The GasGas EC enduro bikes received a full makeover last year and the Spanish brand also introduced its XC line of machines, which are geared more toward the cross-country racer. The XC is virtually the same bike as the EC, just without the headlight, taillight, and enduro computer. Also, the XC models come standard with an FMF header pipe whereas the EC machines are equipped with a stock header.

Both model lines have several recognizable features such as a Keihin carburetor, a VForce reed-valve system, Nissin brakes, Excel rims, OEM hand guards, a lightweight skid plate, and a well-thought-out 2.6-gallon gas tank that blends into the bike, all of which give the appearance that it's ready for off-road racing.

The changes made to the XC models for 2019 include a new cylinder head, improved ignition maps, a revised electric start system, dual-map switch, redesigned handlebar mounts, different mounting system for the enduro computer, updated airbox cover, red frame protectors, and new graphics. It should be noted that our test bike was the first 2019 model to arrive in the United States and came with a Renthal 997 handlebar. All other 2019 GasGas EC and XC models will come with a Neken fat bar.

GasGas introduced its XC line
GasGas introduced its XC line of machines last year, which are geared more toward the cross-country racer.Jeff Allen

Engine

Electronic fuel injection is the newest advancement in two-stroke off-road racebike technology, but it doesn’t come without some drawbacks. Generally, a well-jetted, clean-running two-stroke of the same design and displacement should give the rider a more connected, stronger, and more powerful seat-of-the-pants feeling; and the XC 250 delivers in that department.

There was no need to make any adjustments to the jetting in the relatively lower altitude area we tested in. The XC 250 engine is strong, the power about equivalent to most 250cc two-stroke motocross bikes. The hit can be a bit much for dry, rocky conditions, so we experimented with the new dual-map switch. The “Sun” map is designed to deliver maximum torque while the “Rain” map is intended to increase traction in slick areas. Switching to the Rain setting was immediately noticeable as throttle control and rear wheel traction were improved, which allowed us to be slightly more aggressive with the throttle while still reducing wheelspin.

revised electric start system
The changes made to the XC line for 2019 include a revised electric start system, dual-map switch, redesigned handlebar mounts, different mounting system for the enduro computer, updated airbox cover, red frame protectors, and new graphics.Jeff Allen

The engine has some normal two-stroke vibration. It should be noted that GasGas used counterbalanced two-stroke engines in the mid- to late 1990s, but stopped using the vibration-reducing component in an effort to shed overall weight. GasGas has used a hydraulic clutch system since the mid-1990s, and its new Magura system works flawlessly. We tested in some tight, rocky canyons to see if we could stress it to the point of some abnormal action and it never flinched.

The six-speed transmission offers just about the right gear for all situations. First gear is super low and works very well in extremely tight conditions, making it easy to pop over some of the biggest rocks and any other obstacle you might encounter on the trail. Second gear is good for slower riding, starting, and stopping. Shifting is buttery smooth with little to no clutch input. Shift all the way up to sixth, hold it wide open, and it feels like it never stops accelerating. We’re not sure what the top speed of the XC 250 is, but it’s definitely enough to keep up with any of your riding buddies.

dual-map switch
The dual-map switch is located on the left side of the handlebar. The “Sun” map is designed to deliver maximum torque while the “Rain” map is intended to increase traction in slick areas.Jeff Allen

Suspension

The XC 250 uses a KYB AOS (Air-Oil-Separate) closed-chamber coil-spring fork and KYB shock. We spent the first day of testing with the stock clicker settings and noticed the bike has a bit of a stinkbug (high rear end) feeling with the sag set at 105mm. Three clicks stiffer on the fork compression was a Band-Aid fix, as it held the front of the bike up more but the fork lost some comfort at low speeds. Stiffer fork springs would be a better fix to help balance out the bike.

XC 250 engine
The power output of the XC 250 engine is about equivalent to most 250cc two-stroke motocross bikes.Jeff Allen

We originally went a half turn out on the high-speed compression on the shock, but it was too soft with that setting, so we went a quarter turn back in. We then backed off the shock spring preload one-and-a-half turns, which eliminated the stinkbug stance. Overall, the suspension is slightly on the soft side for third gear and higher speeds, but it works great in tight and technical areas of the trail.

XC 250 cockpit
The XC 250 cockpit is comfortable. The seat is somewhat on the stiff side, which makes the bike feel a little tall, but most test riders prefer a stiffer seat over a prematurely soft one.Jeff Allen

Chassis/Handling

The XC 250 cockpit is comfortable. The seat is somewhat on the stiff side, which creates a “sit on” feeling and makes the bike feel a little tall, but most test riders prefer a stiffer seat over a prematurely soft one. At first the front brake was stiff and weak, but as the rotors and pads broke in it began to work well. Even after it’s broken in, it still has more of a firm feeling at the lever, and we would prefer a little softer and more progressive feel.

The rigid feeling of the Renthal 997 Twinwall handlebar combined with solid bar mounts are not very forgiving and transmit some engine vibration directly to your hands. As we put more time on the XC 250, we will experiment with a rubber-mount system along with a more flexible bar. The Michelin Enduro TT Euro-spec tires are okay, but after only three tanks of gas, the rear is clearly ready for replacement.

rocky conditions
The power delivery can be a bit much for dry, rocky conditions, so we experimented with the new dual-map switch. Switching to the Rain setting was immediately noticeable as throttle control and rear wheel traction were improved, which allowed us to be slightly more aggressive with the throttle while still reducing wheel spin.Jeff Allen

Conclusion

We’re very impressed with the versatility of the GasGas XC 250. In stock form, it works well in tight, rocky, hard enduro conditions as well as faster single-track and even wide-open desert areas. The fit and finish is good and it has plenty of top-of-the-line components. We look forward to seeing what it’s capable of on a motocross track. The XC 250 is comfortable right off the showroom floor and shows lots of potential to become a serious off-road weapon.

KYB suspension
The KYB suspension components are slightly on the soft side for third gear and higher speeds but work great in tight and technical areas of the trail.Jeff Allen
XC 250
The XC 250 is comfortable right off the showroom floor and shows lots of potential to become a serious off-road weapon.Jeff Allen

TECH SPEC

PRICE $8,799
ENGINE 249.3cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder two-stroke
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
MEASURED HORSEPOWER N/A
MEASURED TORQUE N/A
FRAME Central chrome-moly steel
FRONT SUSPENSION KYB Air-Oil-Separate (AOS) coil-spring fork adjustable for compression and rebound damping; 11.8-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION KYB shock adjustable for spring preload, high-/low-speed compression damping, and rebound damping; 11.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Nissin single 260mm disc w/ twin-piston caliper
REAR BRAKE Nissin single 220mm disc w/ single-piston caliper
WHEELBASE 58.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 37.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 2.6 gal.
MEASURED WEIGHT 256 lb. wet
AVAILABLE Now
CONTACT gasgas.com