Strange how things come about … I had managed to get the 2nd of Jan 2015 off work and make a long weekend of the bank holiday so was lounging in bed as you do and decided to scan through facebook on the iPad at about 9.30am. In the “hard to find twinshock” page there was a 300 Fantic that looked all there but tatty for 600 quid … A very reasonable price for one of those I thought.
.. I have a soft spot for the 300’s. Back in the day myself and Simon Levitt had been sponsored on the T350 Italjet by a local dealer, and it soon became apparent to both if us that these were possibly the worst trials bike ever made !! They were basically a badly made Bultaco about 5 years out of date. No matter what we tried we both couldn’t ride them to save our lives and Simon picked up sponsorship from Len Savage motorcycles quickly to ride the new 300 Fantic. Being the kind sole that he is he put in a good word for me and they did a very good deal and took the shite Italjet off my hands .. I became a Fantic rider after years of trying to avoid going red like almost the whole of the South East did overnight when the 240 came out.
My dad and I liked to be different, hence why I stayed with SWM’s whilst all around took the cheap deals offered on Fantics. There was something about the 240 I didn’t like at the time, as I travelled around events on my SWM I always used to see broken or lost Fantic side panels dotted around the woods. Also compared to the SWM they seemed big ( bit strange when I look back now !) and the lower revving and grunty engine in the SWM suited me better in the southern mud.
But times moved on and the Fantic 300 to me was the best thing out there. After riding it for the first time I just fell in love with it, and won loads of club events and I think the club championship that year possibly. Then I made a huge mistake, when they came out I got a 301 … What a bloody awful bike it was after the 300! Even the disc brake was worse than the 300 front drum ( apart from when under water). I moved away from Fantics for a while before getting a 303, which was a bit of a nightmare as far as quality of build went, and some years later building up a 305 that I went on to win every trial I rode it in and won the North Kent Combine Inters Championship in the early 90’s !
The 300 was always the bike I regret selling too soon, I know many people found them a handful but I just loved the thing. The only thing better for me at the time would have been the lovely Michaud white version. For years I have been wanting another one, even if I just rode it once and sold it. Well, the day had come.. I dropped the facebook man a message, expecting it to have long gone at that price. Apparently he had received a few messages but no one had turned up with cash yet …. The race was on!
We had the cash so all I needed to do was get dressed, and travel up the M5, across the M4 and find the man in Newbury. Needless to say, the deal was done and I now have a large selection of boxes filled with a Fantic 300 in kit form. My first idea was to tart it up, stick it all together with the minimum of extra money outlay and sell it. The reasoning behind it all is that I want a modern, newer bike. And doing up a few bikes to sell was the way to achieve that. But now the Fantic is here I want to try and keep it, if possible. I am going to build it up with minimum cost first and see if it is all ok .. Then if I can afford not to sell it I will get it powder coated and make it look as good as possible whilst remaining a rideable bike.
We have a good selection of clubs around this area that run twinshock routes, and I want the bike to remain as original as possible. As many who read my comments online will know I am not keen on the “cheat bike” twinshocks out there. I love to look at them and admire the work and engineering that has gone into them, but just don’t think it is in the spirit of it all. If you want a bike that rides like a modern bike, buy a bloody modern bike ! 🙂
The only changes I will make to the bike are the footrests and possibly the rear wheel rim as I can’t see the point of having tubeless tyres and sticking a tube in them. But a 36 hole tubeless rim will be hard to find these days and a bit expensive so that can wait. The bars will be braced Renthals or similar just so I have options in height.
I have 2 sets of the original Marzocchi shocks to work with, I just love the look of them even if they don’t work as well as the modern trick shocks available out there. Bob Wright has the seal kits for them but I have to see if the rods themselves are salvageable. The only other thing I will do, and we all did it back in the day, is make the clutch operation a bit lighter. Lengthening the arm and cable stay are the accepted method and I will look into that in due course.
So there we have it, a lot of time in the garage coming up.!