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I pulled up to a brand-new Mercedes SLK at a traffic light.
The driver rolled his window down and said, "that is a nice looking moped, har har."
I laugh a thanks, and in a joking tone I ask, "wanna race?"
He gives me thumbs up. It is about 100 yards to the next light. I place my feet on the passenger foot pegs as the light changes and twist the throttle. Mr. Mercedes stomps on the gas and I hear a tire chirp. I am not worried, for I am not on a moped, but a 2000 Italjet Dragster 180 and I smoke his ass to the next light.
The Dragster 180 is an amazing machine. I am by no means shy, but I was not prepared for the amount of attention this little machine garners. With its trellis frame designed by Miguel Galluzzi, the same Argentinean designer as the Ducati Monster, and a roadworthy Piaggio 180cc motor shared by the Gilera Runner, the Italjet people have put together the best components from many manufacturers and come up with a winner.
The hardest part about getting a Dragster 180 is keeping the speed down during the break-in period. Italjet/Piaggio recommend a 1000Km/600-mile break-in, while keeping the bike below 55 MPH. My Vespa P-125 never even went 55 MPH. After the break-in is complete, expect to go 0-60 in 4.8 seconds. This is quicker than a Porsche 911. The top speed is rated at 95 MPH. It is nice knowing that if I get on the freeway I can keep up with traffic, but also accelerate out of trouble if necessary. Dual disc brakes stop the Dragster with precision.
Portland is a city of bridges, and our bridges are grated. In town we have scooterists who will drive miles out of their way to take one of two bridges without grating. The Dragster 180 with its fat Michelin "Bopper" tubeless tires, its independent 'floating' steering system, and its dead on center weight handles like a dream. Iíve even taken it on the dreaded Hawthorn Bridge, a Ĺ mile of scooter eating, flesh-dicing grate without a worry.
Not everything is perfect on this scooter and it would be unfair to not mention them. First on everybodyís mind should be the fact that they arenít legal in this country. [Read below on how to be sneaky and make yours legal]. Out of the crate, the plastic front fender was warped and scraped the tire. Placing a boiling hot wet towel over the fender, reshaping it, followed by a cold wet towel to lock the shape in took care of that problem. The steering was off several degrees but a quick turn of the allen screw solved that problem. When I think back on new vehicles Iíve bought in the past and how many return trips Iíve had to make to dealerships, this bike is of pretty quality stuff.
Design complaints include the dreadful passenger seat, which slants towards the rear, making the passenger reach next to their thighs for the too-small-to-get-a-good-hold handles, while stretching your feet forward to find the foot pegs. Iíve resolved to never put anyone in that position, no matter how cute she is, and Iím replacing the passenger seat, which comes on the 125/180 with the pillion cover from the Dragster 50.
Many words have been written about the cheap looking plastic chrome on the headset. There is no way to beautify it and I am surprised how many people comment on it. Iím looking for a small carbon fibre fabricator to make me a new headset piece.
All in all, Iíve never been happier riding a scooter. I find myself looking for excuses to go on errands to race around my neighborhood and beyond.


Every state is different, I canít speak for all states, but I can tell you of my and otherís experiences with getting a title, registration, and license plates for the Dragster 180. This system could be used with other "grey market" bikes as well.
1: (the easiest way) Oregon and many other states allow you to title about anything with a motor, from riding lawn mowers to kit bikes advertised in the back of Boyís Life magazine. The title will arrive with a giant "OFF ROAD USE ONLY" across the top. Donít worry. Take your title and scooter to a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) where they can inspect the bike. Show them that it has working tail-lights, turn signals, horn and mirrors. Donít forget to point out the lighted license frame holder. I was lucky enough to get a nice DMV worker who took my word that everything worked and gave me a registration and plate right then and there.
2: (the slightly sneaky way) take your mirrors and turn signals off. Trailer your scooter to a DMV in a small town where they might not be as knowledgeable and used to your slick big-city ways. Show them the bike and explain it is meant for the track/off-road, but as a good citizen you want to make it roadworthy in the eyes of the law. Nod your head as they talk about bikes needing mirrors, turn signals and the like. Go away for an hour or two, come back with the scootís safety gear back in place, and act like it was their idea and you just want to please the helpful DMV person.
3: (the very sneaky way) have a friend in an easy going DMV state like Oregon, Idaho, New Hampshire, or Nevada register the scoot, then transfer ownership to you. Once a scooter has a plate, usually it is merrily an issue of ownership transfer without the big inspections.
4: (last chance) using a word processor and some adhesive backed printing paper, make your own DOT stickers for both noise and emissions requirements. If you get caught, say you got the idea from Scootering Magazine.
Words: Robert Volz.