Back on the Gas Gas

No more play­ing catch-up, Gas Gas’s all- new EC300 is a two-stroke en­duro bike that’s as good as the rest…

BIKE (UK) - - OFF ROAD -

GAS GAS HAVE a lot of work to do to re­gain the con­fi­dence of en­duro rid­ers. A once glit­ter­ing rep­u­ta­tion, which in­cludes world ti­tles, was lost due to poor qual­ity com­po­nents and be­low-par four-stroke en­duro mod­els. Even their two-strokes’ han­dling and com­po­nents were out of step with ri­vals. A lack of in­vest­ment in de­vel­op­ment meant qual­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness dropped away which in no small way led to the Span­ish com­pany’s 2015 demise. Now Gas Gas are back, with a new two-stroke en­duro bike, the EC300. It’s a bike which has got big ques­tions to an­swer… The EC300 hasn’t been cob­bled to­gether from old parts. In fact it is a com­pletely new model with a year’s worth of de­vel­op­ment un­der its belt. There is an all-new frame, re­de­vel­oped 299cc two-stroke en­gine and qual­ity com­po­nents such as KYB sus­pen­sion and Nissin brakes. Straight off the pro­duc­tion line EC300S meet EU rules for road use and emis­sions restric­tions, but to make them com­pet­i­tive deal­ers fit a dif­fer­ent Kei­hin carb, a dif­fer­ent ex­haust header and re­move the in­di­ca­tors be­fore they’re sup­plied to cus­tomers. There are many shades of grey in the off-road world. The FMF header pipe shown here is a fur­ther op­tional up­grade. A ‘100% re­designed chas­sis’ ditches the trade­mark Gas Gas steel perime­ter frame for a steel back­bone type. It’s a change in phi­los­o­phy that makes the EC300 han­dle bet­ter and ap­peal more to con­ven­tion­ally minded cus­tomers. The new bike looks, feels and be­haves like most other bikes in the class – which is a good thing. New KYB forks plus a new link­age sys­tem for the KYB shock means han­dling is a street ahead of older Gasser mod­els too. Al­most straight away on this launch it be­comes clear there’s more flex (a good thing) and more feel for grip when you are on the gas or the brakes. Over a range of con­di­tions the new chas­sis de­liv­ers plenty of feel and feed­back, par­tic­u­larly the front end which gives stacks of con­fi­dence into cor­ners on a hard-pack track. Flat turns need ac­cu­racy on the brakes and the EC300 feels sharp hit­ting lines. With in­spir­ing con­fi­dence in the front tyre’s grip the Nissin front brake can be given an im­pres­sive amount of abuse too.

The strong Gas Gas 300 mo­tor hasn’t (yet) un­der­gone a ma­jor re­design. It feels a lit­tle old school, and isn’t help­ing the weight of the bike. How­ever, the new cylin­der, head and crank de­liver more pro­gres­sive power but still a healthy dose of Gas Gas 299cc, two-stroke power that stretches from low to midrange. The 300cc mo­tor is show­ing a few signs of age though, es­pe­cially in the light of KTM’S 2018 fuel in­jected two-strokes (Bike, Au­gust 2017). There are no en­gine map­ping switches on the han­dle­bars ei­ther, though Gas Gas claim this is com­ing. A softer map for poor rid­ing con­di­tions or less dra­matic days and a full power map for full gas days would be good. An easy ac­cess air fil­ter un­der the side panel means fil­ter changes now take sec­onds. The elec­tric starter mo­tor is one of the only neg­a­tives here – as with the older mod­els the starter sits vul­ner­a­ble and clumsy on the side of the en­gine and would be bet­ter tucked away. A re­worked en­gine is com­ing they say, as is a new 250 ver­sion by the time you read this. It is hard not to be buoyed by the re­birth of Gas Gas and it feels good to be back rid­ing a gen­uine new Gas Gas, which both feels good and looks great too. Gas Gas haven’t re-in­vented the iphone here, they’ve sim­ply de­signed a stun­ning-look­ing bike no more ex­cit­ing or ground-break­ing than ri­vals. That is a com­pli­ment.

The big Gas Gas come­back starts here. And it’s look­ing good…

Be­low: Gas Gas’s new High qual­ity parts frame is a de­par­ture through­out and from their usual. some clever de­sign Gone is the trad steel touches make for a perime­ter, in comes new Gas Gas that a steel back­bone looks the part and rides like it too SPEC­I­FI­CA­TIONS

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