A perfect two-fer is where Gas Gas has several of its preproduction two- and four-stroke 2010-model bikes for the moto press to ride in conjunction with round eight of the Parts Unlimited Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals. One of the great features of an OMA weekend is the Saturday afternoon “fun” race, and it proved a perfect opportunity to get seat time in competition.EC 515 FSE
When I hopped aboard the 515, I found it gets you places in a hurry. It delivers power smoothly from idle to sign-off, and since braking points hurtle toward you, it’s nice to know the Nissin binders are capable. The $8799 EC 515 doesn’t have that cumbersome big-bike feel in tight going. Claimed dry weight on both is 261 pounds. This bike lets the rider get lazy, with the power and plush-feeling suspension willingly tolerating someone who’s not hyper-aggressive. Gas Gas expects to get the appropriate governmental blessings in order to qualify all FSEs for license plates, so these things could be dual-sport-ready by the time you read this!EC 450 FSE
I’ll admit it: The $8799 EC 450 almost intimidated me. It hooked up so well that I felt barely in control. But when I got to the first hill full of dry, powdery ruts crisscrossed by roots I appreciated the FI powerplant’s ability to chug cleanly as well as the bike’s ultra-light clutch pull. Later I gained appreciation for the solid feel of the frame. On more open sections, the power delivery felt almost electric-the muscle started down low and simply increased until it revved out (though I short-shifted to keep the Sachs rear suspension more compliant). The six-speed 450 generates plenty of top speed, and for those who want to take advantage of that, a $10,499 Dakar-looking EC 450 Desert FSE will be available by special order.
EC 250 FSE
Gas Gas has received many requests for a 250 FSE, so it purchased 2006 Yamaha WR250F engines and fitted them into EC two-stroke frames. The new $7949 EC 250 FSE was one of my two favorites. A jetting bog (yes, it’s carbureted) prevented it from pulling cleanly off the bottom, so it needed to be revved a little. That was slightly annoying at first but forgivable and likely easily fixed with some carb tuning. It had a very solid, planted feel yet was easy to flick side to side in tight sections. It’s the only Gas Gas EC with a five-speed tranny and standard cable-operated clutch. Naturally, most aftermarket hop-up parts designed for the WR250F engine ought to bolt right in; the exhaust will undoubtedly be different, though some companies should be able to modify existing designs to fit.
EC 300 Racing
This was my other favorite-great two-stroke snap, light weight and flickable feel. The $8099 (compared with $7649 for the regular EC and $7849 for the E-start model) Racing version of the EC has slightly different graphics, more aggressive wave rotors and upgraded suspension with an Öhlins shock and more adjustable 48mm Sachs fork. Despite the active powerband, the Gas Gas asks only that you demonstrate proper throttle and clutch control in order to stay hooked up. If you want a harder hit, you can flip the ignition map selector, though I left it on the rain setting as I felt no need for more wheelspin. If you want more abrupt delivery, you can swap to the motocross-style ignition. While the suspension worked well and the bike felt solid, it was noticeably more nervous in the choppy, fast sections. Suspension tuning would alleviate this to some degree, but a steering damper might be a good call. A bolt-on electric starter will be available.EC 250
I took my final lap on the standard $7599 EC 250. Compared to the 300, it had a much mellower motor, with a powerband that reminded me of a KDX200 fitted with an aftermarket pipe and stock silencer. I stayed with the rain setting as I had on the 300. It felt tuned for really snotty survival races where traction is about as abundant as extra cash at tax time. The standard Sachs suspension felt very workable, yet the 250 also exhibited a twitchier feel than the thumpers.End Of The Day
Which would I choose if I were going to buy one? I’d go with either the EC 450 or 250 FSE for racing, depending on the sort of terrain I expected; the 450 for faster going; and the Yamaha-powered 250 for technical conditions. The EC 300 Racing felt right for the two-stroke fan in me, though the EC 515 FSE is also in the running. For more information, see your local Gas Gas dealer or contact Gas Gas USA (www.gasgas.com or 816.741.7615) or Go Fasters Motorsports (www.gofasters.com or 320.839.7143).