No, it’s not an eMTB, but if you live in an inner-city environment and want to break free of the automotive grind, you need to know about this bike. The new Fantic Issimo brings iconic style and performance to the fast-paced urban jungle.
The Fantic Issimo, a Vespa for the modern-day commuter
With it’s flowing and minimalist design, there is nothing that stands as an international symbol of Italian style and design than the iconic Vespa. The simple scooter revolutionised the concept of mobility in the mid-20th Century. Targeted at young professionals who wanted to ride without fear of dirt and oil, with a step-through design that worked with suits and skirts. It worked, and by the late 1980’s over 10 million Vespas had been sold. Better known for their XF1 E-MTB, now, the Italian motorbike and eBike brand Fantic want to start a new era of urban mobility with their innovative 20-inch wheeled fat-tired Issimo, blending unique design with intelligent engineering solutions.
Specification of the Fantic Issimo
There are few testing grounds tougher than the urban jungle. Moving through an unfamiliar city can be a bit like joining a fast dance when you don’t know the steps. The ebb and flow of traffic and pre-caffeine commuters can be tough to negotiate. We all know that the perfect tool is a bicycle, but a 27.5” wheeled bike can feel clumsy and unwieldy in pedestrianised areas. Fantic have taken a different approach with the 20” wheeled Issimo. Two different speed options will be available, a €2995 25 kph urban commuter and a 45 kph Pedelec model (price TBA). In both models, a 250W Bafang M500 motor provides 80Nm of torque combined with a SIMPLO 630 Wh battery. The minimalist simplicity continues with the new Shimano NEXUS Inter-5E e-bike specific hub gear system, offering a 263% gear range from its 5 speeds. The internals of the NEXUS Inter-5E have been toughened up to handle the power of the Bafang motor, and a simple grip-shift shifter with indicator allows quick and easy shifts.
With customisable side panels and exuding Italian flair, Fantic has brought Vespa versatility to the urban segment.
One size fits all, the Fantic Issimo is available in one size only, so very tall or very short riders may find it a stretch, but the low standover and long seat post range should be good for most riders between 160-195 cm. The die-cast aluminium alloy frame is available in three colours, black, red and white. For those who like to express themselves, customisable covers are available in both four opaque and four transparent colours giving 24 possible options. Integrated at the front of the bike is a StVZO approved Trelock Veo 50 headlight, which provides 50 Lux of light, while on the rear sits a COB LED Pimento Spanninga rear light.
However, the components that most define the Fantic Issimo’s unique concept is the wheels and tires. The 25 Kph model is available in two specifications, URBAN and FUN, the only difference being the tires. The FUN model runs on more aggressive Vee-tire 20 x 4.0” Mission Commands for occasional gravel exploits, while the ‘URBAN’ model has a less aggressive road focussed tread pattern. To take the sting out of kerbs and pot-holes, the Fantic Issimo is fitted with an 80 mm stroke custom RockShox fork, and while the damping is very basic, they do help smooth the road. For last-minute “watch out” braking, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, combined with 180 mm rotors front and back bring down the speed quickly.
Riding the Fantic Issimo
As test centres for an urban bike go, nowhere beats central Milan. A hedonistic mix of concrete, unpredictable cars, kamikaze scooters and head-down pedestrians viewing life through their smartphone. It was the perfect place to put the 32.4 kg Fantic Issimo through its paces. Experience has shown that while great on the road, as soon as you start dealing with slow-moving crowds, a conventional 27.5” or bigger wheeled bike soon starts to feel clumsy and ungainly. The new Fantic Issimo is a breath of fresh air, falling into the rhythm of the busy city effortlessly. The small 20” wheels accelerate and decelerate rapidly, allowing you to make the most of every opening between pedestrians, cutting and weaving around ‘selfie’ obstructions and making even escalators possible. The wide 4” tires and low standover give huge traction around turns, tram-lines can be ridden over without fear, and the low pressures give a super comfortable ride.
The Fantic Issimo is exactly what you want for urban commuting, nimble, fast and a joy to ride!
The Issimo ride experience is a masterclass in fun and stylish simplicity. The handling and easy-going contact points make riding effortless, and the low centre of gravity makes slow-speed manoeuvres easy for even unskilled riders. The NEXUS Inter-5E works well with the Bafang motor, shifting easily and positively. While the 263% range may be a struggle if you live in an uncharacteristically hilly city, for most urban environments the 5-speeds are ample. Motor support is smooth and easy to modulate, and we found we were quickly able to accelerate up to and maintain a steady 25kph when the road opened up. Above 25 Kph and the ergonomic compromises of the step-through frame and comfortable seat reduce the efficiency of pedalling without the motor support. The comfortable seat and step-through frame works equally as well with a suit as it does with a pair of skinny jeans.
One thing that impressed us was the amount of interest the bike developed from passing pedestrians. In the style focussed city of Milan, we got more admiring glances than if we were driving a Lamborghini. Built for a fast-paced city environment, the new Fantic Issimo channels everything that made the Vespa such a style and transportation icon.
The Fantic Issimo is a perfect tool for the modern-day urban adventurer. Equally as happy covering a long urban commute as it is ducking and weaving in close-quarter rush-hour combat. The fat 20” wheels are perfect for tight, fast-paced city environments. With customisable side panels and exuding Italian flair, Fantic has brought Vespa versatility to the urban segment.
For more information on the Fantic Issimo, check out the Fantic website.
- Beautiful design
- 20” wheels perfect for tight city centres
- One size may not fit all
- Needs more powerful front light
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Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Trevor Worsey, Giulio Romito