Italjet refuses to die

Once upon a time — more than a decade ago — an Italian motorcycle company with a history of offbeat scooters decided to make a big push into the booming European scooter market. The designs, notably the Swatch/Vespa-hybrid Velocifero and the ahead-of-its-time Dragster captured the public imagination worldwide. Since Italjet were Italian, they inevitably botched it all up, closed up shop, licensed their models to Kinetic in India, then annually announced the rebirth of the Dragster (vaporware!) at EICMA while slapping “Italjet” stickers on cheapo Chinese bikes for the European market. One model briefly made it to the U.S. during this period, a cheap Chinese knockoff of their own late-90s Torpedo. Meanwhile, Kinetic chunked out one uninspired model, the ex-Italjet Millenium, as the “Blaze” for the Indian market, and teased the world with an occasional Velocifero press release.

But all that’s about to change! I’m going to bring Italjet back MYSELF!

Dear Sir,

Seasons Greetings for 2010.
We “Autoprima” situated in india city of Pune(near Mumbai) where this is Automotive industrial hub and the manufacturing company for Italian ITALJET scooters.
We are export dealer of KINETIC -ITALJET and having “italjet millenium 125 C.C. scooters 4 stroke and 100 C.C. 2 stroke in our stalk as well inventry of Parts . You may forward this to the perspective buyers of ITALJET scooters.We will apreciate if you contact us for further business oportunity.
Thanking you ,
Yours truly,

Prakash Kulkarni,
Pune . India
Cell :00919823263107

Yes, I want a scooter so bland and outdated that it’s named after a point in time, ten years ago. I’m dialing as soon as I can find a replacement battery for my Nokia 101. Italjet is back, the end.

New hope for Indian Italjets?

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.

M&M considers Malaguti

India-based Mahindra & Mahindra is considering a purchase of Malaguti Moto. M&M recently bought Kinetic Motors, and thus owns the rights to several Italjet models. Malaguti, like Italjet, produced several popular scooters five years ago, even making brief appearances in nascent American scooter market. Today, both manufacturers appear to be limping along selling a combination of 2003-era bikes and less-inspired newer asian-made models.

No Dragsters, No Rollercraft, Few Surprises

Last Friday Steve Guzman from The Scooter Scoop and Italjet USA announced some sad news. They have decided to “…re-evaluate our requirements for the current season,”. Their press release quoted on The Scooter Scoop cited the lack of the new Italjet products, such as the Dragster and Rollercraft. Steve went on to explain some issues with the development of the new lines. Apparently Italjet just didn’t have the capabilities to build or find partners to build the new bikes.  Unfortunately, this resulted in Steve leaving the company effective May, 30th.  Interestingly, the Amarcord was cited, originally shown as a prototype back in September, 2001 (yes, almost 7 years ago), as one of the scooter designs that didn’t get off the ground but Italjet has already diluted the name and put it on a Mainland China-made bike of dubious appeal.

This sad news goes beyond a good guy like Steve Guzman having to find a new job. It demonstrates again how difficult it will be for any non-fully established firm to ever create something new. It would be great to see an upstart make a great new design from scratch and bring it to the masses. But that scenario is probably not likely in the current environment. We very sincerely wish the best of luck to Steve and Italjet USA. That stated, to the latter I suggest no more ‘coming soon’ news until trucks leave your warehouse on their way to dealers.

Italjet SX1 (and another Dragster rant)

Italjet has launched another model in Europe, the 2-stroke 50cc SX1. Brooke recognized the engine as a CPI design, though the body appears to be unique in its generic-osity. Italjet’s European site has been “under construction” for some time, so details are thin on all their bikes, but so far, they’re marketing what appears to be a CF Moto Torpedo clone, this generic 50cc CPI-powered snoozer, a Kymco Agility with custom bodywork, and a Chinese 400cc cruiser that six other companies are selling, while continuing to hype an overpriced 650cc Hyosung sportbike (the Grifon) and a Piaggio engine (likely Chinese-made) that may someday be wedged into something resembling a 10-year-old Dragster frame. The Roller Craft is at least distinctive, but expensive for a 50cc Chinese-made scooter, and it’s not available yet, either. Even if you consider any or all of their bikes exciting, there’s no parts/service consistency to the lineup at all.

U.S. importer LS Motorsports is planning to import the Torpedo,, Roller Craft, and Dragster (of which only the Torpedo is currently available). Italjet’s strength back in the turn of the millenium was innovative design, yet they sold the tooling for many distinctive models to Kinetic in India. Their success is arguably dependent on the promise of an updated and well-built Dragster, yet they keep wasting time and money developing these thinly-disguised and indistinct Asian bikes. Sure, it’s important to have a full line, the Dragster’s not for everyone, but the Dragster will be what brings customers into the dealership and builds their brand recognition. There’s little evidence of progress on the Dragster front for the last two years, and at best, a new Dragster is likely still a year away. If we do see a Dragster in 2009, it had better be worth the wait, which is to say it must be better than the original (let’s be honest, even the original had flaws). Nothing Italjet has done since they resurfaced is providing much evidence that it will be.

Indian makers explore natural gas models

RedOrbit reports that LML, Bajaj, Honda, and Kinetic are all working on natural-gas powered concept bikes, possibly including dual-fuel options. Just thought we’d throw that in there with all the 210cc nuclear-powered rotary-engine automatic time-travelling Stella rumors floating around.

Kinetic’s Africa deal

MyIris reports that Kinetic signed a contract in late February with Egyptian and Sudanese concerns for 6,000-7,000 scooters to be delivered by the end of 2007. The article also reports that Kinetic has also shipped half of a (more realistic) order of 88 scooters to Japan, and goes on to remind us that no one has a clue what’s happening with Kinetic’s SYM or Italjet deals.

2007 Dealer Expo: POCphil’s review


Since a week has passed and I still haven’t been able to collect my thoughts on the ginormous mindblowing extravaganza in Indianapolis, here’s POCphil‘s writeup. I’ll add my comments in italics where appropriate. -2SB

We were so excited to get to the Indianapolis Dealer Expo this year, we were running about 2 hours early. We took that time to go visit Speed City Cycles in Indianapolis, only a few minutes from the Show. Mike and Marybeth Tockey have created a fantastic shop with an ingenious use of space and rural/industrial feel that leaves room for a snack bar, lounge and a ton of scooters and accessories. Mike also builds award winning metric cruisers. Just hanging around his IWL Berliner is a treat. After a great tour and some bench racing we were back on our mission to deliver two scooters to the Scoot! Magazine/ Corazzo booth and still arrive early enough at the hotel for some hottubbing before showing up in time for the open bar at 4PM, whew!
Continue reading “2007 Dealer Expo: POCphil’s review”

News chunks: February 7, 2007

Here’s what Vina–and R. Kelly–missed while having their appendices removed:

Welcome home, Vina! Now if I could just remember where I put our daughter…

Kinetic details 2007 plans, and Dragster

Following the success of the Blaze, Kinetic announced more specific 2007 plans today. As previously announced, the Indian company will release three scooters this year. The new details:

  • The first scooter (due “as soon as April”) will be called the Euro, with a 125-135 cc engine and targeted towards whatever passes as a “luxury” market in India. It will be based on the design of one of the seven designs licensed from Italjet, though it’s not clear which the Italjet Jet Set.
  • The second scooter will be a four-stroke, sub-100cc, SYM-designed scooterette to be launched in May (SYM–based in Taiwan–owns 11.1% of Kinetic).
  • The third scooter (India never ceases to amaze us) will be the Dragster. The Business Standard describes the Dragster as “co-owned by Italjet and KMCL…the only brand that [was] not completely bought out by the two-wheeler manufacturer.” The Kinetic/Italjet Dragster is due out by the end of the year. Feel free to speculate away on whether this will be the same Dragster touted by Italjet and DiamoUSA.

Italjet Dragster to return to US in February

In a surprise announcement today, Diamo USA announced they’ll import the Italjet Dragster and Torpedo, and other Italjet bikes including the Griffon 650 motorcycle, starting in February. We’ll have more details and analysis tomorrow. (Note: these will be Italjet-branded Dragsters, not the “Italiano” models that were once expected to be built under license by Kinetic in India)

News bits

Sorry, we’ve still been a bit under the weather and busy with the impending holidays, but here are some stories from the last week to keep you up to date:

Kinetic outlines new plans with SYM, Italjet

More talk from Kinetic, as reported in the Business Standard:

  • The Italjet-designed Kinetic Blaze has been a sucess in Japan, prompting even more Kinetic interest in other export markets, specifically America and Europe.
  • Kinetic has signed a deal with SYM of Taiwan and the companies will introduce a automatic 100 or 150cc scooter in 2007, and two more collaborations in 2008.
  • Of about 170,000 vehicles expected to be produced at Kinetic’s Pithampur plant in 2007, 40,000 are expected to be exported, including 12,000 Blaze scooters.
  • Interestingly, with Italjet’s surprise return to the market, the language of the Italjet/Kinetic deal seems to be changing weekly. Rather than talking about making seven Italjet models, the arrangement now sounds more collaborative. Company officials now say they “may” produce discontinued Italjet models, possibly even selling them in Europe as Italjet scooters, adding that they also may be involved in new Italjet projects as third-party suppliers.