GAS GAS 300
You have to be a pretty serious off-road fanatic to
even know about Gas Gas. In America, the company has never made substantial inroads.
But in Europe, you can’t go to an off-road race
without seeing Gas Gas enduro bikes. Lots of them.
Ridden by guys with names like Piero Sembenini and
so forth—not the top factory guys, but perhaps the
near-top privateer guys—the Spanish company has
carved out a reputation for being super reliable and
capable in tough conditions. It makes sense: Gas
Gas is a trials company, so when a race is so tough
that it resemble a trials event, the Gas Gas is at
But don’t look for groundbreaking innovation here.
The 2009 Gas Gas EC300 looks a lot like the first one
we tested over ten years ago. It has a six-speed
gearbox and a 72mm bore with a 72mm stroke. It
comes with a number of American-generated parts,
like an FMF silencer/spark arrester and a Moto
Tassinari reed cage. The most interesting part is the
Sachs fork, which is something we’ve never seen nor
heard of. It looks so much like a Marzocchi that we
initially assumed that’s what it was. It has adjustable
preload, although we heard from the local Gas Gas
experts that it works better with about 9mm less preload yet, extracted the old-fashioned way—with a
hacksaw. We never went that far. The fork’s action
was okay, and we didn’t want the bike to settle lower
in the front. The Gas Gas is a light-feeling, agile bike,
and with a lower front-end, we were worried that it
would become nervous.
In fact, that’s one thing that really stands out
about the bike. It feels much lighter than it is. At 237
pounds, it’s a little porky for a two-stroke, but it
actually feels more nimble than the KTM. The EC is
a very compact machine. The rider’s compartment
is tighter than that of the other bikes, and small riders love it. Then there’s the motor, which everyone
loves. The Gas Gas is more lively than either the
Husky or the KTM, with a little snap way down low
and a ton of mid-range. It doesn’t pull from quite as
low as the KTM (nothing does), but it’s close. And it
has the determination to keep going no matter
what. Four-stroke riders just don’t understand, but
the Gas Gas is virtually unstoppable on tough,
In ugly sections, even the best riders have to resort
to clutch abuse, which the Gas Gas tolerates to a
point. The hydraulic system adjusts itself as the plates
heat up, but eventually it starts squawking and grabbing. But on the other hand, the motor has a great tolerance for heat. It rarely steams or detonates.
The only real complaints noted by test riders were
the grabby front brake and the hyperactive handling.
Frankly, it’s much better than it should be, despite
having been somewhat frozen in time for so long. It
makes us wonder what everyone else has been
doing all this time.
300 OFF-ROAD SHOOTOUT DB