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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Warning - this post may contain traces of scooter

I'm very lucky that my girlfriend both humours and tolerates my passion for bikes. She's quite interested in old knackers (hence our lasting relationship), and she even has a wish list of her own 2 wheeled classics. At the very top of that list is the Italjet Veloricifo, a retro styled 50cc twist'n'go that enjoyed celebrity status in the late 1990's. Oasis, Johnathan Ross, Jamie Oliver and other members of the then glitterati gave fleeting patronage to this little scoot, providing it with an image far in excess of the measly 229 that were sold in the UK.

There's no doubting that (if you like scooters) the Velocifero is a very cute little bike. In fact it's probably the best looking rendition of a classic style scooter that has ever been built, certainly more attractive than anything Vespa have ever made. But that's hardly surprising when you consider that the man at the helm of Italjet was no less than Leopoldo Tartarini, the designer that Ducati commissioned to dig them out of a very big Giugiaro shaped hole that was the 860GT. The result of his efforts was the Ducati Darmah, one of my favourite bikes of the 70's.

I've always admired Italjet for the sheer audacity of their bikes. Any small company who can design and successfully market a 80+mph hub centre steering trellis framed scooter gets my vote, and although the Dragster is probably their best remembered bike, in the 60's they dabbled with bigger stuff in the form of Triumph and Velocette engined bikes and it was they who were behind the Clymer Indian Velo which is now so coveted.

The upshot of this story is that I'm now having to make room in my overcrowded garage and time in my overburdened schedule for her soon to be arriving Velocifero. To be honest, i'm quite looking forward to it. The oil in a Norton Commando takes about 10 miles to warm up and our local shops are only a few hundred yards down the road.

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