A few things have changed as far as the 300 goes; first of all I have not carried out my plans to chop the rear loop or fit the Mikuni Carb. There are a couple of reasons for this, the rear frame loop is still in my mind to do but I just have this voice in my head that is shouting “don’t cut an original frame up”. And, after all, I have resisted the temptation to cut off and fit brackets to enable fitment of modern footrests for that very reason. The Mikuni carb is off the menu now as it has a new project to join. I have suddenly and unexpectedly become the owner of an abused but complete Fantic 305. The plan for that machine is to build a ’Saunders’ replica, or as close as I can get to the works model that Steve would have ridden back in 1989. Possibly more on that in the coming months; we will see.
So it’s back to the 300. Since the last instalment I have ridden it in four or five events. This is very impressive for me as usually I prefer to just go out and play, but I figured that the reason I got back into the twin-shock side of things again was not just to play with them in the garage but to mingle with other like-minded people. Half the fun is waiting in a queue at a section and chatting to owners of other twin-shock machines, listening to the tales of how their machines were found or built or even that they have owned the same model since nineteen-years-old, for example.
The events have, for the most part, gone well and I even managed to stay clean over two complete trials, losing no marks! Through the early few events I noticed that the carburetion wasn’t that brilliant; I had just given the standard Dell’Orto a clean and popped it on, so hadn’t re-jetted or adjusted anything internally.
The carburettor from the French specification model I have on the bench was in a much better condition upon closer inspection; the one fitted had a badly worn slide and needle and it was only running
‘ok’ish’ with the air screw about a quarter of a turn out. So I cleaned the French one thoroughly and popped it on — what an amazing difference! Not perfect but so much better. A new standard Dell’Orto carb is going to be acquired in due course but for now it will do.
The very bouncy rear shock absorbers just had to be looked at again; it was obvious once I started to ride in muddy conditions that grip was being lost every time I rode over the smallest of roots or stone as the machine ‘pinged’ up in the air. I was fairly sure it wasn’t just an issue with the oil weight but possibly quantity, and maybe the seals or other parts inside. I stripped them apart again and noticed that one of the tubes inside just let the oil freely flow out the bottom if you held it up and filled it. Luckily, amongst the collection of spares from two other damaged ‘shocks’ was a good tube that held onto its contents. I cleaned everything up and rebuilt it but this time with 7.5 weight oil. Now the machine is much harder to hop the rear wheel around when stationary — and yes, I know we aren’t supposed to, according to many — but now it grips and rides so much better.
The recent Bath Classic Trial had several muddy and very slippery sections, and I surprised myself by cleaning them no problems... we will forget losing all my five marks of that trial by stalling the machine in the easiest section of the day! That five showed up another small, but as it turns out vital, problem. The clutch lever assembly had lost the thread for the cable adjuster. This was allowing the clutch to adjust itself throughout the day, and when you use the clutch as much as I do it was adjusting itself a fair amount. Once again the spares basket in the garage came to the rescue, with a good lever mount left over from my SWM build a few years ago. I keep getting stick from my better half about not throwing things away, but this is the reason why I don’t!
Lee came up trumps again with another bargain from somewhere in Europe: a complete air cleaner assembly. Well almost complete, as the top tag was missing, but I haven’t seen one yet with the original still on there. My machine came with a repaired airbox, and until I removed it and compared to the newer one I never realised how much filler had been used in its repair. The complete lower part, the bit that on a 240 is the toolbox, was actually solid filler and fibreglass! I think the machine suddenly lost a kilo in weight when I replaced it. And the air-filter lid fits properly now as well.
You have to remember that I paid a bargain price for this machine so finding parts like this to replace is par for the course, and when essential items are tracked down for what are also bargain prices you get a nice warm glow. You can purchase some lovely hand-made larger capacity air-boxes but they don’t fit in with my ‘original wherever possible’ ethic … but I was thinking of getting one powder-coated in black so people may not notice … The tank side-panels are another area I have returned to, for no reason this time other than I wanted the machine to be a little different to most that I now see at events.
Funny how, when I first thought about returning to a 300 Fantic there were never any others at events, and now they appear to be everywhere! Amongst the well tricked and changed 300s out there are many original looking models in the standard Fantic red colour, so this one is now in the white ’Michaud’ replica style. Having had a spare set of panels sprayed by good mate Bob Waldron and stickered up with Anglia Vinyl art graphics, as mentioned in the previous story, it was now time to undertake the heinous crime of cutting large chunks out of them.
You will notice if you look at the team machines from the day that there is almost always a large area just under the top yoke missing out of the tank panels either side. It may not look pretty but it is the only way of getting the 300 to turn around corners. Well, at least the turns you find on a normal twin-shock route anyway. The fork stanchions and top yoke will crash into the plastics before they hit the lock stops in standard trim, so enough has to be removed to give those vital few degrees of turn. I have in the past seen a Dremel tool style of cutter used to do the job but didn’t trust myself not to crack them in the process or take too much off, so I have a small saw that is meant for cutting tiles. It has a round blade that will cut in any direction, and whilst needing a bit of elbow grease to complete the task it was more controllable and safer. Knowing how much these side-panels can cost it was still a funny feeling cutting them about, but this motorcycle is for use not to look fancy stood hiding away in the garage.
Work in Progress
The original gear change pedal was not looking happy; it was twisted a little from rock contact and also the tip return spring was missing. I have to admit to now having an aftermarket one on there. It is a shorter and much neater aluminium pedal from email@example.com with a good robust springy tip and does look very nice. These ones are not on general sale but I think for under forty quid including postage they will be seen on more Fantics very soon. I had a spare rear sprocket or two laying around so have lowered the gearing a bit, as I do like a very low 1st gear and then a 2nd gear that can be used for almost everything else, and 3rd gear for big blasts. On the gearing that was fitted when I bought the machine only 1st was useable, 2nd required constant clutch work
and as I have no clutch lightener fitted I need a bit of help to stop me running out of finger strength by the end of the first lap! So the machine is now geared with 12 tooth front and 42 tooth rear sprockets.
On the subject of the clutch I have un-hooked the clutch arm return spring, and this coupled with a Venhill ‘Featherlight’ cable at least gives me the correct feel with less finger power required. I would love to find some adjustable-reach brake and clutch lever assemblies that fit inside the original Domino shrouds, or maybe figure out a nice modification to the originals to allow such adjustment.
At present this machine is what I use; a new set of Michelin X-lights and new wheel bearings have been recently fitted and, apart from the eventual replacement of the carburettor with a new one, the only area I want to improve is the totally horrible standard footrests. I refuse to cut the frame posts off and fit modern style U-brackets. So the only choice is to find or make some modern-style pegs that will fit the nasty original mounts. I have a man on the case armed with CAD software and access to a CNC milling machine … we will call this a work in progress.
My attention has now been switched on to the French specification machine and it has become fairly obvious that the French spec 239cc piston kits are very hard to find. It doesn’t need one but as I will probably sell this machine soon I can see an issue with anyone in any other country apart from France wanting to purchase it. Good old eBay came to the rescue in the shape of a man with a complete 249cc top-end, along with, as it turns out, a very good condition Dell’Orto and several other items including an original Fantic ‘long ride’ seat. I will hopefully be riding my 300 in the Jersey Two-Day event early in 2016, which has a fair amount of roadwork … you can see where I am going with that one; you may as well be comfy!
So as you can see from the images, the French engine will soon be converted to 249cc. While I am at it I have ordered some copies of the original engine ID plates for various Fantic models including the 300s, so the side casing will get a refresh. In fact both machines need the side casings repainted to look a little less scruffy. My original idea of dipping out of events during the winter so I can strip my own machine again and powder coat the frame, fork lowers and yokes has been delayed, as I am really enjoying riding the Fantic. Of course it will only take a few events sliding backwards into a bog to make me have another re-think!
As with the original Fantic build some Classic Trial Magazine advertisers have been a great source of parts and advice. Bob Wright once again supplied many of the normal running gear parts. And, as is the way of the world these days, where would we be without the interweb thingy. The ‘Hard to find twinshock trials and air-cooled mono’ Facebook group is full of helpful souls and always good banter, and I even started up an ‘Italian Aircooled Trials’ group myself so we didn’t have to just see Bultacos, Montesas and Yamahas … Whilst the price of some stunningly finished twin-shock bikes seems to be climbing I think I have proved that if you get lucky you can still find a nice rideable motorcycle that is complete but needs a bit of love and care for less than a £1,000, and after not much more than a normal service you can be out there in your local twin-shock class before you know it … of course this then seems to instantly mean the arrival of several other similar machines in the garage and before you know it you have an addiction — and a lack of space!
So then, where do I start with the story of the Fantic 305 that sits in several boxes in the corner of the garage …!
The very bouncy rear shock absorbers just had to be looked at again; it was obvious that grip was being lost every time I rode the machine.
The clutch lever assembly had lost the thread for the cable
adjuster, which was allowing the clutch to adjust itself.
You may remember Lee from part one of this feature. He came up trumps again with another bargain from somewhere in Europe: a complete air cleaner assembly.
My Fantic 300 came with a repaired airbox, and until I removed it and compared to the newer one I never realised how much filler had been used in its repair!
Amongst the well tricked and changed 300s out there are many original looking models in the standard Fantic red colour, so this one is now in the white ‘Michaud’ replica white style.
RIGHT: It was now time to undertake the heinous crime of cutting large chunks out of them. I have a small saw that is meant for cutting tiles. It has a round blade that will cut in any direction, and although needing a bit of elbow grease to complete the task it was more controllable and safer. ABOVE: The finished job giving the Fantic 300 more steering lock.
So then, where do I start with the story of the Fantic 305 that sits in several boxes in the corner of the garage?
Amongst the eBay parts which arrived was an original Fantic ‘long ride’ seat