Are these not two of the best looking bikes to have come to the market in 2018? Got to hand it to Fantic, they’ve simply nailed the scrambler and flat track styling – and those funky twin-pipe mufflers are a masterstroke. For a mass-production motorcycle this is good stuff.
Bearing in mind these are effectively entry-level bikes, to suit learners, then the design and styling is all the more impressive. After all, would a newbie really understand that US flat trackers historically ride on 19” wheels? Probably not, but this helps illustrate Fantic’s desire for authenticity. Similarly, the modern rendition of the Caballero – such a success for Fantic in the 1970s and 80s as a 50cc learner enduro-scoot – is a wonderful homage. And judging by the reaction of us so-called experienced riders – yeah, these Fantics qualify as more than just learner bikes.
Of course these are modern days, so while the designs echo of a much-loved past, these bikes need to be fully regulations compliant in specification for today. That means safe, quiet and as clean as they can go on emissions. That translates into ABS on the disc brakes, fuel injection (on the 250s) and water-cooling and sufficient muffling (stylishly rendered by Arrow) to keep them virtually inaudible. And for utility’s sake, unlike the old days we’re talking electric (not kick-) starters, plus digital dashes. But as well, there’s all the extra quality flourishes, from the 41mm USD forks, CNC milled yokes, through to the LED lighting, even the Tomaselli alloy tapered-handlebars.
So much for the look, the spec – what about the riding? Curiously two out of our three riders said they preferred the 125 in this quick spin of a test! It’s not often riders turn down more power, but it says something for the character of the wee 125 (the Flat Track model in these images) that they so enjoyed its ride. We understand the motor comes from Yamaha Minarelli, and it’s perfect for the young learner rider. The power is almost flat, so it’s unintimidating, but rev-it-up and learn to use the six-speed gearbox appropriately and it’ll turn a brisk pace – enough to hold off all but the most determinedly driven tin-tops around town. Flat out we got 60mph with the wind on our backs, 50mph with in in our faces. That’s fast enough for the kids to start with.
The riding position is spot-on with both bikes, being spacious (hey, are we selling real estate here?) and relaxed like dirt bikes should be – only instead of a piece of polished mahogany to sit on (as you get with competition enduros) you get fairly plush full-width saddles. It would be sacrilege not to be able to make bikes of this stature (and just 130kg) handle decently – so it’s as well they do, yep, nice and neutral – in fact positively accurate, with well-damped suspension too. The only surprise is the strength of the brakes, but we shouldn’t be surprised there, with a whopping 320mm disc and twin-piston caliper these should be razor-sharp. In fact we’d call these two over-braked were it not for the safety net that is ABS.
Now the reason, we think, two of our riders preferred the 125 – styling aside, because the Flat Tracker is just so cool – could be that the 250 fails to make that quantum leap that lifts a town bike into a do-everything town-and-tour bike. The 250 motor (made by Zongshen) just doesn’t quite have the power – despite a claimed 28hp – or the feel, for that matter, of a faster, longer-distance bike. It’s performance feels to be about 10-15mph up on the 125 everywhere and it accelerates that much faster, but you could still see it getting hassled by cars on the open road, especially on hills. This 250 motor works well in Fantic’s trail riding enduro models, but it seems we’ll need to see the 500cc versions of these Caballeros and Flat Tracks to find real all-roads capability in the model range.
A little caveat here – our test bike came with just 240 miles on it, and it was definitely still new-bike ‘tight’, there’s a fair chance with more use the engine will loosen-up and become that little bit faster and freer-riding. But based on this experience, for running around town, and maybe the edge of town, or for quiet country roads, yeah the 250 is a great machine. Just avoid the big roads!
So, what we have here are two absolutely exquisitely styled motorcycles. We want them just to look at them, and for sure whether you’re a millennial (somebody tell me what that is) or a baby boomer (hi Dad!) these are 100% eye candy. They’re also built to a super-decent standard, and what a lovely list of quality components they boast – Arrow, Tomaselli, Domino, Braking, Brembo – not to mention the CNC milled engine plates and fork yokes, it’s top shelf all the way.
Great bikes for reasonable coin, but for us older 14-stone (that’s 90-kilo, 200-pound) lard-asses, yeah we can’t wait for the 500s…!
FANTIC CABALLERO/FLAT TRACK
Engine: water-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Capacity: 249.6cc / 124.5cc
Fuelling: Electronic fuel injection / Keihin 300mm carb
Gearbox: Six-speed, wet multi-plate clutch
Frame: CroMo steel tube cradle
Front suspension: 41mm USD forks
Rear suspension: Single shock, progressive link
Brakes: front: 320mm disc, twin-piston caliper, rear: 230mm disc single piston caliper
Claimed weight: 130kg
125 UK £4899 EU €4990
250 UK £5399 EU €5790
500 UK £6199 EU €6590
Top shelf components
RUST IS COOL ON…
Just a little more oomph from the 250 please!