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LAMBRETTA’S GHOST | The Italjet Formula 1

The king of the road

The king of the road

There are scooters and there are scooters. Next to underbones, scooters are the most visible motorbikes in the streets in Manila. You see them in appropriate gear as opposed to ‘boners where some are in gear while the rest are in house clothes. At the start of the millennium there has been a gradual resurgence of the bike that was made famous by the Italians. It was chic and a hipster’s weapon of choice. It doesn’t guzzle fuel, is ultra light, and is non-threatening to people thinking it would be the safest way to travel.

This is a misconception. This miniscule vehicle is actually more dangerous than a sportbike. The wheels are small, the dynamics is that of a unicycle and the handling is crazy at highway speeds. The Italians intended a motorcycle that imitates a bicycle but with an engine. Meaning, it is ideal for nearby trips to the grocery or sneaking out to the nearby hideaways.

But this concern was taken into consideration and designers had to up the ante. They made bigger scooters like Yamaha’s T-Max and Honda’s Silverwing. These “Maxi Scooters” were as big as a liter bike. It practically defeats the purpose of “scootin’” around. This was ok for a time when big bikes ruled the streets and riders wanted an acceptable alternative but with today’s worsening traffic situation, the consumers of course made practical decisions. There is no fun figuring in traffic astride a carabao.

It says Bella! all over

It says Bella! all over

The Japanese ruled the scene with their ever reliable models. But it has reached a saturation point that consumers did their research and went the other way. Since motorcycling is all about being different, they opted for the “main source” – going Euro.

This is where Italjet comes in. Making scooters since the 90’s, this brand has become a source of fashionistas. Why shouldn’t they. Their designs are sleek, colorful and importantly, Italian looking. It is not enough to just put on a helmet but a must to create a whole new wardrobe just to ride it.

When I rode the Italjet Formula 1, I didn’t wear a tee shirt but put on a polo shirt shiny trousers. It was so much fun going to nearby café’s without any hassle and buzzing through traffic free of stress. My wife Jana enjoyed putting on her biker gear without looking like a man but somebody you’d think is on her way to a party.

Designed by Italian Alessandro Tartarini, taking obvious design cue from the gorgeous Ducati Panigale sports bike. Tartarini is part of the family behind the Italjet brand in Italy, his father Leopoldo Tartarini (with whom they patented their design of the Italjet Dragster scooter) founding the company in 1959, Alessandro’s brother Massimo Tartarini taking over in the early 2000s.


Chic magnet

Originally a Lambretta but is released in Asia with the Italjet badge and flags. Engine is a liquid-cooled 125cc and is manufactured by SYM. This puts a frown on some but for me, an addition. Merging the Italian look with Asian reliability was a concept that was impossible twenty years ago except for Bimota. How can you not like the sleek lines and cat-like lights preying the tough streets of the metropolis. I’m thinking, if I’m going to scale down my travelling methods, why not do it in style. The Italjet Formula 1 provides that through and through.


  • 125cc
  • Claimed power (bhp) 13bhp @ 7500rpm
  • Compression ratio 13:1
  • Transmission centrifugal clutch
  • Cycle parts
  • Front tyre 120/70 x 11in Michelin Dexter
  • Rear tyre 130/70 x 12in Michelin Dexter
  • Front suspension SIS (Sistema Independente di Sterzo) hub-centre system, single Paioli shock, 110mm travel Adjustments preload
  • Rear suspension single Paioli shock, 90mm travel Adjustments preload
  • Front brake 175mm disc with opposed-piston caliper
  • Rear brake 175mm disc with opposed-piston caliper
  • Performance
  • Top speed 70 mph
  • Fuel capacity 10 liters