them to get away with lighter springs, making for a super-easy clutch pull. It has a six-speed gearbox.
Our test bike was the kick-start-only XC300. It came
with some very cool add-on features, like an FMF Q
silencer (with spark arrestor), hand guards, a plastic skid
plate and even an extra set of graphics. The graphics that
came on our test bike, by the way, had the EC logo, which
actually refers to a different configuration. The extra set
had the proper nomenclature. The suspension that comes
on the bike is very expensive stuff. The front has a 48mm
Marzocchi closed-cartridge fork, and the rear has an
Ohlins 888. Both brakes are Nissin, and the tires are
Metzelers (the short-knob enduro model in the rear). Gas
Gas has an electric-start version of the 300 as well, but it’s
currently in very short supply.
THAT FEELS GOOD
You can’t help but love the Gas Gas motor. It’s not espe-
cially fast, exciting or thrilling; it’s simply a sweetheart. It
doesn’t matter if you’re the most fanatical, horsepower-
craving four-stroke loon; if you ride the 300 one mile on the
trail, you’ll come back happy. It’s clear that it was designed
by trials-bike guys. The motor can operate cleanly at rpm
levels lower than a fast idle, then the power rolls on with
crazy smoothness and controllability. For tight trails, you
couldn’t order anything better. It’s the kind of power that
made the KTM 300 so good. But the Gas Gas is even
more KTM 300-like than the KTM 300. It’s milder, revs
slower and isn’t quite as fast when it gets on the pipe. The
bike’s peak power is nothing thrilling in these days of 50-
horsepower 450s; it’s simply enough to get the job done. If
you get it out in open space, it can be so user-friendly that
it’s dull, and steep hills don’t especially call the bike’s
name. The factory gives you a switch to change from one
ignition curve to another, but it’s mounted in kind of an odd
place on a radiator hose. The choices are very conserva-
tive, so you can barely tell the difference. The milder curve
is marked with a little rain cloud. Cute.
One of the great things about the Gas Gas is that it
doesn’t require a learning period. Anyone can get on it and
appreciate its manners. That isn’t true of all two-strokes.
Many riders who grew up in the four-stroke era simply
can’t come to terms with the pipey nature of a motocross
two-stroke. But the 300 is inviting to anyone. It’s almost
like a four-stroke/two-stroke hybrid with a wide, smooth
powerband mixed with a quick engine response. Initially,
our bike was a little rich for our conditions—nearly sea
level and 90 degrees. We dropped the needle one position
and it was perfect, even up to 5000 feet. Like we said, the
motor is a sweetheart. We knew it would be.
The new chassis was more of a mystery at the outset.
We made the mistake of putting the bike on the fabulous
NASA-certified Dirt Bike scale before we rode it for the first
time. Without fuel, it was 245 pounds. To put that in perspective, it’s 5 pounds heavier than a Kawasaki KX450 and
even a few pounds more than a KTM 450SXF with electric
start. And to be clear, our Gas Gas was not the model with
electric start. We were worried. But in the end, the weight
was just a number with no relevance to the real world. The
Gas Gas doesn’t feel heavy. In fact, it feels like a real lightweight compared to four-strokes that might even be lighter
The world is coming back to the two-stroke and to bikes like the XC300.