone, my parents are moving south to warmer weather. My childhood home in Fruit Heights, along with Dad’s shop, will soon be sold. We are still not sure what the new garage will look like or if it is even possible to recreate the original mystique of the man-cave. But one thing is for sure: Dad is certain to have two wheels and a set of tools within arm’s reach.