Balloon-Tire Beach Baddie from Animal Motor Company!
In the late 1980s, Fantic, the Italian company best known for their competition trials and enduro machines, introduced the Koala, a 50cc two-stroke fat-tire bike that resembled the Yamaha Big Wheel, Honda Fat Cat, and other balloon-tire dirt bikes. For a short period, these super fat-tire machines were all the rage, sporting ATV-size wheel/tire combos geared toward beach and dune riding.
Recently, our friend Ruben Cotarelo of Animal Motor Company picked up an ’87 Fantic Koala with an 80cc big-bore kit. As the bike was incomplete and Koala parts are as rare as hen’s teeth, he and the crew decided to transform the two-stroke fatty into a one-of-a-kind custom beach bike.
They installed a front number plate, a custom saddle, Renthal bars, custom tank brackets, a surf/skateboard rack, and more. The Koala is a perfect match for Cotarelo’s fun-loving personality, and it’s hard to imagine a better bike for events like Wheels & Waves and Motorbeach, where it never fails to draw smiles from the crowd:
“I have owned more than 40 bikes and this bike is really special. I’m always positive and happy as I am, and I love The Koala because when you ride it you always see a smile on spectators’ faces — it’s like a smile machine!”
Below, we talk to Cotarelo for the full story on the build!
Fantic Koala: In the Builder’s Words
This bike is an Italian Fantic Koala from 1987, equipped with a two-stroke 80cc engine. The original bike is nice, as they’re now all vintage bikes from the 80’s, but when this one arrived here at Animal Motor Company, in Spain, it was not at all complete, so we decided to something fun with it.
As it was originally designed as a beach bike, we decided to improve that design. We disassembled all the plastics and the huge seat and installed a front number plate, which also holds the overflow bottle.
It has a Renthal flat-track handlebar, handmade custom tank brackets, a small custom seat, big tires, and a surf/skateboard rack.
Do you have a nickname for the bike?
As there aren’t so many Fantics Koala I call her “The Koala.”
Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
I have owned more than 40 bikes and this bike is really special. I’m always positive and happy as I am, and I love The Koala because when you ride it you always see a smile on spectators’ faces — it’s like a smile machine!! (Just look at the crowd in the photos I’ve sent!)
What events have you attended with it?
I went some days ago to Range and Wheels, I’ll be riding it at Wheels & Waves this summer, I’ll go to Motorbeach, Motor and Mountain, too….
What’s next for Animal Motor Company?
We are building a serious Triumph Scrambler 900 to try the 1000 Dunas Rally and just have finished our Ducati Tracker….
Follow the Builder
Javier Calvo: @donjaviercalvo