OFF-ROAD

Gas Gas go again, this time with a bike for ‘ev­ery rider’. It’s quite good.

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS -

GAS GAS MO­TORS’ come­back from bank­ruptcy two years ago has been mea­sured. Tri­als bikes – the bread and but­ter of the busi­ness – came first, be­fore de­vel­op­ment of an all-new 250 and 300cc en­duro bike range which ar­rived last year. Those new bikes are great: ex­cel­lent chas­sis and strong en­gines – al­most blue­print en­duro bikes. The trou­ble is sales are slow be­cause peo­ple lost faith in Gas Gas af­ter years of fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. At the 2019 model launch near Girona, Gas Gas un­wrapped a bike to change all this. The all-new EC ‘Ranger’ model is a trail friendly, easy to live with ‘bike for ev­ery­one’. The de­sign brief was sim­ple: make a crack­ing en­duro bike then de­tune the chas­sis and engine, then use this as an op­por­tu­nity to fit se­lec­tive cheaper parts in or­der to de­liver a softer per­form­ing and eas­ier on the wal­let ver­sion of the orig­i­nal. Two years ago Beta pulled off this same trick with their hugely suc­cess­ful X-trainer and Gas Gas are not shy about ad­mit­ting the Ranger is fol­low­ing that lead. The Ranger’s trick is to copy the X-trainer but be bet­ter. The 40mm lower seat height is only part of the story as it drops more com­fort­ably on softer springs than its racier sib­lings. A dif­fer­ent ex­haust sys­tem and tweaked cylin­der head give the es­tab­lished EC 300cc mo­tor more user-friendly torque and less top-end power too, mak­ing a sim­ple but sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in char­ac­ter. If you put 100 peo­ple on this bike most will en­joy the ride. If you put 100 peo­ple on a full-blown Gas Gas EC300 Rac­ing model chances are many will be put off by fierce power and fo­cused chas­sis. Hobby riders, club riders, trail riders and Sun­day riders are the many, not the few, which means ig­nor­ing them is miss­ing a big trick if your busi­ness is sell­ing mo­tor­bikes. Nip­ping out into the tight wooded test area, the Ranger proves to be ver­sa­tile and I’m quick to get a feel for the softer brakes and sus­pen­sion. I run up and down a bank, then over a log which it soaks up nicely. It is clearly happy at low speed. A few faster laps later and, though the sus­pen­sion has greater move­ment, I have no short­age of con­fi­dence brak­ing hard and turn­ing into the hard-pack, flat turns. Hav­ing a smaller, 120 sec­tion (not 140), rear tyre helps be­cause it is nar­rower and so helps the bike to steer. Gas Gas haven’t got many things wrong here but no

‘The de­sign brief was sim­ple: de­liver a softer per­form­ing and eas­ier on the wal­let ver­sion of the orig­i­nal’

kick­start for some means you’re go­ing to get stranded with a flat bat­tery miles from home. Chance are you won’t with Gas Gas’s stronger 2019 bat­tery and you can eas­ily retro­fit the kick­start mech­a­nism.

The Ranger: ex­actly what Gas Gas should be build­ing

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