The Torture Test - GasGas EC300R - Dirt Rider Magazine

The GasGas 300 is a world-championship bike. In the U.S. their numbers are small compared to the other brands but being the odd-man in tough terrain is a blessing.

Editor's Note
This year's Dirt Rider Torture Test was set it up like a screening for a reality TV show: Bring what you have and prepare for whatever happens. The idea was to show up at the Torture Test with the best all-around, one-bike-does-it-all off-road dirt bike, with no guidelines or requirements from our side. It was wide open, but everyone knew going in that it would be tough to make the cut to get into the final group of bikes you see in the magazine. Of course, they didn't all make it to the pages of Dirt Rider. Some missed out ever so slightly, some by a longer ways. This is a full test of one of the bikes that missed the final cut. The competition was tough but lurking in this field of bikes you can likely find an example of the perfect bike that fits your needs, or learn what other riders or people in the industry think is the best bike in the whole world. For the people and companies that built each of these bikes, it was the best bike they could deliver.-Jimmy Lewis, Editor Dirt Rider MagazineAbout the bike:
The GasGas EC300R by is a US version of the latest generation of GasGas factory enduro racing bikes that has a long history of European off-road championships and podium got their start with GasGas enduro motorcycles back in 2002 when the company was founded and began specializing in selling GasGas OEM and aftermarket performance parts online.By 2006 their involvement with the Spanish off-road motorcycle brand got them recruited to help support the GasGas factory World Enduro Championship team whenthey traveled to the US and Canada for the first time in WEC history. That opportunity repeated itself again in 2007 when the WEC returned to North America and got the call to help support the GasGas factory team again.This EC300R is the results of that relationship.According to co-owner Steve Berkner the EC300 starts life stock sans headlight and taillight, which is stock on the European models, which have to be eliminated for the bike to be legally imported into the US as a"competition only" off-road motorcycle.Berkner said, "Back in 2007 the ECs were imported into the US with the quicker revving lighter motocross ignition, which is the standard when the bike is exported without lights. But today the ECs are imported with the lazier(actually 12.5 ounces heavier) enduro(EC) ignition that is stock in Europe where it has to power headlights, taillights, turn signals, horn and brake lights found on the road legal EC enduro bike version."When we first got involved with the factory racing bikes the first thing we noticed was they were all using the heavier enduro ignitions. That's completely opposite of what most of the EC models imported into the US weregetting back then as the motocross ignition was standard and in our opinion the ECs suffered when the bikes power delivery was compared to the smoother four-stroke power delivery of other enduro bikes."GasGas motorcycles excel when conditions call for a smooth power delivery. You know the stuff that kicks your butt when you're looking for traction on a slippery grass track, trying to climb up a rocky hillside or just tackling milesof muddy single track."Losing that advantage, so the motor can hit a little harder when conditions are perfect, is a waste of the Gasser's potential. The heavier ignition lets the motor deliver power to the rear wheel more like a four-stroke but the lighter rotating mass of the bike's two-stroke crank lets the bike quickly change directions without much effort: something a four-stroke has trouble doing."While we give up some hit with the heavier flywheel effect of the bigger ignition we have a chance to get some of that hit back with just a flick of the stock handle bar mounted "Hi-Lo" (dual mapped) ignition switch which is found on all GasGas enduro and motocross bikes."We actually jet the bike to run just this side of lean on the Hi setting for that extra boost of power if conditions call for it otherwise we stress that the bike be left in the "Lo" map setting for most riding conditions."Berkner said, "Another thing we learned from working with the factory bikes was to pay attention to the engines deck height, or the distance between the top of the piston and the bottom of the cylinder head."Ideally the race mechanics target 1.5mm of "squish band when they build a race bike. We rely on RB Designs for that modification ($75). The main objective is not to raise compression so much but to increase the efficiency of combustion which gives more useable power throughout all RPM ranges."Berkner added "We also use RB Designs to do some carb modifications ($165) where they modify the stock 38mm Keihn for more over rev and smoother power delivery."For carb mods RB Designs cuts the #7 slide slightly, over bores the diameter to 39mm (to allow more over rev), installs a motor side divider plate for better low end throttle control and installs their own needle and appropriate jetting.

Everyone agrees the tougher the terrain, the better the GasGas performs. The suspension setup of the bike was plush off-road but began to eat up the stroke and wallow in faster sections and in the MX Test.

Berkner said, "Once again RB Designs has made a name for themselves doing these kind of modifications and that upgrade finishes out the motor upgrades save the pipe which is actually a newly designed FMF Fatty pipe." Here thefactory modification has already been done as the current US version actually comes stock with a GasGas factory replica race pipe.Berkner explains, "In 2007 GasGas changed their bikes design with a new subframe that required a new US aftermarket pipe design so we approached FMF to build a factory bike replica pipe which allows for more overrev than stock so we had them copy one of the WEC bikes' pipes and they obliged. To round out the exhaust system FMF also provides a US Forestry approved spark arrestor for allUS EC models."As far as suspension work goes," said Berkner. "We feel it's pretty close for most trail riding conditions where proper sag (110mm to 115mm) and a few clicker adjustments are more than adequate to dial in the suspension. Butfor the aggressive rider we go with Powerband Racing suspension mods ($175 front and $175 rear plus parts) where they concentrate mostly on modifying the forks mid-valve to better handle big hits when the stock valving would just blow by." also tosses both stock rim locks as they have always been the Achilles heal for GasGas bikes and replaces them with Motion Pro ones ($18) to finish the also upgrades the stock brake pad / rotor combination of the motorcycle with Galfer brake pads ($70) and wave rotors ($260) and changes the final gearing to 13/49 (from 13/48) via Renthal chain wheels ($89 a set.)Berkner said, "We feel the Galfer braking products give the brakes a little better feel over stock and the slightly taller rear gearing gives the bike a little better throttle control in the tight stuff where the overrev capabilitiesof the modified motor and carb modsBerkner concluded, "The rest of the bike is pretty much stock other than we bolt on a few aftermarket products that are similar to what the factory team uses. Presently we market a rear brake master cylinder cooling reservoir extender ($51), higher volume power valve cover ($90), in-line radiator hose inter-coolers ($51), high efficient water pump impeller ($90), a front fender brace ($30) and a lower radiator hose protector shield ($20) that each adds additional performance and / or protection to the EC300R for not a lot of money.The GasGas EC300R s is a factory replica racer which can be built for under $1400 in mods, just under $1900 with a GPR under bar mounted steering damper.Parts and modifications:; 320-839-7143
Nissan Rear Brake Reservoir cooler/ extender: $51
Power Valve Cover: $90
Water pump impeller: $90
Front Fender Brace: $30
In-line radiator coolers: $50
Lower radiator hose shield: $20
Powerband Racing:; 763 263 8829
Suspension work: $350 + parts
FMF:; 310-631-4363
Stealth Spark Arrestor: stock
Fatty Pipe: Stock
Galfer Braking Products:; 805-988-2900
Front rotor: $130
Rear rotor: $130
Front brake pads: $35
Rear brake pads: $35
RB Designs:; 503-645-2607
Carb Modification: $165
Head Modification: $75
13 tooth countershaft sprocket: $26
49 tooth rear sprocket: $65
Motion Pro:; 650-594-9600
1.85 front rim locks: $8
2.15 rear rim lock: $9
GPR Stabilizers:; 619-661-0101
Version4 Under Bar Stabilizer w/Fat Bar Kit: $495.00Dirt Rider Post Torture Evaluation: The best all-around bike because:
You want to stand out from the crowd in the kind of bike you ride and the kind of riding you do. You are a Hard Extreme Enduro RiderNot the best all-around bike because:
This GasGas is not the most versatile machine and there isn't a GasGas dealer on every corner. Aftermarket support is limited and finding solutions to your GasGas problems might not be as easy if were another more mainstream brand.

In our experience, the GasGas line of two-strokes is built to take a beating.

Dirt Rider Says:
The GasGas is a capable machine and the riders racing them in the World Enduros have proved this. But here in the US, we just don't see them as a strong competitor for KTM, since KTM has become so big off-road. But all the time, GasGas has been developing their two-strokes, maybe a step behind in the chassis side if anything.With only a very short time to prep the fresh 2009 bike before the test, a good portion of the time was spent dialing in the suspension. And when riders are not 100% comfortable on an unfamiliar bike, it detracts even from the stellar features of a bike. On the GasGas that would be the tight and technical trail ability of the bike.All of the riders who hopped on the bike were a little put off by the setup which seemed to be for a slightly taller rider, and our group was all under 6-feet tall. And we thought we took the time for each to ride it enough to get used to the setup, a lot of time was spent getting used to the bike and not exploiting its finer points. For sure the bike could have worked better at the high-speed stuff and it was clearly out of place on the motocross track. There it vibrated and the aggressive power setting was a little much, the mellow setting a little soft. And it felt like the bike also used too much of its stroke in the MX bumps and here it wallowed, where on the trails this translated into plushness.Providing an alternative to the Orange and Blue two-strokes out there, the GasGas has a place and I see that with riders who like gnarly technical trail riding. I know this first hand since I chose to race a stock GasGas 250 two times to finish the Erzbreg Hare Scrambles. The same bike both times! The bikes are built tough and this bike was set up to last through an off-road war. The motor's power has a tractability that must be derived through the company's trials heritage and it gets traction when other bikes fail. The clutch has a very light pull and offers a lot of control. And the six-speed gear box let the bike have some real legs, too bad it isn't the happiest in the upper three gears. But most of all it takes a little time in the saddle, and making sure you have the right bike for the rider to fit a GasGas into your program.
-Jimmy LewisThis was a fun bike to ride. The second you sit on it, it feels horrible. Feels like a really old bike. Once you fire it up and start to ride, it is actually starts to work pretty well. In the motocross section and higher speed it is bad, really bad. Once you get to the tight trail section the bike is really good. Here it turns better than most of these other bikes. Suspension on low speed tight trails was also good. After riding the GasGas 300 back-to-back with the Suzuki, KTM and Yamaha, I really keep thinking this was the best motor. Not the fastest, but the best all around. The motor is really quiet and lots of torque from bottom to top. This bike has almost as much traction as a four stroke. It is just a great climber. If we can just get this motor on a more modern feeling chassis and setup!
-Alfredo MacklisMotor was very snappy (The bike was set on the aggressive map. Ed.) / would have liked a little smoother power delivery for the rocks and tight stuff / don't usually like aftermarket seats, but this taller seat with step worked surprisingly well.
-Chris Barrett, on Extreme TestGreat bike for the slow gnarly trail the motor has super good low rpm power probably the best out of all the bikes. The suspension also works well in the slow gnarly stuff. This bikes is a mess when you get out onto faster trails or a moto track, it is twitchy with no straight line ability. I thought it was real unnerving and that hurt it for me.
-Dave DonatoniI did not like this bike at all on the motocross track as the suspension felt stiff and awkward and the engine felt horrible. On the trails I liked the engine much better. It had good low end torque which was able to pull me through the tight twisty stuff well, however the suspension still did not impress me on the trails. I put this on the bottom of my list of five two-stroke bikes.
-Sean CrowleyIf only I could put this motor in another chassis. The GG made great trail power, not much hit to speak of, but nice smooth strong power. Maybe I've been spoiled by my KTM, but the controls on the GasGas felt dated, the hydraulic clutch was decent, but it's no Brembo. The brakes worked, but they were not as strong as I would have liked. My biggest complaint was getting my foot stuck UNDER the rear brake pedal on a regular basis, I don't know if maybe someone who rode it before me bent it out but that thing was everywhere except where I wanted it to be. I did not feel comfortable trying to go fast on the GasGas
-Scott Denison