MBK Booster, the loudest of all for 30 years

For the correct reading of the article, we suggest the right soundtrack: https://youtu.be/QAtklxdqnps

Florida, late 80s. In the background, an avenue of palm trees overlooking the beach and then the Atlantic. Ordinary mullet, fluorescent neon signs of the premises and a bag of bamboo just requisitioned from a drug dealer in the glove compartment. The car, possibly a white Testarossa. But you are not Don Johnson, and real life is not the set of Miami Vice. Della Testarossa at most you have the poster hanging in your room and the only bamba you can aspire to are these creepy peanut butter snacks. Maybe they’re good too, but they’re certainly poison.

Luckily, though, there are those who have thought of something to cheer you up and let you forget the constant discrepancy between your goals and the means you have to achieve them. He’s not your best friend or your girlfriend, which no, she didn’t buy that new neon swimsuit that you wouldn’t mind seeing her in. Damn her.

Whoever thought of you isn’t exactly your type, 99% has almond-shaped eyes, and lives in Japan, no less than a 17-hour flight away. To be precise in Iwata, inside an office of the main Yamaha headquarters.

Someone decided to call it Zuma, like the Neil Young album, even though you’re more of a Kenny Loggins type right now. It is a decidedly less pretentious vehicle than the Testarossa you would have liked, but perhaps, from the top of its 10” wheels, it is destined to revolutionize its segment more than even the iconic Ferrari powered by that flat V-shaped 12-cylinder of 180° (which if you call him a boxer it means you weren’t paying attention).

It’s a damned scooter, other than a Testarossa. Belonging to the category of plastics, as they were actually nicknamed in those years, but also much later, all modern scooters, in a world that only knew of this kind the Vespa with its body in pressed sheet metal or the infamous tubulars with the Malanca 4-speed. Fat wheels with slightly knobby tyres, double round headlight (which in reality only in some versions is a single optical group covered by a grille but oh well), super white livery, even the rims, with red or blue details and great light on the ground. It’s a beach bike, or at least it would like to be, which takes clear inspiration from the rampant ignorance of ATVs like Honda US90, Honda Big Red and the like. It was presented at the Tokyo show in 1987, and the market Yamaha aimed at, in addition to the internal Japanese one, was precisely that of the white American beaches, between Florida and California, where fat wheels are not just a quirk but are used to float on the sand .

The description has started to make something buzz in your ear, we know, but the name Zuma doesn’t tell you anything yet. Maybe it would change something if we called it with the Yamaha model abbreviation as it has been called in Europe for three decades: BW’S, for Big Wheels, big wheels.

If you still have any doubts, the name that made him a legend here with us will take them away: Booster.

Brief explains the different names by which this vehicle is known: as mentioned, it was born in Japan and the United States, where it is called Zuma, but the reception from these markets is not as warm as expected. It goes much better in Europe, where it is seen for the first time two seasons later, at the Paris Motor Show in 1989. BW’S and Booster are the two names under which the scooter becomes famous in the old continent, the first for the Yamaha-branded specimens and the second for those with the MBK brand (a French company founded as Motobecane in the 1920s and part of the Yamaha group since 1986, for which it is still one of the production plants in Europe).

We will simply call it Booster.

On a mechanical level it does not present any particular innovations compared to what already exists, but the style is the whole program. Arrogant, ignorant, arrogant, of the type that even if it is a 50 cc, if he could, he would slap the bikes with double the cylinders to assert his superiority in the neighbourhood. “I don’t need to go fast, I’m cooler and even if there isn’t much space, the girls come away with me”. What then, girl or no girl, with a Booster under your ass, in the late 80s, but even a decade later, you’re the coolest anyway, because in the worst case scenario you’re still the one with the scooter that s’ it rears up better, as a little practice is enough and it comes up with the thought, a little less than with the Ciao. Then gas, tap of the rear brake, gas-brake-gas-brake again and so on for kilometers until there is no one left to admire your deeds.

Yes, valid speech even if your name is Luca Cadalora. Note the gimmick of the well-meaning Yamaha team, who also applied the sponsor’s logo on the bottom, already knowing how it would end.

Like driving past a friend’s house on a wheel, with their mothers aiming with the slipper because you set a bad example, and with said little girl who damn she didn’t feel like getting on because you looked reckless, but now that he has the certainty he is a bit regretful (game over brother, once again, but at least you have the Booster to cheer you up).

Under the panels of plasticon ahem of the bodywork, no refined solutions, but cast iron, iron and indestructible matter. Upside down fork (yes, you read that right, triple adjustable inverted stems… oh well), drum brakes, 10” wheels as mentioned, air-cooled single cylinder produced by Minarelli under Yamaha licence, 12 mm carburettor, dry weight of 69 kg. Simple and effective recipe, but the Booster relies entirely on stage presence. In Italy it explodes, the first year just over 4,000 arrive and they are all burned, not in the literal sense, but in the sense that not a single one remains in the warehouses and dealerships.

UGLY Volume Zero it’s coming back, in a smaller 23×16 format and badass, with a gilt title and bugs fixed, be warned. –

In 1994 the first improvements arrived, including the front disc brake. Shortly after, Yamaha launches its successor, the Next Generation, which is renewed in shape, becoming bigger and more futuristic, but not everyone likes it. The pressure from importers to get the original Booster back is such that in ’96 it was re-proposed and took the legendary name of Booster Spirit, while the Next Generation remained and joined it in the range. Booster and BW’S, in their various versions, continue to fire, so much so that in 1999 the overall sales exceed one million units (MILLION); for Italy alone there is talk of something like 350,000 circulating pieces. The Booster’s career continues as BW’S through 2017 largely unchanged, at least in the line.

Booster Rocket, complete with rear spoiler

Track boosters

1987-2017, 30 years of history that sanction what is in fact a myth and which has moved between home, school and the square (everyone has a ‘square’ of reference, come on) three generations of fourteen year olds with a substantially immortal career. A militancy on the streets of Italian cities only recently interrupted by increasingly stringent anti-pollution regulations, which managed to kill the Booster (but also the SR) and that little by little they are killing all our sources of entertainment. Curse them too, but our passion will not die.

The Booster is also good for going to the market

And even if your name is Luciano Pavarotti and you walk around in a pair of white slippers

MBK Booster, the loudest of all for 30 years – Rollingsteel.it