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New hope for Indian Italjets?

September 23, 2009

Remember Kinetic Motors and their plan to produce seven Italjet models in India? Only one (The Italjet Millennium, renamed the Kinetic “Blaze”) ever came to market, and Kinetic was bought out a year ago by Mahindra & Mahindra. Now M&M is reconsidering Kinetic’s Italjet plan. If you’ve been pining for a new Velocifero or Dragster for the past decade, you’ve seen your dreams crushed by Italjet, Italjet’s various US importers, Kinetic, Italjet again, and Diamo/LS Motorsports, so we don’t see how your luck is going to change, but maybe this will give you false hope again.

Comments

8 Responses to “New hope for Indian Italjets?”

  1. orinoNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 10:54am

    Does anyone actually care about this anymore? I’m going to guess the biggest reason a new Dragster never materialized is a manufacturing engineer or two sat down and looked at the thing and realized it would be so hideously expensive to build (even with cheap Indian/Chinese labor) there’d be no hope of making money on it. Especially given the dozens of potential sales…

  2. illnoiseNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 11:58am

    Ha, exactly.

    The conventional wisdom is that the Dragster was ahead of its time and one of the most desirable scooters of its time.

    The truth is, while it’s still a bike that would turn heads today, it always had engineering, design and quality issues, issues, and the later 4-stroke versions were never as exciting as the early 2-strokes. Furthermore, Italjet as a company seemed to lack the needed parts and service support to really make it a success, especially in the U.S. where their importers seemed to add another layer of ineptness.

    There’s no way in hell Dragsters would be built with the Indian market in mind, there’s absolutely no desire for such a bike there. If Italjet or M&M or anyone ever makes the Dragster (or Velocifero) again, they will almost surely be junk, and even more surely, they’ll be overpriced. While the look is still great, the technology is a decade old and most of it turned out to be engineering dead ends.

    The Gilera Runner (IIRC) used all the same engines and is still going strong, which proves that however amazing a scooter looks or rides, it’s nothing without a giant international monolithic empire of support, sales, and service behind it.

    Would I like to own a late-90s Dragster 2-stroke 180? Yeah. But I wouldn’t pay a premium for it, knowing about the parts supply and such. And I certainly wouldn’t pay $5K for a new Chinese-made Dragster or a plastic Velocifero, knowing how many modern and better-performing bikes there are out there these days. I’ll take fuel injection and dependability over glamour any day.

  3. BrookeNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 12:36pm

    The only think I’d like to see is the Velocifero. I know many people didn’t like the details, but it’s a great design on a general size and ergonomic level. It’s really impressive if you break it down. That shouldn’t be surprising as it’s done the best job of any effort to recreate what is good about old Vespas.

  4. illnoiseNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 12:59pm

    True, Brooke, but even if they have Italjet’s tooling, i just don’t see them preserving the metal body, and aside from a handful of Oasis fans and Japanese schoolchildren, there’s not much demand for a scooter that looks like a Swatch.

  5. BrookeNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 1:44pm

    All you see are colors! I agree that it’s unlikely they’ll make it because there’s no other motor that can fit the chassis well besides that one-off Morini that came in it. But if they did a modernization of the lines and trim with the same construction and geometry, people could see how and why 95% of modern scooters are bad by design.

  6. illnoiseNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 2:35pm

    If they’d have to redesign the engine AND the frame, I don’t know why they’d even bother, they might as well just start from scratch with the Vespa as inspiration. It’s not like they could even use the Italjet or Velocifero name, so what’s the point?

    I have a feeling if that Hammerhead thing ever comes to market, it might be cooler than you’d think. I want to hate it, but by simply superficially aping the look of a Vespa, I think they actually nailed the ergonomics, ha.

  7. BrookeNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 7:36pm

    I wouldn’t say remake the frame at all. that’s the good part. The plastic embelishements are what could be updated. The entire external portion of a modern scooter is the structural equivalent of ground effects and mykrr wings on the back of an Impreza. And why couldn’t they reuse the name?

  8. orinoNo Gravatar on September 23rd, 2009 8:42pm

    It’s become obvious to me that almost no one believes the United States is a viable market for motor scooters (Genuine and Honda being the two exceptions). And it won’t be until someone, somewhere, decides to set up a proper dealer/service network as part of a business plan that first and foremost involves staying in the U.S. for the long haul. “Cool” would probably not be part of that plan; getting the message across that riding a scooter is at least as safe as riding a bicycle, most definitely is.

    You can only make a business case for the Dragster as a “halo” product, something that draws attention to the brand. But to do that, you have to have other products for the people who will think the Dragster is interesting, but not for them. And that would be the majority of potential scooter customers.

    When the La Vita comes to market, it will succeed, because the Hammerhead people seem to know their customers are consumers, not “scooterists”…

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