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JAP Francis-Barnett Special
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There's no end to what classic bike enthusiasts will do to satisfy their occasionally unusual urges. 'Albert Crackleport' would like to show you his etchings...

In the August 2007 issue of RealClassic magazine we featured Odgie's awesome JAPster special (you've not seen it? Buy a copy here, pronto). Odgie and Scott Speed (no, not that Scott Speed…) built their vintafake based around a 600cc JAP single-cylinder engine, an Albion hand-change gearbox, a bunch of bent pipes and anything else which came to hand. The result is a 'vintage' motorcycle which could have been built between the World Wars… but it wasn't.

They don't make 'em like that anymore. They never did, in fact... 600cc JAPster Special

Soon after that article appeared, Albert Crackleport* got in touch to show us his own startling special. 'The JAPster is very similar,' says Albert 'to my Francis-Barnett JAP which I rode a couple of years ago in the World Stubble Trackin' Championship.'

And they don't make 'em like this anymore. They never did, in fact... 300cc Francis-Barnett JAP

The, er, what?

OK, moving on…

'My "F-B" uses a 300cc JAP of 1930 vintage, probably of lawnmower origin, driving through a Burman gearbox. It's housed in a Francis-Barnett frame, after modifying the front down tube. It's got a rigid rear end and Honda 50 front forks and wheels. The clutch guard lived a former life as a pie dish. The replica Indian-style seat was made from deck chair tubing and fibre glass. The exhaust pipe bends were donated by a generous 2CV. And the drip feed oiling system comes from the 'grease gun' tank, situated below the handlebars.'

Those forks look more 'right' than they should...

Groovy. So, Mister, what does it go like?

'The Honda 50 forks make the handling somewhat "choppy" at speed. The frequent stopping to clean the main jet due to rust from tank getting into the carb was a bit of a pain last time out -- but that's easily fixed for next time. I have to be a bit careful with the throttle hand and constantly remind myself that the old JAP started life gently turning soil in someone's garden -- and not thrashing around stubble fields!

And the good stuff?

Random JAP stuff on

'When you're riding it, 30mph feels like 60mph. It's amazing that the engine is 76 years old and not a dusty museum piece. And what about the aroma of hot oil...

'Plus all of this was built for less than thirty bob' says Albert and we (nearly) believe him. 'It's obviously a low cost sports machine,' he says, 'built in the Indian Wall-of-Death style and at three-quarters size so kids can ride it, too.'

I rode one of those in the war you know.

So Albert Crackleport, Stubble Tracker extraordinaire, issues this challenge:

'Let's have more of this creativity from the sheds around the UK!'

How many other amazing vintafakes are lurking in garages across the world? Send us the details and an array of photos, and we'll feature them on the site and maybe in the mag, too. Remember to give us as much info as possible - the weirder, the better - so long as it's 'classic'…


JAP Happy?

There's more about JAP engines and specials built around them in the November 2007 issue of RealClassic magazine. But it's not even been designed yet, let alone printed or gone on sale, so you'll have to pop back in a few weeks to order a copy...


*and if you believe that's really his name then I have a low miles, one owner from new, never been despatched, rare and sought-after CX500 to sell to you:


More CX500s on


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