A change from my usual subject matter, I’m using my blog to review the new Italjet Dragster scooter. I’ve been on the road with motorcycles since 1978 but converted my interest to scooters in 1999. The scooter culture in the UK holds old Lambrettas at the pinnacle but having tried all kinds of scooters I find myself preferring automatic rather than manual options. My last ride was a 2 stroke automatic Italjet Dragster from 2000 and I loved it. The obvious problem with anything so old is that reliability is far from guaranteed. Mine was going well until the end of the crankshaft decided to break off and after replacing the crank I rather lost faith. I want to be able to tour for long distances and reliability is an important consideration.
At the beginning of May I rode with 6 others to Europe on a borrowed 2 stroke, geared scooter and made it back to England for the old boy to give up the fight on the way home. This isn’t a situation I want to endure so a new scooter was the best option. Italjet showed a completely new Dragster around 2018 but production was delayed particularly by the Covid pandemic. I sold my old Dragster in May of last year and immediately ordered a new 200cc 4 stroke. Deliveries were pushed back time and again, forcing me to borrow the old machine for our trip to Europe. Some new Dragsters had appeared in February but mine was not amongst them. Last week, though, rather unexpectedly , I got the glorious news that it had arrived so went to have a look at it in the flesh. Today I collected it from about 6 miles away from home.
My initial impression was that the new Dragster was more compact than the old one. Anyone over 6 feet tall would be well advised to try before they buy. The seat is not especially comfortable and leaves no room to move around. There’s one position to sit on the seat and the foot position is similarly constrained. I paid the money and set off.
The motor is smooth, with almost no vibration, but nowhere near as enthusiastic as the 2 stroke of 20 years ago. Mine had a big carburettor and sports exhaust and felt rapid. The new version was always going to be far more restrained. On a positive note I’d expect to go twice as far on a gallon of fuel and get there every time.
The best surprise was just how solid, stable and precise the new Dragster is. It has virtually no desire to fall into slow corners like so many scooters and when the speed rises the feeling of stability is undiminished. Within the constraints of small wheels it really does have a motorcycle like sure footedness. Obviously it’s better to go round road imperfections with smaller wheels and this is where that feeling of precise control sets the Dragster apart from other scooters. There’s none of that feeling of flexibility from the engine bushes which is something which usually has to be accepted by riders, and creates a vagueness.
The low seat keeps the centre of gravity low which again aids stability and means that most riders will easily get both feet flat on the floor. Since I’m running in I can’t give a true impression of performance but I’m not expecting acceleration and hill climbing to be anything special.
What I do feel sure of is that I’ve made an excellent choice. A great ride and the best, most technological looking scooter you can buy. Technology is everywhere from the rear lights which put on a show when you turn the ignition on to the amazing hub centre steering of the front wheel, which is virtually unique and gives steering control like nothing else.
A final tip for new riders is that I was finding the steering lock to be very fiddly. The trick is to turn the steering hard against the stop to the left, then the key can be turned to lock or unlock as you’d expect. Go on, buy one. You won’t regret it.