Ari has been rummaging through the insides of his old-fashioned blue Garelli moped for quite a while now, only to pull out something which, if his moped was a human would probably be a gut. Eww. “Here’s the carburetor,” Ari says, smiling. I’m making my very fake obviously, I knew that face at him, and nod. I’m wandering around, checking out a number of mopeds in the store and then in the workshop in the back. Both Ari and his buddy Pete are super-concentrated on the mopeds’ insides, so they barely pay attention to me or my curious camera. I like some of the mopeds a lot, particuarly their vintage looks and funky colors. Most have a sticker on their front light. “That’s a cute deer,” I giggle, and Ari explains in a serious voice, that’s no deer, but a Jackalope. And it is a pretty serious matter, because the Jackalope is their moped-gang sign.

Ari Sneider and his partner, Pete D’Addeo, opened a moped store called Second Stroke barely two weeks ago at 1022 Broadway in Bushwick.

After Ari is finished pulling out what appear the random insides of his blue moped, he announces he’s ready for a ride. He parks his moped in front of the store and then pulls out a gray brand-new Tomos. For me, he says. My facial muscles fail miserably to create my well obviously face. And with mild hesitation, I announce I’ve never ridden a moped before. “It’s easy,” Ari says, and he starts showing me how to start the engine and how to brake; he commands me to make a small loop in front of the store. The little gray devil accelerates surprisingly quickly, but soon the moped and I find common grounds for discussion, and weeeeeeeee! I feel like a little kid at an amusement park.

I spent the next hour following Ari’s shirt, reading his signals–should I go right, left, slower or faster. We’re all over Bushwick and Bed-Stuy and finally I understand what is meant by the saying, “One try is worth 1,000 hours of watching.”  It’s incredible fun and freedom! The streets look completely different from a moped perspective, and I feel like I’m on a vacation somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Ari got into mopeds in high school, but getting a new one was never an option, so he built his moped from parts and just never stopped working on it. Ari says riding in a bigger group is the best, and his Mission 23 gang makes long, enjoyable rides frequently. I’m starting to understand where the joy of a ride comes from, and with a large grin, I wave my gray devil goodbye.

For now.