Almost exactly one year ago today, DiamoUSA announced they were bringing Italjet scooters to the U.S. (Our January 9, 2007 interview with Mathu Solo is here). A year has passed and no visible progress has been made, other than a few mysterious (and probably Asian-made) Torpedos (a model not even currently listed on Italjet’s site) showing up at small-time dealer in Minnesota a couple months ago. Today Steve Guzman of the Scooter Scoop announced he’s been hired by LS Motorsports (Diamo’s parent company) to handle marketing and Sales for ItaljetUSA. I’m happy for Steve, he’s a friend and an good guy, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. In November I was on the edge of writing a rant accusing Diamo and Italjet of knowingly deceiving dealers about Italjet’s comeback (or at least its timing) to sucker them into selling Diamo’s other models, but after seeing that Italjet actually had a booth at EICMA, (and the minor fact that I lacked any concrete evidence), I thought better of it, though I still have my doubts. Diamo’s somewhat-fragile reputation is on the line here, and hiring Steve was a wise move, hopefully he can be honest and realistic with dealers and the scootering public. Italjet in the late ’90s and early ’00s was an exciting, promising brand that never realized their full potential thanks to bad import/distribution deals and an abysmal parts supply. The Dragster, in particular, was probably the most beloved scooter of the modern era, and certainly the most distinctive, but it wasn’t given a chance in America. Hopefully this very quiet past year was spent developing manufacturing and distribution resources and preparing for a real launch, because on the surface, I’d be pretty furious if I signed onto Diamo under the promise of the Italjet line.
I still suspect Italjet’s Italian operation consists of a P.O. box in Bologna, a trademark attorney, and a hotline to a factory in Korea. If that’s true, there’s still plenty of potential there if quality control, engineering, marketing, and dealers are handled properly (Genuine does more or less the same thing, and they do it very well). If Italjet is staffed-up and building a giant factory in the outskirts of Bologna, let’s see some photos, let’s get the real scoop. If I see that same 2002 Dragster at Dealer Expo, Steve (who reported eight months ago that “Dragsters are on the boat!” and we’d see them in 6-8 weeks) is going to have a lot of explaining to do.
UPDATE: See comments for Steve’s response.
I’d been holding off on a “scathing” (ha) appraisal of Italjet/Diamo until the EICMA show, to see if Italjet even had a booth there. According to The Scooter Scoop, they do. As far as I can tell (Diamo’s site doesn’t show any Italjet models, and doesn’t list dealers, and ItaljetUSA’s site is slow, short on info, and hasn’t changed since last winter), their only model currently available in the U.S. is the Torpedo, which is apparently made in Asia, so if that Dragster on display in Milan is actually new (unlike the old one they dusted off for DealerExpo) and actually a production bike, it’ll be interesting to see where it’s being built and when it’s coming here. (Their booth is in the Asian pavillion, if that’s any indication). Our analyst Brooke suggested that the whole Italjet/DiamoUSA deal was a scam to lure dealers to sell other Diamo projects, and I was frankly starting to believe him, now the question is if Italjet is anything more than an office in Italy buying trade show space and licensing their name (and their late-90s designs) to Asia and India. Time will tell.
(UPDATE: DiamoUSA appears to be displaying the same Minarelli-powered five-year-old Dragster 50 at the Cycle World shows that they had on display at the Dealer Expo nine months ago. See comments for details.)
We’ve been begging DiamoUSA for Italjet details for months, but apparently Guzman has a better connection. He’s got all the pricing for the 2007 models, and says the Torpedo may be available already. (Is it? I wish the Diamo site had a dealer list.) The pricing is interesting, the water-cooled Torpedo 150, at $2995, is $300 less than the air-cooled but otherwise comparable Kymco People 150. The 50cc 2-stroke (and restricted-to-30mph) Roller Craft is the same price, which seems a few hundred bucks high for a restricted 50cc, though still a couple hundred bucks cheaper than a Vespa LX50 and $500 cheaper than the $3495 Dragster 50.
The flagship, the 250cc Dragster 250, is MSRP’ed (is that a verb?) at a whopping $5795, less than a Vespa GTS250, but more than most other 250cc scooters on the market. Like the Vespa, the Dragster is a legendary and stylish machine that (in principle) is a cut above the rest, and demand is certainly high, but this new incarnation (of the Dragster and of Italjet, and to a lesser degree, their importer and dealer network) is unproven. If it can provide anything close to the style and riding experience of the fin-de millenium 2-stroke 180cc Dragster with equal or better quality and better dealer/parts support, it’s probably worth the cash. We’ll see.
Diamo Motors USA has announced a new roadside assistance program, included with all new street scooters and motorcycles. Diamo’s Kathryn Davis tells us “This program is unique because it is offered to customers free of charge and is comprehensive in nature.” A well-implemented roadside assistance plan is good news for anyone saving up their cash for the new Italjet Dragster.
The ScooterScoop reports that the new 250cc 4-stroke and 50cc 2-stroke Italjet Dragsters are due at Diamo dealers in 6-8 weeks. Italjetamerica.com features the a photo that some scooterists recently suggested may be a mock-up or photo manipulation, and the highly-anticipated Dragster debut at the 2007 DealerExpo turned out to be an older model, so many riders are very excited to finally see the new Dragsters in person.
More info: 2SB’s interview with DiamoUSA’s Mathu Solo from January.
After discovering late last night that Diamo USA was bringing Italjet scooters and motorcycles to America, we were stupefied, excited, and to be honest, a bit skeptical. Diamo has a fairly good reputation among scooter dealers and riders, but were they the right company to re-introduce the legendary Dragster to the U.S.? Where were these bikes coming from, and how did Italjet rise from the dead seemingly overnight? We contacted DiamoUSA early this morning, and we heard back this afternoon from Mathu Solo, who very candidly answered our questions:
Continue reading “DiamoUSA: More about new Italjets”