Italjet – shaking up the scooter market again

Whether you’re a fan of modern automatic scooters or not, there is no denying that the latest offering from Italjet pushes boundaries with regards to design. And, in my opinion, the current scooter market desperately needs this!

The 2020 Dragster (pre-production).
The 1998 Dragster.

For the main, Italian firm Italjet have been associated with making things a little different, from motorbikes in the 1960s to electric bicycles today. The company was founded back in 1959 by Leopoldo Tartarini and it’s his son Massimo who heads the company today. Mopeds and compact two-wheels have featured in the Italjet range since the 1970s, but it was the retro-styled Velocifiero of the early 1990s that saw the brand become well known for scooters on these shores. What followed was the sporty looking Formula range of scooters with hub-centre steering, which subsequently led to the alien-like Dragster range in 1998 with a trellis space frame, not dissimilar to that of the motorcycles found on their Bologna neighbours, Ducati.

Powered by a 50cc 2-stroke Morini engine, or the fantastic Piaggio 125 and 180cc 2-strokes (from the Gilera Runner range), the Dragster achieved cult status in a time when said Runners were also an innovative sports scooter and the market in general, from moped to maxi-scooters, was an exciting place to shop.

Fans lamented its demise in 2003 and since then I’ve seen Italjet appear at various Milan Motorcycle Shows over the years, sporadically wheeling out an old Dragster chassis with a Piaggio 4-stroke motor stuffed into it, vaguely threatening a new version.

Today the scooter market is arguably in a stale state, with lethargic 4-stroke engines aimed at economy rather than fun and designs seemingly aimed at cheap mass-production with shared parts, rather than exciting the customer.

Thankfully, Italjet appear to have finally got their new Dragster together. We blogged some images earlier this year, and can now reveal that Italjet plan to launch the new model at Eicma (Milan Motorcycle Show) where the final production version will be unveiled next week on 5 November 2019.

The new model is obviously from the Dragster family, yet design-wise has received a restyling for the 21st century that is sure to stop people in their tracks. It retains many of the features that appealed to Dragster fans back in the 1990s, although the first versions appear to have only a single seat and minor padding for a potential pillion. The trellis frame features die-cast aluminium plates, the ‘patented Independent steering system’ (hub centre) remains, with the front suspension mounted within the chassis.

The engine options are 125, 150 and 200cc, liquid-cooled 4-strokes, the 200 having a claimed top speed of 125kmh (approx 77mph) and 19.8hp. Tyres are 12” at the front and 13” at the rear and there are disc brakes all round with Brembo callipers.

Labelled the ‘New Urban Superbike’ by Italjet, the first 499 models will be numbered as part of the initial limited edition run and will be available for pre-order via Italjet’s website only from midday on 5 November 2019. If accepted, a deposit of 499 Euros will be required. the final price is thought to be around 4500 Euros (NOT confirmed). We are told that the the scooters will be built in Italy and ready for Spring next year.

This is one scooter I’ll be looking forward to test ride, as I did with the first Dragsters back in the 1990s. Why? Because first and foremost I love riding scooters and, in general, I’ve always enjoyed riding an Italjet. Secondly though, because this is the kind of scooters that could make the market – both modern and retro – buck its ideas up. There’s no rule as far as I know that says all new scooters have to look similar and be powered by less-than-exciting 4-stroke auto engines. All it needs is a little imagination, thinking outside of the box and someone to take a brave step…

(check out this preview video of the new Dragster from Italjet)

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