I’ll admit that the new Italjet Dragster 200 had me quite confused at first sight. To call it “unique” would be quite the understatement, and to call it weird wouldn’t be far off the mark, but moreover what exactly is this bike meant to be? Sure, it's technically a scooter, but this is about as far from the usual utilitarian commuter we normally associate with the class as you can get.
From its exposed steel trellis frame through to its very unconventional I.S.S steering and suspension system, the Dragster 200 breaks the mould.
Currently, the Dragster 200 is the only model in Italjet’s New Zealand lineup and is priced from $9,490. That’s a little on the pricey side, but can you put a price on standing out from the crowd?
Clearly, the Dragster is not a pragmatic commuter, but that isn’t how Italjet goes about building its bikes. These bikes are all about showing off and having fun. In fact, the company has a long and storied history having produced everything from scooters to quad bikes that are a little different from the norm.
But it was the peppy 2-stroke Dragster of the turn of the century that cemented the brand’s cult following in markets like the UK. With 2-strokes largely unable to meet strict emissions regulations now, Italjet has had to move the Dragster to a 4-stroke engine, settling on a 184cc single cylinder unit mated to a CVT transmission for the current model.
While this sounds like any other scooter powerplant, twist the throttle open and you could swear the engine was larger. Power is a claimed 12.9kW at 8,000rpm backed by 15.5Nm of torque - good numbers from such a small single-cylinder engine.
Match that power to a low dry weight of just 124kg and the Dragster definitely lives up to its name with acceleration that’s vastly faster than I expected. Heck, I think it’d give many conventional small displacement motorcycles a real run for their money at the traffic light drags. It even will happily cruise at motorway speeds without a fuss whereas other similarly sized scooters tend to disappoint.
When it comes to mod cons, Italjet has included onboard USB charging and under-seat storage for the dragster, though the latter is far from what you’d call generous and is only good to store your wallet and phone and not much else. You definitely won’t be riding off to collect the office shout on the Dragster as it lacks even the quintessential curry hook.
But the Dragster has never been a utilitarian proposition like its contemporaries and just looking at the official accessories catalogue further confirms this. While the bike can quite easily accommodate a pillion passenger, the entirety of the accessories catalogue focuses on performance parts with exhaust systems, carbon fibre body panels and even premium Öhlins shock absorbers available. The only practical consideration in the catalogue is a fetching anti-dust cover.
The bike is full of small touches that hint at this performance orientation. The indicator stalks perform double duty as MotoGP-inspired lever guards, the bodywork hides twin radiators and the superb Brembo brakes sport braided steel lines.
This translates to a ride that is silly fun once you get your head around that trick swing-arm front suspension which is by far the most confronting aspect of the bike.
You see, dynamically the Dragster turns in differently from a conventional fork-based front suspension, which at times felt like it lacked transitional smoothness when it came to performing particularly tight manoeuvres. There’s also the lack of footwell space because of where Italjet has mounted the front shock, but once you get your head around it the Dragster becomes a joyful traffic light assassin.
Add to this the simplicity of simply being able to ‘twist and go’ and the Dragster 200 starts
So despite its unconventional design and lack of practicality, the Italjet Dragster shines in that area where scooters start to convert their riders into motorcyclists - fun factor.
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IN BRIEF - ITALJET DRAGSTER
Engine: 184cc Single-cylinder DOHC 4 Valve
Power: 12.9Kw @ 8,000rpm 15.5Nm @ 7,750rpm
Pros: Stands Out, Pretty Quick, Twist and Go
Cons: Not the most practical scooter, steering dynamic takes getting used to.