Italjet Moto Srl (Italjet) is an Italian manufacturer of motorcycles, headquartered in Castel San Pietro Terme, Bologna, Italy.
The company was founded in 1959 in San Lazzaro, Bologna by Leopoldo Tartarini.
|Headquarters||Castel San Pietro Terme, Italy|
Italjet probably would not have been created if its founder, Leopoldo Tartarini, had not been first of all a pilot. Tartarini never thought of building any other type of company, because the bikes have always been the common thread of his life. Passion, work, everything. The year before founding his company he embarked on a journey around the world of 60,000 km.
The world tour
Sixty thousand kilometres a year, riding a Ducati 175, for adventure, curiosity, to experience and why not for propaganda: More than forty years ago Leopoldo Tartarini went out to discover the world, in a literal sense. The future founder of Italjet, in agreement with Ducati, whom at the time was its rider, agrees to make a tour of the world.
These were the years of the great adventures, of the early tentative approaches to the moon. Trips, not yet mass, fascinates, evocate. Of course, not all are ready, as Tartarini was, to tour the size of 60,000 kilometres. In fact, even in the case of the two Bolognese, the opportunity to discover the world is due to the convergence of a series of coincidences that Tartarini remembers as: I was competing as a Ducati rider in competitions of gran fondo like the Milan-Taranto. For a few years it worked at best. Then I had a bad accident and was forced to leave racing. I still had a year contract with the Borgo Panigale, so we thought of finishing it with some propaganda initiative, perhaps with an adventures backdrop. First I thought to circumnavigate Africa, then raised the aim, why not travel around the world.
The idea was accepted, so Tartarini, who must look for an adventure mate, contacts his childhood friend Giorgio Monetti, a great bike enthusiast , that accepts with great excitement.
The preparation of the journey is complex. There is a route to be establish, taking into account the geography, but without ignoring the politic.
“First of all, Tartarini says – it is not possible to cross the Iron Curtain, or China, for that matter, it took us six months to determine the journey, from March to September, when we departed. And yet, in spite of the precautions, we could not help but come across three revolutions. In Iraq where King Feisal had been hanged, Syria and Indonesia.”
The two fearless riders are able to take off to discover the world on September 30th 1957. From Bologna arrive to Trieste, then Belgrade (Yugoslavia), Thessaloniki (Greece), Istanbul (Turkey). Teheran (Iran), Karachi (Pakistan), Mumbai and Delhi (India), Jakarta (Sumatra). The two reach Borneo by boat, then they go to New Guinea and arrive in Australia, passing through it’s width, from Darwin to Sydney. Still on the ship arrive in New Zealand, then again a crossing to reach Venezuela. The journey continues to South America: Caracas (Venezuela), Bogota (Colombia), Guayaquil (Ecuador), Santiago (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Montevideo (Uruguay), Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Again a passage by ship and the two reach Dakar. Then on motorbike they arrive in Casablanca, Tangier, Gibraltar. Through Spain and the French Riviera to return to Italy.
On the whole Tartarini and Monetti crossed 42 countries. Total cost of the operation forty million liras, which of course have to be related at the time. To avoid that the two are “relieved” by malicious people along the way – far from being an unfounded concern, as the facts are proved – the sum is given to them step by step. That meant that the path had to be followed with rigidity, otherwise they would have faced a dangerous lack of fluids. But at every stage, the two collect a lot of popularity, with press conferences and journalists ready to snatch rumors and news on the unusual adventure of the two intrepid Italian bikers.
But the adventure – far from being a relaxing one – presents more than a drawback. In Thessaloniki “the Asian”, an ugly form of flu virus, forcing Tartarini and Monetti in bed for several days, with the real fear of having to give up going further.
But a path of 60,000 km is littered with misadventures.
In Singapore, in a bar, we were involved in a big brawl, If I remember correctly there where issues over some women. Intervened in our help some cadets from the training ship Amerigo Vespucci, that in those days was in the port of Singapore. A scene from the wild west – remembers today Tartarini – with bottles, mirrors and tables flying. We were also robbed, between Iran and Iraq, while we were sleeping in the tent, seven or eight robbers of the desert armed to the teeth. They rummaged in our suitcases, grabbed something and then without saying a word they were gone, riding their camels.
In Indonesia, our likeness to the Dutch (so the local said) put us in trouble , because they had been expelled from the newly installed government of Sukamo, a mistake that cost us three days in jail, just before Christmas, before the misunderstanding had been clarified.
And then there were the problems caused by the climate. In New Zealand we faced a downpour, flooded road and bitter cold, is the memory of the future founder of Italjet.
On the other hand in Australia we suffered terrible hot weather. As we penetrated into the desert the temperature went up to 52 degrees, following the track we met the remains of dead animals due to the heat, so we could not travel during the day, we used to rest during the day and travel at night, but with the dark we had to go very slow, one night we had a punctured tire and I tried to fix it in the dark, but instead of getting the key I grabbed the tail of a big lizard that tried to bite me. In south America we got acquainted with the swamp and it wasn’t exactly pleasant to cross them with the caimans and leaches, both eager to taste our blood.
But the problems do not stop them, The trip, lasted twelve months ends in Bologna, a huge crowd cheering on September 5th 1958. A year later, Leopoldo Tartarini founded Italjet.
Since 1959 to today Italjet has developed more than 150 different innovated models of motorcycles and motorbikes designed with an
entrepreneurial enthusiasm that remained unchanged from the foundation to the third generation currently working to strengthen the national and international image of the company.
The same property united and led for over forty years by the family Tartarini, consistent in giving continuity and development to its innovative philosophy that today characterizes loud and clear, the company and the brand Italjet in Italy and in the world.
The result of this philosophy is simple: innovate, anticipate the tastes and fashions, to stay ahead, one step ahead of others.
"It 'a way of thinking that comes from competitions, where you have to be determined to achieve your goals, always anticipating the opponents," says the founder Leopoldo Tartarini.
This determination combined with endless enthusiasm and passion for all that is motorcycles and engines was transmitted to children not only through the chromosomes but making her breathe day after day and to cultivate it with the example and the memory of the great sporting achievements made.
To name a few: victory in the Milan-Taranto in 1953, around the world in 1954 (five continents, 42 countries in 13 months), the three world records with Cyclecar at Monza in 1969.
On 14 February 1980 comes the recognition that alone is worth a career.
The design department of the Museum of MODERN ART NEW YORK, the prestigious MOMA, tells Leopoldo Tartarini the decision to exhibit in the permanent collection of the Pack 2. It’s the only motorized vehicle with two wheels housed in the museum.
But, in 1998 when the Guggenheim Museum in New York decided to select a few examples of motorcycles and scooters assigns the only award sole scooter which is then exposed: the Formula 50 Liquid-cooled and already nominated four times of the scooter ' year in Germany, Spain and Italy twice.
In 2000 it was the turn of Velocifero.
The company has a history of producing light motorcycles, scooters and more recently quadbikes.
In the 1990s, it launched the Dragster, Formula and Velocifero models. In 1998 an Italjet Formula was exhibited as part of The Art of the Motorcycle show at the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In 1999, the business launched the Grifone, powered by a 900 cc three-cylinder Triumph engine. A completely new factory in Roseto was built to manufacture the Grifone, but in 2002 the company went bust. In 2005 it was taken over by Massimo Tartarini, the son of the original owner. Under his direction the company has developed lightweight touring motorcycles based on the Korean Hyosung 650's frame and engine.