The Italian company Fantic Motor celebrated 50 years in 2018 even though it’s seen some ups and downs in that time. Very definitely a ‘small bike’ manufacturer, it has seen great success off-road, especially scrambling in the 1970s and winning multiple world Trials championships in the 1980s. Then there was the Chopper… But with retro-heritage being the new modernity it makes perfect sense for Fantic to cash in and they’ve produced what must be one of the coolest factory street scramblers there is.
Collecting it on a cold overcast January day, I had the opportunity to ride the 449cc, 40hp water-cooled Caballero Scrambler the 160 miles back to the Overland office and have got to say it acquitted itself so well, even on the motorway, that I’m now arranging as many appointments as I can so that I have an excuse to ride it every day.
Stepping off a 1200cc Honda CrossTourer meant that initially it felt like I’d left something behind, and I don’t just mean over 100 kilos. So light and flickable the Scrambler immediately gave me a remarkable sense of freedom. Yes that sounds cliched, but get on one and you’ll see what I mean. The simplicity and ease of use (apart from the switchgear – more on that in the full review), the eager single-cylinder engine and the really progressive, powerful brakes meant I just started to smile and ignored the fact the fairing, heated grips and handguards were all back with the Honda. It almost felt, from behind that tiny but wholesome digital display, that I shouldn’t be allowed to be this unfettered, to be so unencumbered. To be just riding.
I don’t yet know if this is a bike to tour on, so I’m off to Ireland next week to see, but I do know that on first impressions, everyone should have one; for psychological wellbeing and aesthetic satisfaction – it’s just so lovely to look at!
Words: Paddy Tyson
Images: Ken Binns
See Fantic for more info.