I’ve said before that scootering (that’s both Scootering magazine and the culture) is a very broad church that encompasses so many subcultures. But it can also be reflective of both the good and bad sides of modern life.
Tolerance and acceptance of people who think differently has been part of the scooter scene for a very long time. Psychobillies, Punks, Mods, Scooter boys and ‘normal people’ are all accepted and (in the main) we get along just fine, it’s about the scooters yeah? It doesn’t matter if it is a retro, full mural custom, cutdown, ratbike or whatever? That is until the appearance of ‘Chinese things’ that take design cues from the classic Lambretta style but with a four-stroke engine. Yet, years ago we hated the flat-backed T5, didn’t we? This is where things start to fall down a little.
People in all walks of life are rarely fans of change, but the world moves on, and progress is made.
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Let me take you back to the early 1980s when a friend bought a Serveta Jet 200. FFS! It had indicators! Neutral warning lights! The fuel tap was in the wrong place! A huge block of a light switch and a rear light that was plain wrong. Dreadful machine? Except it wasn’t really. An original Jet 200 is now one of my three favourite ‘ultimate’ scooters that I would like to own. Time and taste changes. The second machine I’d like to own would be an original paint late Italian GP200 but with SX handlebars, I love that look.
The third ‘ultimate’. Well, here goes. It may be either a P200e or, depending on my mood, an Italjet Dragster! Oh yes!
I bought one for my son a few years ago and we both thought they were just so cool. Yet they are so wildly different from the main machines that make up the scootering scene. How on earth did they get accepted so easily, I wonder. The hub steering was some kind of weird trickery that messes with your mind. The chunky scaffold pipe frame of a Lambretta is replaced by the fine spaceframe tubing that’s all exposed, making it look like some weird racing machine from the future. They look so wrong, and yet so right. I spent a long time stripping and painting it for him, we did some engine work on it and he loved it. One of his biggest regrets in life is that he sold that bike. In the same way one of my biggest regrets is selling the Jet 200 I had a few years ago!
So it’s an absolute joy that the Dragster is back and kicking up a whole load of excitement. Readers wanted Scootering to test it and put it in the magazine’s pages. The launch has taken a while (Covid delayed obviously) but the 2022 models look amazing and there’s even a beefed-up 500cc version on the way. (You just know how many people would love a go on that!) If that wasn’t enough, an electric version is in the pipeline as well.
When you look at the 500 version it’s just a monster. Bigger wheels, exposed bars, tiny seat, fairing at the front, exposed chassis at the rear. Part of me thinks it’s closer to being a futuristic motorcycle than a scooter. What a machine to go razzing around a city on. Slightly impractical but you just know it will be turning heads everywhere it goes.
It looks fecking awesome. Admit it, you want one, don’t you?
December 2022’s Dragster feature showed the popularity of these unique machines, they are just amazing. Anyone turning up at a scooter event with one will soon generate a crowd for certain.
Right now my son is hovering over the ‘Buy’ button, perhaps I should be too. For sure if he presses that button I’ll be eagerly awaiting with helmet and gloves in my hands.
But going back to the start of this column, while I’m sure there will be a few who say it doesn’t sit right within these pages, I’m fairly certain it won’t generate criticism in the same way that modern ‘retro scooters’ do and that’s a bit of a puzzler. Perhaps the answer is that Italjet created something totally unique but at heart it’s (just) a scooter. The company didn’t draw inspiration from something else. That may be the logic and the way minds are working. Now, can we get Rick Buckler to sit on one, please?
Words by Paul Green
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