IN THE USA
- A REVIEW OF THE DRAGSTER 180.
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
YOUR DRAGSTER LEGAL
- LICENSING THE 180.
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
Words: Robert Volz.