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Teenage Kicks (Italjet Dragster)

January 20th, 2010

teenage_kicks_dragsterIf truth be known, we were due to feature this ride in the print version of PETROL a while back and, looking at the pics from our photo shoot, she looks just as good as when we first set eyes on her! With its trick trellis frame and hydro-pneumatic suspension, the Italjet Dragster still holds up as one of the most radical looking scooters around. It’s often a case of love at first sight for many a Dragster owner, well it was for me and the same can be said for aerospace engineer Chris Abbis or ‘Abbo’ who modified this Undertones themed Dragster called Teenage Kicks.

Abbo hails from Yeovil in Somerset and got his first kick out of riding scooters back in ’83. A year later at the age of 16, he rode a Vespa Rally 200 two-up to Torquay and like many of today’s teenagers he couldn’t give a monkeys for road safety, suffice to say he didn’t possess a driving licence for very long. A few years later, a now more mature Abbo had by this point built a brace of custom Lambrettas; a cut down TS1 225 racer called ‘After Shock’ and a full-bodied Lambretta called ‘Petronas’ that had been fitted with an RD350 engine. Upon completion of these projects, boredom started to set in and Abbo grew tired of the same old, in his words, “mundane Lambrettas and Vespas”, then out of the blue a Dragster caught his eye… A short while later after acquiring not one but two Dragsters, he started to wonder what one would look like ‘naked’ as a cut down. So a frame was purchased from Nick at Ital Scooters and the next project grew from there.

From the start, Abbo knew what he wanted this project to look like, it was mostly a matter of making everything fit. He already had a spare 125 engine and a shed full of parts (“a mountain of shit” as he puts it) ready to cut up and make something useful out of. So rather than using off-the-shelf parts and bolt-on stuff that everyone else seems to go for, an R1 front shocker was sourced off eBay for the princely sum of a fiver. It turned out to be quite easy to fit this to the Dragster as it was simply a case of moving the mounting brackets further apart by 65mm. At the rear, a shocker more commonly found on a Gilera DNA has been fitted and this jacks up the back end quite nicely. Common sense prevailed when it came to the engine which was enhanced with those tried and tested upgrades – a Malossi 172 kit, Dell’Orto 25mm carb, PM55 exhaust and the usual belt, roller and gearing mods.


Yamaha R1 shock absorber

This project, being a cut down, was clearly more about what Abbo did away with. So he lost all the lower plastics, cut off all the little brackets that weren’t required and re-welded parts of the frame for strengthening. One of the worst parts of the project was fixing a burnt-out wiring loom which was “more of a pain in the ass than difficult” apparently. By the sounds of it, the custom handlebars were a bit of pain to fit too. An old motorcycle yoke was used in order to fit them, and the front end plastics had to be lowered by an inch so that the handlebars could turn. This meant that the radiator and coolant bottle had to be lowered as well. The rear end has been seen to too in terms of plating off areas of open bodywork, some re-moulding work and re-positioning the number plate.

With Abbo’s traditional background, I asked him how his modified Dragster has been received within the rally scene now that he’s turned to the ‘Darkside’ – “there are too many single-minded people in the world of scooters who’ve got that “if it’s not a Lambretta, you’re not a scooterist” attitude. My response to that – f**k ‘em, the future is auto and if they rode one everyday, they’d understand”. Nuff said.


OWNER: Chris ‘ Abbo’ Abbiss
ENGINE: Piaggio 125cc lump, Malossi 172cc cylinder kit, Dell’Orto PHBL 25mm carb, Polini air filter, PM55, Malossi Kevlar drive belt, Malossi rollers
FRAME: Modified and cut down Italjet Dragster D125/180 frame
SUSPENSION: Yamaha R1 front shock absorber, Gilera DNA rear shock absorber
BODYWORK: Standard Dragster nose cone lowered and tail unit moulded, carbon fiber radiator grille, coolant cap and flywheel cover
ELECTRICS: Mostly standard loom
PAINT: Aircraft black and orange by Derek Smith at Ramp Engineering
SOUNDTRACK: Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
THANKS TO: Reservoir of Gods SC, the Darkside, Nick and Andy at South West Scooters, Hardly Rideables, Kev, Reg and Miller and the star from up north, Ferdy

Words: Paul Robinson
Photos: Becky Randall
Model: Vanessa Upton

If you’ve got a custom scooter that you reckon is worthy of a feature, get in touch. We’re always on the look out for custom scooters and you never know, we might feature yours.