Italjet Dragster Scooter

You don’t want A Ruckus; you want this.

When Executive Editor Jeff Glucker talks about two-wheeled things, he eventually gets around to saying that he really wants a modded Honda Ruckus. I keep telling him he doesn’t. It’s not that I fail to comprehend the attraction of a featherweight machine with a CVT and (for most of the USA) no rider licensing or registration hassles. It’s all the fun with minimal hassle. Furthermore, Ruckuses are one of the few 50cc runabouts grown men would want to be seen on. In the world of scooters, however, there are many better options. Like this one. For the ultimate in street cred and function, you can’t do much better than the Italjet Dragster 50.

Italjet’s Dragster line of scooters has been built on-and-off since 1998, powered by liquid-cooled engines in various capacities from 49 to 244 cc’s. They are notable for having center-hub-steering front swingarm suspension, a tubular space frame, a shock mounted between the rider’s feet, and an overall build quality that’s beyond the usual for small-bore scooters. And looks that are like nothing else.

Italjet has never had a big presence in the United States, and Dragsters were never imported in sizable numbers. However, the relative laxity of Federal regs on under-50cc vehicles has allowed a trickle of them to enter and ply the roads of our fair nation. This one is properly titled and for sale in the L.A. area. The $3000 price tag is definitely a bitter pill, but negotiable and somewhat understandable, given there are less than 400 miles on the odometer. You’re not liable to find one for less, or at all for that matter.

Somebody ’round those parts needs to convince Jeff to get off his duff, or get this happened for themselves.

Source: Ebay

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20 responses to “You don’t want A Ruckus; you want this.”

  1. 0A5599 Avatar

    Jeff is trying to scrape together $4k to buy a sturdy SUV. Where is he going to find three grand for a chainsaw on wheels?

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I mean considering the legendary status of LA’s congestion, a two wheeled, lanesplitting chainsaw probably trumps a sizable box that might get you from A to B next to the road instead of on it.

  2. Maymar Avatar

    My tactic has been to sell my wife on the fact that the subway is unreliable, so a scooter would be a great alternative, and hey dear, don’t you think this Ruckus is neat looking (she agrees, it is), and if I rode it every so often, would that be so bad? I don’t think I could sell her on one of these (Honda Cub’s also got the seal of approval though).

    I am fascinated by that shock hanging out around the rider’s feet though.

    1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      That shock is for the front suspension, both ends have swingarm suspension so it’s like a miniature Bimota Tesi or Yamaha GTS 1000.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Oh, for sure, it’s just incongruous on something like a scooter.

  3. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I love these little 50cc, screamers, especially the race bikes, but since I’m not built like Angel Nieto I personally need to ride something in the 250-500cc range.

    If you’re willing to go a little bigger, the Cagiva Mito is basically a 125cc GP bike with lights.

  4. Batshitbox Avatar

    Batshitbox thinks back on 30 years of Italian motorcycle ownership, looks forward to 30 years of Honda ownership…

    Nope. I still would rather have the Ruckus. Of course, it would have to be a Big Ruckus. I need the 250cc to keep my fat ass out of its own way.

  5. smokyburnout Avatar

    The only one of these I’ve ever seen was in the Pirelli World Challenge paddock as a pit bike, and it certainly stood out from all of the Hondas, but it was not the ultimate Italian pit bike there

  6. Le Dominus Avatar
    Le Dominus

    That wee little thing can crack over 100 km/hour easy with a few tweaks. But then it will be less reliable. Great fun though !!, i use a SYM 125 with about 11 cv, that weighs double, and even so is batshite !!

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      The most overpriced Chinese motorcycle there is?

      1. Lokki Avatar

        Oh, so suddenly, after considering buying a used Italian motor scooter, you want to be rational?

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

          The Italian scooter has: 1) rear suspension, 2) no need for a motorcycle endorsement.

          1. crank_case Avatar

            I will bow to your superior knowledge as an actual biker, but I’d imagine rear suspension is partially cancelled out by small wheels on potholed streets, but then if we were being rational, we’d have both suspension and larger wheels, like a Honda Cub. Larger wheeled mopeds/scooters are pretty popular in Italy.

            I envy the US relaxed attitude to needing endorsment in some ways, Ireland is nuts for red tape. Anything that is classed as a “mechanically propelled vehicle” needs a license (your car license suffices for 50cc/45kmh limited moped class but other than that you’re looking at full CBT), insurance (the real killer in terms of cost), road tax (though small), registration and in the case of a scooter/moped mandatory helmet use (sensible I suppose). There’s pros and cons to either approach – conventional road safety vs. the harder to define societal benefits of wider scooter adoption which would cut congestion, reduce pollution and increase air quality, especially if people used electric scooters (as in “proper” scooters, we’re not talking those electric kick scooter things), which for how these things are used are better than their ICE equivalents in most respects – off the line acceleration, noise, pollution and energy use. Unfortunately even high speed e-bikes fall under this, you can only have a “pedelec” (18mph, motor can only provide assistance to pedaling, a throttle control is not allowed.).

            Those kick scooter things are still a grey area, but the noises are that they’ll be made legal and not fall under mechanically propelled vehicle red tape, but the legal differentiator will be the lack of a seat. Doesn’t seem to be a consistent logic given how surprisingly fast some of them are, but I’m just glad for the small mercy of at least one bureaucracy free self propelled option should the need arise.

        2. crank_case Avatar

          I know that’s a tongue in cheek reference to all Italian machinery being charming but inherently flaky, but given the amount of Piaggios out on European streets (and not just Italy), they can’t be too bad surely? Bearing in mind that the scooter owner is the Toyota Corolla class functional commuter car driver of motorcycle world?

          Italjet are a niche company though, so don’t have the engineering resources of the likes of Piaggio, so a bit of an unknown quantity. I’d be more worried about that than Italian-ness tbh.

          1. Lokki Avatar

            Look- I own an Alfa Romeo. You’re not going to persuade me of the reliability of an unknown Italian scooter company’s only product, especially one with a unique cool design.

            Just by looking at it, you can tell this scooter was clearly built following the the three laws of Italian design:

            1. Make every part beautiful, then you can figure out how to make the part work.

            2. Be more unique than the French in your engineering. No parts interchangeability, ever.

            3. The vehicle only has to be great for one perfect moment so it’s okay to make it from cheap materials and have it require a lot of maintenance. Achieve that one great moment and the owner, like a crack addict, will pay whatever cost necessary in hopes that will happen one more time.

  7. crank_case Avatar

    Italjets have never had a big presense in Europe either in fairness, I think I’ve seen maybe one in the wild. Didn’t even spot one in Italy. This is probably the coolest thing every when you’re 16, but in reality, apart from nostalgic old men in parkas, clutching who albums and fixing oil leaks on their Lambrettas, the scooter is a primarily a functional (though still fun) vehicle for getting around, so little practicalities like decent underseat storage and other conveniences are big selling points. When you’re commuting of a morning, giving a damn about street cred fades pretty rapidly. An Italjet may be more practical than a ruckus, but that’s like saying an Elise has more boot space than an Ariel Atom.

    Funny thing is in Italy, where you’d think they’d be all about having the most stylish scooter, they ride the most practical/functional ones, big wind deflectors and everything. I was reading in a back issue of a UK moped/scooter magazine, that UK riders would rather have a cool looking scooter and wrap up with gear (hence the traditional mod “Parka”, which were often German army surplus funnily enough), while Italians would rather have a practical scooter with a lot of protection and wear nice clothes. Climate probably has a lot to do with it too.

    I was considering a scooter for getting to work myself, but have settled on using public transport for now, which may take longer, but requires a lot less initial costs, is more comfortable, has less chance of death and I don’t need to worry about where to leave it without getting nicked. For many city dwellers, public transport actually gives you more flexibility. Not that I am discounting the idea of urban two wheelers at all, they’re a great solution to get around quickly, squilions of Vietnamese people can’t be wrong, though I think the traditional scooter is getting undercut by these electric kick scooter things which seem to be increasing in number – cheap to buy, no license/insurance/registration/tax required (you do need these things on even 50cc mopeds in many European countries), neglibible fuel cost (even free if you cheekily freeload your offices electricity) and you can fold them up and take them on the bus/train and get the best of all worlds.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      The most elegant combination of practicality, weather protection, and stylish looks has to be the Yamaha Versity 300. I fell in love with this scooter when I was touring Europe.

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