- The definition of an obsession is a focus on one thing with little interest in anything else.
Example: when one man owns a tenth of the countries Italjet Dragster 125/180 population.
It’s fair to say that Rick Kaye has a thing for Dragsters. In fact he currently owns 14 of the modern classic machines and the one seen here is the latest of his Italjet’s to come off the PSN Tuning custom production line. I use the words ‘Production Line’ vaguely as these scooters are hand built, hand tuned and bespoke to Rick. This one also ties in with Rick’s other obsession, namely causal wear from the stable of Massimo Osti. The man behind such terrace legends as Stone Island, CP Company, Mastrom and Stone Island offshoot, Shadow Project.
Like many of you reading this, Rick comes from a classic scooter background and until the last few years hadn’t even ridden, never mind owned an auto. That changed quite quickly once he discovered just how much fun an Italjet Dragster could be once properly sorted with decent suspension, some tuning upgrades and a few neat touches here and there. In the world of automatic scooters the Dragster is king when it comes to modification.
Since buying his first Dragster, like his expanding wardrobe, his scooter collection has been growing steadily and he’s incorporated his ‘other’ obsession into a theme using Massimo’s clothing brands. He’s already done a Mastrom themed custom Dragster, this time it was the turn of Shadow Project. Even as we speak, a third machine is up at PSN being worked on and it promises to be even more trick than the one you see here.
What is it about Dragsters?
Surely 14 of the same model of scooter is excessive in anybody’s book? We asked Rick what it was that first attracted him to this modern classic machine.
“They made me start enjoying riding long distances to rallies again, they’re fun, just like a Lambretta and it kind of grew from there really. PSN are great with autos so I get them to tune and build all my scooters whenever possible.”
Why the clothes theme?
“I’m mad on clothes so thought I’d do a series of scooters all based around Massimo’s brands. Mastrom and Shadow Project were both brands released posthumously using Massimo’s fabric technology archive. Lots of Stone Island scooters have already been done so Shadow Project is a bit different.”
Tell us about the project?
“It’s all quite minimal with stripped back naked bars, a hidden battery, exposed trellis frame and some nice bits and pieces thrown in. Craig Bewey painted it for me in a Volkswagen black with the peppermint highlights, just to make it pop a bit. The frame was done in a Mark 1 T5 graphite grey. I splashed out a bit and had a hand made exhaust built by PSN, it’s a version of the ones they run on their race bikes. We went the extra mile and used the expensive shocks that they also race on. It’s running a 30mm Mikuni carb, big crank and gearbox, loads of porting… It’s built as a regular rally bike so it’s got plenty of torque without being too revvy, unlike most tuned Dragsters that just sound and feel angry. It’s very smooth and nice to ride.”
Built to be ridden long distance this wasn’t designed to be a super high-powered motor. It’s much milder than some of the 38bhp road engines PSN are capable of but is still plenty quick enough.
The motor is based around a PM Tuning Pro Street kit with 55mm crank, giving it a capacity of 183cc. Add into the mix a 30mm Mikuni, some extra porting work, a gear kit and a hand-built version of the PSN race exhaust the boys use out on the track and you’ve got yourself a a quick and hopefully reliable tool for rally abuse and fun. It puts out a healthy 26.5bhp on the Dyno.
On the road
Fresh scooter, fresh engine and a rainy day, what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully nothing because we got a chance to ride Rick’s scooter before he’d even sat on it.
I own a tuned 172cc Dragster myself and it’s quite an angry beast, you need plenty of noise and lots of revs just to pull away. It ain’t quiet that’s for sure and can be a little embarrassing at times. That’s one of the things Rick wanted to get away from with this scooter.
It still sounds just how a tuned two-stroke auto breathing through a big carb and hand made expansion pipe should sound but it isn’t overloud. It also pulls away nicely, with not half as much right hand needed as with my own scooter. That’s partly down to the quick action throttle but more to do with the way Shadow Project’s transmission has been set up. A scooter like this really needs fine tuning on the Dyno, something PSN know a thing or two about for sure. Although with their experience they can usually predict exactly what each engine needs and how much power it’ll produce before it even turns a wheel.
Once you’re away it’s a nice smooth power delivery. There’s no kick in the balls attack of aggressive revs, just a good spread of useful power. It’s on the boil without feeling like it wants to spit you off at every corner. With the current gearing you will soon see the top side of 80mph on the trick looking Stage 6 clocks but don’t expect any three figure speeds.
Harnessing the power is a modified PM rear shock, these are also used by the PSN Tuning race team in BSSO. Coupled to the beefy front shock it keeps the Dragster fairly well under control, although with Italjet Dragsters handling has never been a particular strong point. Anything you can do to help in that department is money well spent. The brakes have also been modified, gone are the hard to bleed, flaky old standard calipers. Replaced by a pair of better, more powerful Piaggio calipers instead.
As a result, it’s quick, handles and stops well and despite the damp roads the scooter never felt out of control. Although the odd power wheelie is quite easy if you get carried away with the throttle.
Like the brand it’s named after, Shadow Project isn’t too over the top, its styling is subtle yet the details make all the difference to the overall effect. It’s a casual approach to customising, built to be ridden. If you own a trick auto, or classic for that matter get in touch and see if we can get you SLUKED.
Words, photos and video: Iggy
Owners name: Rick Kaye
Scooter name: Shadow Project
Model: Italjet Dragster 125
Top speed: 90mph
Power output: 26.5 bhp, lbs/ft
Paintwork: Craig Bewey
One-off parts: PSN Tuning race exhaust, rear seat pod battery reposition, quick action throttle
Fabrication: PSN Tuning
Accessories: Digital dashboard
Coatings & finishes: Powder coating by Trevor Harrison at Midas Touch
Acquisition? Bought a year or so ago and been waiting for it to be finished
Inspiration? The clothing brands of Massimo Osti
Alteration? Stripped back naked handlebars, battery repositioned, hidden switches
Perspiration? Not telling the wife I’d got another on the go…
Recommendation? PSN Tuning, top lads, good at what they do and not over expensive
Celebration? Thanks To Blinth and all at PSN for a top job
Visit PSN: PSN Tuning